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With your feet you can move closer to or further from your subject, but you cannot "zoom" with your feet - it isn't the same thing at all.
What constitutes a minimal kit varies depending upon what one is shooting.
Dan, I'll add to you wise prose if you don't mind, there may be other issues then just feet, the ability to actually be mobile, my wheelchair-boundness but one example, access is often a reason for kit variation, zooms aside, we have telephotos and hides for a reason...reach when it is most limited, weight when it's lightness a necessity, robustness when extremes of weather persist as does the shooter. Exceptions yes, but real none the less.
To the OP, perhaps a minimalist kit by genre might be healthier, more descriptive/informative for all, noobs and masters alike.
Flowers, plants, trees and their parts are a fav of mine, most any SLR/DSLR and a 100 macro would be a usable 'minimalist kit, yet my wheels often preclude access, sand, gravel, etc prevent closeness. The a 300mm with T/C and or tubes help get the shot. Even a G12 with close-up accessories can work in a pinch/tight place.
A minimalist kit, why, I've shot for over 4 decades, worked my arse off to feed my hobbies, having a 'working' kit is my goal and I'm near there...for the moment