The Minimalist Vegan: A Simple Manifesto on Why to Live with Less Stuff and More Compassion
by Michael and Masa Ofei, Dec. 2017, Minimalist Company Pty, Limited, 145 pages.
Book reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English
This married couple from Canberra, Australia urges readers to cure themselves of the “More Virus”. This virus infects individuals and society into thinking that happiness comes from consuming more and more. Besides deadening the human spirit, this virus is killing the planet. Limited natural resources are wasted to produce items
which are unnecessary or quickly discarded. For example, plastic. Plastic is made from a diminishing natural resource (fossil fuels) and has formed a huge garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Animals who live in or near the sea are ingesting and dying from pieces of plastic. Michael and Masa suggest avoiding plastic items which tend to be used only once, such as, plastic bags or straws.
People work many hours so they can buy more when instead they could find happiness in spending more time with people they love and pursuing activities they find fulfilling and relaxing. Although the authors don’t speak about this, I’ll add that some people don’t have the choice but to work many hours in order to support themselves and their
families. This is an injustice and indicates the vast imbalance in wealth in the US.
The authors urge us to de-clutter rather than be slaves to our possessions, which can steal too much time and mental energy to organize and maintain. They advise also to spend less time on digital devices, which causes mental clutter, information overload, distraction and over stimulation.
Are we slaves to the latest fashions? Do we buy cheap, fashionable garments and use them for only a short time? Even if we give them away rather than trash them, natural resources and energy (probably derived from polluting sources) were used to produce them. (I’ll note that cheap clothes also involve poor labor conditions). Better to
enjoy high quality clothes that look good on us and can be kept for a long time. Over 13 million tons of textiles are trashed every year in the U.S. alone and only 15% of this is recovered for recycling.
The Ofeis find that veganism melds well with their minimalist philosophy as eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts and the many tasty dishes made from them is gentler on the Earth than raising animals for food. And it makes them happy to avoid taking part in the suffering and death of animals raised for food.
You can try vegan food by coming to a vegan social of People for Animal Rights and/or Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. You don’t have to be vegan to attend these events but all food at the events is vegan. Contact me at People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., firstname.lastname@example.org. I can also provide some hints for less wasteful living. You can contact Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group through Marybeth Fishman at email@example.com or by calling her at (315)729-7338.