Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Closer to my own ideals

A friend of mine, commenting on just a fraction of her dislike of January, observed that she hates "the pressure of New Year's resolutions and the general feelings of deprivation based on self-hatred that always seem to accompany a resolution." That hasn't been my experience this year, but it's a reminder that the end of the first month is as good of a time as any to reflect on how my own resolution.

To refresh your memory, I resolved to only eat meat that I feel good about: meat that I believe to have been raised in a humane way and that is healthful. Largely, that means for me grass-fed beef, pastured chickens and hogs, and wild-caught fish of varieties that are not over-fished.

So how's it going? Without thinking about it, I ate some meat that didn't fit my parameters--there was meaton a free sample of a breakfast pizza at the local coffee shop--but I didn't beat myself up over it, I just resolved to be more attentive. When I'm away from home, I've become functionally a vegetarian, or a pescetarian, anyway, and that's been a challenge sometimes, but overall not that bad.

In fact, being at the hospital it's been pretty darned good, because they have a bar filled with Middle Eastern vegetarian fare as well as food from a local Indian restaurant, many of whose options are vegetarian. It's been really good food, and living under those self-imposed strictures has made it easy to eat healthier here, because I don't even go look at the hot food line.

That brings me back to my friend's idea of "feelings of deprivation." Although there have been times where I've felt a bit like that, it's really been a nice thing to feel like I'm living closer to my own ideals. I'll admit that I'm not there yet, but this is a fairly significant move in that direction. Isn't that really what New Year's resolutions are, or should be: behaviors that bring us closer to our own ideals? Not giving something up so much as bring who you want to be? Giving something up might be part of it, but the important thing is to replace it with something that is good in its own right and also makes you more satisfied. As Emerson asserted, "Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."


  1. Interesting that you and I have the same intent for this year and beyond. The one proviso I added to mine was that I can/must eat what I already have in the refrigerator and freezer, even if it doesn't fit the parameters. Because I can't afford to throw out the food I have already purchased and buy replacements--and somehow I feel it's wrong to discard perfectly good food. But from now on, new purchases will be as you described. It's time to eat more mindfully, more ethically.

  2. I think you're exactly right - resolutions SHOULD be things that bring us closer to our own ideal model of living. It's really good for me to try and think of it in this way. I still don't like January, or New Year's resolutions, though. =)

  3. Sarah, that sounds perfectly reasonable. Some people might debate whether the food was REALLY "perfectly good," but I know what you mean and support your pragmatism!

    Thanks Hilary. I think that culturally, we all have a tendency to think of resolutions as times to stop something, to give up something, and kind of forget why we're really doing it, or maybe just go into it with too much of a sense of guilt in the first place. And given all your other January experiences, I don't blame you for not liking the whole month!