LV Yoga, Fareham
Ahimsa, the yogic belief of non-violence. It is commonly believed in the yogic community that yogis should be vegetarian in order to adhere to ahimsa. Ensuring that no animals are harmed in the need to feed ourselves when other foods are available to us. It is also believed that Prana (life-force) is no longer present in a deceased animal, therefore you’re feeding your body with dead energy.
I have struggled for a long time with this, having been raised a meat eater, believing that humans are meant to eat meat, it’s just part of the food chain. Plus marrying into a Greek family didn’t help, where culturally vegetarianism isn’t really practiced, other than when fasting. And veganism is a completely foreign concept. I also practiced with a yoga teacher for 11 years who is a meat eater and often talked about having to be vegetarian as nonsense.
I love animals. I have kept, bred and even eaten my own animals. Having previously been in a relationship with a country-boy, it was the norm to raise and eat livestock, and I was heavily influenced by this mentality. In fact, I didn’t even give it a second thought.
Since starting my journey to become a yoga teacher, I’ve felt very conflicted about my eating habits and my beliefs. The more I delve into a yogic lifestyle, the more I feel both guilt and pressure to become a vegetarian. In fact, many yogis are vegan these days too, so it’s almost a double pressure to conform.
Throughout my life I’ve had a multitude of minor ailments, from eczema to acid reflux and various other things. I regularly see a Kinesiologist for these ailments, and over the years she has been amazingly helpful in getting these issues under control, both through diet and supplements. Now, during the Covid-19 lockdown, like many, my eating habits have become uncontrollable as I binge on comfort foods and learned how to bake Millie’s Cookies from my own home. Needless to say, my health has suffered and all the good work my Kinesiologist and I had done has completely gone down the pan! In fact, after spending 10 years on Omeprazole for acid reflux, and having successfully managed to come off it for the last 7 years, I resorted to contacting my GP for a new prescription. So I truly feel ridiculous now. Not only ridiculous, but broken, fatigued and a complete mess.
About ten days ago I emailed my Kinesiologist with the subject line “Help! My Body is Broken!!”. As it happens, she was having some lockdown challenges too and was taking some down-time for self-preservation and healing. So we agreed we would talk in a week or so.
During that time I’d signed up for 5 days of vegan food delivery to support a friend with a small business. Having tasted her food before, I knew it would be excellent. Little did I know, it’s been completely life changing. Within those 5 days my body has healed, my energy has returned and I feel inspired to make positive changes to my diet. None of which I anticipated.
Now if you know me, you’re probably thinking “here he goes again with another fad diet”. And you’d be right. I’ve done them all; dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, juice detoxes, and so on…but never have I done meat-free. I’ve played with vegetarianism and veganism before, but mostly with the odd meal here and there, never for any prolonged period of time. And there are many reasons for this; belief, lack of confidence, embarrassment, lack of enthusiasm, addiction to certain foods, limited knowledge, lack of time to learn new recipes, etc
But this time it feels different. This time I’ve experienced the benefits without actually having to put in the initial work, having paid for a meal-prep delivery service. I’m also more confident and less embarrassed about admitting that I don’t want to eat meat anymore. So here I am, full of inspiration and motivation, knee deep in cookbooks and recommended recipes, preparing for a lifestyle change to support both my body and my new beliefs.
Now don’t be fooled, I’m bound to fall off the wagon at some point. So if you spot me in McDonald’s scoffing a box of 20 chicken nuggets, try not to judge me! And here’s why…
Everything is a contribution.
For every meal we eat without meat or animal products, it’s a contribution towards ahimsa. It’s a contribution to the higher and greater good. It’s also a contribution to the health of our bodies. So rather than judging for not being 100% compliant, start appreciating and celebrating every moment that you are practicing ahimsa. Because each little success is a contribution, and a “Woo hoo!” moment to be proud of.
I once heard a quote, and I don’t know who it was by or what the exact words were, but it went something like this…
“To change the World, we don’t need a few people doing it perfectly, we need a whole bunch of people doing it imperfectly”
The pressure of trying to be a vegetarian or a vegan and getting it 100% right all the time often puts people off. But if everybody just tried a little, and celebrated those small contributions, it would make a global difference.
So here I am, declaring to the world that I’m a vegetarian. For now. Each day I will see how it goes, I won’t put pressure on myself or judge myself if I get it wrong, and I will celebrate every meat-free meal I eat. And I live in hope that my health with continue to improve, that I will learn to make delicious meals that I love and are fulfilling, and that I can continue this as a permanent change of lifestyle.
Keep your fingers crossed for me folks!
PS: In case anybody is wondering about Kinesiology or Vegan Meal Deliveries, please see the links below:
Melinda Annear – Kinesiologist – https://www.melindaannear.com
Genevieve Crutchfield – Vegan Catering – https://www.thesoulbowl.co.uk
Oh, and here’s the Millie’s cookies recipe: https://www.bakingmad.com/recipe/copycat-millie-s-cookies 😉