Or: How I Became a Hippie
Exploring minimalism taught me that value lies in people and experiences, not things; I cut down on amount the items I own and became more conscious of other clutter in my life – intangible things that were causing chaos and stress. Adventures in naturism showed how communal nudity encourages respect for self, others and the environment – truly getting “back to nature”. What both minimalism and naturism have in common is a deeper desire for a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle.
There are clear and immediate environmental benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle (less waste) while the environmental benefit of naturism is more of a shifted perspective on nature or a renewed (renude?) appreciation for it. It’s our only world and it’s frustrating to see how little respect people and corporations show towards it. And in a culture where we’re constantly fed ads telling us what to own and what to wear, purposely owning less (or wearing nothing) seems like a pointless rebellion. Especially while living in a busy city, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “more is more” mindset.
Getting out of the city every once in a while helped combat that. Every summer I go on at least three camping trips and while out in nature, I’m reminded that there actually is such a thing as peace and quiet. Camping also forces you to live with as little as possible. And though it’s always nice to return to the luxuries and conveniences of home, how many of those luxuries are truly necessary?
Here’s a harsh truth on two things that aren’t necessary: meat and dairy (Gasp!). There’s been tons of research to show direct correlations between cattle farming and climate change, as well as research showing the positive health benefits of a plant-based diet (not to mention the inhumane treatment of animals). Everything your body gets from meat and dairy it can just as easily get from plants if you plan your meals properly. And the less each person eats, the less demand there is; the less demand there is, the less supply; less supply means less deforestation, water waste, air pollution, etc… Now I really don’t want to be that guy (maybe it’s already too late) so I’m just going to leave it at that and recommend you do some of your own reading if you’re a happily unaware meat and dairy eater (start with watching What the Health and Cowspiracy on Netflix). It’s only been a month since I’ve started eating vegan but I’m already feeling healthier and there are endless options for meat and dairy substitutes out there – some even better-tasting than the real thing.
Naturism may encourage a healthier view of the human body and the environment but veganism takes this several steps further. And hey, why not take minimalism even further and cut out two major food groups out of your diet? (A plant-based diet may seem complicated but it’s actually far simpler – and cheaper – than I thought it would be.) But in all seriousness, eat or don’t eat what you want, but at least be aware of what you’re putting into your body and the effects it has on the environment before it makes its way to your plate.