Yoga and Dairy: An Alliance of Holy or Unholy Cows?

Via on Jan 5, 2011

Great yogis have considered dairy products to be an exceptional nutrition for body, mind and spirit for thousands of years. Warm milk, according to the yoga tradition, is a wonderful drink to build up energy for the practice of pranayama, or breathing exercises. Indeed, when I started my practice of closing and opening my nostrils to the rhythms of breath and mantra, I was told by my Indian teacher to consume protein-rich foods such as dairy on a daily basis, especially during the first three months of the practice.

And, according to ayurvedic texts, clarified butter, or ghee, is one of the best foods to enhance ojas, a vital essence that produces physical and mental endurance and nourishes the development of our spiritual faculties. If you are a yogi, we are told, milk is one of the best foods you can ever consume.

Yes, except for the great Tibetan yogi Milerepa, who allegedly lived on nothing but nettle soup for long periods of time, it would be rather difficult to find pure vegans among the yogis of ancient India, Nepal, China and Tibet.

Back then, there were no Whole Foods in the neighborhood, no over-abundant supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, protein bars, soy milk, and green chlorophyll-drinks to keep up the yogis’ stamina. A simple diet of select herbs, vegetables, rice, legumes and milk was their natural foods of choice. As environmentalist Michael Pollan suggests, they did not eat too much, and mostly plants.

The yogi ascetics and householders of old grew up in a culture centered around the cow. From these large and gentle mammals, they were provided milk, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and ghee. Indian children are told stories of how the great yogi leader Krishna was notorious for stealing butter and ghee from any unsuspecting milkmaid when he was young. Indeed, milk and yoga have had an intimate and holy relationship since the beginning of Indian civilization.

Many ascetic yogis lived on nothing but warm milk, raw sugar and certain herbs and spices for extended periods of time. In yoga’s sister science, ayurveda, milk products are, according to prolific author David Frawley, prepared “medicinally, particularly for improving resistance to disease, and to promote convalescence and regeneration.”

Does that mean all yogis would benefit from the use of milk products? Does that mean dairy is always good for you? The short answer is: NO. The long answer is: IT ALL DEPENDS.

For yogis there are at least two important factors to consider when choosing a diet: health and ethics. In some circumstances, milk may be healthy, in others not. Similarly, the yogic ethical principle ahimsa, which is often translated as non-violence, is also a complex and gray area.

Since it is humanly impossible to be completely non-violent towards other living beings, the yogic choice is this: to consciously try to do the least harm possible, to eat those living beings who suffer the least pain when killed. Thus yogis decided to eat carrots rather than cows. Thus the yogis of old chose to become vegetarians; while many modern yogis are opting to be vegans.

Here’s the ethical gray area: Even the most conscientious vegan will indirectly kill other animals and insects, simply because that is the nature of agriculture: millions of animals are killed by tractors and machinery on fields each year, even in sustainable agriculture, even in fields grown for a vegan diet.

Frawley emphasizes that it is important to use “good quality milk from cows who have been treated well.” This is not so easy to do, of course, in a society where cows are not seen or treated as “sacred” but more often like four-legged machines on an assembly line.

Thus, for both health and ethical reasons, many yogis choose not to eat dairy at all. They rightly claim that milk may be bad for health as it creates mucus, increased weight, allergies and candida. They also rightly claim that if you drink milk, you become part of an industry that promotes cruelty and slaughter.

True. But militant vegans seem to forget that it is possible to consume milk and not experience those health side-effects, that it is still possible, as in ancient India, to obtain healthy, cruelty-free milk products from local farms selling organic milk, such as from the tiny organic dairy farm here in my neck of the woods.

Moreover, vegan moralists, who claim lacto-vegetarians indirectly support animal slaughter, may sweep under the grass-mat the fact that millions of rodents, snakes, birds and other animals are killed each year in order to produce the soy milk that they love as a milk substitute.

It is not a black and white issue no matter how you look at it. There are many gray areas to consider, and each yogi and yogini have the choice to carefully weigh the pros and cons of their diet. That said, I do not think dairy products are absolutely necessary for yogis; it is of course possible to lead a dynamic, peaceful and healthy yogic life on a vegan diet.

But a raw vegan diet, for example, such as the one promoted by David Wolfe, also has its environmental downsides. Many of the super-healthy ingredients come from far-away places, such as the Amazon rainforest. This makes the Eat Locally slogan harder to follow.

