The first LunaVida post of a brand new year always feels kind of special. It's just nice knowing the next 365 days are a fresh start. I mean, yes, every day, every minute, every second are all a chance for a new start. But there's something extra about January 1st specifically. Whether you make New Year's resolutions or not (personally sometimes I do, sometimes I don't - both usually with no rhyme or reason), this is such a good time to make - and welcome with open arms - change.
Two years ago this January 3rd, I made the decision to finally make a change in my life that I had been thinking about for half of my life at that point -- I went vegan. (If you read LunaVida you most likely already know this. If this is news to you please check out this blog that I posted when I made my very personal decision very public.) This one choice has changed the entire reason and path of my life. My daily life changed. My career goals changed. Mine and Matt's relationship changed. The primary purpose of writing LunaVida changed. And every single one of those changes was, without a shred of doubt, entirely for the better.
Going plant-based is the single most important decision I have ever made, hands-down. And as I come up on my second veganniversary on the 3rd, it makes me think back to almost exactly two years ago. This was when Matt and I had decided that in lieu of making resolutions we would instead complete a plant-based Whole30 (you can read all about that experience here). My intention was actually to utilize it as a jumpstart to a permanent lifestyle change into vegan-dom. (Matt was simply being a supportive partner who also happens to like a healthy self-challenge. While he was a vegetarian at the time, and a lifelong animal lover too, he had no real interest in going vegan. That quickly changed, however - which was a shock to both of us - and he's since become such a dedicated advocate, I'm happy to say!)
Now that I have seen firsthand how life can so drastically change from making small, everyday changes (such as simply eschewing dairy in favor of cruelty-free nut milk alternatives) I thought it'd be fun to share a few ideas that may help all of us, our nonhuman animal friends, and Mama Earth for the first LunaVida post of 2019!
Make a concerted effort to stop using single-use plasticsLike many people, I started drinking from reusable water bottles years ago. I now finally remember to grab my reusable shopping bags more often than not (woo hoo!). We have started to use paper, metal, and glass straws (these are my personal favorites) in place of traditional plastic straws. These are all easy (and cost-effective!) changes to make that will have a lasting impact on our planet. They are undoubtedly a great place to start. We, as a society, desperately need to level up our commit though. I have a lot of room to grow in this space if I'm being brutally honest with myself. For example, I've previously discussed my love of Trader Joe's but the amount of unnecessary packaging they use for a lot of their products is downright painful to stomach. Their bags of prepackaged fresh produce are generally cheaper than if you buy said fruits and veggie individually; thus, I tend to grab the baggy of seven limes that costs $1.29 -- even when I don't need that many -- versus just picking three up for the same price but involves zero packaging. It's a life lesson I am trying to get through my thick skull, and I intend to make 2019 the year it finally becomes an ingrained habit.
Cut out environment-destroying household products
For so long I had absolutely no idea that our typical cleaning products (think Windex, Tide, etc) are actually full of harmful chemicals. They are damaging to our own health, our waterways, our air, and our environment in general -- and most of them are tested on animals. As we've used up the ol' standard products under our kitchen sink we have been replacing them with all cruelty-free and less toxic brands to reduce the risks. (Next up for me is delving into clean beauty!)
Up the activism
Becoming an "activist" had literally never crossed my mind. That is until I learned about the realities of factory farming and the constant abuse it places on the billions of animals. And discovering what industrialized agriculture has done -- and is continuing to do -- to our environment gutted me. I couldn't passively stand by and let it happen. So as these things typically work, I started out with me and personal changes I could make. I changed my daily habits by cutting out all animal products and switching to cruelty-free alternatives. Then I shared what I learned with my boyfriend (making sure to never preach or patronize - it's not my style, and it often does more harm than good). He went vegan! I started to look for volunteer opportunities in the movement. I leafleted about making compassionate food choices at a farmers market for the first time ever. I applied for jobs in the animal rights realm. I worked with the Prop 12 campaign. I met activists. They inspired me to get involved more. Matt and I changed our annual contributions to only giving to nonprofits that don't pay for animal suffering. I got a job within the AR movement. I signed up as a volunteer to help with an amazing organizations' campaigns. I organized my first ever protest (just last weekend actually which was very exciting!). And then, here I am today. I'm still fired up, and there's still a seemingly overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done. I don't ever want to become complacent and think "I'm doing enough as it is" because, quite simply, I'm not. There is always more room to grow, opportunities to educate, and compassion to be spread. This year I want to stretch myself outside of my comfort level and try out new forms of activism that I have yet to experience. And I'd love for you to join me in 2019!