How to live an alternative lifestyle? (A full guide)

Food, education and medicine outside the “normal rules” draw in more and more people. But, while some are interested only in a few sections of the so-called “alternative lifestyles”, others dive into it almost as if it were a new religion.

What are alternative lifestyles about?

In an internet forum on alternative lifestyles, someone named Kuekirín launches his message: he says that he has been developing a series of alternative approaches for some time such as:

  • vegan philosophy
  • responsible consumption (To live a healthy life or loose weight, many people ask How to starve yourself in order to start a better, healthy lifestyle)
  • solidarity tourism-Being a free spirit
  • boycott of multinationals and banks
  •  culture free and communication with empathy

And, consequently, he wants to adopt “a way of life that is as independent as possible from the schemes of the consumer society and lies in which we live immersed ”. 

His new plan will include “fuller interpersonal relationships” and an existence “without stress and without competitiveness.” Among others, it proposes alternative gatherings were to launch “creative and rebellious” ideas, such as holding football matches without competitiveness or setting up a stand on the street where hugs are distributed. 

Kuekirín aspires, someday, to join “an alternative community” but, for the moment, he wants to make the changes “progressively”, so he is looking for people interested in what he calls his “approaches and philosophies”.

Many people respond enthusiastically to his proposal. Among them is G. who despite believing that the idea is very good, argues that his health problems will not allow him to join the group: he suffers from epilepsy and considers that, before embarking on “such an adventure“, you would have to stop the conventional medication you take for your illness. 

As long as he does not find “any safe natural alternative in this regard”, he remains “tied to society”. G. believes that being medicated in a conventional way makes him inadequate to lead an alternative life.

This preconceived idea is a good example of the certain confusion that exists about what is an alternative lifestyle and the way of living it: is it necessary to be 100% or is it possible to adopt some of its aspects? 

People who are depressed or frustrated often ask Why should I live?

However, if one wants to be happy, they should try to improve their living style.

What does it mean to live an alternative life?

The alternative lifestyle is like a menu with many options, ranging from food to health, leisure and even the way of dressing. A very vast concept, which is treated succinctly in traditional encyclopedias and dictionaries, but which has more and more force in today’s society.

  • The Royal Academy defines it as the adjective that describes “activities of any genre, especially cultural, that are contrary to commonly accepted official models.” 
  • For the English Encyclopaedia, it is something that “is opposed to the official, traditional or stable models”, while the Cambridge Dictionary points out that alternative is an “unusual” way of living, especially “when you choose not to have the type of house and work that it is considered normal in modern society. ” 
  • Wikipedia already accepts the more concrete concept of an alternative lifestyle, defined as a “lifestyle outside the cultural norm”

The examples with which this source illustrates what is alternative give a good idea of ​​its variety: it includes nudist associations, communes and ecovillages, movements for childbirth and homeschooling, new age travellers, patients of alternative medicines, the followers of minority religions (such as the Amish) and even “unusual” sexual practices, such as BDSM (bondage, discipline, submission and masochism), which has become so fashionable in Grey’s trilogy.

The search for the alternative is not new; For decades, there have been people who wanted to have an unusual lifestyle or rejected what were impositions for it. 

Homoeopathy (one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine) was devised by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. Anti-vaccine movements were already very powerful in England in the early 19th century, when a state vaccination campaign against … smallpox began.

One of the reasons for rejecting compulsory vaccination against this disease was that many considered that it violated their personal freedom.

Rudolf Steiner, the architect of Waldorf pedagogy, was born in 1861. Among other things, his educational method advocated the independence of schools from government control. The Italian pedagogue Maria Montessori, another of the usual names when talking about alternative education, was her contemporary: she was born in 1870. 

The alternatives in this sector did not end in the XIX: in 1921 Summerhill was opened, a democratic school that still has its base whether students choose to attend class or not.

Vegetarianism dates back to the ancient cultures of Greece and India and was established as an official movement in 1847, with the creation of the British Vegetarian Society. By then, some vegetarians had already become vegans and organized into alternative communities. 