Indeed, it might be environmentally less harmful and hurtful to eat a local lacto-vegetarian diet than a vegan diet with lots of items shipped in from far away. There are no absolutes. It’s all a matter of conscious (or unconscious) compromise.

Even in the best, cruelty-free and organic circumstances, milk is best used in moderation. In our consumer culture, we habitually stock up on more food than we need and thus overeat and overuse products, including healthy organic dairy and raw sugar. This would have been unthinkable, and practically impossible, for the thin yet healthy yogis of ancient India.

According to ayurveda, a strong-boned and big-muscled kapha person should only use dairy in small amounts, as it produces too much fat and mucus, while a lean and thin pitta person, who burn calories like an incinerator, may use it more liberally. So, for health reasons, it all depends on our body type and also on our genetic makeup.

Many ethnic groups not accustomed to herding cows, such as Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and many Asians, are lactose intolerant, as are many individuals. So, a balanced yogi diet depends on many different factors.

“Of milk and dairy products,” says David Frawley, “milk and ghee are excellent for the practice of yoga.” He recommends consuming milk freshly boiled with spices such as ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. Yoghurt is best taken in small quantities and also mixed with water as a drink, either sweetened with fruits or honey, or salty, especially on hot summer days. Ghee can be used in cooking or eaten from the jar—a few spoonfuls daily is said to be enough to produce that sought-after elixir called ojas.

Indeed, milk products, especially cold milk and yoghurt, have an optimal effect during the warm season. And if you drink milk at night, drink it warm and with the above mentioned spices. This will prevent mucus build-up and thus the formation of cold and flu.

So to sum it all up: the alliance between yoga and dairy has a long, healthy and illustrious history. However, there are also examples of ancient yogis who primarily lived on plants for long periods of time. Due to cruelty towards cows and environmental destruction caused by industrial farming methods, this sacred alliance has become more and more complicated and unholy.

What is your experience with using or not using dairy? Why do you think it is healthy and ethical; why do you think it is unhealthy and unethical?

About Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh Bjonnes was born in Norway and lived for nearly three years in India and Nepal learning directly from the masters of tantric yoga. He has written extensively on tantra, yoga, culture and sustainability, and his articles have appeared in books and numerous magazines and newspapers in Europe and the US. His forthcoming book on Tantra will be published by Hay House India soon. He is currently contributing editor of New Renaissance and a columnist for Fredrikstad Blad, a Norwegian newspaper. He lives in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Visit his blog here: Eight Fold Path. His book Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit: A Personal Guide to the Wisdom of Yoga and Tantra can be purchased here.

3,072 views

51 Responses to “Yoga and Dairy: An Alliance of Holy or Unholy Cows?”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    Great article Ramesh…well said. Butter and yogurt have been used to lower one's lung (loong) in meditation. Butter will relieve agitation in meditation. I have milked goats and cows regularly by hand for years. The relationship with a cow can be very rewarding and humbling.

    • Ramesh says:

      Padma, thanks so much for those insights. Yes, cows and goats are wonderful animals. They milk the cows by hand on my neighbors farm and the milk I get is raw and great. But only in season as they don't milk them in the winter time to give them rest.

  2. Jen says:

    This was a great article! I am vegan. I do not eat dairy, meat, honey or eggs for animal rights reasons. As you said in the artice, we should try to cause the least amount of suffering possible. It is very, very unfortunate that many insects and rodents die in the process of growing plant based foods, but at leat vegans do not take part in the abuse caused by factory farming and the mass slaughter of animals for food. IMHO, there is NO such thing as a "conscious carnivore". No being wants to be killed. The only way to truly know if the cows who produce your dairy were treated humanely is to have a cow of your own. I doubt that most of us have the means to do that. Since we can't keep cow's in our appartments, I feel that being vegan is the most effective way to practice ahimsa in your diet.

    • Ramesh says:

      Jen,
      I think it is admirable that you have chosen to be a vegan.
      I do think that some farms treat their cows humanely. I do trust my neighbors do that, as I see their operation daily on my walks through the farm and I often see them milk etc while having a chat. But that is far from the norm.

      • katy says:

        Jen,
        Respectfully, some biengs DO want to be killed. Perhaps not for the sake of consumption by another being, but for the sake of chronic pain or other malady. This is a different subject, of course, but truthful none the less.

