This Carnivorous Yogi Hearts the Vegan Queen.

Via on Jun 1, 2011

Ok, I know Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti and vegan extraordinaire…and we have had our differences of opinion, to put it lightly.

In fact, the Huffington Post asked us to have a video debate about it. I was really into it at the time; not to change anyone’s mind about their diet, but to give those who eat meat and practice yoga a role model.

Between you and me, however, I secretly hoped to challenge Sharon on some of the judgment I see within the vegan community when it comes to interacting with yogis who choose other forms of nutrition. Though I had never met her in person, there has been some energetic distance between her and I, though I may be the only one who was feeling it.

So when I was at the Yoga Journal Conference presenter’s dinner at the New York Hilton the other night and got a tap on the shoulder, the last person I expected to see when I turned around was Sharon.

Yet that’s exactly what happened. Usually, I keep my interactions with well-known yogis private—however, I think this one’s worth sharing.

But first, let’s back up to the night before. I walked into my Rock Your Core class of 100 students on Friday evening with my iPhone firmly in hand. I’d made a playlist, including Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer (of course), and right after that, Pashupati, one of the most gorgeous yoga songs I’ve heard. It’s on Sharon’s new album, Sharanam.

I included it on purpose, knowing the conference was bringing together teachers of wildly different perspectives and focal points, and so when it played, I gave her a shout out, saying something like “Sharon and I may have differing views on food, but I love her album and this song, and I wanted to share it with you.”

Then I continued on with the class.
Fast-forward to the dinner, and the proverbial tap, and the very quick exchange that became a powerful moment for me, and I think for her too.

I turned to see Sharon standing above me with one of her main teachers. He said, “Sadie, may I introduce you to my teacher, Sharon Gannon.”

I stood, took her hand and said, “It is so lovely to meet you.” She answered, “I heard you played my music in class the other day, and I wanted to come and say thank you so much!”

I let her know how much I enjoyed it, and said I was happy to share it with everyone. Then I paused, wondering if I should say what was in my heart. I was not certain how she would react, yet my truth had to come out.

I looked her deep in the eyes, still holding her hand, and said,

“Sharon…though our diets may be different…
…we share the same soul.”

What happened next took me completely by surprise.

Instead of politely thanking me and exiting the situation, Sharon, without a second’s pause, said “Oh!”, and passionately embraced me.

It was the kind of completely unfettered, joyous hug you get maybe three times in a lifetime, like when you tell your best friend you’re getting married to the wonderful guy she was rooting for.

For me, actions speak louder than words, and in that moment of utter abandon and acceptance, we were, quite literally, one.

Instead of judging me, or I her, we were able to communicate from that core place where the details fall away, and what remains is the compassion, the deep peace, and as fellow teachers on a national level, the sometimes seemingly insane desire to spend one’s lifetime in the full service of others’ healing.

A fruit basket, a heartfelt hug, a kind word in a blog–these are all roads into my heart.  I’m easy that way. But that exchange was truly something special, and I saw her true Self encapsulated in it. Sharon gave me a great gift that night.

I clearly saw that she and I, just as I, and anyone else, are far more alike than different. Regardless of the places we may disagree, I fell head over YogiToes in love with her in that moment, as pure love offered out instantly tends to do.

Now I figure, instead of debating about the areas where we digress, I’d rather spend this use of cyberspace reminding myself, and all you in our larger yoga community, that we ultimately belong together. Still speaking our truths, of course, but also healing the chasms that can divide us, the competition, the gossip, backbiting and separatism that is prevalent even in the yoga world.

Perhaps if the teachers lead the way, the students will also come to understand that yoga is so many things, and is comprised of infinite pathways toward balance. Instead of remaining fragmented, can we make our way back toward unity?

As Sharon made her way out of the room later that night, she caught my eye, and paused, hands together at her heart, to give me a deep and reverent bow…one I returned without hesitation. In that moment of Namaste, where the light in her recognized and honored the light within me,  and vice-versa, I knew without a shadow of a doubt:

If a Conscious Carnivore and the Vegan Queen can do it,

we all can.

Get Sharon’s Album Here.

