Why I Pay Myself $300 For Every Month That I Don’t Eat Pork, Beef, Goat, Or Chicken
Over the last three years, I have read at least three books that really forced me to revisit my relationship to food; in particular my relationship with consuming red meat and poultry. Dick Gregory’s Callus On My Soul was the first book that I read about how Black folk’s eating habits worked en tandem with the Civil Rights Movement.
Tracye Lynn McQuirter’s By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat formally introduced me to viewing veganism as a viable and necessary for black women’s health, beauty, and happiness.
And most recently, A. Harper’s Sistah Vegan pushed me to view veganism as a political response to our history of enslavement and colonization. One of the most poignant essays in this text spoke about the colonization of desire: Our cravings for certain foods, certain textures, and certain meals have all been manipulated by an intersection of racism, sexism, and classism. In other words, my craving for macaroni and cheese or a hamburger is not my own. It wasn’t derived from own my free will. Rather, a history of marginalization coupled with corporate capitalism brainwashed me and everyone to think that those foods tasted good or that I needed those foods in my life.
Many of these concepts hit me hard: I really wanted to change my eating habits and relationship with food to match the new learning that I had acquired. I wholeheartedly agreed with the philosophies of each of these thought leaders and wanted to be at least a vegetarian.
I still kept eating meat long after knowing the health risks and long after knowing that eating meat wasn’t something that I wanted for myself or my diet in the long term. I kept eating because I loved the taste of meat. Meat was the focal point of all of my meals and I truly believed, deep down, that a meal just wasn’t a meal without a big hunk of flavored chicken, beef, pork, or goat on the plate.
It was obvious to me that my thoughts and my actions were misaligned. I continually beat up on myself for not transitioning to a plant-based diet immediately. At one point, I threw my hands up and said, “Well, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
But each time I chewed on some meat, I felt guilty and the feeling wouldn’t go away. I heard the words, “Failure! Failure!” ring in my mind over and over again.
Then it all clicked.
I continued to beat up on myself each time I opted for meat, but not because I thought eating meat was wrong for wellness or philosophical reasons. Each time I ate some chicken, I didn’t think about the deplorable conditions of the chicken farming industry or the horrible ways that chickens died so I could have a four-piece. Each time I ordered some curry goat, I did not think about how I was clogging my arteries and pushing myself one step closer to being a Black women’s health statistic.
Rather, I was mad at myself for failing. Period. I was mad at myself for not achieving at something that I set out to do. I viewed eating red meat and poultry as a personal failure more than a moral lapse or health imperative.
What this self-awareness and reflection revealed about me was that moral integrity or healthful living, though legitimate and admirable reasons for making life changes, were not large enough incentives for me to stop eating meat at this juncture in my clean eating journey.
Learning this about myself was a relief. Now I knew what I needed to do to keep me from eating meat.
And that would be to reward myself with a cash incentive each time I didn’t eat meat.
Since I am achievement-oriented, motivated by money and the sweetness of success, I have decided to pay myself $10 for every day that I don’t partake in the flesh. In a month, I will have $300 to spend on a reward for being a vegetarian.
I’m pretty stoked about this. Every month, I get healthier and wealthier.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.