  3. AMO says:

    I've always used dairy, some yogurt each day helps keep candida away, and cream in my coffee, the occasional cheese on pizza. Recently I've noticed through my New Year's cleanse that without it my spine feels VERY different. I'm more flexible and have less stiffness in the morning. I had heard that was true but didn't want to be troubled to take dairy out of my diet. I think I'll stick with it a while and see what happens, not like a Nazi, I'll have a piece of cheesecake for desert should someone offer or eat a yogurt once in a while, but I can use soy milk in my coffee, I like it that way, and it's easy to eat much less much less often…

  4. Katy says:

    I just stopped consuming dairy a few weeks ago, Ironically, I tried dairy free because of an article I read right here on ElephantJournal. I cannot begin to tell you how much better I feel and my complecion hasn't been this clear since I was ten years old. I'm sure I will reintroduce dairy to my diet in tiny quantities eventually, but for now I can't imagine drinking a glass of milk.

    • Ramesh says:

      Katy, Wow! Good for you and great point. Dairy is harder to digest than veggies and fruits for sure and some are more sensitive to it than others.

  5. Amanda says:

    I made the final transition from pescatarian to vegan about 6 months ago and I'm really happy to have taken this step. My conscience and my thinking is clearer and on many levels I feel lighter. I feel the benefits of eating more conciously and enjoy my food so much more.
    I never missed meat but cheese was a bit of an issue for a month or so, while I worked through the withdrawals. Milk has never been a problem as there are so many different non-dairy milks that can be made at home …my favorites are coconut and almond.
    In response to Yogi Tobye's question about cow's needing milking, yes they do, but only if they've had their calves taken away from them at an early age. The milk was meant for them not us. That's partly where the cruelty of the dairy industry lies. Before I became vegan I used to get raw goat's milk from my local organic farm, from a goat that had sadly lost all three of her triplets and so I didn't feel guilty in drinking it. Maybe a cow, goat or sheep can keep their offspring and also be milked in order to encourage a larger supply …that would. Surely be a healthy balance.

    • Ramesh says:

      Amanda, great points. There are a few farms that let the calves wander with the cows and they still get substantial amount of milk for humans. This is how it is practiced in India to some extent, but even there modern practices have taken over in the name of profit.

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dogayoga, Red Fox. Red Fox said: Yoga and Dairy: An Alliance of Holy or Unholy Cows? http://bit.ly/i5hr6T [...]

  7. Amanda says:

    Ramesh, excellent article. Thank you.
    When I lived in CA, I was a fairly ardent vegan yogi. The only time I would veer toward milk was if I knew exactly where the end-product came from (read: Straus Creamery or Cowgirl Creamery, etc). Before becoming a full-time yoga teacher, I worked in the sustainable development world, with a focus on agricultural and food systems. As you rightly mention, the US dairy industry is a scary mess, replete with fear-based pasteurization policies, criminal animal welfare, heavy antibiotic use, and massive over-production/herd size which causes large scale environmental degradation. I didn't want to be a part of it, but having grown up on a farm, I did miss wholesome dairy and none of the alternatives really worked both because it wasn't satiating and the production of (particularly) soy-based products has created another whole host of systemic problems.
    When I moved to France (part-time Normandy and part-time Paris) two years ago, while not as pristine as it used to be, I was introduced to a much smaller scale, cleaner system. We started sourcing raw milk from the cow farmer down the road and raw cheese and yogurt from the sheep farmer down another road. The animals graze on grass year-round (when there is not snow on the ground), have plenty of space, and are not doped up to over-produce. My skin problem cleared up and my immune system got a much needed boost. (I gained a kilo or two, but to get through a Northern European winter, that's not such a bad thing ;-)
    I also fell in love with cows; their gentle nature and big, beautiful eyes…it is completely awe-inspiring to me, especially in the spring when the calves are born. (If you're interested, I wrote a blog post about it here: dogayoga.blogspot.com.)
    It took me to a deeper place in my practice, beyond conscious consumption and health issues, to a more profound understanding of Krishna's love and devotion; bhakti. So for this yogi, being re-introduced to dairy and going back to the most wholesome source, was a life changing experience.

    • Ramesh says:

      Amanda, thanks so much for your insightful post and deep sharing. I also have background in sustainability and farming as I studied agronomy and worked on organic farms before going to India and becoming a yogi…now many years later I am trying to integrate both worlds on a smaller scale..
      Your conscious sourcing of raw milk is a great example of how it can be done in some places. That is also possible in my area, but not so in others. Then the second choice is finding companies such as Strauss Creamery.
      We have much in common, and I will check out your blog!

