Mention this word around here and you have a hot topic.
Almost inevitably if you have been in the yoga world for long, you have probably toyed around with becoming a vegan or vegetarian. Citing ahimsa, which means to “do no harm” or non-violence, animal products are thrown by the way-side and a plant based diet is assumed. Lots of beans, lentils, grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and oils are consumed with the majority of protein coming from beans, lentils or perhaps soy based products.
Read any of these hotly debated posts and you will see die-hard vegans preaching that everyone should follow their way, as well as omnivores annoyed with the harsh judgement of those who have adopted an animal free lifestyle, which to really be vegan should not include leather or any other product where animal-testing is used such as over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs.
So who is right here and do we really need to make this a dualistic issue?
Everyone’s body and dietary needs are different. There is no one way to eat and what is right for your body one day may not be right the next. Our digestive systems have their own brains. Regardless of what our mind says, our bodies may differ and to neglecting to listen to our own bodies is in truth ahimsa.
My case: I have long struggled with dietary issues as well as an eating disorder. After a lot of experimentation as well as period of vegan and vegetarianism I have had to reintroduce a small amount of animal products into my diet, mostly in the form of fish or turkey and all organic. While I wanted to avoid consuming animals my body and the brain in my digestive system say otherwise. I simply can’t digest much of what a vegan or vegetarian would need to consume and with intolerance’s to gluten, soy and various fruits and vegetables I have very few food options. Even consuming the correct amino acids to make a full protein doesn’t mean that I will be able to use it. My body has a lovely ability to not absorb some of the nutrients that I consume.
While I don’t enjoy eating animals I recognize that I have to in order to be healthy. Should I neglect myself, causing this animal harm in order to save another? Each time I sit down to eat an animal I thank it for its’ life and honor what it is about to give to me. Am I wrong to do this? I don’t think so.