This is the case of Fruitland, founded in the United States in 1844 by the father of Louisa May Alcott (the author of Little Women). This “utopian community” was opposed to any kind of use of animals, even for agriculture, and had a short life: seven months. A century later, in 1944, the first vegan society was created, also in England. 

Alternative lifestyles have no borders

Radically and at the same time sustained, the search for the alternative has developed in history. In particular, “in the fields of food, health and education,” as Josan Ruiz, director of the Cuerpomente magazine, points out, a publication that is a benchmark in the field of natural life. 

In his long career, this journalist has seen first-hand how interest in various alternative options has increased greatly in Spain, some of which have been normalized in many cases. 

“When, in the late seventies, a pioneering magazine on this topic appeared, such as Integral, which spoke of vegetarianism, reflexotherapy, yoga, organic farming, home birth…, it was so successful that for years it was published voluntarily renouncing advertising “, remember. “Then, this type of information was hardly found anywhere else, while now it is increasingly common in conventional media.

And, as has happened in the field of communication, many of these pioneering forms of the alternative have become or are on the way to becoming conventional currents: this is the case of the consumption of food from organic agriculture, to which more and more people, or the increasingly widespread notion that eating less meat and more vegetables is not only healthier but also more sustainable.

Something similar has happened in education: totally new pedagogical ideas (such as the importance of promoting the observation, independence and self-esteem of the child advocated by Maria Montessori), are already part of the methodology of public education in many parts of the world. 

Around the world, issues such as avoiding the abuse of antibiotics or self-medication are beginning to sink in, as well as the use of techniques (yoga, acupuncture and meditation) for physical and mental well-being.

One should stop Catastrophizing. This makes life a lot better and easier to live, with optimism and hope.

Why are alternative lifestyles so attractive?

There are two basic factors for which people are interested in the alternative: 

On the one hand, people want to find something more authentic, that will fill them in the various things they do in their lives: at lunchtime looking for purer food, dressing, more natural fibres, etc. 

On the other, because we know that the lifestyle we have today can determine our future health, as well as that it cannot be delegated to a third party.  It is logical that if this alternative lifestyle proposes “a more responsible way of eating, healing, treating the body and also the emotions”, it will attract more and more people.

One more thing to say, the new alternative lifestyles are not young Kumbayas with sandals and long hair, or people with few means, who have no choice but to be outside the system. Both medicinal therapies and foods and products of this type are usually expensive: exclusive, even. 

The same is true of alternative or free schools, which are mostly private. Generally, those who can afford to enter this world (where there are even alternative golf courses) are people with a medium-high purchasing power.

FAQ about alternative lifestyles

What is considered an alternative lifestyle?

An alternative lifestyle is a style different from social and cultural norms. Some of the alternative lifestyles include a different gender identity than female or male; homeschooling, veganism, homoeopathy, etc. 

How can I live an alternative lifestyle?

If you want to live an alternative lifestyle, you need to start thinking about what you want to change your life. Is it that you are not satisfied with your nutrition, mental or physical health, or what else? Start adopting an alternative lifestyle by stepping out of your comfort zone. 

What is an alternative lifestyle in a marriage?

An alternative lifestyle in a marriage is open relationships, polyamory or as simple as not getting married. 

What is an alternative relationship?

An alternative relationship is one that does not obey social norms. Polyamory is a type of alternative relationship, so is having an open relationship. 


In this blog post, we talked about what it means to live an alternative lifestyle. 

Some examples of alternative lifestyles and which illustrate the variety of it: it includes nudist associations, communes and ecovillages, movements for childbirth and homeschooling, new age travellers, patients of alternative medicines, the followers of minority religions (such as the Amish) and even “unusual” sexual practices, such as BDSM (bondage, discipline, submission and masochism).

What do you think about alternative lifestyles? Let us know if you have any comments or questions!

Further reading

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams  

The Handmade Apothecary: Healing herbal remedies: Healing herbal recipes, by Kim Walker & Vicky Chown  

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez  

Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging, by Ben Greenfield  

Grow Food for Free: The easy, sustainable, zero-cost way to a plentiful harvest, by Huw Richards 


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!