About Sadie Nardini

Sadie Nardini, is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, an anatomically-optimized flow style that gives you more results and benefits for every minute spent on your yoga mat. She is a holistic anatomy geek, healthy hedonism advocate, yoga expert, author, and TV host who travels internationally bringing empowering tools to yoga teachers and students everywhere. Her new book, The 21-Day Yoga Body: A Metabolic Makeover, Life-Styling Manual to Get You Fit, Fierce and Fabulous in Just 3 Weeks! (Random House), is out now, and her TV show, Rock Your Yoga, is playing across the country on the new Veria Living Network. With Sadie, you'll sweat, laugh, learn, and come away transformed, informed, and inspired anew. Learn more at www.SadieNardini.com.

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34 Responses to “This Carnivorous Yogi Hearts the Vegan Queen.”

  1. Sara Bruskin Sara says:

    Beautiful.

  2. Karin says:

    thank you for sharing…the world is a better place with beautiful people like you and Shannon…can't wait to learn from you guys at the Evolution Yoga Conference in Hong Kong..:)

  3. Tanya says:

    lovely!
    I love sharon gannon, but I am total hard core carnival – weston price-blood type 0 – warrior style … .I love my meat … and fat …and raw milk … and one of my favourite cook (and not only) books is http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Chall
    was a vegetarian , even vegan … it made me very very sick

    Anyhow – I love that live and let live style, well done ladies !

  4. Tanya says:

    hahaha and that was carnivore not carnival … although I can be both :) sorry for the mistake – it is past 2 am here in Europe and insomnia is kicking my ass

  5. NotSoSure says:

    The following is coming from someone who has had issues with parts of your posts in the past.

    Sadie, when you reach down and express yourself at a deep and personal level as you did in this piece, you are capable of absolutely the most wonderful magic. I think I fell in love with you tonight.

  6. Jen says:

    though our diets may be different…
    …we share the same soul.”

    Um, do you share the same soul with an innocent animal being mercilessly slaughtered so you can get your protein, or do you just share the same soul with rockstar yoginis?

    • NotSoSure says:

      Jen, I am vegan also. I understand where you are coming from. And I have been hugely annoyed with some of Sadies posts in the past. But, here's the but….the method of communication you chose to use in your post will do nothing to promote veganism. In fact, the tone of this comment is what turns many potential future vegans away from veganism.

      • Colin says:

        I think of eating meat like punching people in the face. Sometimes people punch people in the face. It happens, you know? Hell, I might even punch someone in the face in the right context. But why is it preachy and un-yogic to say to somebody "hey – you should stop punching people in the face!". Would it be better to just shut up and hope that the punchers will see how happy and healthy we non-punchers are? If you choose to eat meat go ahead and eat meat – just don't whine about it when somebody points out the fact that is is violent and largely unnecessary (just like punching people in the face).

        • Jen says:

          Colin, I heart you! That was seriously the funniest analogy I've ever heard. I am for sure using that one in the future!

      • Jen says:

        Right. I know many people are feel that you catch more omnivores w/ agave, but quote just really annoyed me. If she had put it differently perhaps….

        • Jen says:

          Whoops. This was supposed to be a reply to "NotsoSure"

        • NotSoSure says:

          Jen, it has nothing to do with agave. Your comment was purely poor communication. I am often guilty of getting too riled up here on EJ also. And when I do make poor choices in the words I use I also lose the ability to make my point. Until you choose a better method of communication you will fail to get your point across.

          • Yogini5 says:

            Such an imperfect medium is this, that people on the receiving end can take things the wrong way …. S.I. Hayakawa wrote about incomplete verbal maps …

            Emoticons don't do much to clear this problem up, IMHO … and it is not always the fault of the sender of the message. This is probably why moderated threads might tend to skew positive, and not just the fact that they may be monitored …

          • Jen says:

            How exactly was it poor communication?

          • NotSoSure says:

            The judgmental and insulting tone of your post is poor communication.

            The following is an attempted insult of Sadie. "or do you just share the same soul with rockstar yoginis". You are attempting to imply she is a bad person because she has a national presence as yoga instructor.

            The "soul of innocent animal" comment reads to me, a fellow vegan, as dogmatic and judgmental.

            I know how hard it is to refute a stance one disagrees with without resorting to negative language. I also know that the best way to promote any cause is to communicate from a positive viewpoint. Telling people they are bad because they do not share your ideals will never be successful in the long run. A better approach is to tell people about all the good that comes personally and globally from a vegan diet.

          • Jen says:

            I am in no way trying to imply that Sadie is a bad person because she is a famous yoga instructor. She works hard and gets recognition for it. Good for her. I have watched a few of her youtube videos, and I think the way she explains things is clear, and I like her personality. My issue with Sadie is that she comes across as a hypocrite. In my first comment, I was simply trying to discern if Sadie DID indeed feel that she shared the same soul with animals. Some people feel that animals are lower beings than humans are. Maybe Sadie is one of those people….

