I have to say, I feel bad for January.
It’s become the month that we all give up on everything – from the household items that no long bring us joy to the drinks on which we overindulged during the holidays. The idea of staring the year off with a clean slate has even led to people declaring themselves in detox from eating meat!
Wasn’t it bad enough we told January it was responsible for the most depressing day of year? Now we’ve gone and taken away all the things that could have made it fun, too!
Most likely you know at least one person partaking in Dry January. The term is actually trademarked by an alcohol-harm-reduction charity based in the United Kingdom. For the past few years, more and more folks have been jumping on the bandwagon, with the practice creeping its way across the pond to land on our shores. The premise is simple: no alcoholic drinks for the entire month. The idea is that a month without imbibing will lead binge drinkers to curb their dangerous habits. Studies suggests that, come the summer, between half to three-quarters of participants say they’ve reduced their overall consumption and as many as four percent are still dry. Plus a month without booze can lead to lost weight, lower blood pressure, and better sleeping. All good things, of course. But couldn’t we just as easily have picked February, the shortest month, in which to go dry? Or perhaps April, in preparation for summer months filled with boozy bbqs and increased fatalities due to impaired driving?
You might also know someone trying Veganuary this year. Veganuary is “a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.” Nearly a quarter of a million people are following the group’s Facebook page, swapping recipes and promoting products that meet the vegan standard of not using or consuming animal products. While the movement began with a cruelty-free focus, the health benefits are gaining ground as well. Did you know Bill Clinton was reported as following a vegan diet after undergoing emergency heart surgery? It’s more likely, based on detailed reports, that he’s a pescatarian – a predominately plant-based eater, with occasional meals of fish – but Pescatanuary doesn’t catch the ear quite as well.
Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with encouraging each other not to binge on anything, whether it’s the latest Netflix must-watch or tasty cocktails at the bar. And our nation’s revised Food Guide, launched this month, certainly takes aim at the overabundance of meat and milk in our collective diet. I’m just feeling like January is taking the brunt of all this rushing to change ourselves, adding to the mental fatigue we already feel during this dark, cold month.
There are some folks promoting Dry July and Sober October, both of which roll off the tongue so nicely; perhaps January would be happier to see us curb our drinking in the fall or in the summer, rather than adding this to the already lengthy to-do lists we assign ourselves at the start of the year. And couldn’t we shift our decluttering desires back to coincide with the traditional spring cleaning rush, saving January from carrying this burden as well? And while moving to a more plant-based diet is a healthy choice, starting that in the dead of a Canadian winter seems like a cruel joke.
Poor January, no wonder the saddest day of the year belongs to you!