With every pedal of her two-wheeled war horse, every swallow of decadently smooth, locally grown avocado, every faded T-shirt hung in the warm, Waiohinu breeze, 61-year-old Eva Uran enacts the same simple but urgent message.
Look. See how easy? See how enjoyable? You can do this, too!
Uran, 61, has lived long enough to understand that change comes gradually, if at all. Still, lazy convention be damned, she continues to live as responsibly as she can, informing her conscience with copious reading and staying true to her desire to live "off the grid" as much as possible.
At an age when many brood over what they will leave behind, Uran is committed to making sure her time on earth leaves no physical trace beyond a few tire tracks in the dirt and a well-worn plate in the dish rack.
Uran’s heightened sensitivity for how her personal choices affect the world was largely instilled by her father, a strict vegetarian who fasted when he was sick and preferred a good, solid Schwinn to a gas-guzzling muscle car.
Vegetarian from birth, Uran understood early on that what was normal in her home was not necessarily in step with how her friends and neighbors lived, either in the Virgin Islands, where she was born, or Los Angeles, where she spent part of her childhood and young adult life, or Israel, where she lived for 12 years.
It was at the World Vegetarian Congress in 1975 that the identity Uran had inherited from her family and the identity she was trying to carve for herself converged. There she watched a black-and-white film that documented the brutal practices of the American slaughterhouse.
"If it was in color, I don’t think I could have even watched it," Uran says. "It turned my stomach. I couldn’t even look at a cow after that without feeling sick."
Later, inspired by John Robbins’ "Diet for a New America," Uran would drop the eggs and milk from her diet and embrace a fully vegan lifestyle.
Uran’s desire to live in a way that allows her to sleep peacefully each night is apparent on all fronts. When her truck broke down 10 years ago, she decided she could do just as well with a bicycle and public transportation. What little power she requires to keep things running at home is provided via photovoltaic technology. She brings her own plate and utensils to the local vegetarian buffet.
Uran’s lifestyle decisions make practical sense, she says. Fruits and vegetables don’t spoil as quickly as meat and dairy, so it’s not a big deal if a cloudy spell means she has to unplug the fridge for a day.
"I’m so blessed to live in Hawaii, where we have fresh fruits and vegetables all year, where it’s so sunny I can dry my clothes on a line and where I can use my bike to go wherever I need to go," she says.
And maybe, just maybe, if others see just how much joy she gets from living a life of minimal consumption, perhaps they’ll make a few changes of their own.
"I don’t like to preach," she says. "I just hope that I can serve as an example. I wish everybody would live simply so our planet can survive."
Reach Michael Tsai at email@example.com.