DISCLAIMER: I was asked to write about this topic. I think it’s an excellent topic, so I’m doing it. What I am NOT doing is trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. I respect everyone’s right to believe as they will and I request the same respect from my readers. Feel free to disagree with me, but know that any preachy or disrespectful comments will be deleted. I grew up a preacher’s daughter and have had more than enough sermons for this and future lifetimes. ~SK
This past weekend was one of the best weekends of my life. I belong to a by-invitation-only online mom’s group who have been together for 12 years. It is small and intimate and we share EVERYTHING. Once or twice a year, we try to get together in real life to have fun, catch up, and laugh until we pee. I had the extreme pleasure of spending Friday night through Monday afternoon with 5 of these amazing women. There was laughter and kisses and hugs and wine and margaritas and beer and hilarity and gravity defying feats involving a statue of a moose. There was also greasy cheeseburgers, more wine, biscuits and gravy, more tequila, vegan and vegetarian meals, and a pizza with enough flesh on it to clog arteries 6 states away. I indulged in it all.
My town isn’t tiny, but it’s certainly not a metropolis. When I go out and about, I’m recognized quite often – not just as a yoga teacher, but I was also a doula for many years and see countless of my birth families out and about every day. This sometimes puts pressure on me because people will look at me as though I have three heads for eating a cheeseburger or daring to drink more than one beer in public. Or at least it has seemed to me as though they were looking at me that way. Kind of like the look I got that very clearly said, “A preacher’s kid isn’t supposed to say ‘FUCK!’ ” (See, I warned you in the ABOUT page that there will be profanity…) People have some sort of misconception about what a yogi or yogini is supposed to eat or drink or do.
REALLY? Aren’t we all human? Aren’t we all doing the best we can?
Mark Twain said, “All things in moderation, including moderation!”
I lived my life as a vegetarian for many years. I spent more than 10 years avoiding flesh and hearing, “Oh you can eat that pizza, just pick the sausage off,” or “That turkey gravy is vegetarian, it came from a packet!” While fending off statements like that, I managed to avoid eating the flesh of animals for a full decade that ended when I was pregnant with my first child who clearly was screaming, “I WANT A CHEESEBURGER AND WILL NOT STOP KICKING YOU IN THE ESOPHAGUS UNTIL YOU PROVIDE ONE, SO CHOP CHOP MAMA!” It was a very difficult decision, a painful one even, to give in. But when I did give in, I felt like the heavens opened and I slept all night without vomiting for the first time in 7 months (I’m a lucky mama that way – my morning sickness never ended until the cord was cut.)
It has been said that bacon is a gateway meat and I second that motion. God bless the pig.
The whole reason that yoga is associated with vegetarianism and / or veganism is that part of the First Limb of Yoga in Patanjali’s Sutras is Ahimsa: Non-Violence. Also, yoga is often associated with Buddhism which is dedicated to the elimination of suffering. Animals are killed, many (okay, maybe most) suffer in order for us to eat if we choose to eat flesh. I get it. I have seen all the documentaries , read the books, cried over the slaughter, got all up in arms over the politics, swore off evil chain foods, etc. I wear a “Stop Factory Farms” tshirt often. I donate money. I vote with my dollars. I GET IT.
And still, there are times when I feel off, when I feel weak, when I feel sick, when I have muscle cramps, when I have no energy, and I’ll be honest, there are times when I am just damn hungry. In those moments, there is almost nothing like a bacon cheeseburger.
I pause here to let my dear vegan friends shake their heads and shame me. I understand. And I still love you.
So what is a hungry yogini to do?
How about being MINDFUL, yet another limb of yoga!! What about choosing when and where to get the flesh we choose to eat, should we choose to eat it? Free range, organic meats and vegetables and eggs and dairy sold by LOCAL farmers who work hard day and night to bring you fresh healthy produce and food goods at your local farmer’s market! Foods that are NOT processed, NOT full of chemicals and nitrates and political bribes. How about going to a clear, clean, local stream and catching your own fish? How about talking to your local dairy farmers who still milk their free range, grass fed cows by hand? I promise you, they are out there.
I haven’t eaten flesh in 3 days. I am not missing it. I have contemplated going back to a vegetarian diet and I do feel myself leaning in that direction, but NOT because I feel pressured or guilt or shame. I am contemplating doing it because I do feel better, healthier, and more connected to the universal spirit. That said, should I start to feel compromised, I’ll change it because only I can control myself, only I can do what I feel is right, and ultimately the only person I have to answer to is me (in this lifetime, at least.) In October, I will be spending 3 weeks on a strictly vegan diet. I don’t know how that will work for me. It might change me so completely that I vow to never eat animal or animal products again. It might also find me eating a $27 steak in the airport on the way home. I DON’T KNOW. What I do know is that I am doing the best I can to be as mindful as I can and I know that every choice I make has consequences. The trick is to act according to what consequences I am willing to accept.
Do I feel that I am a substandard yogi if I eat a filet? No. Do I feel that I am a substandard yogi if I eat a filet without knowing it’s origins? Yes.
Moderation. In ALL things.
And that’s a little nugget I can sink my teeth into.