One year ago we started an epic road trip across the country promoting Noya. Three days into that road trip, I realized I had “accidentally” not eaten meat. This was a welcomed discovery as I’d always wanted to give up meat (mainly because of all the resources we use for its production). When I realized I had gone three full days without noticing my meatless diet, I figured, why not go three more days? Three days turned into a week, then a month, and now I’ve completed more than a year without eating any meat.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about setting and sticking to a goal over my year of a meatless diet.
Motivation is key, but you must find the right motivation.
I’ve had multiple diet changes in my life, usually for weight loss reasons. However, I have never stuck with a diet change for more than a month or so until now. What was different this time around? My motivation wasn’t weight loss. My motivation was doing my part to help the environment. It turns out, that’s a much greater motivator for me. While it seems nice to drop a few pounds, at the end of the day, I don’t care that much. As long as I feel like I’m leading a healthy lifestyle, trimming off a little weight doesn’t do the trick for me.
Physically, I don’t feel different.
Speaking of weight loss, a meatless diet isn’t a weight-loss program.
You can be an unhealthy vegetarian. There are lots of high-calorie, low-nutrition foods that don’t contain any meat. Don’t let the word VEGetarian fool you. If you want to eat healthier, you need more veggies and other healthy foods, in your life which surprisingly can be avoided even in a meatless diet. All that to say, going meatless was not a weight-loss program for me. Physically, I feel and look the same as I did a year ago. Mentally and emotionally is where I’ve seen the most change. I feel more rooted in my beliefs because I’m living a more aligned lifestyle. I’m proud of myself for sticking with my commitment, despite the occasional overpowering delicious smells that tempt me back to the meat-side.
You don’t start disliking meat after a year of no meat.
Along those same lines, I still smell bacon and fried chicken and sizzling sausage and think, “Damn, that smells good!” I was hoping after a year I’d lose my taste for it and overlooking meat options would be natural. Maybe that eventually happens, but not at the one year mark! I still know it’s tasty. I don’t crave it like I used to, but I still miss it from time to time.
A year is way too long of a commitment.
If I had told myself the day I stopped eating meat that I wouldn’t eat meat for an entire year I’d have given up the following day. A year commitment would have seemed daunting and I’d probably have told myself that I didn’t even want to do that. There’s no way I would’ve stuck to it. Instead, I told myself I’d get through a week. Then I told myself I’d get through a month. I gradually added on to my goal as I hit little milestones. After three months of successfully not eating meat, I then committed to an entire year. It was critical for me to break it down.
You can achieve way bigger goals than you think.
I question myself a lot. I question my abilities, my discipline, my intelligence - I question it all. If you had told me a year ago that I’d stick to my commitment of no meat, I’d have thought, I know myself and I know that I’ll cave at some point. I’d have doubted myself. And you know what? It would have been a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think what made this work is that I was able to convince myself without doubts that I could go today without eating meat. And the next day I convinced myself again that today I won’t eat meat. I had to break it down so small that even my high tendency for self-doubt couldn’t steal my success before I even tried.
There are lots of tasks and projects I’d love to undertake, but I drag my feet because of any number of excuses. I tell myself I can’t do it. I don’t really want to do it. I’ll do it later. My biggest takeaway from a year of no meat is that I can. I can set goals and achieve them. I can stick to commitments even when they are hard. I can find what makes me tick, what keeps me focused, and what motivators will drive me to success. By not eating meat, I have proven my self-doubt wrong for over 365 days. Defeating self-doubt is an enormous lifelong goal for me. Ultimately, maybe this year is one step toward achieving that goal. One day at a time.
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