            Really, my point is not to try to get Sadie to become a vegan, just as Sadie's point is not to get us to eat meat. This is simply a fourm for sharing opinions, and I was doing just that. Honestly, we are all adults here, and I doubt Sadie is losing any sleep over anyone's comments! I read the article, formed and opinion and typed it, just as Sadie came here to state an opinion.

    • MAdelain says:

      I'm sorry you feel so hurt angry and offended by us meat eaters.
      I hope you will find the true spirit that was meant to be felt by this article. What a wonderful feeling it is to find the goodness in it.

      Peace to you Jen.
      Thanks for your efforts as a vegan.
      Namaste

  7. Madelain says:

    Wow, Truely powerful article. These are the moments we live for.
    Thanks you for reminding us of these sweet moments that we are all capable of.
    Love you!
    ox

  8. Thank you so much everyone for your heartfelt comments. I'm glad many of you can read this article in the spirit it was intended–to promote less judgment and separatism, not more. Unfortunately, there are those who still need to sit in judgment of people who don't share their beliefs.

    Though I might disagree with their worldview, I have to say, I do share their opinion that eating meat is a form of violence, one that should not be undertaken lightly. Something people might not know about me is that I'd LOVE to be a vegan, and help polarize towards earth and animal gentleness. However, my body will simply not allow it.

    As someone with Celiac's Disease and sensitivity to many others, it makes me sick, literally, to eat most grains, legumes and raw food, and to not include animal protein in my diet makes me weak and prone to illness. Many kinds of animal protein do not work for me either, only, really red meat and egg whites. I have been to numerous doctors, nutritionists, Ayurvedic specialists, and Chinese medicine practitioners, to name a few. They have all said the same thing: This is the diet that will heal, not harm me. Trust me, after 6 years of being a vegetarian, there is nothing I wanted to hear less than this.

    Yet some of my readers still treat me as if I'm the most flippant, unconscious meat-eating murderer there is, or at least going around "punching people in the face." Sigh. It makes me sad–for them, and for the connections and benefit we could have had for one another that are now getting lost in the sauce.

    So, I have to own this dietary fact about myself, and in order to practice Ahimsa towards me, I have had to find a way to eat meat sparingly and help spread the word that if, like me, you also need to or would like to eat the diet that is right for your health and vitality, that it's OK.

    No one's perfect….but we can be more mindful. To me, it's not bad…it's balance.

    xoSadie

    • Jen says:

      Sadie, I think YOU are sitting in judgement of those who have an opposing view. I appreciate the intention of the article, but the whole "we share the same soul" hippie hippie horrah schtick REALLY bothered me. I think what you said to Sharon is BEAUTIFUL, I just feel like the way it was worded was so ironic. I am a vegan. I have celiac. I have soy intolerances. Yes, my diet is very limited. Yes, sometimes I feel like complete crap. But in my mind, we need to sacrafice in order to help other beings, so if I feel lethargic sometimes, so be it. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see the debate between sharon and you. Really hope that is in the works….

    • Cory Bryant says:

      Way to go Sadie — kudos to you for engaging important dialogues around an issue that impacts us all — after all, we all gotta eat! And one contributing factor to this discussion that I've yet to see raised is that fact that human being have been eating meat for what? 10,000 years or so? We are biological, evolutionary creatures and as such our biology is bound to have evolved to accommodate meat eating. Because of this it seems quite plausible to me (who happens to be a PhD food chemist that has devoted his life's work to providing a safe food supply) that there are those of of who have an easy time being vegan and healthy and others who don't — maybe even can't. I think the important take away from all this is that Sharon-ji (our teacher — I'm also a Certified Jivamukti Teacher) is a leader, she challenges us to explore the issues that impact our world, be present, be conscious, and do our best to love and uplift one another. I met you at that same dinner 2 years ago and thought you were the bomb. Knowing you both, I am not surprised in the least to read that you felt a strong connection — I think you likely are a lot alike…

      With metta,
      Cory

  9. ang says:

    Sharon is one of the most lovely beings I've ever met. She holds true to her belief that you and I are the same and she sees God in all. She makes everyone she comes across feel just as you did with her embrace, animals included.

  10. Dalai says:

    Could yoga be a tool in the hands of the ego that helps it manage its feelings of guilt by tempering down physiological responses which are usually detected as feelings of discomfort?

