Have you noticed more and more Yogis tell you that they changed their diet? Want to know more about the reason why many yogis are vegan? It’s not a coincidence! There seems to be a connection between veganism and yoga. I will tell you why many other Yogis and I are choosing to be vegan.
There are, of course, many people who practice yoga and eat meat, fish and dairy products. And that’s fine.
From a Meat Eater to a Vegan
I grew up in a small village where it was very unusual to be a vegetarian. I don’t think that anyone would have known what the word vegan means back in the ‘80s.
My mum used to work in a butchery. My dad was a truck driver. Money was hard-earned, and my parents had 3 children to feed. Meat, like a Sunday roast, was a special treat. When I was old enough to take care of myself after school, my mum started working again, and it was a big relief for the family. She worked in a butchery and got a discount for any kind of food, mostly meat. So it was very normal for us children to eat meat.
I remember my aunt turning vegetarian. The whole family was talking about it. Everything she ate or didn’t eat was monitored. Whenever she got sick, it was because of being vegetarian, according to her family.
From vegetarian to vegan
I was born in the year 1982. At the age of 20, I was eating less red meat and more chicken. Looking back, I don’t even know why. Maybe I read in a magazine that it’s healthier or white meat has fewer calories. In my twenties, I started doing more and more sports. Those were the days where protein shakes became super popular. Carbs and fat were evil, and protein was the thing you were looking for. So, of course, I was eating meat.
At the age of 30, I became a vegetarian. It started because I was annoyed about all of the meat scandals. From rotten meat to antibiotics in turkey, poison in animal food to microbes in cheese. I just had enough of it and wanted to try being a vegetarian for a few weeks. If I wanted to, I would have gone back to eating meat. Well, what can I say? Almost eight years later, and now I’m vegan.
Easy Living as a Vegetarian
I never had problems being a vegetarian. It was so easy, and I felt really good. It took some time before my friends and family got used to it. To cut out meat from your diet is quite easy. To cut out all animal-based products is something different.
In the beginning, I was still eating fish. For some reason, I thought there was a difference between the life of a fish, a cow, a pig or a chicken. Maybe it was a lack of interest, but I also can’t remember anyone speaking about the cruelty of the dairy industry. Why did we all close our eyes and ears?
Yoga and Diet
Most people who practice yoga over a longer period of time end up changing their diet. They are eating less and less meat, and maybe at some point, they will eventually avoid all animal products. Many of my friends have experienced similar developments during their practice. There seems to be some connection between yoga and nutrition.
In Yoga, we try to follow the Yamas and Niyamas as best as we can.
What are the Yamas and Niyamas?
There’s an eighth folded path in the Yogasutras. This eighth folded path can lead to Samadhi, which means something like enlightenment or union of body & mind. The first limb is the Yamas. These are 5 rules or guidelines on how to act or interact with yourself and others. The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa.
Ahimsa means non-violence. You can interpret Ahimsa with
- respecting your own physical body and its limitations
- respect to all other living beings
- don’t harm yourself or others
- live and let live
Every living being has the urge to survive. A wild animal has no other choice than killing another animal for survival. But we do have a choice. We don’t need to eat meat.
It’s not only about eating meat or killing animals for food. It’s about suffering in general. Think of hunting, drilling, zoos, aquariums, elephant riding, circus etc. This cruelty happens for our entertainment and for our pleasure. It makes me sad and mad what we humans are doing to other living beings.
In the food industry, we should have a look at milk cows, chickens and cows. Chickens have doubled in size because of how we bred them. A milk cow has to give up to 40 or even 50 litres per day. In the ‘50s, a cow gave only half of that amount. Pigs and cows are given numbers instead of names. They never see sunlight in their entire life.They’re born with fear, die with fear and end up wrapped in plastic in our supermarkets.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.
This is a very powerful mantra that assists us in our spiritual evolution and acts as a blessing for the world. Yoga enhances our compassion. Yoga practice gives us a sense of our physical and mental needs. We become more attuned to ourselves. This mindfulness extends to other living beings as well. We become more compassionate, and we gain the power to help others if they are unable to help themselves.
For many practitioners of yoga, these feelings get so strong that they change their diet, behaviour or routines.
Your body is your temple
You may hear this sentence in a Yoga class or in any philosophical talk. Well, it’s true. We only have this one physical body, at least in this lifetime. So we should take care of it. Exercise regularly, sleep enough, keep the body clean from the inside and outside and feed your body. We know that it isn’t good to eat “fast food”, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, take drugs or poison the body in any other form.
In many animal-based products, you find antibiotics, hormones or other harmful things. The industry tells us that we need to eat meat and dairy to stay healthy. The only question we should ask is: Is it true?
It’s Your Choice
That all sounds horrible, I know. And I understand if you like the taste of meat, fish and dairy products. I also understand if you’re not ready yet to make a change.But please don’t close your eyes. Research and stay open-minded.
A friend of mine says: If you can kill an animal, you can eat an animal. If I didn’t have any other choice and it’s about survival, I think I could kill an animal. But I do have the choice.
Wanna Try to be Vegan?
Join us for a few days or weeks at futurehippie on Koh Samui. You will practice yoga and meditation and live by the beach. We will serve you vegan food for all meals. Big promise: you won’t be starving or lacking any nutrients.
Or visit us in the futurehippie Café and spoil yourself with one of our vegan dishes and sweets.
Let us know if you have any questions, doubts or comments. Looking forward to hearing from you.