5 Reasons Not To Be A Vegan—Confessions Of A Carnivore

Via Jamie Ginsberg
on Jan 6, 2012
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I recently wrote an article sharing my decision to return to eating meat this year, the reactions and comments surprised me.

Why? Because I forgot how much anger, judgment and resentment exists in the world of yoga, animals and food. I ate my first tiny bite of meat (local pulled pork with BBQ sauce that I bought for my carnivore son from the farmers market). The good news is I did not get vaporized, nor did I roll around on the floor with massive stomach pains. Instead, I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders.

You are not any less of a yogi if you do eat meat, you are not any more of a yogi if you don’t eat meat.

This is my new quote I have revised from A Tribe Called Quest and their brilliant album Midnight Marauders. “You’re not any less of a man if you don’t pull the trigger, you’re not any more of a man if you do.”

I have been “struck” by the idea that vegans are the extreme members of our yoga community, a vocal minority that wields a big stick. While I appreciate and respect the source of that vegan anger is a desire to reduce the harm to animals, it is some what like thinking that throwing paint on someone wearing a fur coat will make them stop wearing fur. Finding positive ways to create change is critical to the success of our yoga movement.

Below is a picture of my friend Jennifer Harte, she is a vegan and found a way to laugh with me as I start eating meat again.

Jennifer Harte - Yoga Teacher (Vegan) at Cleveland Yoga - Photo by Cleveland Groove

5 Reasons Not To Be a Vegan

  1. Most of the animals we eat today, have been raised for food. Besides the hunters out there, most of the meat we eat exists purely because we will consume it. There is no actual increase in violence to wild and free animals because you eat meat. Actually a lot more vegetables are killed to feed vegans than cows are killed for the omnivores, really do the math (if you actually do the math, include everybody who eats vegetables – not just vegans).
  2. Anger destroys a lot of the benefits of yoga and minimizes the positive effects of doing less harm by not eating meat. Seriously, is it yogic to tell someone they are not yogic or when we say Namaste do we mean “the light in me recognizes the light in you that believes the exact same stuff I do.” I have been hurt by more vegans in a week than carnivores over the last 9 years. Do you really want to be an angry vegan?
  3. Human Trafficking. Tomatoes and Slaves in Florida? Crazy but true, tell me you don’t think abuse is limited to the tomato industry? If we have slavery providing the tomatoes coming out of Florida are we assuming the fruits and vegetables from foreign countries is harvested under better conditions? Or do we simply ignore the human labor required to produce all of the vegetables, hiding behind the rationalization that animals die so it must be worse? Worse than contributing to the abuse of humans? Enjoy those berries from Chile, I hope when you close your eyes at night you are enjoying sleeping on that 100% organic vegan bed, the guys that picked your berries are freezing in a hut without a toilet or running water.
  4. Honey is delicious and effective in battling allergies, especially when you use local honey. When you find yourself explaining that you don’t eat honey because of the abuse to bees, remember that the pure organic cane sugar was probably harvested in a third world country by people like you.
  5. You will have to give up your cats and dogs. Real yogic vegans will not stand for the abuse of animals caused by domestication. Are you ready to stop keeping your cat caged up in your house? Unleash the dog and let it be free? Rationalizing your ownership of another being in that you feed and house it and that it loves you does not excuse stealing the freedom of that animal.
Being a vegan does not make you more yogic, nor does it make you a better person. If modifying your lifestyle to be a vegan makes you angry at people who eat meat and inspires you to insult them, maybe it is not the best choice for you. Maybe you would be a kinder person if you ate a little local bacon roasted until it was crisp? Rather than eating 85% cacao bars that are bitter, try on the sweet side of life – Add a little whip cream and milk chocolate into your life. Maybe if you sweeten your tea with a little honey you will appreciate the bees that produced that deliciousness and share more joy with people.
I have heard many words used to describe yoga. I love the word Unity, it is part of the word commUNITY. I recognize the diversity in our yoga community and welcome the ripples becoming waves of change we are causing in the world. If you really want to “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World,” as Ghandi said, you have to start by getting on your mat and doing the hard work. In this strange way, we all become equals when we follow a sequence of poses together. If you see me at the coffee shop getting a light mocha with lots of whip cream, smile and enjoy the moment with me.


About Jamie Ginsberg

Jamie Ginsberg is a yoga teacher and the co-founder of Marin Power Yoga. He is a technology and education evangelist focused on using the social web to increase interaction and engagement. Jamie is a yogi (200 hour teacher training at Cleveland Yoga and Level 1 & Level 2 with Baron Baptiste) and has shot and produced videos and photography for Baron Baptiste, Yoga Journal Conferences and yoga studios across the United States. Jamie’s expertise is a rare blend of creative, business, legal and technology. Jamie has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the The University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate from The Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. Link to Jamie here and like him on Facebook.


69 Responses to “5 Reasons Not To Be A Vegan—Confessions Of A Carnivore”

  1. hya says:

    But why would you like vegans to approve of killing animals for your appetite?

