I can remember the moment I decided to change my life to something completely different and was often ridiculed for it over the years. I was 12 and spending summer holidays on my grandparents' farm. They always had lots of animals, and my sister and I loved playing with them. That summer I gained a special friend. It was a lamb I insisted on calling Mickey even though it was a girl. She was born soon after we arrived at the farm and I befriended her instantly. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that we went everywhere together: to the creek, playing in the meadow and Mickey even slept in my room, near my bad and sometimes on it when I was sure nobody watched.
One day, my grandparents sent my sister and me with our aunt to town to get groceries. When we returned full of candy, all I thought was how I was going to go running with Mickey. But she was nowhere in sight even though I called and looked everywhere. Then, my grandparents took me to the living room and sat me on the couch. They told me Mickey had to go away to a new home, to be with her new family. I cried for hours and was mad at my grandparents and aunt for a few days, but I gave up after a while and accepted that Mickey is somewhere better running on someone else’s meadows and drinking water from another creek.
A few months later, when I was home, I overheard my parents talking about financial problems my grandparents barely got out of. One of the solutions was selling their livestock to get part of the money to pay the debts. My Mickey was part of that solution. She was sold to the slaughterhouse along with other lambs my grandparents had that summer. I didn't go to visit the farm for a couple of years after I found out, and I didn't speak with my grandparents until grandpa fell ill that winter. But one thing I started then and am still doing to this day is that I don't eat meat. I started as vegetarian and became full vegan several years ago. I couldn't be happier. If you're in doubt whether to take the same leap as I did, maybe my story will help you decide.
Vegan is more than a dietary habit
I haven't realized how dependable I became of the material world and belongings until I decided to try a minimalistic approach to life. I started controlling what I shop for making sure that all the products I use are vegan and that I buy things I really intend to use, not just pile up in my cabinets and closet. I sold my old things and donated the money to animal shelters, and I only kept what I really wore or used. Turning to minimalism may seem impossible in today’s world, but it’s actually very rewarding and easy once you start.
Less is more
There's no obsessing about having something or feeling like you're in a relationship with your belongings. For the first time in a long while, I’m concentrated on myself and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I can’t say I’m 100% there, I still cling to some items. As much as it’s possible when living and working in the urban center, I was able to turn my lifestyle into a minimalistic heaven. Before I decided to live by the principles of minimalism, I Googled super cheap storage and found a way to remove the excess stuff from my home and test myself. That way I was able to avoid the stress of the sudden change and adapt as much as I could to the minimalistic way of life.
Be responsible to your environment
Waste management is something that I consider an important issue. It's growing quantities present an imminent danger to humans, animals, plants and our environment. I try to be a zero waste person as much as possible, but living in the city is a big disadvantage for that. I have to commute to work and I use electricity on a daily basis. But I try to spend as little water as possible by turning it off while I scrub myself in the shower or when doing the dishes. I always recycle and use glass containers with metal lids for food and water.
Take care of your community
Being a responsible citizen is not something any of us should take for granted and avoid. If you see trash scattered around the bin, pick it up. Give a helping hand whenever you can in your local church or community center. Never underestimate the power of giving and creating dignified living conditions to those who have less or no one to help them out. Sometimes, all those in need want is someone to treat them as human beings and lend an ear to their crisis and troubles.
In the end of the day
I always remember Hans Christian Andersen's story The Little Match Girl and how it made me sad and angry when I read it for the first time. Standing there in the freezing cold and looking in the warm inside through the window is something that haunts me whenever I think about the world today. Catastrophes, wars, racism, gender discrimination, and animal cruelty are just some things we are witnessing unraveling before our eyes and polluting our lives. So if there is something any of can do, anything good and worthy of this planet and life on it, then let’s not be shy and help create a better world for future generations.
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