It’s that time again: new year, new resolve to be kinder, thinner, healthier, wealthier, and maybe that much closer to perfect. I’m not sure why that clean page on the calendar makes it so irresistible to want to reach for the sky, but I’d be a liar if I tried to say I didn’t fall victim to the grand delusions every January.

My resolutions often take the following form: “I will never again buy another bag of Tings and inhale it in one sitting!” “I will cook and freeze meals for a whole month and not eat out in that entire time!” “I will finally visit Farm Sanctuary and hug every chicken, pig, and goat I can get my hands on!” “I will be a patient, positive, and perfect ambassador for veganism at all times!”

Listen, it’s all well and good to have goals, but these absolutes are a recipe for disaster. The only absolute that means a damn is that I am vegan. The minutiae of having a perfect diet and a perfect record when it comes to dealing with people doesn’t mean nearly as much. Tings will be eaten and you will undoubtedly lose your cool with someone (or they with you). Doing the best you can for yourself, for the planet, and – always, always – for the animals is where your efforts must be focused.

This year, I resolve to try to be fearless when I’d usually be fearful. I operate from a place of fear in much of my life; it was fear of illness that started me thinking about veganism in the first place four summers ago. There is room to let fear go and do things that scare me. Eating a more whole foods (not Whole Foods) based diet does not have to be scary. Speaking up for animals to strangers does not have to be scary. Speaking my truth with confidence and surety does not have to be scary.

In 2012 I did several things that went against my usual MO – veganism-related or otherwise – and I am that much the better for it. 2013 is the year of living fearlessly when it’s possible, and not to beat myself up when it’s not. Who’s with me?