It’s easy to leave our yoga practice behind on the mat, but for a truly integrative approach to health and spirituality, more and more yogis are going vegan.
Because of the belief in ahimsa, non-violence, and karma, the idea that all of our thoughts and actions have a reaction in the universe, many people of the Hindu faith have been choosing a vegetarian lifestyle for thousands of years. Today yogis are taking up this ancient practice to benefit their health and enact compassion.
The health benefits of a plant based diet can’t be denied anymore. A diet low in cholesterol, which a vegan diet naturally is, and high in fiber can do wonders for your heart health, especially when combined with yoga. If you have a family history of heart disease, a vegan diet is something you should seriously consider. Yoga teaches us to honor our bodies and be mindful of how our choices affect us. Once you become deeply in tune with your body, you’ll realize how certain foods affect you. Do you feel sluggish after eating meat for lunch? Do you break out after eating cheese? These are some questions you should ask yourself to get in touch with how meat and dairy are affecting your body.
The other main reason so many yogis choose to become vegan is because of their ethics. Yoga instills in us a sense of stewardship of the world around us. In 2017, we need to make a serious commitment to the health of our planet. Of all of the ways that we damage the environment, livestock production is one of, if not the worst way. When 1 in 10 people don’t have access to clean drinking water, it’s a hard fact to swallow that livestock productions uses 1/3rd of Earth’s fresh water, while contributing to much of its pollution. And if you’re worried about deforestation, livestock production is one of the biggest contributing factors.
Yoga encourages us to recognize our connection to all living creatures. Once we take this message into our hearts, it’s hard to accept that you are inflicting pain on another creature for your own momentary satisfaction. And it isn’t just the animals that suffer in torturous conditions. In the US, workers in the meat industry face some of the most unsafe working conditions in the country.
One of the fundamental beliefs of yoga is that our mental, physical, and spiritual health are all connected. Through yoga, we try to care for all of these aspects at once. Don’t undo the progress you made on your mat once you open your refrigerator; take your practice of mindfulness into the kitchen instead. If being a vegan isn’t for you, that’s okay! You can still spend some time thinking about what you’re eating, whether it was sustainably sourced, and what it will do to your body. Regardless of what you decide, the best way to be a good yogi at the dinner table is to feel gratitude for whatever it is you have the privilege of eating.