July 11, 2012

Are Yoga Festivals Evolving into Mindless Meat Fests? ~ Kim Amlong

Ahimsa or non-harming, the fundamental keystone of a yoga practice, is being abandoned by modern-day practitioners without any reflection.

Is it apathy, disconnection, laziness or priorities that prevents people from caring?

I am extremely disappointed that yoga teachers that I respect would actually take part in festivals offering meat and fish and every other type of animal secretion. It would be wonderful if all yoga teachers would unify and pledge to not participate in any festival unless it is cruelty-free or at least vegetarian.

Although, the majority of people practicing yoga are not vegetarians, if we feed them meat and fish at a yoga festivals, we will miss the perfect opportunity to inform them of the benefits for themselves, for the planet and for the animals.

In addition, they will miss the opportunity to enjoy incredible vegetarian food. People can survive on a vegetarian diet for a few days, and many would probably be surprised how much they enjoy it.

I posted a petition at Care2.com: “Say No To Meat at Yoga Festivals,” after I read the mission statement of Wanderlust. The organizers of Wanderlust are not aligned with their mission statement. They portray themselves as the most green, sensitive, conscious festival when instead, they are more interested in their pocketbooks.

The research proves that to be the most green, sensitive, conscious festival, it would have to be vegan. I believe the organizers are hypocrites. I even received this comment from a woman who signed my petition:

 “I am a certified Organic Farmer who has a farm 10 minutes from Stratton and I wanted to vend food from my farm, I specialize in Vegan and vegetarian food and I was turned away from them. I was quite upset that they didn’t give preference to local folks and that someone such as myself was shut out, so they could make money from other vendors. I even heard that there was no good food again this year—Shame on them! Their Farm to Plate dinner also consisted of the largest local growers who use so many pestisides in their food, I feel bad for who ever ate at that over priced dinner. The funny thing is I would have been serving Farm to Table all weekend, at affordable prices!”

I was inspired to write this poem for the organizers:

Is Yoga Meat the New Happy Meat?

The inhumanity of our society embraces meat as a necessity; even occluding meat from yoga festivals has become an impossibility.

Disconnected from all pain and suffering and insensitivity, we perpetuate the atrocities afflicting billions of lonely, terrorized, unseen beings living in constant agony.

Ignoring the facts of the scientific community, we continue to hopelessly destroy our health and our environment to the utmost degree.

We want to believe: heart disease, cancer, starving children, animal suffering and global warming are only myths propagated by crazy extremists.

Speciously Green and Conscious mission statements abound, but animal welfare ethics are nowhere to be found.

Hypocrites escape discovery when the masses are not awake, or are too afraid or too lazy to speak up for another’s sake.

The power of money squelches compassion, leaving only cruelty to reign, in a kingdom where everyone feigns awareness and no one is to blame.

Westernized yoga is becoming more a part of the American dream of Capitalism and greed than a sincere intention to help others evolve spiritually.

Do I have to bend and weaken my ideals till they crumble into irreparable pieces of another elusive dream? How can I transform this chimera into reality?

Yoga practice expands our abilities to empathize and connect with all sentient beings, and to profoundly care for and respect the fragile, earth and universe we share.

Yoga provides us with the one and only guiding principle we need in life: Ahimsa or non-harming.

We create the world of heavens or hells in which we live. Every dollar we spend molds our lives and the lives of countless other precious beings.

I beseech you to responsibly tune into the cries and not turn away and shun the possibility of a world where Meat and all the horrendous death and destruction it inflicts no longer exists.

Finally, we will live in a free world where an all-inclusive community of peace and love and mindfulness releases us from our separateness.

I am not trying to force veganism on anyone. I understand and respect everyone’s free will; however, I do feel, at the core of my being, that I must speak up for those innocent victims who cannot speak for themselves. Yoga and meat don’t mix. Yoga is an inclusive philosophy based on ahimsa. Meat and fish are the antithesis of yoga and need to be excluded from all yoga festivals.

Yoga is not about sculpting our physical bodies. Yoga is about expanding our consciousness to include all sentient beings, the earth and the universe we share. Yoga is about awareness of how our every thought, every word and every action affects countless others. Yoga is about love, respect and gratitude for the diversity of all life.

I would like to ensure that ahimsa is not abandoned, lost or destroyed by modern-day yoga practitioners. We need to stop making excuses from outdated ideas, mistaking desires for essential needs, and bending philosophy to support our hedonistic lifestyles. Only ahimsa can pull automatons out of the eternal abyss of unconsciousness.

I embrace all that is empowering, loving, and respectful to all sentient beings. I support everyone in maintaining their ideals in a harsh, disconnected world of materialism, narcissism  and superficiality. I invite everyone to create a positive environment of constructive discussion to help everyone open their hearts to compassionately connect with the diversity of all creation.

I pray that we may all be happy, healthy and free…and live in a pristine world of peace and harmony.

However, to materialize this goal, we must wake up to the murder, the resistance, the apathy, and the ignorance of the tenebrous masses and take action.

We are powerful and we can create a beautiful world with every thought and every word, every action and every dollar we spend.

The founders say they are open to ideas to improve their festival; however, I spent eight to 10 hours a day for a month posting everywhere and sending numerous messages before I received a response from Sean Hoess, one of the co-founders of Wanderlust.

Sean stated, “If we can get to a place where even a majority of our consumers are educated enough to forego all meat, then I will happily convert Wanderlust to a vegetarian event.”

Be a force of positive change for the world. Help create the world’s greenest, most consciousness-awakening festival. Ask Wanderlust to go vegetarian today or sign the petition to say no to meat at yoga festivals.

Countless sentient beings will thank you.

Sign the petition here: Thepetitionsite.com


 Kim Amlong has a Masters of Physical Therapy degree and practiced physical therapy for five years.  A  devoted practitioner of yoga since 1997, she  completed the Iyengar yoga teacher-training program with Patricia Walden (her primary teacher) and assisted Patricia Walden in her classes for 2 and a half years. Kim has been an avid practitioner of qigong since 1999 and has completed courses in Kripalu and Para yoga giving her a keen interest in energy awareness and its health benefits. Kim served as the Director of Teachers for five years at Karma Yoga Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During that time, she studied with Jesse Winder (owner of Karma Yoga Studio), and acted as a consultant, as he developed his own style of yoga, PhysioYoga.  Kim teaches an eclectic style that emphasizes proper body mechanics, anatomical alignment, safety, breath and body awareness in a relaxed, inspiring  atmosphere. Kim encourages students to question everything and to feel confident in exploring postures  best-suited to their individual needs and goals. She enjoys sharing the transformative benefits of yoga and  qigong with everyone who is interested, and follows a vegan diet for her health, the animals and the planet.


Editor: Hayley Samuelson.




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