  2. hya says:

    I agree. I think that either both articles are pure flame bait, or the author genuinely has no clue what he is writing about. His arguments simply do not make basic sense, regardless of what he is argumenting for – I respect a well written piece in defense of meat eating but this is just some random self-serving ramble.

    Is there any sort of quality control as to what gets published in Elephant Journal? Or is "Journal" just a group of bloggers who publish whatever they want?

  3. hya says:

    " I am suggesting people eat meat from local farms where the animals are cared for and raised with compassion. "
    No care or compassion will change the fact that you get slaughtered. How do you slit an animal's throat with compassion? How can a thinking person spread those nonsensical cliches if they are completely self-contradictory to start with?

    I respect people who say "I eat meat because the suffering and death of animals is less important to me than my appetite". Fair enough. But what you are saying is just hypocrisy and burying your head in the sand.

    This is an ethical problem which is totally separate from the killing – you are lying to yourself and your readers.

  4. hya says:

    "Suri – "Taliban Vegan" is a new and awesome term."

    So much for respecting people's choices Jamie?

  5. chiara_ghiron says:

    yes actually, when you think of human exploitation during orange, tomato, berries harvesting

  6. Suri says:

    "most vegans understand….." you dont know "most vegans" either but sometimes you have to generalize in order to make a point…. Now let me paraphrase what i said , i do think that those vegans who think that they are super special , super moral and super green are the kind of vegans that lack any sense of humility and usually are the ones that do not realize that there is no way to live on this planet and do zero harm ….what i am trying to say is that the total environmental impact a person has involves many other aspects of which diet , in this case vegan , is only one…. You can still have a huge environmental footprint while being a vegan .

  7. hya says:

    Killed and consumed??? That would be cannibalism, surely?
    Because if you mean work exploitation meat industry is not free of it by any means.

  8. __MikeG__ says:

    generalize. Agreed. Throw insults, not so much.

  9. HYA – Human Suffering – Your food is harvested on the backs of people. Real people who have feelings and emotions. It is an extreme example, to keep compassion for pets more than humans relative.

  10. HYA – Actually, only 1 or 2 items were flame bait. The rest was legit.

  11. You are right…doing the right thing is very hard. What else do we do but attempt to set a positive example? So far it has been very hard to find options, when I don't find an option I am ok with, I eat a vegetarian diet. Forced Compromise!!!

  12. HYA – Actually, I am sharing MY truth with you. For real. This head is not buried in the sand, this mind is wide open searching for answers. Educate me.

  13. […] the vegans and the dead flesh eaters love each other, and the gluten-frees and the muffin munchers love each other, and the tattooed and […]

  14. JESUS says:

    WOW!!! YOU GOT 5/5 WRONG!

  15. Ashley says:

    Animals exist for us to survive. There is a difference between evil and good.

    Also, anyone know the word moderation? Apply it to everything.

  16. Nick says:

    There are actually some good reasons to not be vegan. Unfortunately, you didn't list any of them.

    In a word, Fail…

  17. Giovanna says:

    I am not an angry vegan, and can appreciate whichever choice people make regarding their eating habits, but I must say this article was a complete fail.

    1. Just because they were raised for consuming doesn't mean their pain is any less real and valid. VEGETABLES DO NOT HAVE A NERVOUS SYSTEM. We aren't "killing" vegetables, and to fall back on that argument in your FIRST reason is absolutely ridiculous. You don't want vegans to judge you for eating meat? Then don't mock vegans by saying we are killing vegetables.
    2. I am sure there are quite a few pushy vegans out there, but I am a yoga instructor, and I seriously have not met one of them. Sometimes I won't even find out a colleague is vegan too, until maybe one day we go out to dinner. Please don't generalize the entire vegan population with being self-righteous and pushy.
    3. I buy my fruits and veggies from local farms. Sure, maybe there are some vegans who are unaware where their food comes from and under what circumstances it was brought to their table, but mostly, once you become aware of one food issue (veganism – animal abuse) you are aware of where you get your food. I don't know one other vegan who doesn't buy local and organic.
    4. I buy local, raw honey, and am very aware of the source of this honey. The fact though that you say "people like you" in this argument, is really upsetting. To be so defensive must mean you are coming from a place of fear? Again, if you don't want to be condescended then don't condescend others!!
    5. ??? So if you are vegan you can only interact with animals in their natural habitat, otherwise you are not a true vegan? Please, non-vegan, keep telling me how a real vegan is supposed to act!

    I do not shove my ideals down peoples throat. I don't look down on people who eat meat. It is sad that that cannot be reciprocated. You could have instead written why YOU personally chose to eat meat again, and given your PERSONAL experience why it is a better choice for you, but instead you wrote this garbage.

  18. Amber says:

    In my eyes, the biggest problem with this article (and Jamie's comments about refocusing on human suffering) is that animals are more inefficient. That is, they eat more in grains and vegetables (and water) than they produce in meat. If we're concerned about humans and the humans who must farm for the vegans, what about the humans who must farm for the animals who are then eaten? And the humans who are deprived of land and water for those inefficient animals as well. Ultimately, if WE just ate the grains and vegetables ourselves, we would have to rely on less human labor.