New Website Celebrates Simplicity in Food and Life
I don’t know about you, but I get excited whenever a new vegan website pops up. There’s always something fresh to discover, be it recipes, information or products that make the plant-based lifestyle even better than it already is. But let’s face it, even with as mindful as vegans try to be, we sometimes get caught in the trap of always having to have the latest thing. Foods, gadgets, books, movies and even apps tailored to the vegan lifestyle abound, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it only goes to show that we’re not immune to the draw of consumerism.
That’s where The Minimalist Vegan comes in. Run by Masha and Michael from their home base in Canberra, Australia, this website is dedicated to helping anyone–whether they’re already vegan or not–live a simpler, healthier plant-based lifestyle. On their website, you’ll find Masha’s tasty recipes, Michael’s articles on minimalism and a host of resources to guide you away from the craziness of constant consumption.
How did this focus on simplicity come to be? Read on to find out from Masha and Michael themselves!
Q&A with Masha and Michael!
What inspired you to become a minimalist?
Growing up, we were negatively affected by consumerism. It’s not like we had a shopping problem, but like most people, we got caught in the trap of always wanting more. More clothes, more furniture, more vehicles, more pretty things and more money. This is what we like to call “The More Virus.” This virus lead us into debt, along with other financial commitments. Furthermore, the clutter of all of the stuff we owned was weighing us down. It was not until we discovered a blog called Zen Habits, that we started to realise that we had a problem. From that point on, we have systematically discarded and gave away items that are not important to us, and we feel great for it! Once we gained perspective, we started to see clutter in all areas of life and we continue to learn more each and every day. Having less things is so liberating and somewhat addictive.
When did you first go plant-based and why?
We officially became vegan about 9 months ago, although Masha has been vegetarian (on and off, mostly on) for most of her life. We made the switch after mustering up the courage to watch a film called Earthlings. The documentary exposed us to animal cruelty in a way that we hadn’t seen before. It was a shock, to say the least. It also gave us perspective that being vegan is more than just making decisions about what we eat. Animals are being exploited in many different ways including domestic, for food, clothes, science and entertainment. And like minimalism, we are systematically looking at how we can support humanity through the decisions we make.
How did these two lifestyle changes come together for you?
It’s interesting how both lifestyle changes came together around the same time for us. We were fed up with the way things were going, and we were ready to make change. The intersection of both lifestyles is mindful living. Being mindful of what we eat and why. Being mindful of what we buy and why. Being mindful of how we live life and why. It’s a liberating experience once you learn to gain control over your mind and both lifestyles help to train this muscle.
Why are minimalism and veganism important to you?
Minimalism to us is more than consumerism. It’s about doing what is important and enjoyable in life and eliminating the rest. Whether it’s something as simple as decluttering your wardrobe, or something more complex such as changing the group of friends you hang out with.
Veganism is about contributing to humanity. It’s about leaving animals alone to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. Hey, maybe some of them are trying to live a simple, meaningful life? We have an opportunity to do what we want, so why don’t they have that same privilege? We’re all animals at the end of the day.
Where did the inspiration for Minimalist Vegan come from?
The Minimalist Vegan was initially a book idea. We wanted to create a vegan cookbook with minimalist concepts (simple recipes, with minimal ingredients). However, we were going through all of these changes that were much more than a cookbook, and we wanted to share those experiences with others who might be going through similar changes.
We both had experience in running blogs in the past and we wanted to bring something different to the health and wellness industry. For example, we intentionally made the design of our site simple, so readers can focus on the writing and the imagery.
What do you hope Minimalist Vegan will do for others?
We hope that our message can help others who are also looking to make changes in their lives, whether that’s learning how to cook tasty plant-based meals, or learning how to create more time in this fast-paced world.
We also understand that many of our readers are considered to be “different” from the general society, and a lot of social pressure comes from being different. We hope to create a platform where we can all feel comfortable in making positive change. The most effective way to do this is to surround yourself with like-minded people. We wouldn’t of made it this far if didn’t have each other’s support.
If you could give one piece of advice on living a simpler, plant-based life, what would it be?
The greatest life hack stems from Jim Rohns famous qoute, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. So if you want to make positive change in your life, surround yourself with the right people. You would be surprised how family, friends, teachers affect your subconscious mind. More specifically, go to vegan meetups in your area, join meditation forums online, be proactive in finding people who support the lifestyle that you want to live.
Any tips for people looking to simplify their lives?
Say no more often 🙂
Anything else you want readers to know?
In a nutshell: Follow your heart, surround yourself with people who align with your values, get rid of unnecessary items in your life and say no more often.
So what does a minimalist vegan eat? Masha and Michael were kind enough to share this awesome recipe for a Naked Burrito Bowl. It hails from their cookbook, One Week of Meals, which you can download for free on the Minimalist Vegan website. With 21 plant-based recipes, ingredient substitutions and other helpful information, it’s a must-have for anyone looking to eat simpler while still enjoying delicious flavor.
- 1 cup brown rice (soaked for at least 3 hours if you have time)
- 3-4 tbsp rice bran oil
- 1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
- 1 medium sized zucchini, cut into small cubes
- 10 mushrooms, cut in fours
- Cayenne pepper
- ½ red onion, chopped
- Can of black beans or 400g cooked black beans – rinsed well
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen corn
- ¾ avocado, diced
- Punnet (250g) of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or 3 small tomatoes, diced
- 1 tsp of juice from a lime/lemon or apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp of olive oil for dressing
- 10-15 pitted kalamata olives
- Salt and pepper to taste for each component of the meal
- Put brown rice and water together in a pot with a lid. Use the ratio of 1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice. Bring the rice/water to a boil uncovered.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. If your lid has a steam valve, keep it closed with the lid on the pot.
- While the rice is cooking, put 2 tbsp of the oil on medium heat and add the eggplant, zucchini and mushroom. Cook for about 5-7 minutes as it softens up. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl.
- In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add the onion. Cook until it starts to brown a little on the edges.
- Add the black beans and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl.
- In the same saucepan for the last time add the 1 tablespoon of rice bran oil and add the corn. Cook for about 3 minutes. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl.
- Combine the tomatoes, avocado, citrus juice/vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix together well until the avocado softens a little.
- Assemble all ingredients on a plate and enjoy.