A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

In honor of New Year’s Day, I’m posting the text of the New Year’s resolutions piece I performed for Paper Machete last January…

Becoming a vegan was not actually my idea. It was my friend Daniella’s.* I hate to blame her but she is the kind of vegan who is very persuasive. You know, long meaningful stares at your omlet during brunch and then “helpful” links to “The Truth About Eggs”** posted on your Facebook timeline while she claims to be texting her mom? Plus, she’s super hot, stylish and skinny but not too skinny and she has a kind of glow about her that she claims comes from eating kale and no animals but which I now suspect to be some kind of expensive BB cream. I don’t mean to doubt her but when I followed in her footsteps, finally persuaded by a passionate monologue about the ratio of puss to cream in yogurt, I gained twenty pounds, my hair developed the texture of a brillo pad, and I lost all the feeling in my right hand and foot.  But like all cults, once you are a vegan it is very hard to stop being a vegan. In my case, I made the mistake of announcing my newfound veganness publicly, on Facebook, and suddenly fellow vegans were tagging me in status updates and people I barely knew were asking me for cooking advice and next thing I know I’m like the spokesperson for veganness on the public radio station where I regularly appear as a commentator on racism and pop culture., so like, hundreds of people in Northern Indiana – strangers – know I am a vegan. So, like, no matter how delicious melted cheese is, no matter how perfect a poached egg on an arugula salad may be, how can I stop being a vegan?*** Like, do I just issue a press release, attention attention, despite the very convincing environmental and ethical arguments posited by the YouTube video The Truth About Eggs, I have decided that I, Coya Paz, do not give a bleep about the welfare of our planet or the short miserable lives of chickens.  I mean, I might as well issue a press release that says attention, attention, I, Coya Paz, am a total asshole. Don’t get me wrong. Being a total asshole works for some people but I have built my whole public persona on being lovely and talented and also I have been a vegetarian for 25 years which is probably why I was so easily persuaded by Daniella and the Truth About Eggs in the first place. There is absolutely no logical reason why one would be a vegetarian and not a vegan. Trust me. I have tried very hard to find one.

I mean, there was the small matter of how I lost all the feeling in my hand and foot,  and gained twenty pounds but possibly that’s because both Oreos and Fritos are vegan and so I spent several months eating mostly those things with some grapefruit juice thrown in for nutrition.   But then I caught the fever, big time. It arrived in the form of the January 2013 Cleanse issue of Natural Living, a Martha Stewart publication that is now defunct.  Okay. You might have noticed that January is the time of year when everyone is making big changes! Like, this is the year I return phone calls! This is the year I work out! This is the year that I am a better person! And we all know it is not. Which is why cleanses and short challenges are so appealing. They let you feel like you’re doing something big, like I’ve grabbed the first three weeks of the year and I have eaten nothing but kale and I have accomplished… IT! I don’t know what IT is but it is a super megabucks industry.  According to Forbes, the organic and natural juice market alone is 2.4 billion dollars annually. That’s billion with a B. And that number doesn’t count books  -I did an Amazon search for cleanse and it brought up 1400 titles, which were mostly different than the 2, 600 or so that came up when I searched “detox”.  It doesn’t count supplements – a $20 bottle of Super Colon Cleanse or Renew Life Total Body Rapid Cleanse, for example. I mean, I get it. The idea that some 21-day cleanse could wipe away all of the toxins I have ever put in my body and set me on the shiny healthy path to nutritional newness is very appealing, right? This idea that somehow a week of juice and cayenne pepper will wipe away decades of bad habits? Or at very least, wipe away the month you just spent eating sugar cookies and drinking away all your feelings about the dysfunctional family you are forced to interact with in the name of Pilgrims and Jesus?  Like, in the middle of all that come the Gwynnyth Paltrows and the Daniellas of the world and they hold the beautiful blonde promise of a better you?

So I went for it. I did 21 days of a vegan, sugar-free, caffeine-free, gluten-free, soy-free, joy-free diet. And when I say 21 days, I mean I added coffee back in on the afternoon of the first day because I was so sure I was going to kill someone.  But the rest of that month was all kale, and soaked cashews, and homemade almond milk, and green smoothies, and it is true that after I got past the first week of rage and hunger-induced hallucinations, I felt more energized. And everyone complimented my skin. And I never farted. Like, never, not once in the whole time I was doing it. I know this for reasons I wont go into but which involve my four year old starting a fart battle that I could not win because my body was a carefully cultivated ecosystem that did not produce gas.  Still, I found the whole thing very hard to maintain. It’s isolating. And time consuming. And not that delicious.

Still, millions of people start January like this every year, hoping somehow, against all odds, against the very real probability that you are just you, somehow one of these super challenges will take hold, that some genuinely healthy habits will worm their way in? But the reason New Year’s Resolutions rarely last is because they are motivated by the promise of a self that we have already learned to live without.  Most of us, shitty habits and messy closets and microwave burritos, are fine.  Real change is slow and probably involves a horrifying YouTube video that you can never ever forget, no matter how hard you try.  So when you’re ready for that, I’ll introduce you to my friend Daniela. Until then, I propose a totally different kind of New Year’s Resolution, one that involves almost zero commitment and offers longterm possibility. Like buying a pack of really ugly, very comfortable granny panties, the kind that will never ever give you wedgies no matter how hard you try. That’s what I did this year, and it is awesome.


*Name has been changed but SHE KNOWS WHO SHE IS!

**I made up this particular video, but you know the kind of video I mean, right?

***In my case, I took a trip to Paris.