Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
This week, Sylvia Black tells us about the many ways in which she’s practicing minimalism, including her approach to food and diet (always an interesting topic!). To learn more, surf on over to her blog, Vegan Advantage.
For me, the main area of my life in which I’ve consciously explored minimalism is my diet.
Diet, I think, sometimes gets overlooked as an area in which minimalism is applicable – or if it does get considered, people might perhaps think of counting calories and diminishing only the quantity of what they eat.
That might be helpful for some people. But for me, I’ve never counted calories, never ate less than my body wanted, and lessened only the types of food, not the amount of it, that I eat.
In the past, meat, eggs, dairy products, processed foods, refined grains, and sugary fruit juice made up the large part of what I ate. In recent years, I’ve gradually given up all those things either mostly or completely.
Now, I’m transitioning to eating only what my body really needs – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and water.
Changing to a plant-based diet has minimized my impact on the environment (raising animals for food requires huge amounts of land and resources), my intake of pesticides and other chemicals (which accumulate as you go higher up the food chain), and even my grocery bill.
Recently I’ve been minimizing my possessions, too – I’ve set a goal to get rid of half of what I currently own before I move in a few months.
That way, in my new living space I can make a fresh start, with less clutter and more simplicity.
The third area of my life that I’ve been practicing minimalism in is my to-do lists, tasks and commitments. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with obligations and projects, either imposed by myself or someone else.
I’ve been trying to cut back to just the essentials, doing only what’s most important, one thing at a time.
For me, all three of these transitions are teaching me a lot of the same lessons.
The most amazing thing about minimalism, I think, is realizing how much abundance there is in having less.
With fewer possessions, you’re more aware of and grateful for those that you have left.
With fewer foods to choose from, you realize how much taste, texture, and richness there is in just the foods that nature provides – and you discover new, healthier favourites that you hadn’t tried before.
With fewer treats, you appreciate and savour those you have.
With less sugar and salt in your diet, you become more attuned to subtleties of taste, and appreciate the sweetness, sourness, or saltiness in foods you didn’t realize had it before.
With less to do, you focus more on the present moment, and on appreciating everything there is around you.
I’ve also learned to trust – to trust that among the twists and turns of fate, things will work out okay in the end, and you don’t need to prepare for every eventuality by keeping boxes and boxes of things “just in case”.
To trust that I don’t need processed foods or expensive supplements to nourish my body.
To trust that I don’t need to do everything, or solve every problem right now, but that I can simply focus on the present and let the future take care of itself.
And I’ve learned about fairness. About not taking up more than my share of the world’s resources, whether that be in physical possessions, or in the sixteen pounds of edible grain it takes to produce one pound of edible meat.
It seems greedy to take more than I need when there are so many people in the world who don’t even have the essentials.
And with so many people and causes already clamouring for our attention, I prefer to focus on just a few meaningful projects, and hopefully not add too much noise and distraction to the world.
For me, I try never to aim for less just for the sake of less. Instead, it’s about having exactly as much as I need and no more than that.
So in that sense, it’s not about minimizing so much as optimizing – getting rid of anything in my life that’s unnecessary so that I have room for everything that’s really desirable.
Note: for more about a minimalist, healthy, and compassionate diet, come visit my blog at www.veganadvantage.com.