It’s two days before 2018 kicks off, and I’ll bet lots of us are planning on becoming perfect beings as of Monday. This weekend marks the time where we mop up the leftover Christmas chocolate and purchase our last mince pies; we will not have room for such things in our New-And-Improved-Diet-And-Exercise-Plan!
In truth, I’m only mocking myself. I’ve tried big-changes resolutions and I know I can’t stick to them. If anyone gets past the first weeks with their responsible and healthy goals, then I wholeheartedly salute you – you’re a stronger-willed person than most of us.
Even as I write ‘I can’t stick to big quick changes for more than a week’, I can feel the pull of the lofty challenges which rear their well-groomed and low body-fat heads this time of year. Maybe I could go to the gym five times a week. Maybe I could cut out refined sugar, forever. Then I have to rationalise with myself: yes, I could do those things, probably for a week, until I start classes again, at which point I’ll realise that my schedule is just as hectic as it was three weeks ago and every well-meaning switch will be thrown out of the proverbial window in an attempt to preserve my own sanity.
After acting out this scenario over and over again, I feel like I now know where to draw my own line between changes that end with ‘I gave it a good try’ and changes that begin with ‘I’m setting myself up for failure’.
This has led me to tentatively, almost committing to trying Veganuary. I know, I know, big diet change, lots of societal obstacles, won’t you end up eating custard creams for breakfast when you’ve run out of almond milk (no of course I didn’t), etc. Hence the tentative-almost-committing – I’m scared I won’t manage it.
But I promise you, I have thought about this. Tom and I have been planning our dinners the past couple of months, and out of the eight or so we rotate there are at least four vegan meals in there already. I’ve also been having almond milk with my cereal since I moved to Glasgow and actually can’t stand the taste of cow’s milk any more.
My biggest challenge is lunch. I’ve been trying to get a good vegan sandwich filling down which still tastes nice at lunchtime after being in my rucksack since 8am, and it’s a challenge. I reckon that’ll be the next veganised product in supermarkets – vegan versions of things cheese-and-onion spreads. Quorn sadly isn’t vegan (dairy-free but contains eggs) and tofu in a roll makes me feel a bit yuck.
However, I did have a revelation the other morning. I found a recipe for Mexican-style scrambled chickpeas (which tasted awesome), and realised I could do some kind of chickpea mash with plenty of flavour and stuff it in a roll with some salad. So that’s a positive step, and I’ll be spending some time trying to veganise the rest of our dinners, or finding some new easy recipes today and tomorrow.
The other reason I’m more hopeful about a resolution such as Veganuary is that it’s not just based on self-improvement. I’ve been slowly reducing dairy and eggs over the last year, not just because I think it’ll shrink my waistline (good chance that’s false, I mean, oreos are vegan), but because I want to reduce my environmental impact and the extent to which I rely on potentially harmful practices involving animals.
This is why another one of my resolutions is to stop buying single-use plastic bottles, coffee cups and bags completely. I’m planning on arming myself with my water bottle, reusable coffee cup and a fold-up shopping bag and carrying them with me everywhere from now on so that I don’t have an excuse to create more waste.
So who knows – maybe I’ll end up a fully-fledged vegan after this month. Or maybe I’ll decide I need to slowly tweak things a little more before I go cold turkey (or tofurkey). But if there’s any advice I want to offer, it’s this: don’t be too hard on yourself going into 2018. You can change things gently.