  8. Ramesh says:

    This thought-provoking statement from my friend Jagatbandhu is a MUST READ:

    "It seems to me that in our concern for the mistreatment of cows we
    often overlook the mistreatment and exploitation of human agricultural
    workers that provide the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed and legumes that
    are the foundations of a vegan diet. Unless we able to grow our own or
    purchase all our food from local providers where we can determine
    directly that workers are properly treated, a vegan diet is not
    necessarily less removed from exploitation, cruelty and death (and I
    don't just mean the death of rodents and insects that Rameshji rightly
    points out – I mean the direct deaths of humans forced to live and work
    in terrible conditions).

    So, concern for the cruelty of the dairy industry is appropriate, but
    let's not ignore the plight of exploited agricultural workers the world
    over either and assume that we are necessarily dining on exploitation-
    free and cruelty-free food when we forego the dairy."

    • Ramesh says:

      I completely agree with this, my friend. Our narcissistic focus on health and wellbeing often ignore and forget those who help grow our food. Much of our organic food, especially in California, is grown by poorly paid and overworked Mexican farm labor. GOOD POINT!

  9. Alan Haffa says:

    I am a vegetarian who does use dairy. Growing up in Wisconsin, I helped out on a friend's family dairy farm. There were 120 cows and they were treated well. The farmer knew them by name. We were encouraged to buy butter and cheese as a way to support small, family farms. And, the cows surely did not mind being milked; in fact, they needed it. I agree with the notion of eating in a way that does the least harm, to the best of your ability. For me, cheese and butter are part of my diet, I enjoy them, and I know that you don't have to treat cows badly to produce it. I wish California didn't have such big, industrial farms, and I wonder if it is worth the cost of resources from transportation to eat cheese produced back in Wisconsin on small farms?

    • Ramesh says:

      Alan, thanks for sharing your organic dairy farm story! Great question at the end: "I wonder if it is worth the cost of resources from transportation to eat cheese produced back in Wisconsin on small farms?" I this economy, it actually could be less of an environmental footprint, at least if your California cheese is not organic and does not come from a small local farm. A study found that it was more environmentally friendly for someone in England buying grass fed sheep meat from a sheep from New Zealand than from a grain fed British sheep, since so much of the grain ingredients came from all over the world. This might apply in your situation depending on what kind of cheese you buy in California. Hope this helps.

  10. Ramesh says:

    from Facebook
    Jill A Basinger Tow The difference between vegans and those who choose to consume animals products is intent and awareness. Are you aware of how a cow feels about being a milk machine for humans? Yes, many animals are inadvertantly killed during vegetable production, but it is not the vegan's intent to rob any animal of his or her body, spirit, life

    • Ramesh says:

      Jill, your point is well taken. And, yes, I am well aware of the suffering of industrially farmed milk cows; I have experienced it up close and thus get my milk from a local raw dairy hand milked by loving people, and when not available there, from other local organic farms.
      The suffering of cows is not a conscious intent on those vegetarians who drink milk from such farms, the suffering is an indirect cause of the system, just like it is not the intent of vegans to kill those rodents and snakes who are inadvertently killed during farming. It is not the intent of vegetarians nor vegans to hurt poor Mexican farm workers either. BUT they are exploited, underpaid, overworked, etc. And they do produce even organic food for all of us.
      So, it's a mixed bag, a complex issue..

    • AlpineLily says:

      Are you saying that nobody who consumes animal products is capable of having good intentions towards animals or awareness of the issues surrounding where those products come from? Seriously?

      I choose to eat animal products because it is IMPOSSIBLE to eat according Ayurvedic principles (which have been THE most beneficial for MY body) and be vegan! Yet I still have intentions that include eating meat and dairy from sources that are as sustainable and humane as possible. I am fully aware of where my food comes from and try my best to shop fresh, local and be respectful of my food sources.

      Whether or not a vegan 'intends' these consequences the fact is they still occur. Seems ridiculous to say that just because an intention is present it negates the reality of the situation.

      Attitudes like this is why many people find vegans to be off-putting and overly self-righteous…..you can't just ignore that realities because they don't fit in your "perfect ideals"

  11. AlpineLily says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS ARTICLE!

    Finally an informed, well-written piece that isn't just some over-stimulated vegan ranting about how much better-enlightened-spritual they are than someone to keep their body healthy with foods that include animal products!

