Here it is. My reasons for going vegan. And why you don’t have to.
Since starting Yoga in earnest over 6 years ago, I’ve given up a lot of things. A Yogic lifestyle has a lot to do with giving things up. We start by giving up the belief the body can’t change. This gets us to our first class. We give up the mistaken belief we have no control over how enjoyable life can be. This keeps us coming back to the mat.
To improve the condition of our body, how we feel, our energy and experience, we need to give up the belief that there is anything outside ourselves which is responsible for our experience. Only then are we ready for the Inner Journey that Yoga offers.
In the past couple of year’s I’ve steadily examined and let go of some of the things I know I don’t need to take on more of what works. In the area of food and consumption, this has been an interesting Journey. Here are my reasons for going vegan. With a mutual respect for your choices, I offer you:
Reason 1 – The Planet Needs You
If everyone on the planet stopped consuming animal products immediately, there would be a swift end to the continued destruction of many of our planet’s fragile ecosystems. This is because of the high demand on resources that the meat industry requires is severely taxing our planets most fragile ecosystems. This ranges from deforestation, water use, waste and transportation. Our carbon footprint is way larger than it needs to be and many of don’t even know why and hardly anybody is can imagine how many people still want to live and eat like westerners. We struggle to ease our conscience by driving less or installing solar power on our roof, but our impact continues to add up. After I learnt how heavily animal products tax the environment, I had no choice but to take the first step towards becoming vegan by going vegetarian in 2016. I still have a lot I can do to reduce my carbon footprint by other means including:
- finding a job I can walk to,
- riding my bike more and
- growing more vegetables at home,
but while I make these transitions, I know I am making an immediate difference everyday. You don’t have to go completely vegan if thats too much for you. Eat less meat and you’ll be making a big difference to your personal carbon footprint without even riding the bus.
Reason 2 – Ahimsa, Non Violence
Ahimsa is the yogic principle of non-violence. If we are to take this practice seriously, then it extends to the way in which we feed and sustain ourselves. While many people advocate for the peaceful and happy existence of animals reared organically and slaughtered cleanly, this is not the norm for many animals and many of the sources of the food we eat. After choosing to not eat meat, I was surprised at how little I needed it. There is a myth that the protein from meat is important in our diet, but this myth has only gained so much traction because there has been insufficient dialogue or commercial promotion of the scientific fact that protein can be sourced in significant amounts from a wide range of plant based sources. When I realised I had the choice, I knew I had to take it. The time might not be right for you to take the vegan step, but eating meat and dairy from sources that are far kinder to animals than the major supply chains currently are is a great way to lessen the violence caused by what you eat.
Reason 3 – Health
The world is not at optimum health. Obesity recently outstripped malnutrition across the worlds population. Rates of cancer and heart disease are at epic proportions and we have grown used to paying large amounts of money to fund a health care system that provides a range of stop gaps to this growing health epidemic, but no real solution. In fact, you could argue that the health care system globally is flourishing in the face of declining world health. Unfortunately this system continues to avoid investing in the source of good health, which is largely based on how we feed and sustain our bodies and minds with food. When I realised that the rise in this global health epidemic has such a close correlation to the rise in consumption of animal products, it gave me a sense of control over my health that no doctor has ever given me.
PS: I know that some of you scientists will say that correlation is not causation, and I agree, but most of us average far more meat, sugar and processed starch in our diet than ever before. I consider this my own personal science experiment to test how reversing this could make a difference.
Eating more plant based and whole foods will improve your health whiter or not you go the whole V.
Reason 4 – Sattwa
Sattwa is the energy of peace and harmony. We cultivate it through Yoga and Meditation and food has a huge impact on whether we have it or not. When I first stopped eating meat, I immediately noticed a sense of space around me. A kind of witness presence that is what Yogic practice is aimed at from the beginning. I started to be the observer in my life, seeing the wonder and joy around me without getting caught up in the pain and the discomfort that all to frequently interferes with this joy. Sattwa is a form that energy takes. We can encourage this energy form within us by practicing meditation and by eating a good diet of fresh plant based foods. While not strictly a reason to go vegan, this realisation was a satisfying byproduct of my choice to stop eating meat. Eat food thats freasher and less processed. Avoid acid causing foods like dairy, coffee and refined sugars and flours and you will be cultivating a little Sattwa in no time without going full vegan.
Reason 5 – Allergies
Again not strictly a reason but an interesting tale nonetheless and if you’ve read this far, you are welcome to stick around for the ending. I recently investigated and gave up something else; that for a very long time had defined who I thought was who I was. Something I thought was so important, it defined who I was and what I thought I was here for. I recently gave up my career. I quit work without a job to go to and put my trust and faith in the universe a couple of months ago. I am 8 weeks in and I feel more alive and in tune with myself and the world around me than I ever have.
PS: Giving up your career is not a yogic practice and should not be done without proper examination and inner exploration, which is a yogic practice.
Being between jobs I had the most fortunate opportunity to work with an Alpaca shearer from Mirboo North. In a discussion about my constant allergies, he suggested I try going off dairy, which represented the last vestige of animal products that I relied on daily. Each year as the winter fades and I start to get a glimpse of the warmth and energy of spring, I’m harshly reminded that I’m soon to be plagued by an allergic reaction to the very air that sustains me. I knew I had to give it a shot.
Like Gluten, sugar and other substances that are at high levels in our environment, dairy too, behaves like a toxin to the body, even if you are not allergic to it. When the body is in the presence of too many substances that are threatening, it starts to perceive threats from all angles in the environment around it. Harmless pollen becomes a trigger for a defence mechanism that was designed to place the human body in a state of heightened defences(stress response). If you suffer from allergies, you will know that even the soothing voice of your loved one, can be irritating and corrosive in the midst of a serious attack in the height of spring. We look to the environment for the culprit and we find a harmless substance(pollen) which carries the DNA necessary to fertilise give new life to the environment around us. We blame this harmless culprit without properly examining how we could change our inner makeup to affect our experience. We ignore the good we eat, and choose to see it as a harmless fact of our modern existence.
“Reducing the level of toxicity in the body overall, reduces the likelihood that harmless, small things which hold incredible beauty will be interpreted as a threat and rejected.”
Read that last sentence again. It is the essence of why Hatha Yoga is so important and liberating, not just for allergies but for relationships, work, lover, home and happiness.