Despite the newly emerged trend of forgetting about New Year Resolutions and living each day mindfully, I still believe it is worth starting the New Year with new inspirations, goals, and inner strength by making a retrospection of the past 12 months and setting your visions for the year coming ahead.
Doing a quick search online, I am thrilled to see people who have decided that ‘Going vegan’ will be their New Year resolution. I am even more excited by the fact that this year’s Veganury campaign has reportedly gotten over 50,000 people on board! Still, what does ‘vegan’ mean? Is it just about cutting animal products from your menu and lifestyle? Or is ‘vegan’ a hipster new movement you want to join? Or is it something that looks healthy enough for you to try in 2016?
Whether you are just transitioning to veganism, or you have been cruelty-free for years, I challenge you to take your ‘vegan’ stance to the next level and consider these New Year resolutions I believe are suitable for the philosophy and deeper meaning of cruelty-free living.
1. Be the vegan you’ve always wanted to meet before you were vegan yourself
Very few of us were raised in vegan families. Rather, we made a conscious choice as grown-ups to stop getting actively and passively involved into the murder and torture of animals. Still, once we got this into our system, we immediately forgot where we came from. I ask you to take an honest look into your childhood and admit whether for once you have asked yourself where the meat on your plate came from. If we have to be brutally honest, very few of us have ever considered whether eating dead animals was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – it has always been the norm. This does not mean that we did not have good in our hearts. Neither it means that we were not compassionate, kind children. It only means that we were not AWARE yet.
In the New Year, I urge you to consider the fact that not all meat eaters you meet lack compassion or goodness in their hearts. I also urge you to consider the fact that a person acts out according to your beliefs about them. If you approach someone with anger, disrespect and lack of understanding as to where they stand, you are most likely to get from them disrespect, anger, and lack of understanding as to where you stand. Plus, do you wish to come across as a pushy, angry disagreeable vegan? Because this is how stereotypes are built. Stereotypes don’t grow on trees, there is always some rationale behind a stereotype emerging.
Considering all this, what is the face of veganism you wish to represent in the New Year? Is it the face of a kind, accepting and non-judgemental person, or is it the face of a pushy fanatic who aims to impose their views in both direct and indirect ways? Do you believe you will have more influence by preaching or by just staying true to your beliefs? (and please do note ‘indirect’ ways of imposing your beliefs produce the same type of negative reaction as do direct debates or attacks).
I recently talked with a friend of mine, who transitioned into vegetarianism because of her boyfriend, and I asked her how she made the decision. She told me
‘He never said a word. I was just so impressed by his example and lifestyle that I decided to follow suit.’
Enough said here.
2. Make veganism one of the things to be grateful for
Going back to the point that making the decision to go vegan involves a conscious choice, I believe we often forget to be grateful that our path has led us in a unique way to make this particular choice.
Just sit for a while and remember all the circumstances that led you to make the decision to go cruelty-free. Remember who or what inspired you, and how exactly it all happened. What thoughts and obstacles did you go through? What were the fears, doubts, or breakthroughs that made you change your life and possibly transform your health and your whole world. Do you think it all happened by accident? Do you think this has no impact whatsoever on your future?
I have observed in my own life and the life of others that being grateful for reaching a certain point in your conscious life helps you move further with your goals and visions. Being grateful to life itself for the path it has led you through gives power and strength for whatever your next goal as a vegan may be.
Whether this is getting involved in animal rights activism, transitioning your family into veganism, finding a vegan partner, or opening up a vegan restaurant. Being grateful for where you have come to will open up new opportunities and chances for you to reach your next goal or dream.
3. Treat humans the way you treat animals
I have noticed that sometimes vegans, in their enthusiasm to fight for animal rights, forget about the fellow human beings surrounding them. In their zeal to make a point as to how wrong it is to abuse animals, they start abusing humans. Do you believe this really supports the vision of a cruelty-free world? As vegans, I know animal lives must be cherished, protected, and their feelings treated with respect. And the same goes for humans. Aggression can never be healed with aggression in the same way murder can never be prevented with more guns. I urge you in 2016 to embrace veganism as spreading love and respect to all human and non-human beings rather than protecting one and blaming the other. There is one answer to all. Love. As vegans, it suits us to cultivate more of it in 2016.
To a year full of love, compassion, and acceptance!
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”