    I always laugh when people tout veganism but gloss over many of the items you mentioned here!

    THANK YOU!

  12. Padma Kadag says:

    Not to overly discuss the "Veganism vs. the World" issue…It is my feeling that veganism is a product of this capitalistic, lets work the lower and middle classes to death, lets raise the retirement age to 72, democratic society we now enjoy. My point is that veganism is not sustainable, not even as a model, without the inequalities and the rich get richer society we live in. Veganism is a luxury in this society. As a luxury, it is the only way it could ever survive. Veganism depends on the economy we currently "enjoy" and those economies around the world like it.

    • Ramesh says:

      Padma,
      strong but important points! Thanks!

    • Alan Haffa says:

      You're equating veganism with working the elderly to death and class exploitation? Huh? You will need to do quite a bit explaining to justify such a claim. Also, a luxury is something that is expensive and that cannot be enjoyed by a large number of people. That's patently false with respect to veganism. Grow a garden. Buy from your local farmer's market. I fail to see how it is dependent upon capitalism or how it is unsustainable.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        It is my opinion that veganism, and not just veganism, isa result of this capitalistic system and would not be able to sustain itself. Grow a garden? You must be wealthy Alan. The fact is veganism is a luxury item and not sustainable. Veganism would not exist under any other worldly governing system. Only the elite few could be vegan. Supplied by ultimately corporate farms. It is not a realistic diet or lifestyle for the world. Fact is it is a luxury for a few.

  13. Ramesh says:

    Here is an email from a friend with a very compelling argument for becoming a vegan:

    Ramesh, Nice article. I like where you are coming from. About 7 years ago, I set out to write such a balanced article, putting all these solid ayurvedic health arguments forward and trying to give a balanced view of drinking milk. I decided to research the dairy industry thoroughly so I understood exactly how it worked and what the ethical concerns were. The result?

    Well, you know I am vegan now – it wasn't really a choice, more an evolution I would say.

    You make good points about there being violence and exploitation in almost all agro-industries these days. But, to put that in context, lacto-veg's (LV) and vegans seem to consume similarly from the soya product, legume, lentil etc foodgroups, so I don't see much difference between vegan or LV in this regard. Insects and small animals will undoubtedly be killed in commercial farming practises – in fact farming has always been a battle against competitors of one sort or another – be they fox, rabbit or bindweed.

    However, I believe dairy farmiing is in a slightly different category because of the nature of cows as being sentient and intelligent large, developed animals, and the link with the veal industry. You see, those cows need to have been recently pregnant to make milk (this is a mammalian hormonal thing), so what happens to the calves? Well, they are separated from their mothers really early (so they cannot steal "our" milk). Females get fed back into the dairy industry, males are sold to veal farms where they are starved in the dark to make the pale white meat so many people seem to love. When the milk producing cow cannot produce anymore, she is slaughtered for meat. So, what we have in the dairy industry is an intentionally cruel methodology that is tightly intertwined with the meat industry.

    That organic dairy farm down the road from you – what are they doing with their old cows and their male calves? If we could separate the meat industry from the dairy, it might make the ethical decision a little easier. There is one place that I would have no qualms about eating dairy from – that is the local Hare Krishna Temple. They have an organic farm there, and use bulls to pull plows, carts etc. The stables are clean and hygienic, and the cows and calves sleep together – the vibe is really sentient. Unfortunately, this model cannot produce the amounts of dairy that we have come to expect in our diets…..

    So, all this considered, it was still not enough to make me a vegan, I loved and valued milk too much. What tipped me?

    Well, I thank my wife – we had a child and she exclusively breastfed- for a prolonged period. Ironically – the very thing that made me acutely aware of exactly how good and right and natural milk is for humans, also made me aware that I really didn't need to support the exploitation of another species in order to be healthy.

    I wonder how many readers would find consuming human milk disagreeable? If so, ask yourself why?
    Is it because the image of a line of women on milking machines seems wrong to you (why is that right for cows)
    Is it because of the unnatural sexualisation of human breasts?
    Is it because it seems wrong (why does consuming the glandular secretions from another species then seem right? Habit? This is the way it has always been done?)
    There are human milk banks these days (mainly for women who cannot lactate properly). I know of several cases of incurable cancer, where the patient has gotten better through regular consumption of human milk from these milk banks.

    The world is a changed place from the one that the old yogis who kept their personal cow for milk lived in. Long and complex supply chains make ethical choices about food more and more difficult – there is no clear way forward – each has to make their own way.

