The last day of December. Another year gone by. People always say that time goes by so fast, but for me, this month seemed to last forever. When I just started my Happiness Project, I experienced the same – August seemed twice as long as usual. It was because instead of sitting around all day, I started doing things that I loved. On most days, I would either read, go for a walk or a bike ride, work out, write… To look back and remember all the things that I did – things that I love doing, but also things that scare me – gives me a really fulfilled feeling. It’s so different than looking back on a time not really knowing what you did, because you just let it go by in a haze. December, however, seemed to last forever mainly because I felt as if I had lost my way. I wasn’t happy with a lot of things, such as my studies, the way I look, the things I did. Although I also did a lot of fun things in December – going to two concerts, discovering amazing new music, visiting Christmas markets, performing at the Poetry and Music night, to name just a few – in the normal days, my every day routine, I felt uninspired, unmotivated and a bit sad. For some reason, I didn’t want to write about this (maybe also because of the writing overload in November, having finished 50.000 words in that month). In my mind, my blog is supposed to be about finding happiness, so why would I write more about how I’ve lost my way? How I’m doubting everything I do and say? How I don’t really know where I’m going and how that scares me to death? This morning I woke up and I felt content. Calm. Inspired. Since the beginning of this week, these feelings have started to come back to me and it is because I have finally found something that makes me enthusiastic again. Something that inspires me, makes me want to read and find out more, and something that makes me feel so much more me.
I started a vegan diet. I had been toying with the idea for a while now and I wanted to try it more and more. I have been a vegetarian ever since I was 7 or 8, so not eating meat and fish is a no-brainer for me. I must say, the transition from vegetarian to vegan seems a lot harder than from eating ‘normally’ to being a vegetarian. Of course, I stopped eating meat so long ago that I don’t really remember whether it was easy or difficult, but the concept is pretty simple. Just stop eating meat and fish. For a vegan diet, however, there’s so much more involved. I’ve been spending my time reading online articles and in the supermarket, reading all the food labels, and it astonished me how many products are not vegan. Products that contain dairy or eggs, or strange E-numbers that are non-vegan. It’s a challange, but at the same time, it’s so. much. fun. It seems strange that eating in a certain way makes me feel this way, but every time that I find a product that I can still eat, or a vegan version of an otherwise non-vegan product I just get so excited. And then I’m not even talking about all the delicious recipes I found. Finally, cooking has become fun for me again. My diet had become fairly unhealthy throughout the month, not only because of Christmas and all the festivities, but also because I just couldn’t find the motivation to cook. I’d make a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, sometimes some egg on toast, and my diet was lacking vegetables altogether. Now, I browse Pinterest for hours in search of new things to try (and there’s so much!) and then I look into my kitchen cabinet, at all the new pretty jars filled with herbs and spices that I got for Christmas, and I just feel inspired. Trying veganism is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and I asked myself what my main reasons were for not giving it a go. I came up with these answers. 1) I love cheese, eggs and yoghurt, 2) It’s going to be expensive and time-consuming to find out what is and what isn’t vegan, 3) I don’t want to know about all the animal cruelty, although rationally I already know it happens, 4) I don’t want to have to justify my decision to everyone I know, and lastly, 5) people already find me eating vegetarian annoying when having dinner, I don’t want to bother them with me being vegan as well.
I decided that these reasons weren’t good enough. There are still so many things I can eat and figuring out whether products are vegan actually turns out to be fun (for me, at least). Ever since I can remember, I’ve been very passionate about animal welfare and the environment. Deciding to remain ignorant, not wanting to know all the cruel things that are being done to animals just to provide something for us to eat, just seemed wrong to me. I have yet to watch documentaries such as Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives and Earthlings, and have yet to read, for example, ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer, and I know they will probably be disturbing and upset me, but again, that reason isn’t good enough anymore. I just want to make sure that, personally, I contribute as little as possible to all the animal cruelty. I would never try to convince other people to do the same, or even to stop eating meat, but for me, for now, this is the right decision. As for the last reasons that I mentioned above – it’s time that I start living my life for me, not for everyone around me. Not trying a vegan diet just because people might find it annoying sounds too much like I’m trying to please them, instead of living according to the values that I myself have. It’s an experiment and it’s probably going to be tough at times, but I’ve finally found something again that excites me and inspires me.
Today, I will celebrate the last day of the year with a friend of mine. Tomorrow will be the start of another new year. The start of a new month of my Happiness Project. In January, I’m going to Connect and Disconnect. Disconnect from social media and the internet (not entirely, of course, but spending less time behind a screen in general, and after 9pm) and find a way to connect with myself again.
Happy New Year!