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Whether you’re a minimalist or a vegan or neither, we could all use a bit of these sustainable principles in our lives.
It doesn’t have to be this audacious aspiration. It all starts by taking small intentional steps towards your journey of simplicity and mindfulness.
You may want to reduce your overall household waste, or incorporate more healthy plant-based recipes, or reduce the amount of possessions that you own. As a society, we have been conditioned to do the opposite of this. More clothes, more food, more content and information, better cars, bigger houses, more commitments and the list goes on.
To help you get started on this journey, take small steps in the right direction and simply start with the basics. Here are five ways to help you live a more minimalist vegan lifestyle.
Educate yourself to understand why you want to live this lifestyle, and the how then becomes much easier. If you don’t have a why, it’s unlikely you will see long-lasting change. If the reason you choose not to buy fast fashion is because it’s the second biggest polluting industry and is not made ethically, then you are more likely to choose sustainable fashion that supports fair work practices.
There are many books, movies/documentaries, blogs and other bits of content out there to help you get educated on what you are consuming.
Remove animal products from your life
This may sound like a massive step, but hear me out. You don’t have to do it all at once. Transition slowly, but start with food. For example, remove all meat and add in substitutes. Personally, we became vegan overnight but that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. You can remove products one by one at your own pace. Food is typically the starting point but generally the hardest to transition as it’s such a big part of our lives. Eggs, meat, dairy and honey are all products that contain some part of the animal itself or its bi-products.
For us, we watched a documentary that motivated us to transition immediately which gave us a really strong why. Other animal products that would follow after food would be products that contain leather, wool, fur, silk and feathers. It may be tricky to get rid of it all, as typically some or all these products appear in one aspect in our lives. We transitioned those items out of our lives as we could. Knowing that something was purchased before we transitioned, we didn’t want to be wasteful, so we used it while it was still functional and then disposed of it. Otherwise, those items were donated when we could afford to swap them out. Some we still own. Nothing can be completely perfect, and we certainly don’t put that pressure on ourselves to be that.
Create a support network around yourself
This is such an important point. Never underestimate the importance of having a support network around you. Whether it be your partner, family, friends or complete strangers (to begin with), we all need support when making significant change in our lives. People that can relate and support you is really important from day one. Someone to talk to about your transition or just let off some steam—create this network from early on to give you the support you need.
If you feel that unfortunately you cannot get this support from your current circle, there are many groups on Facebook, social events such as Festivals or meet-ups that can help you connect with like-minded individuals. Just remember that you can always reach out to people for help and support. Places like the Cruelty Free Shop in Braddon is great to help you get you started.
Clean out your wardrobe
It seems like a really simple concept, but have you gone a little deeper than what is just on the surface of a typical wardrobe clean-out? Here are some questions to ask yourself about the clothes that you own when going through piece by piece:
- Does it still fit me?
- Does it need repair? And if yes, will I realistically ever do it?
- Have I worn this lately?
- Does it make me feel good about myself?
- Is it a versatile piece?
Some of these questions will make you eliminate some clothes straight away and others may be a little trickier. With the last question, think about that top that you like, but haven’t worn because you don’t have the right pants to wear it with or shoes. If it’s a one hit wonder, then it may be time to part with it and donate it to someone that may be able to wear it straight away and has more versatility use for it.
When you decide to purchase something, ask yourself the following set of questions. This will help you reduce the amount of garments you bring into your wardrobe and help you from impulse shopping.
- Do I REALLY need this?
- What will I wear it with?
- Have I already got something similar?
- Does it fit me perfectly or does something need altering?
- Am I only buying this because it’s cheap or on sale?
- Will this piece add to my personal style long term or is this just in fashion now? (Think slow fashion vs fast fashion).
- Does this piece look like it will last more than a year because of the way that it’s made? (Think about the fabric and the overall quality of the garment).
When you ask yourself these questions, you will help yourself make the right decision. Rather than buying things, invest your hard earned cash and try experiences instead. There is so much to do around Canberra and within a short distance. These are the things that creating lasting memories, not the top you were looking at buying last weekend.
If you really do need clothes, shop in places like Material Pleasures in Fyshwick, markets and Salvos. They have a great range of clothes that may have not even been worn before. Alternatively look online at stores like Ethi, Ecoture, Bhumi and Vegan Style for sustainable, ethically made vegan fashion.
Do an audit on all your commitments
Did you ever pause to think about all the commitments you have made in your weekly, monthly and yearly schedule? Most of us tend to overcommit ourselves because we struggle to say no to things.
The best way to approach doing an audit on all your commitments is to write them all down. Do they make you happy or are you doing it because you didn’t want to let someone else down? Sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish and put yourself first.
Dream a little to see how you would envisage spending your time and how you can achieve that. You may need to be brutally honest and let some people down. But in return you will free up time to do more of the things that bring you joy. Don’t be afraid to be courageously simple and have time in your calendar where nothing is scheduled. You may give yourself the time to get to read the book you’ve been putting off because you have more important things to do. Or maybe take a spontaneous trip to the coast or beautiful nearby places like Murrumbateman and Bungendore.
It’s certainly not easy to do less—but think about the clarity that it can create for you to just give yourself time.
If you’d like to learn more about these lifestyles, how they work together and learn the why behind them, pick up a copy of Michael and Maša Ofei’s book The Minimalist Vegan, which is also the name of their blog. They are doing a local book tour at the following venues if you’d like to meet them and grab a signed copy.
- The Source Bulk Foods Dickson: 12 May at 4 pm (tickets available online and in-store)
- Beyond Q Bookshop Weston: 24 May at 6 pm
- Harry Hartog Bookshop Woden: 2 June at 11 am
- The Cruelty Free Shop Braddon: 9 June at 11 am
You can find Michael and Maša online at theminimalistvegan.com