    My recommendation in this maelstrom – eat as simply as possible, eat as locally as possible. I buy my veg from a local food co-op that gets its food from local allotment growers (of which my community allotment farm is a part), and local organic farms. I know where it came from, I know how it was grown (sort of)

    jyotirmaya

    • Katy says:

      Ooooo! I’m so glad you mentioned human milk, which is miraculous liquid. I once had a nutrition professor tell us, “If you want your baby to be as smart as a human, give it human milk. If you want your baby to be as smart as a cow, give it cow’s milk.” More studies should be conducted to find all the amazing benefits of human milk.

  14. Ti Klingler says:

    I am a vegetarian, not a vegan, but the spector of male dairy calves being crammed into small dog kennels or otherwise subjected to conditions where they cannot move makes me feel guilty. I can't ignore the connection between dairy and veal and my contribution to that industry. I do not cook and am busy. Does that excuse me? I don't know. I know that by being vegetarian, I reduce harm to the environment and extend compassion to animals raised for food. I don't keep the Eternal Ledger and cannot know how helpful or harmful my actions are, ultimately, so I do the best I can at any given moment.

    • Ramesh says:

      Ti, I hear you. I also think about these things, and, as i said in the article, even vegans cause harm…we are all part of an unjust, cruel, and environmentally imbalanced system of agriculture, and I believe that system is what needs to be changed.

    • Trang Le says:

      Have you grown a plant? I can't remember how many snails and worms I've killed (possibly thousands of them) since i grew basil, mint and shiso. And they're all I've grown. Do I feel guilty for them? Sometimes, but most of the time I feel relieved that my plants are growing strong thanks to the disapperance of those lowly animals. Those who think that thy're reducing harm to the environment by being a vegetarian/vegan obviously haven't grown a plant, let alone a soy field or almond garden.

  15. guest says:

    I was surprised you didn't mention the importance of consuming only raw milk from pastured, grass-fed cows…."Organic" doesn't really mean that much these days, and pasteurization, homogenization, and corn/soy-feeding do a lot of harm, rendering a sacred and nourishing food into a poison.

  16. Berlin says:

    As a Pitta dosha (both Prakruti and Vikruti), I drink chai, consume cheese and yoghurt which my body craves, however I cannot stand the taste of milk on its own, lol. My father in law is able to get these products from a humane (no-kill) farmer he knows that raises cows for dairy and are his pets above all. I love the fact I know where my dairy comes from and no animals are hurt in the process :)

  17. [...] behind small tables. Giant, cast iron bowls sat on the tables, filled with greasy, sugary hot ghee. Ghee, believed by some Hindus to be the food of the gods, is a greasy, cookie dough-like food. I stood, [...]

  18. The days of Krishna are unfortunately long gone when the cow was well loved and got to keep her calf close by her side. Nowadays even humane farming takes away their babies and they suffer grief. The babies are used for veal now but in the old days of Krishna they were turned into bullocks, after all how many male calves (bulls) are needed. It is really sad the way cows are treated in India and cruelly tranported. Yes to manufacture soy beans the ground is plowed and insects are killed but most grain is grown in our world to feed animals! So cut out the middle man, the animal, and just eat the grain please.! To learn more about cows in India please see http://www.helpanimalsindia.org and http://www.vspca.org

  19. [...] traditional yogic diet is lacto-ovo-vegetarian, meaning milk and eggs are allowed in moderation. Drawn from the tenets of [...]

  20. [...] traditional yogic diet is lacto-ovo-vegetarian, meaning milk and eggs are allowed in moderation. Drawn from the tenets of [...]

  21. Bhaeravii says:

    There is an assumption that the yogis of ancient times were thin and healthy and lived long lives due to their practices. This is not proven fact, but a romantic view of the past. To be thin in ancient times meant starvation and not enough food. People who had more flesh on their bodies, considered fat today, were glorified and said to be beautiful, as they personified being well fed.

