I bet you’re like, “A wrap up post? It’s the end of January 2014 already! Can’t you get it together enough to post it before the new year?!”  Nope.  My family holidays were delayed due to work schedules and out of town guests so this is like Jan. 1st for me.  Hello 2014!

Anyway, like everyone else everywhere, I’ve been reflecting about what kind of a year 2013 had been.  Let me tell you all about it.  Here’s a spoiler: 2013 sucked.

Most wrap up posts talk about all the great stuff that happened that year and some resolutions to make 2014 the best it can be.  I’m of a belief that one must look at the failures of the year as much as successes in order to grow.  And oh boy, did 2013 have some failures.

First, I failed to complete reviews of two vegan products:

Om Nom Nom Cookies.  These cookies are seriously simple, seriously delicious, made with awesome ingredients, and adorably packaged.  However, and this is a small thing I know but, the name of the company drives me bananas.  I don’t want to, or ever say, Om Nom Nom.

The other is, The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour.  Awesome book, concept, recipes, everything…except the book is in black and white.  That vegan is too adorable not to be in color.  And pictures of cocktails should always be in color.

So, a heartfelt apology to both of those folks for not doing a timely review.

You know what else didn’t work out in 2013?  Those webinars.  Those really didn’t work out at all.

As I sat thinking about 2013 I couldn’t help but to think about it’s beginnings, or rather endings- the end of 2012.  It had been a tragic year for the animals I live with.  I lost Olli to kidney failure in February, Lakini was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March, and Gypsy was diagnosed in renal failure 11 days later.

While Gypsy is still (fighting renal failure) here with me, I’m incredibly sad to say that Lakini lost her fight with cancer in October.

Lakini and Scowt

Lakini (on yellow pillow) and Scowt (on red pillow) circa 2010

Lakini was cremated after her death and her ashes were brought home to sit on a shelf in my bedroom.  It’s a sad shelf, it houses the ashes of Olli and Scowt, beloved friends who passed from this life much too soon.  Staring at the shelf with three sets of ashes made me realize that I’ve lost a friend every year since 2011: Scowt, 2011.  Olli, 2012.  Lakini, 2013.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that these events have taken their toll on YDV, they have.

2013 brought changes to the vegan movement.  Lots of new vegan websites, projects, books, tv shows, restaurants, cafes, food trucks, conferences, and vegfests popped up all over the place.  It seemed that veganism had become more mainstream than ever.

But mainstream success can come at a price.  If anyone paid it, ethical vegans did.

All of a sudden, bringing veganism into the mainstream meant ethical vegans had to put aside their ethics so that “we don’t scare anyone away.”  We could bake someone a vegan cupcake, but we could not talk about why honey isn’t vegan, how veganism extends beyond the plate, or the difference between eating vegan and living vegan.

[If you’re really feeling spunky, go to Facebook and post anything about how Bill Clinton, Beyonce, Jay Z, Jermaine Dupri, or any of the other “vegan” celebrities are really plant-based eaters and not vegans and wait for the angry swearing comments to pour in.  They will.]

Ethical vegan advocates were told that discussing these type of issues is judgmental and makes veganism too strict to follow.  Instead, advocates should gently lead people to a more meatless way of eating. (Through non-communication apparently because talking = judging, see above.)

These challenges are, of course, not new.  Hell, I’ve been talking about vegan unity for as long as I’ve been blogging.  But 2013 was the first time that I’ve felt marginalized by (what I thought was) my own community.  It wasn’t just me either, every time I read an article discussing the meaning of veganism I saw comment after comment chastising ethical vegans with phrases such as; “judgemental,” “angry,” “preachy,” “holier-than-thou,” “personal purity,” and “strict.”

[Side note: I think angry vegans are a-okay and animals love preachy vegans.]

Where is the safe space for ethical vegans?  Where is the place that celebrates the strength and courage of people who go against every mainstream idea and change the world for animals?  Where it’s okay to discuss the ethics and intricacies of being vegan without being judged by the “every little bit helps you’re just being too strict” crowd?

I had forgotten that the place to celebrate the ethical vegan is right here.  On YDV.  Forgotten no longer.

And listen, not all of 2013 was totally awful.

For the first time, YDV features writing by multiple authors.  YDV joined the Cleveland VegFest as their media team.  The YDV newsletter was born.  We donated the proceeds of our t-shirt sales to LASA Sanctuary, which helped build a pasture fence for rescued farmed animals.  We wrote 347 posts which generated 227,000+ pageviews and 604 comments.  We grew to 47,000+ friends on Twitter and, believing that Facebook is a breeding ground for school yard antics and arguments, we closed our Facebook page.  You’re reading this post now, all positives- all successes.

I know that looking back and seeing the failures and successes of the year is important.  But now that I’ve done that, I’m ready to be looking forward.