Call it the Year of the Latte, or the Panini.
When the new year rolls around, some people vow to spend more time with their family. Others pledge to step up their Pilates routines. But Beautiful Existence - yes, that's the legal name of a real person, not a philosophical question - has another resolution for 2013: To eat and drink only items from Starbucks for 12 straight months.
In Photos: Outrageous Food
Based in Seattle - like Starbucks - Beautiful Existence, who's a wife, mother and veteran of the Year-Long Challenge (past resolutions have included her year of Goodwill hunting - that is, shopping only at the famed thrift shop, and " taking on" Parents magazine), is consuming only Starbucks' products, which can now include Tazo Tea and Evolution Fresh, as the coffee giant recently acquired them.
The way Beautiful Existence sees it, it's her duty as a "spoiled" American to test her mettle in such a way. After all, what about the less-fortunate who live in far-flung villages with no Starbucks, who can't indulge in such delicacies as Turkey Rustico Panini or Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Panini, both of which Ms. Existence adores? Compared to how tough others have it, "Is it really going to be that hard for one year of my life to limit my menu?" she told MyNorthwest.com.
Not only is her goal to call attention to the plight of Panini-free people, she's also trying to make a feminist statement.
Think about it: Jared Fogle shot to fame after losing 245 pounds in one year by eating only Subway products. And Morgan Spurlock, whom Ms. Existence calls "Mr. McDonalds" in her blog, changed the way the world views fast food with his documentary "Supersize Me."
But where, Beautiful Existence laments, "are all the women challenging themselves in the world? Where are the effects being shown on a woman's culture? A woman's family and children? A woman's diet, weight, fashion, checkbook, community and world through challenges? Where is her voice on how an international company is directly or indirectly impacting everything from her waistline to her bottom line and every other woman's, man's, child's, societies and planets world with their presence?"
(Actually, a woman named Christine shed 54 pounds in two years by eating low-fat meals at Taco Bell, but it is unclear whether this had any impact on other planets.)
Ms. Existence also wanted to focus on businesses and organizations that are based in the Pacific Northwest. "I've been watching Starbucks for a while and I've known about how they're really tried to keep good benefits for the part-time workers and really good customer service," she told ABC News. "Howard Schultz has been participating in politics and the economic situation in our community; they are very environmental. I really wanted to do something that would have a little more depth when I get into it."
Starbucks, for its part, is "honored" by the whole thing.
"We think it's great," spokeswoman Linda Mills told ABC News. "It speaks to the variety of food and beverage items in our stores. … We're obviously very flattered that she would take on such an endeavor like this."
So far, Ms. Existence has been enjoying her challenge, although steering clear of baked goods has proved a little tough. And she recently confessed to almost blowing the whole thing by licking a batter-covered spoon during an evening brownie-baking session.
Still, none of this would be worth it if there were no hurdles.
That, after all, is what life is all about, she says. "Things start out with reservation and hesitation, even fear, loathing, upset or ridicule. But it's what that questioning leads to … the ideas, the engagement, the creativity, the expression, the involvement in life that make my questions, my challenges, my voice of only eating/drinking Starbucks for a year all the more sweet," she notes.
"Because it is the question itself that brings us to what it is to be a woman, a mother, a blogger, an eater and drinker of only Starbucks for a year, basically… what it is to be a human."
We'll raise a latte to that.
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