Michael and Maša Ofei are the creators behind The Minimalist Vegan, on a mission to inspire millions of people to live with less stuff and more compassion. I chat to them about the blog, their weekly podcast and what it’s like being married and creating content together.
Tell us a bit about The Minimalist Vegan
Our website launched back in 2015 and has been building steady momentum ever since. We share content around minimalism, veganism, intentionality, life-design, productivity, mindfulness, health and ethical shopping, as well as delicious vegan recipes. We recently started a weekly podcast and published a book 18 months ago, and are are currently working on releasing a suite of online training under another website called Minimalist Courses.
How did you both meet?
Michael and I met back in 2000. In grade seven. Yes, we went to school together. But nothing happened until we were 19 years old. We were friends for a long time before we started dating.
How long have you been vegan for?
We’ve been vegan since August 2014 after watching Earthlings. It all happened overnight and we haven’t looked back since.
Why did you decide to start blogging – and what made you decide to start the blog and podcast together?
We decided to start blogging because we had always wanted to work together. And once we went down the minimalist and vegan lifestyle paths, we wanted to inspire others to do the same. It felt really organic to develop this project together after having worked for years on separate projects. The podcast was just an extension of our current work. We always talk about things, and for years had been asked to start a podcast. Once we went full-time into TMV, we finally had the capacity to take it on. It’s been very rewarding as well as challenging.
Do you ever have creative differences?
As with any project where people are involved, you’ll have differences. Of course, but it’s important to work through them. We work well together most of the time, and we’re learning more about how the other person likes to work and what motivates them every day. It’s great! For example, Michael has an ability to focus for long stretches of time. So he’s naturally stronger than me at higher level ideation, technical changes to our brand and things of that nature. He’s also a dreamer so it can be overwhelming to keep up with him haha. I’m more operational and practical, so I like to ensure that we’re staying on task and getting the things done that we need to do.
Who inspires you?
We gain inspiration from so many different angles. Some people/blogs are:
- Zen Habits – a single-author blog created by our now friend Leo Babauta. If you dive deeper into our content, you will find that our inspiration to become minimalists then, later on, vegan’s started with Zen Habits. He’s been a mentor from afar and a big reason as to why we started The Minimalist Vegan
- Fizzle – mastermind Corbett Barr started this training company for creative entrepreneurs right when we began TMV. Their business content and community has been instrumental for our growth and development, and a big reason why we’ve been able to find ways to support ourselves following our passion
- Seth Godin – best known for his 17 best selling books. But honestly, this taught us that marketing can be used for good as much as it can be used for evil
- Rich Roll – is our go-to podcast where he interviews super interesting people on a range of topics. We love the way he uncovers so much about his guests
- Pick Up Limes on YouTube – Sadia has a knack for teaching interesting topics on YouTube with super high-quality footage. It’s relaxing to watch her videos
- Deliciously Ella – has built a massive personal brand through social media. She’s written cookbooks, created apps, and started restaurants. We love how honest and open she is with her audience while trying to live in line with her values
- Novak Djokovic – world number one tennis player, but what a lot of people don’t know is how amazing of a person he is. Check out this interview and you’ll understand what we mean
What are your favourite foods?
We love comfort foods like pasta with a good quality sauce, veggie lasagna, gnocchi, bean and lentil stews. Oh and desserts of course. Michael especially loves vegan ice cream, while I love layered European cakes.
We have so many! Here are just a few of our favourite recipes:
- Raw Vegan Lemon Zesty Slice
- Chestnut Puree with Coconut Cream
- Creamy Pumpkin and Capsicum Penne
- Easy Vegan Tiramisu
- Vegan Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Capsicum Tomato Sauce
- Vegan Lumberjack Cake
- Anna’s Rustic Eggplant Patties in Tomato Sauce
- Curried Crouton Chickpea Pumpkin Soup
We’ve done a bit of travelling as vegans, and our top five places to eat are:
- Gigi’s – Sydney
- Shizen – San Franciso
- Araya’s Place – Seattle
- Moksa – Ubud
- Loving Hut – Ljubljana
Most vegan friendly city you’ve visited?
Without question, Portland, Oregan. There are multiple vegan shops next to each other in some areas. There are vegan options what seems to be everywhere, and a couple of vegan pubs for good measure.
- Vegetables! We struggle without any veggies in the fridge
- Olive oil
- Dried beans and lentils
- Coconut cream
What advice would you give to someone thinking about going vegan?
Get clear on what veganism is about. It’s not about changing the way you eat. It’s about having a strong and genuine desire to reduce and/or eliminate harm to animals, both human and non-human. It’s the practice of compassion. This could mean not supporting the horse racing or zoo industries, it could mean not buying fashion pieces made with animal skins, or it could mean avoiding beauty products that are tested on animals.
“It’s never been easier to be vegan with so many vegan products in the marketplace. So if the ‘how’ is straightforward, the only thing left is the ‘why’.”
I remember life before we became vegan, and we were willfully ignorant about how we consumed products. In the back of our minds, we knew we were contributing to the harm of animals, but we enjoyed the products so much that we intentionally blocked out the truth. But when we opened ourselves up to confront the truth, we never turned back.