Preparations

There's this thing I do every New Year's Eve, I don't really know why.  What I do is I pick a "resolution" spontaneously, and stick to it whether I like it or not.  It's an exercise in self-discipline, or something like that.  It doesn't really matter why, it's just this thing I do.  I don't do it every year, so I suppose it isn't really that disciplined.  Also I don't always stick to it (likewise).  Some resolutions are easier to keep to than others.  In 2002 for example, my resolution was to wear a suit every day.  I did fairly well here; I recall it was about September before I first neglected to wear a tie.  In 2003 my resolution was to eat a tuna sandwich (or baked potato) whenever I felt like it.  This was easier to stick to, and I was a success.  In 2004-5, I lost my mind, which may or may not be related.  I was a student.  Good times.



What heaven used to look like.
Anyway, three years ago my resolution was to go vegan for a month.  (Who said a new year's resolution has to last a year?  My game, my rules).  I thought that would be as long as I could stand it.  I really liked fish.  I really, really liked cheese.  Just thinking about pizza brought on a rush of adrenaline.  What would I eat?   Admittedly this wasn't an area entirely alien to me, having grown up in a (sort of) vegetarian family.  Steak and chips was not the issue, nor gammon and eggs.  Bacon wasn't even the issue.  (A full English was, occasionally I admit, the issue).  The issue was ignorance.  I'd absorbed the myth-conception that vegans were skinny, malnourished degenerates lacking the proteins and fats that make up a healthy human body.  I knew animal life mattered - mattered more than our moral conventions tend to allow for - but I knew that my life mattered too.  I "knew" in some abstract sense (a remnant of my philosophical education) that my life mattered more.  I'd started to dabble in transhumanism, and was already a few years on the other side of thirty.  I knew I was past my physical peak (my mental peak, too - remember how I said I lost my mind?  Well that wasn't all bad).  I've been moderately overweight, and asthmatic, most of my life, so I'd never been a perfect human specimen anyway.  My knees hurt more often, not for any particular reason, just from being knees.  I am aging.  My last remaining grandparent had died, and my parents were approaching retirement.  Mortality was coming to mind.

So perhaps I wasn't best placed to take the leap into a lifestyle that seemed radical, needlessly (joylessly?) aesthetic at that time.  I did it anyway.  A month, I thought.  I can do this.  It will be an interesting experiment.

Three years later, I'm still vegan.  I wouldn't have believed it, but it's one of the best decisions I ever made.  There are two things to say about it to anyone with similar inclinations:

1.  It's much, much easier than you think.  Veganism today is where vegetarianism was maybe 20 or 30 years ago: on the verge of going mainstream.  You'd be hard pressed today to find any respectable public eatery that doesn't have any vegetarian options (even MacDonald's has that, and they're the opposite of respectable).  The market has been saturated by meat substitutes for those who still crave the taste of bloody flesh.  To a very large degree, meat has been severed from the image of "manliness".  And most of all, there's just a much wider variety of food available now than there ever was.  (Yeah, we have global capitalism to thank for that, I know, but one step at a time).  You can walk into a supermarket and come out with a trolley full of meat-free, non-dairy goodies without even really trying.  I speculate that within a few decades in the West, "vegetarian" could be a redundant word.  "Vegan" may not be too far behind.  What?  We used to eat animal corpses?  Yeah.  We didn't know any better.  Like we didn't used to know micro-organisms spread disease, and not even that long ago.

2.  It's a moral imperative.  Sorry about that, but it's just the way it is.  There are simply no good arguments against veganism that don't come down to "meat tastes nice" or "my life matters more because of what species I belong to".  Everyone who can go vegan, should.  Veganism is the logical conclusion of the entire Enlightenment project.  If you want to fight me over this fact, bring it on.  Individual rights, social justice, political progress, human evolution itself means nothing without veganism.  I'd like to write a book to explain all of this, for those who haven't already worked it out (and I think a lot of people have, so maybe I won't need to).  For the planet, for your health, for the future of life on earth, just fucking do it.

Now all of this is just background information to what I actually sat down to write this post about.  In another few weeks it will be 2017, and time for me to make another resolution.  This year though I'm not going to be so spontaneous, since I'm already resolved.  The plan is to buy a year's supply of food and live primarily off that.  I'm still doing some calculations but on but I'm thinking 25kg of porridge oats, 25kg of rice, 25kg of lentils and some 5-10kg supplies of dried beans could be my staples (breakfast, lunch and dinner?) that I could then flesh out with fresh vegetables as I grow them.  That looks very austere written down, and I've not much interest in being ascetic just for the sake of it, but it's the start of an idea and I'll have to make it realistic if it's to work.  The main challenges are boredom, malnutrition, and how much fresh green food I'm actually going to be able to grow in my flat.  Obvious benefits include saving money.  Like so much that I've been doing and thinking this year though, it'll have to be an experiment.  Your comments on this subject would be much appreciated.