Interviews

The Minimalist Vegan with Maša & Michael Ofei

Photo via The Minimalist Vegan

Michael and Maša, a married couple based in Canberra, Australia, are the team behind The Minimalist Vegan. Their blog is a fun and illuminating dedication to a sustainable lifestyle. They write about everything from veganism and simple living, to mindfulness and productivity. As a beginner vegan, I was particularly captivated by their anecdotes & advice on veganism, and they were kind enough to share some of their wisdom with me. Enjoy!

What inspired you to commit to a sustainable lifestyle? Did veganism or minimalism come first?
Minimalism came first. Michael was inspired by people like Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, and we started implementing some of the concepts. It all seemed to make so much sense and the lifestyle really appealed to us. It was six months later that we watched a documentary called Earthlings, and became vegan overnight. Over the past 3.5 years we have learned so much more and have really committed ourselves to a sustainable lifestyle in all aspects.

What was the most difficult aspect of transitioning to a vegan diet?
Once we knew why it was that we were doing it, we found that it wasn’t that hard to find alternatives. Masa was raised in a mostly vegetarian household so it was a much easier transition knowing what to cook. We did live on vege wraps the first week until we worked out how we would approach it. When there are so many amazing websites out there to make it approachable for people these days, a whole foods, plant-based diet is quite easy to adopt.

We do hear that the hardest part for most people is giving up cheese, which we learned recently that by eating it, it releases the same pleasure chemicals in your brain like heroin does. So pretty addictive stuff!

What is your advice for those who are just beginning to explore this lifestyle?
Take it easy and don’t be too hard on yourself. Some people need to dip their toe in before they can commit themselves fully, and others (like us) make the decision and start straight away. Everyone is different and we all change our habits in different ways.

Another bit of advice is to make sure you surround yourself with the right foods at home (so you don’t have any temptations) and the right people. Support is really important. If you don’t have family and friends that you can turn to, search online. There are plenty of Facebook groups and bloggers that can guide you through your journey and be there when you have questions or doubts.

How would you recommend navigating eating out at restaurants?
We get asked this questions a lot. We love an app called Happy Cow. We used it a lot when we traveled through Europe, US, Canada and Bali. It honestly made traveling so much easier. You can look things up in your own city and find places that are fully vegan or have vegan options.

If you are going out with others and you don’t get to pick where that is, best thing is to call ahead of time and ask. Most places are happy to cater for you if you give them some notice. Otherwise, eat at home first and then order some sides while you’re out so you don’t go home hungry and feel like you’re being anti-social.

What is the best (unexpected) health or lifestyle benefit of becoming vegan?
For us, it’s been the best decision we ever made. Just from a moral perspective, we feel like compassionate human beings. We also noticed our bowel movements improved! Haha no one likes talking about it but honestly, when others tell us they haven’t gone for days, we believe it’s the meat and dairy that is making them clogged up.

What is the one thing/misconception you want people to understand about veganism?
Well there are a couple. Not all vegans are healthy, you can certainly be vegan and be a junk food vegan. You need to make a choice to do it for the animals, but for yourself also. Living on a whole foods, organic diet will help with so many health ailments.

The other one is that it’s too hard. As we mentioned earlier, there are so many resources out there now and so many great food products being created for vegans that weren’t around 5-10 years ago. You can transition quite easily with an abundance of choice!

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