Last January I made a commitment to eat a veganish diet, and we all know how that turned out. This year, as my way of intently practicing ahmisa, or non-harming, I am dedicated to living a veganer lifestyle, meaning I give my scouts honor to do my absolute best to not consume or use any animal products for the next thirty days. Ahimsa, the first and foremost yama is often equated with respect, kindness, and non-violence towards all living beings. Let me be clear — I do NOT think that eating a vegan diet automatically makes you a kind or respectful (or respectable) person. As the joke goes, some vegans are downright bitter, pretentious, and condescending grumpy grumps. But let’s be real… couldn’t that be said about people of any and all diets, habits, and walks of life (i.e. he who eats McDonalds in bed)? So let’s just squash that myth now, mmmkay.
For me, going vegan is about reminding myself where (not just my) food comes from. I’m already a “pescetarian” so veganism is not THAT far of a stretch. (Although, I might erect a small altar to represent how much I will mourn the absence of sushi from my life this month.) No matter what your diet or beliefs, it’s no secret that the practices and conditions supporting our eating habits in general are at best acceptable, usually not very nice, and often downright deplorable. There are plenty of resources out there that can quickly, effectively, and disturbingly show you the problems behind our animal farming operations, so research at your own risk. It doesn’t take much to make anyone with even a slight glimmer of compassion in their heart reconsider their own desire for or dependency on animal based products. Sure, we could parse hairs and talk about certified organic / humanely raised / free range / non-GMO / no hormones added labels, but for the purposes of this measly month, I just find it simpler (I did not say easy) to subscribe to a totes vegan lifestyle — and YES, I buy organic vegetables, legumes, and grains.
Also, perhaps like you, I just need to CLEAN. THE. FUCK. OUT. No matter how pristine your diet is all year, I don’t care, the holidays are an unescapable trap (read: excuse) to overindulge in your favorite vices, whether they be meatballs or martinis. January 1st (or 2nd) is the quintessential perfect time to start a new habit, lifestyle, exercise, or deprivation plan. This is not that. Living vegan for a month is my version of occasional digestive maintenance; some people do juice cleanses / the Master Cleanse / Whole 30 / Ketogenic diet / South Beach Diet / Atkins diet / what have you. There are hundreds of fads and fixes for the cruel repercussions of the merry and merciless last two months of the year. Most don’t work or last long enough to find out. Veganism works for me — when I stick to it.
Do whatever works for you, but above all else: 1) Remember self care and humility. No one is perfect, but we are all stronger than we think. 2) Don’t forget the very essence of ahimsa, NON-HARMING — meaning to yourself and others. Listen to your system, keep nourishing your body and mind (in many ways), and leave the snarky self-righteousness in 2018. The only thing worse than a grumpy vegan is a raging carnivore asking, “But where are you going to get your protein?”
Lastly, if you would like to join me on this vegan venture, Veganuary is a wonderful resource for support, tips, recipes, and virtual community. Sign up, do your shopping, and enjoy the surprising indulgence that a plant-based diet has to offer. I’d love to know how it’s going! Comment below, mention me on Instagram (@littleyogithatcould), or tag #monthofahimsa and/or #yearofyamasandniyamas. Most of all, be nice to yourself and each other. There’s too much toxic bull (and cow, and pig, and chicken) shit in the world already.