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.