I know I’m in the vast, vast minority here, but I actually really like January. Everything feels fresh and new and invigorating. I was always that kid in school who loved to get new school supplies, but especially new journals; I loved the feeling of the smooth untouched pages with all the potential in the world. In January, I feel like anything can happen. So today, as the kids went back to school, I felt like I could smooth open the new hypothetical journal and write 2014 in bold letters.
Maybe I’m just high on green smoothies. I’ve been on a bit of a green smoothie binge since the New Year and I swear, those babies are the cocaine of the smoothie world. I’ve been having one every day at lunchtime for the past week, and it seems to perk up my day with high energy, and also the kind of smug good feelings that one can only get from drinking four cups worth of liquified spinach. So far today I’m crossing items off my to-do list like nobody’s business, rubbing the smoothie on my gums and talking really fast and occasionally grooving out to hits from the mid-nineties like I Like To Move It, Move It.
Speaking of food, I realized something over the weekend and that is that religious extremism is very similar to dietary extremism. Imagine, if you will, someone who practices a different religion than you do. No big deal, right? You may know that person’s religious leanings, but likely it doesn’t affect the way you feel about that person. Now imagine that person constantly talks about their religion with zeal, spreading lots of good news and glad tidings. Maybe it’s interesting, and maybe you appreciate that person’s efforts, but maybe you also want to spend a little less time with that person. What if that person starts to try to coerce you into their religion? What if that person starts to predict doom and darkness and terrible suffering that will overcome you if you don’t convert to their religion? What if that person believes that once you know the truth, you will embrace their religion with the same zeal, and if you don’t, well, that’s because you have not sufficiently evolved enough to do so? How much would you enjoy spending time with that person?
And so it is with dietary extremism. Especially at this time of the year, love it though I do, the dietary extremists come out of the woodwork with siren songs coaxing you to come over to the dark side. Frankly, I find it distasteful, but I also find it amusing to think of extreme Paleo people in the same room as extreme Vegan people, or Low-Carb people with Low-Fat people, maybe all of them attending a potluck function. Chaos and calamity would ensue! It would surely be interesting – maybe therein lie the makings of a reality television show – because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that “dietary extremism” and “sense of humour” seem to be mutually exclusive. Here’s the thing: I follow a vegan diet, but not strictly so – the occasional dairy product or egg finds its way in, and my neighbour the urban beekeeper supplies me with honey that was helped along by my flower gardens. I also cook all sorts of non-vegan things for my family, although I do try to ensure that these things come from healthy, non-factory-farmed sources. I would rather use butter than margarine, vegan though the margarine may be. I prefer whole, unprocessed foods when possible but I also reach for the breakfast cereal every day. We are so fortunate to have a choice, you know? So many people don’t, due to time constraints or financial situations or inaccessibility to good food sources.
It’s a good thing to remember at this time of year, when we’re smoothing out the first few pages on our new day-timers, thinking about what 2014 will bring. I think that we can all resolve to just do our best, whatever our best may be, and keep the thought that everyone else is also doing their best, whatever that best may be. It’s a nice perspective.