  11. Casey Feicht says:

    Great article. I have so much respect for you sharing your story and the violent aspects of eating meat and the health reasons for eating meat. As a vegetarina and a gluten free eater (gluten is an allegy issue) … I too would love to be Vegan, that is if someone would cook for me all the time. Anyways.. you are sharing with us that focusing on our similiairities verses our differences is so powerful and will bring peace.

    Namaste & Play

  12. Clare says:

    I love that Sadie recognizes the outporing of "Oh!" love! It is wonderful to love freely and openly. What I don't get is why she keeps stirring up this carnivore vrs. vegan contraversy-gets lauded by fellow carnivores, shamed by vegans-and then backs off saying that not only does she have to eat this way for health, but also her native american ancestry as well. So are we saying that all Native American Celiac sufferers should eat meat, but the rest of the world should stop killing, maiming, elslaving, wearing, eating animals? It sounds like that only people with incurable health problems/ a "right" to this land and it's animals, should eat animals to survive. (My ancestors were whalers, I have given up that tradition and eliminated whale meat from my diet as well) In that case, why are we stirring up this controversy? If she truly can't live without eating animals, then she is doing her darndest. What about everybody else? I like that Sadie makes people think, but I am sad that it pits us against eachother. Love peeps, love animals, harm no one if you can help it.

    • Hi Clare,
      Luckily, I don't have to try and please everyone…I only have to speak my truth.

      I bring this topic up for the exact opposite reason that you think: to provide more reasons that we can find common ground…not less.

      You're reading into my reply as saying that the rest of us should not eat meat when I never stated that. I'm only offering my personal reasons, since someone asked.

      As a lifelong animal lover and rescuer of strays, I truly do wish there were other ways to nourish myself besides killing any beings–even plants. However, I speak for no one else nor do I judge others for their choices around food. I do support people to live their lives according to what fulfills them, just as I have stated in previous posts that I love my diet, and who knows if that's because of my palate, my heritage or, the more likely reason that it's the food my body craves because it's best for it. I'm showing that, for me, there are reasons for my choices, since certain commenters assume I haven't given my diet enough thought.

      I can assure them (and you) that I have.

      Furthermore, I accept that other people have good reasons for their way of nourishing, and as a teacher of mindfulness and balance, I can only encourage them to be less flippant and more conscious around every aspect of their lives…this one included.

  13. balance says:

    I like the sentiment behind this post a lot. I am a vegan who is married to a carnivore- or i should say omnivore, since the majority of his diet is like mine- vegan. I can tell when my husband could do with some red meat. I truly believe that every body is different and some people are ok with being vegan, just like some people are ok with eating gluten- everyone's body works a little differently, and rather than judge, we should be accepting of our differences. If you eat meat, the only thing I will say is- eat good quality meat (free range, organic, etc)- and only as often as you need. Don't base the protein element of your meal every day only on meat. My hubby happily eats vegan (or sometimes vegetarian) meals that I prepare for him for most days of the week. Once in a while he cooks a bit of meat for himself. If more Carnivores/ Omnivores (whatever is the proper term for meat-eaters) ate like this, I think that eating meat wouldn't be deemed such a bad thing by us non-meat-eaters. It's the people who eat factory-farmed meat every day, without a thought of where the meat came from, or even the fact that it once was a living, feeling animal, that really bother me. (And unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who eat this way.) But if you are eating meat mindfully, us mindful non-meat-eaters should not judge.

  14. Tanya says:

    oooops I was just about to say " you rock sadie" (because you do, always … or almost ;)) but then I saw your apologetic post and now I am disappointed! Or better said confused.

    I really dont understand that part of your argument Sadie where you say that "you would LOVE to be a vegan " ? You would? Really ? Why? I really dislike that you made that mind/body duality "I would love to, but my body would not allow" ! If that is so, if the only issue is that your body would not allow you otherwise your mind would just go with it easily – then you dont really have a battle with Sharon, never had … only with yourself (body/mind). It sounded like you envy her (in a way!)?
    I really hoped that you are true carnivore and that your reasons are much more than just "my body would not allow me " … what you said in this reply to your post sounds like you have not chosen to be a carnivore consciously but you have to be one ?
    I must say that all this is my impression based on what I have read here, nothing else … so pardon me if I sound to harsh but that is just the impression I got .

