If you’re expecting to hear that it has been difficult, I am going to let you down.
Actually the ease with which I have been able to quite simply give up something which I would have had every day, sometimes in questionable quantities, has me feeling a little despondent.
I choose to give up chocolate for January for a couple of reasons. The first wasn’t that I eat too much of it. I seem to have been blessed genetically (or it is youth) in that I rarely break out in acne or pack on the pounds around my waist. In theory the amount of chocolate and sugar that I consume should have led to both of the above happening. Regardless, my point is that I didn’t have a pressing need to immediately curb my consumption.
My transition between vegetarianism and veganism has been thwarted by my addiction to milk chocolate. I found, last year, that I could do days of eating entirely vegan meals only to be undone each evening by my craving for sugar and the sugar coming in the form of chocolate. It felt like a pretty poor excuse – I just like chocolate – to justify not being able to go vegan. It also made all the work I put into my meals kind of unnecessary because in the end I was effectively throwing it all away by eating copious amounts of milk products anyway. Going vegan has been something I’ve been aiming for since 2015 and if you know anything about me I imagine it might be that I am rather stubborn. It didn’t sit well with me that my determination was consistently upset by something as fickle as my desire.
The last reason was that I wanted to see if I had it in me to go cold turkey and simply quit. I have done it before: I gave up nail-biting on the 27th November 2017 and each year when I was a teenager I would give up something for the Lenten period. (I don’t know if giving up things for Lent is just an Irish tradition?). Being able to drag myself out of bed in the mornings to run or forcing myself to sit down to correct mountains of exams on a Friday evening meant that I knew there exists in me a mental strength, I just wanted to flex it a little and so I thought chocolate.
And it has been a fantastic disappointment! There has been no challenge in it at all!!
In Paris I craved it only when I was hungry after a long day of writing and this craving dissipated once I ate something else, anything else. It will be harder, I thought, in Ireland. No! I returned here to a fridge full of left-over Christmas and New Years chocolates and to my room where the 2018 Avriii had left a half-finished box of my favourites Ferrero Rocher beside my bed.
I haven’t moved them. I have slept soundly each night without even wanting to left the lid. Last Wednesday I became so worried about the extent of my unaffectedness that I found myself in the aisle of a sweet store gazing at the rows of chocolates, all discounted. I felt nothing.
It has been no challenge to give up chocolate and when I have attempted to make it more so, I have grown tired of myself. So what does it mean? I feel a cold sweat at the thought that this could be another sign of ageing. I remember the moment I realised I had crossed over some age threshold because I simply could not imagine eating, never mind physically consume, a bag of Haribo jellies.
Perhaps I’m just a personality type that finds it easy to give up things. Taking up something, is that what I would struggle with? I had had it in mind to give up something different during each month of 2019 but these few weeks have made me wonder what the point of it all would be.
Ironically the mental strength I was hoping to feel has not come because there was nothing to overcome. It has served it’s purpose in allowing me to take a step closer to the vegan lifestyle that I have wanted to adopt for a long time. It has been useful yes, but what use is there in anything if I don’t feel good about it.
Maybe this despondency is a sugar low and what I need is what I am denying myself. Is there more mental strength in admitting being stubborn isn’t working for me? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t like that.