• How Yoga Inspired Me to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

    How Yoga Inspired Me to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

    I was always a meat and potatoes kind of gal. As a kid, I’d drool at the aroma of steak charring on the grill. In my early twenties, I’d judge potential suitors on their taste in steakhouses and cheeseburgers. Once I began to understand not just the physical, but also the spiritual practice of yoga, however, all of that changed.

    My First Contact With Yoga…and Veganism

    For many, yoga is just a physical practice, a method to tone and tighten the body, and that’s all it was to me for quite some time. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon what turned out to be a well-respected New York yoga school that I found myself chanting mantra, meditating, and listening to the teachers’ regular encouragement to go vegan (i.e. not to eat animals or animal products) – all within my first class. Frankly, it made me quite uncomfortable at first, but the classes were so physically challenging, I kept going back. Though I initially chose to ignore the spiritual practice, what I couldn’t ignore was how calm, peaceful, and grounded I felt after each and every class. I wanted to learn more.

    Ever Wondered Why So Many Yogis Don’t Eat Meat? Check Out Ahimsa

    Once I felt I was ready, I picked up my first book on yoga along with a monthly-unlimited class package. After reading about Patanjali and Raja Yoga, I came to the section on the practice’s ethical guidelines, or yamas, with the first being ahimsa (non-violence), followed by satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence), and aparigraha (greedlessness).

    And Then They Got Me…

    According to the principle of ahimsa, a yogi is compassionate and will cause as little harm, through both thought and action, as possible to her fellow beings. As I continued to read the authors’ explanation of veganism as a way to practice ahimsa, I was devastated by the description of the suffering animals endure at factory farms and slaughterhouses, as well as the havoc the industry wreaks on our planet. When I finished, I realized I could no longer allow other beings to suffer for my own selfish desires, or consider myself truly compassionate if I continued to consume animal products. I knew I had to make some serious changes and immediately began transitioning to a plant-based diet.

    Yoga As Inspiration

    It’s always a difficult decision to go against something so engrained in your daily life and the society within which you exist. I’ve received a lot of criticism, but also much encouragement, along the way to a plant-based diet. Thankfully, yoga continues to inspire me to be the best I can be. I know the path I’ve chosen will contribute to the happiness of others and thus return happiness and good health to me. I’ll take that over a cheeseburger any day.

    May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

  • Megan Huylo
    Megan is a plant-based health and wellness buff, flip-flop hoarder, and avid runner and yoga practitioner. After surviving cancer as a kid, she emerged permanently passionate about health and fitness and hopes to inspire the same passion within others. She lives in New York City where she enjoys plant-based cooking, smiling at strangers, and drinking too much kombucha. Her blog, www.hauteahimsa.com, focuses on a plant-based diet, compassionate lifestyle, and how easy it is to practice both without sacrificing taste and style. Megan is the author of the Beyond the Yoga Mat blog on DoYouYoga.com.
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