thoughts on conscious consumption

I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while and finally decided to put pen to paper…or fingers to keyboard, whatever.

I’ve noticed that ever since going vegan almost a year ago and around the same time adopting a regular meditation practice, I’ve concurrently become more conscientious of my purchasing behaviors. That’s not to say that one caused the other, but it’s certainly no stretch to say that both veganism and meditation cause you to really and truly think. With veganism, the questions tend to be ethical, environmental, and health-oriented, while meditation typically raises deep inner questions on psychology, spirituality, and meaning. The idea of conscious consumption has been gaining a bit of traction lately, but is far from mainstream. Imagine if consumers as a group actually paused to think a moment beyond the instant gratification that comes from a purchase!

About a year ago, I started asking myself a simple question before I purchased something — Why?

Why did I want to buy a new shirt? So people at work would compliment it and think that I’m more professional because I have a new top?

Why did I want to buy a new throw pillow? So friends who come to my apartment will think I have good design sense?

Why did I want to get a manicure? So some random stranger that saw my nails on a subway pole would think I look important and put together?

Why did I want to purchase a coffee every morning? So the barista would think I’m busy and professional?

I really went down the rabbit hole with this simple practice of questioning the implications behind a potential purchase. And the more I thought, the more I started reading up on the concepts of minimalism and “enough.”


Source: TreeHugger

Enough is a powerful idea, isn’t it? Once you own enough [fill in the blank] to satisfy your basic needs and live comfortably, why could you possibly need anymore? Josh from Becoming Minimalist puts it beautifully by saying, “But we already have enough. Once we train ourselves to recognize this truth, we are freed from the pursuit of more, we are liberated from the bondage of discontent, and we begin to experience true freedom in our lives.”

At this point in my life, we’re well enough off financially that it would be almost too easy to slip into lifestyle inflation. Buying a new and bigger TV, having the latest technology, shopping at more expensive stores, replacing our well-worn furniture with brand new designer items…but why? The fact is, we’re living luxuriously in accordance with our values. Sure, when things we own fall into disrepair, only then will we replace and maybe upgrade. But with the current state of items being manufactured shoddily (which presents a whole host of other problems), people barely bat an eyelash at throwing out still-functioning items to get the biggest-best-newest-coolest things. And that right there is wreaking havoc on earth, as those cast-offs typically wind up in landfills.

Aside from curbing my former shopping habits, where I’d recreationally shop with friends, to cheer myself up, or just to kill boredom, I began to seek out likeminded individuals online with whom I could identify and learn from. Cait from Blonde on a Budget was a big source of inspiration for me, as she’s in the midst of a 2 year long shopping ban, as were the anonymous FrugalWoods, whose city-living frugal weirdo habits Kristian and I happened to already wholly embody!

Some of the steps I’ve taken:

  • Limited beauty supplies and makeup. I buy what I need when I run out, but my shower is no longer bursting with 5 different types of shampoos and conditioners.
  • Tossed out all my nail polish and eschew manicures and pedicures. This was partly influenced by the NYTimes Price of Nice Nails piece and partly because all of the polishes I had were collected over the years and I barely used them.
  • Bought <10 items of clothing this year. A couple new shirts when I started a new job in February, a bathrobe, a much-needed winter coat, a new pair of workout capris…and looking to buy even fewer items next year.
  • Stopped buying coffee every day — I drink it at home and get it from the office. That’s it!
  • Stopped viewing shopping as retail therapy — I no longer meet up with friends “just to look around” stores. Nope.
  • Not buying home decor to jazz our apartment up — In fact, I’ve gotten rid of so many items. It was all clutter, plain and simple.
  • Donating/giving away/selling TONS of barely worn items of clothing, video games, movies, books, shoes, jackets, accessories, kitchen items, and more
  • Curbed our takeout habit. We still get it every so often, because we’re in New York, after all! But it’s not nearly with the frequency that we used to, and we now view it as a total treat instead of a given.
  • Avoided buying books. I’m a diehard library fan now, especially after discovering that you can rent e-books directly to your Kindle.

This is all still a work in progress, and I’m learning and uncovering new ideas every day. It’s so liberating to free yourself from the cycle of earning money just to spend it, and then having to earn more money to sustain your lifestyle. Once you hop off the hamster wheel of consumption, it sort of feels like you’re Neo choosing the red pill and seeing things how they really are. Sure, you might feel a little out of place sometimes, but the fulfillment of having enough and being perfectly content with that is well worth it.


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Hiking with friends > expensive, boozy brunch in Manhattan



Before you read any further, please do yourself a favor and watch the absolutely hysterical Matt Bellassai in BuzzFeed’s Whine About It: “The Worst Things About Fall”

Despite the video proclaiming that “pumpkin is a shit flavor!”…I DISAGREE! Now, I have to go on record as saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, aboard the Pumpkin Spice Latte train. I think I had one to see what all the hype was, but was not impressed. So yeah, the artificial, sugary pumpkin spice flavor that everyone is accustomed to is, admittedly, pretty shitty. But if instead you stay true to combining the various spices that make up the flavoring of a pumpkin pie, now we’re talkin’.

Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Ginger. Allspice.

Mix ’em all together and you can season anything your little heart desires! In this case, muesli.

In the Bauer household, we go through muesli pretty darn quickly. Kristian got on a muesli kick last January while we were over in Thailand for our honeymoon…strange, I know. He got it for breakfast one morning after exhausting the usual breakfast of amazing fresh fruit and was hooked! Once arriving back home, we started adding it to our weekly grocery list until I noticed the price one day. $4/lb in the bulk section! At the rate he was going through it, that added up quickly. So with rolled oats being around $1/lb, I declared a moratorium on any future muesli purchases and said that I’d make it from scratch.

The best part about making muesli is that it’s such a wildly flexible recipe — you can add anything! Dried fruit, seeds, nuts, spices, various add ins that tickle your fancy…the world is your oyster.

Since it’s fall, and since I’m a basic bitch who just loooooves pumpkin spice anything (especially if it’s from Trader Joe’s), I present a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muesli!


Servings: a ton


–8 cups of whole rolled oats
–1 cup golden raisins
–1 cup jumbo raisins
–1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
–2 tbsp cinnamon
–1 tsp ground ginger
–1 tbsp allspice
–1 tsp nutmeg
–1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Mix spices + salt in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Combine oats, raisins, and coconut flakes until well mixed.
3. Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat.
4. Enjoy your muesli with dairy-free milk or yogurt. I like to add a dash of maple syrup to really amp up the fall flavors! Muesli can be soaked overnight, or heated for a nice warm bowl…but I typically enjoy it as is, like cold cereal.

Vegan Gingersnap Cookies

vegan gingersnap cookies

As soon as the temperature starts to drop and we start saying farewell to summer, my mind immediately starts swirling with thoughts of soups, stews, cookies, and all sorts of other cold-weather goodies to whip up in the kitchen. That’s one of the things I love about eating seasonally — your body naturally craves certain fruits, veggies, and seasonal dishes as they become available. You won’t find me eating butternut squash in the summer, nor will you see strawberries in my fridge during the winter. But I digress…because COOKIES!

It could be a product of living in a 700 sq ft apartment with a cozy [read: tiny] kitchen, but I barely use the oven all summer long. So as soon as we rolled into October, I got the urge to hop on the fall baking and cooking train. First up: gingersnap cookies! If you’re looking for extra snappy, crispy cookies, then I urge you to look elsewhere. These cookies are oh so perfectly chewy. So less gingerSNAP and more gingerCHEW, but now we’re just splitting hairs. And take my word for it…these cookies pair extremely well with a little bit of coconut milk ice cream.
vegan gingersnap cookies


Servings: makes 24 cookies


–1/2 cup sugar
–1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
–1/3 cup canola oil
–3 tablespoons nondairy milk (I used soy, but any is fine)
–1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
–1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
–3 rounded teaspoons ground ginger
–1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
–1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
–1/2 teaspoon baking soda
–1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (optional for decoration)


1.Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
2.In a large bowl, beat together sugar, molasses, oil, nondairy milk, and vanilla.
3.In a separate mixing bowl sift together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
4.Fold the dry mixture into the wet to form a firm dough.
5.Scoop dough by the tablespoon, moisten hands, and roll into a ball. Place dough about 3 inches apart on baking sheets.
6.Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional). Bake for 15 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling.


barbeque caesar salad Monday nights lately have been great weeknight dinners, primarily because Kristian usually works from home on Mondays. This means I can text him as I get ready to leave work and bike home in a hunger frenzy, nicely requesting that he get things started in the kitchen. As I was leaving tonight, I asked him if he could throw some quinoa in the rice cooker so it would be finished by the time I got home. That + a head of romaine + some BBQ sauce that I discovered while doing some cabinet organizing the other day and we had a huuuuge salad that hit. the. spot.

The dressing is also the laziest thing ever, since most “cream” based vegan dressings require you to soak cashews for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. BUT with the help of my beloved Vitamix and some boiling water, we had a creamy Caesar dressing in under 3 minutes. Can’t beat that for a simple weeknight meal!


Servings: 4


– 1/2 head romaine lettuce
– 1 cup cooked quinoa
– 1 15oz can of chickpeas
– 1/3 cup barbeque sauce of your choice
– 1 package tempeh
– 1/4 cup hot water
– 1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube
– 1/3 cup raw cashews
– 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
– splash of liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
– 1 clove garlic

– 1/2 avocado


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chickpeas + barbeque sauce in a bowl, tossing to coat.
2. Roast chickpeas for 20 minutes until slightly crunchy. You can also roast the sliced tempeh at the same time!
3. Wash + tear up your lettuce and set aside.
4. In a cup, stir to combine hot water with bouillon cube until you have 1/4 cup of broth. Add this to the blender.
5. In addition to the broth, add to the blender: garlic, cashews, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos. Blend on high for 1 minute until smooth.
6. Assemble and devour! You’ll probably have some leftover sauce, so you can store it in a sealed tupperware or jar in the fridge where it should keep for up to a week.