    For the Indian based vegetarian diets that contain dairy products, this diet that has come up hundreds of generations, is based on very different agricultural and husbandry practices than the last decades especially in Western technological society. vegetarian diets, which when growing in popularity, gave much emphasis on eating milk, cheese, and eggs for protein. Just about every single person I know today who started the lacto vegetarian diet back in the 60s is allergic to dairy today from eating so much cheese. Raw cow's milk is considered good for the body up to about 6 hours after milking, and then considered tamasic after that. goat's milk is considered the closest milk to human milk in composition, so easier to digest. Cow's milk is like a habit that has just kept going through generations. well it tastes good. it is a comfort food. its familiar. but the adult human cannot digest milk properly. that is a scientific fact. Afro Americans cannot tolerate dairy products at all. many illnesses are recommended to no longer use dairy. Feeding a newborn child cow's milk can endanger their life as it does not contain the proper combination of nutritional elements for growth. the human body stops breaking down cow's milk by teenage years. by then we are habituated to lots of glasses of milk to help sleep and for strong bones, cheese, cream. cultured products are easier to digest and people who cannot tolerate milk, often can tolerate yogurt. There are proponents of just raw milk and others that swear by only organic since the GMO diet and antibiotics are passed from the milk into the drinker's body.

    Just because the history of yoga is intertwined with the consumption of dairy, does not mean it is good for the body now. It was a food that was easily available in a rural culture. If you can still drink milk, you are a lucky soul. most people are not able to and have to give it up, or drink it and dont feel well.

    About the new obsession with eating locally…most people alive today have been eating foods from all over the world/around the country now for decades and loving it. once the railroad system developed refrigerated cars, there were many more foods available than ever before, which was pretty wonderful to enhance a limited seasonal diet, especially in cold climates. what is wonderful about the locavore psychology is the back to the land mindset and respect for the small farmer, which has been almost wiped out with the big agri business practices.

    Bottom line. Its great to live in an affluent country where there is enough food to have a specific diet. Where you can pick and choose what you eat. Cuz if you are in a situation where there is a lack of food, you will need to eat whatever is there and milk the cow.

  22. I learn something new on different blogs daily. It can be usually stimulating to see content material of other writers and study slightly one thing from them. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Ramesh says:

    Yogi Tobye,
    very good points. However, I do npt concur that ahimsa means non-violence either, because it is simply impossible npt to cause violence, which I explained in the article. I also did not say ahimsa means non-killing either, but rather to cause the least harm possible. Any thought or action with the intention of causing harm to someone else amounts to hiḿsá. The existence of life implies destruction of certain lower forms, no matter whether there is intention of doing harm or not. The process of respiration kills thousands of millions of protoplasmic cells.

    Hence I agree with you, in certain places of the planet, it is difficult to be a vegetarian. But if it is possible to live on a vegetarian diet, that would be preferable as it causes less harm. I have slaughtered animals quite humanly in my previous life as a farmer, but I cannot say they did not suffer, and I prefer to kill carrots rather than cows.Especially because the meat most people eat comes from slaughterhouses in which the killing is not humane. Indeed, I became a vegetarian after walking through a slaughterhouse.

  24. Ramesh says:

    Yogi Tobye, good points. I agree that it is not possible to be a vegetarian in certain places on the planet. However, I find the interpretation that ahimsa means non-violence to be problematic. I agree, ahimsa does not mean non-killing either. The interpretation I prefer, and which I emphasized in the article, is that it means to "not consciously harm anyone with speech, thought or action." In this article I focused on ahimsa and diet. We could also focus on ahimsa and relationships, that verbal abuse is himsa because we are consciously hurting our partner with our words.
    The focus on ahimsa as nonviolence has led people to become impractical, such as extreme Jain practices that disallowed people to till the soil, not breathe without a mask, not walk without sweeping the ground etc. It has also led people not to believe it is right to fight back in defense if they or themselves are being attacked.
    That interpretation does not seem practical to me.

  25. You have to keep the cow giving birth after birth and keep her getting pregnant in order for her to give milk otherwise you have to constantly milk her. Sure if you stop milking she will dry up just like a human does. The cow may be treated well but for how long does she get to live, in USA it is about 2 years. And what about her babies, how old are they when they are taken away, usually it is a few days for the males are turned into veal Cows are like holy mothers are very sad when they lose their babies – over and over again because we want the milk instead.

  26. Ramesh says:

    Beautifully said Yogi Tobye! (sorry for the double posting there above. I did not seem to post the first time, so I repeated it, but alas bot of them got posted) Yes, being aware of not becoming a fanatic and thus creating harm that way is also part of practicing ahimsa. Great point!!

  27. Ramesh says:

    Good points anniegirl, and I hope your daughter is reborn as an enlightened spiritual activist in her next life, then she can help the planet even more than a plant!

Leave a Reply