New Year, Same Old (Vegan) Me

new-year-chapter-oneThe promotional emails flooding my in box promise all kinds of tips and tricks for a “New Year, New You.” I had no idea that I was in such need of a total makeover. But these emails seem to assume that there is considerable room for improvement.

And sure, I suppose there is. I could stand to eat more fruit and fewer cookies. I should cook more from scratch. I should spend more time meditating and less time obsessing over Donald Trump’s presidential prospects. I should drag myself out of the house occasionally for cultural events instead of watching way too many re-runs of Law and Order. I should be more sociable and less solitary.

I could definitely be a better, more productive and healthier person. And the truth is, I plan to be. I like new beginnings. I love to make lists and set goals. But this just means I’m going to work towards being a somewhat improved version of forever-imperfect me. I’m not going to be a new me. I’m old enough to know that this isn’t going to happen. And I’m insightful enough (I think) to know that it doesn’t need to happen.

I already have a fair number of good habits. I drink water instead of soft drinks and juices. I eat a ton of veggies and a ton of beans. I eat mostly whole grains. I also volunteer for animals and almost always remember my friends’ birthdays.

And I’m a vegan. Which in and of itself is something to be proud of. But even that lends itself to opportunities for improvement. Because, I’d like to be a better vegan. Not a level 5 vegan—I don’t care about that. But I’d like to become a better role model for veganism and a more impactful activist for animals. Some things I could do to that end:

  • Become a better and more confident cook, finding and perfecting a core group of fool-proof recipes that I can share with non-vegans.
  • Move outside my comfort zone more often, being more social and even willing to be the only vegan in the crowd so that I have more opportunities to introduce meat-eaters to good vegan food.
  • Once and for all develop a good elevator speech about why I’m vegan. (Do you have one? This alone would make a great New Year’s resolution).
  • Spend more time doing hands on rescue work, especially with feral cats. It’s where my heart is and it can be a good thing to follow your heart.
  • Write more, in order to advocate more strongly for evidence-based vegan nutrition.

None of those things will make me “new.” They will not make me any different than the person I already am. They are merely improvements to what (I think) is the best part of me—my commitment to animal rights. And I think they are all way better ambitions than incorporating green smoothies into my diet (which I can assure you is never going to happen).

But, yes I really am going to exercise more, too. And eat fewer cookies (maybe). If you desire to lose weight or need to get healthier, then I hope that the New Year gives you opportunities to pursue those goals. Taking good care of yourself is worthwhile and it’s certainly important. (In fact, I’m going to share some tips for healthy weight management tomorrow.)

But whether or not 2016 brings any of us perfect health and happiness, it will definitely bring us opportunities to advocate for animals, even if only in small ways. It’s nice to know that you don’t need to become a “new you” in order to do so.

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18 Responses to New Year, Same Old (Vegan) Me

  1. Rebekah Jaunty January 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    This is wonderful, and the “old you” has done a lot for a lot of people. Thank you for all your work and sharing your knowledge!

  2. Ginny Messina January 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

    Thank you, Rebekah!

  3. Sheri P January 1, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

    I recently became vegan and found your books very helpful for this over 50 woman. Thanks for doing what you do! The best in 2016.

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

      I’m so glad to hear this, Sheri–both that you’ve become vegan and that my books have helped you. I hope you have a wonderful 2016, too!

  4. Angela Murphy January 2, 2016 at 7:24 am #

    Loved this. I, too, would like to be a better vegan. I’m what I call a 95% vegan. As the only vegan in the house, it can be challenging and leave many temptations available, and sometimes the fight isn’t worth it. Thanks for your words. Maybe this year I’ll encourage some of those around me to enjoy vegan food with me. Happy New Year.

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      Happy New Year, Angela–and it sounds like you’re doing great.

  5. Matt January 2, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    Great stuff, Ginny!
    For the reasons discussed here http://bit.ly/1P8Cffx and here http://bit.ly/1P8CaZf I start with “vegetarian” for elevator pitches. I like Bruce Friedich’s approach, of asking people if they are vegetarian, and if not, why not. Or asking the person why they think most people go vegetarian. Get them talking, ala Socrates, instead of me talking.

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      Yup–I use “vegetarian” sometimes, too, to get the conversation started. But also want a good concise, non-off-putting response when someone asks why I’m vegan. I think I need several elevator speeches!

    • soren January 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

      I have had a good reaction to “reducetarian” when I advocate for a more vegan diet. People are curious about the term and it’s less judgmental and more ethics-centric.

  6. Vegan Tomboy January 2, 2016 at 8:07 am #

    So glad to hear this. I’m an aspiring vegan RD and I consider the “same old you” a role model. And I’m so glad to hear you’re planning to write more– your advocacy of evidence-based nutrition is a much needed counterbalance to all of the misleading information out there.

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      I’m so happy to meet more aspiring vegan RDs. You are definitely needed!

  7. Tracey January 3, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    What a great post!

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks, Tracey!

  8. Sarah B. January 3, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    I, too, think that the “old” you is pretty fantastic :)

    Thank you for all the work that you do! I heard you speak a couple of years ago at a Veg Food Fest, and your talk answered a bunch of questions that I had (I had been vegan for about a year at that point).

    I’ve also got both “Vegan For Life” and “Vegan For Her”, and both books have been invaluable to me as references. I’ve recommended both books to many people, and I refer to them often myself whenever I’ve got nutrition/health-related questions.

    Happy New Year :)

    • Ginny Messina January 3, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      Happy New Year to you, too, Sarah. I’m so glad my books have helped. LMK if you have questions.

  9. Shayla January 3, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    I love your posts Ginny, I often refer my clients to your website and get some inspiration here too.

    I do have a brief response to “why are you vegan?” I always reply “There is no downside” If they need more than that I follow up with “it’s good for my health, good for the planet’s health and good for the animals too.”

    All the best for 2016

  10. Laurie January 6, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Happy New Year Ginny.
    What a lovely post!
    Your books, and blog, are my “go-to” for sensible, sound and caring advice.
    Thank you for all that you do and all the best in 2016!

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