Because I don’t want to die

While watching minimalist videos over the last year, it was inevitable that I fell down the rabbit hole of Youtube to land on videos that veered off onto other tangents and topics. One of these topics was veganism which was spoken about by Youtubers who also happened to be minimalists as well, e.g. Sustainably Vegan, Madeleine Olivia, Blue Ollis, etc.

While I’ve always admired people who could stop eating meat and meat products, I never really saw myself becoming a vegetarian or a vegan. It’s not because I don’t care about the animals, because I do – I just didn’t care about them enough to quit meat, mostly because I love meat.

I have been trying to eat less meat over the last few months and to eat more vegetables and fruit, but I’d be lying if I said meat wasn’t a major part of my daily diet.

However, today I watched a documentary called ‘What the Health’ and it was EYE-OPENING. Like a large percentage of people (I assume), I have never viewed meat as unhealthy or dangerous. Sure, if its deep fried, covered in oil, etc then yes, I would consider it unhealthy – but just normal meat or even processed meat like ham? no, I would definitely not have classified that as unhealthy.

This documentary completely obliterates that perspective. The fact that process meats have the same level of classification for cancer as cigarettes is mind blowing. Especially as a very recent ex-smoker, when I compare the number of times that I was told smoking was bad and that it caused cancer and to the number of times I’ve heard that meat is bad and can cause cancer, the difference is staggering – probably 100000:1.

I mean even 10 years ago when I started smoking, everyone told me it was bad, I shouldn’t smoke, I’d get cancer, it would kill me. There were advertisements everywhere (magazines, tv, posters, even on cigarette packets) that said smoking caused cancer. The price of a packet of cigarettes went up from $9 a pack when I started smoking to $34 a pack when I quit a few weeks ago due to government taxes implemented to discourage smoking.

And in those 10 years, how many times did I hear that meat was bad and can cause cancer? Maybe 2 times and one of them was today when I watched the documentary. How many advertisements have I seen that said meat was bad? None. How much tax has the government put on meat to discourage people from eating it? I don’t think any.

I’ve read some of the reviews which criticised the film, saying that some of the information provided in the documentary was not accurate e.g. even though processed meat is in the same category of risk for cancer as cigarettes, they are not as dangerous. But to me that is just semantics – it’s like saying fully automatic assault rifles and semiautomatic rifles may both be in the category of guns, but semiautomatics are not as dangerous as fully automatic weapons. I bet if you’re the person who has either of those guns pointed to your face, that small distinction between the different levels of danger is probably something you’d overlook in that moment because if either of those guns were to fire a bullet, the result would be the same.

Anyway, the point is my view on veganism has completely changed. It’s not just about saving the animals anymore, it’s about saving myself (although saving animals is an added bonus). I know that’s probably a very selfish way of being motivated to become a vegan, but I’m just being honest. Moving forward I’m going to try to gradually eliminate meat and then meat products from my diet and transition to a full plant based diet. If I succeed, then I would’ve done one of the most difficult things ever (at least for me because I’ve never thought I’d ever even consider being a vegan).

I would highly recommend everyone to watch this documentary. You may not agree with the film or agree with me, but I think either way you’ll get something out of it.

Minimalist Learnings & Realisations

Depending on how you found out about minimalism, if you happened to stumble across it via Youtube like I did, the initial impression you may have gotten was that minimalism is all about decluttering and relinquishing a significant proportion of your material possessions. Then as you fell further down the Youtube rabbit hole, you may have realised that for some, minimalism is more than the act of simply downsizing possessions.

The more I discover about minimalism the more I realise it is a philosophy and lifestyle choice rather than simply lightening your material baggage. As I delve deeper I find that ideas that have sat idle in my mind or that I have been exposed to, but had chosen to bypass previously, suddenly seem drawn to the overarching idea of minimalism like the pull from a magnet. Examples include sustainable/eco living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, vegetarianism/veganism, natural skincare/no chemicals, animal friendly products, no waste living, ethically made clothing, mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks, changing habits and finding joy and happiness.

While all these ideas have been flying around in my head for a long time, they have never had an anchor until now. With minimalism, all these concepts are beginning to connect to form a holistic, tangible framework on how I want to live my life.

Upon closer inspection and contemplation I’ve also realised that all these ideas are simply a variation on the core concept of minimalism which is to simplify and pare back everything to the most essential. For example:

Essential Living:

No waste living, recycling, environmentally friendly products, sustainability, animal friendly products, ethically made clothing, natural skincare, no chemicals – these are all versions of products that have been stripped of the unnecessary packaging, testing and ingredients down to the core function, which is to nourish your body or support your life.

Essential Body:

Vegetarianism/Veganism is eliminating the need to slaughter animals for food when we can sustain ourselves on vegetables and fruit. This is also a way of focusing on the essential nutrients your body requires rather than on junk food or fast food.

Essential Mental & Spiritual Health

Mindfulness, conscious living, meditation/yoga, changing habits and finding joy are all about decreasing the unnecessary stress and mental clutter that inhabits our minds and hearts and to focus on the important things in life that being us happiness and improve our wellbeing.

Essential Finance

Financial responsibility, saving money, frugal living, life hacks – all ways to improve our finances and reduce the amount of money we waste on the unnecessary.

As these ideas gain a stronger foothold in my mind, I find I am beginning to make small changes in my life, for the better, which goes beyond simply throwing out my possessions.