    Btw I was first vegetarian then vegan … I forced myself into that out of some dogmatic "i dont kill animals and this is how i will save the earth and my energy will be pure " and all kinds of bla bla of that kind … my body didnt like it! at all! there is a great wisdom in our bodies (yay for that ) – later, my mind made some serious research (and a lot of soul searching had been done as well ) … and now neither my body nor my mind or soul would love to be a vegan or a vegetarian! nope! not my Self!

    I eat meat and I will never apologize for that ! and I hate when vegetarians are treating me like an idiot and themselves like martyrs for some higher cause! it is simply NOT like that ! vegetarianism as a way to "help the earth and protect fellow living beings " is such a myth , but I wont go into that here. anyhow , some people enjoy eating veggies – cool with me , just stop playing saints and acting like you are the only torch carriers of the truth and like you eating veggies is the only way "to truly Be" .

    I hope Sharon Gannon will write something this nice about you Sadie and finally allow someone else's body to be at least as intelligent as hers !

    Keep it real Saide … you move people – from the core :) …. you make them question everything with sweet curiosity, listen to themselves truly and live here and now – grounded in their own truth while flexible and open for whatever comes – and that is what every true teacher should do … there is no only one way .

    Cheers peeps!

  15. Hi Tanya,

    I hear what you're saying, but I assure you, I'm quite happy being a conscious meat-eater.

    At the same time, I do feel sad about any living being that has to die so that I can eat, love, and live. I feel sad if I pick a flower, because I know I've caused its early death. I go to great lengths to usher insects out of my house when killing them would be the more convenient choice. This is a part of me, and to share it with you takes nothing away from my stance that some people can and should eat meat, whether for health or just plain enjoyment. It's HOW we do it that matters–are we eating sustainably, or not?

    I don't think it does anyone any good for me to be all like "Whoo Hoooo! Meat eating rocks!!" and not tell you the whole truth. I think it was my wording that confused you–when I said I would LOVE to be a vegan, I meant that in a perfect world, I would both love my diet and not have to kill anything to get it. As it stands, a vegan or vegetarian diet doesn't make me happy nor healthy.

    As Walt Whitman said "I contain multitudes"…I have sparring dualities in me, just as we all do. I have absolutely chosen to be a carnivore, because no one's forcing me to eat this way. Yet, I also agree with those like Sharon Gannon who mourn for the loss of life, many times frivolous and unconscious, that meat eaters who are stuck on their three factory-farmed meals a day tend to support. Do I think all kinds of more mindful carnivores need to be thrown under that same bus? Absolutely not.

    It's no longer enough to be stuck in one polarity–the more we talk about all our myriad feelings around a subject, the more we can understand one another, the faster we drop our need to be right, or to control, and the sooner we heal.

    And for me, unity with our fellow yogis, and the community working together in each their own way to bring equilibrium to our resources and gentleness of spirit is the main focus now.

    • Hi Sadie,
      Thank you for sharing your story and the details of your choice to be a conscious meat eater. I had not read that about you and I think it demonstrates mindful decision making and anyone who has an issue with that has an issue with something within themselves… it's about them, not you.
      I enjoyed your story about meeting Sharon and would be more fascinated to hear about how you living your truth is inspiring your students….. keep rockin' it!
      Peace,
      ~Maureen

  16. Another great post and discussion, Sadie. Thanks for being here.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  17. Thanks, Bob! I'm glad YOU'RE here (and Waylon too), so we can all have this forum for respectful discussion. What a wonderful world you've helped to create.

    OneLove!
    Sadie

  18. Lena says:

    Hey Sadie, Thanx so much for this article. It gives me so much relief that maybe I am not the only one struggling with a veggie diet. I have been vegeterian for many years, atleast 10, been practicing yoga for 6. But I have had times, where I lapse and eat meat again because I get sick, and very tired. Especially lately, past 3 years I've had anemia twice, the first time I had a count of 0 and became very sick .. a very scary time in my life. And I've tried everything, eating all the correct foods, grains, beans, nuts as much protein I can get, but I am still always loosing strength, and weight especially when I practice regularly, and it just seems like nothing gets absorbed and stays. I went to doctors recently and they say I am all round healthy, but I never thought of checking my intestines. I have recently just decided to get back on meat. I have lost this battle, but have to fight for my health and vitality. What can be the point of feeling depleted, this is a harm to myself. And that is far from Ahimsa too? So as a yoga teacher myself, I humbly allow myself to take the right path, but spread love in all the areas I can with new found strength. Love, and peace to all .. humans and creatures of the planet :)

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