Part of why I chose to call myself A Paleo Yogi is because of how unusual it is to be a yogi, or more specifically
A Yoga Teacher, that eats meat.
I do know a good number of fellow yoga teachers that also eat meat, and even some that say they eat a close to Paleo diet. But for the most part there is an underlying reason that many, if not most yogis and yoginis opt for vegetarianism or even veganism:
Loosely translated, Ahimsa means compassion for all living things. You’ll remember that this was the first of the yamas that I outlined in my post “So Why A Paleo Yogi?”
In yoga we teach that Ahimsa is a practice of love.
Of self love (you are a living thing after all) and of love of other people. The ones that are easy to love, those that we don’t know and will never even meet, and all those we find it very challenging to love. We extend loving kindness to all beings, with compassion and empathy. We love all creatures big and small, the fluffy cute ones and the slippery crawly ones.
This compassion extends into non-harming.
To not cause injury to any other being.
Many believe that killing an animal for our own benefit is harmful and unkind.
For the most part, I agree. It is shameful to harm any other being simply because we are a more powerful being in the existence of our beautiful planet.
But I also argue that
human beings are biologically intended to eat other animals for optimal nutrition.
It is through our cognition and emotion, that we begin to choose to not eat these other beings. Not through natures selection.
Animal sourced proteins, like meat, fish, seafood and eggs, are a crucial source of nutrients that cannot be completely substituted by plant based sources. Humans have been eating these sources of nutrition since the beginning, and most indigenous peoples around the world eat animal sources of food without question. It is natural.
As Ahimsa is a compassion of all beings, this puts ourselves and the love of ourselves right up there alongside the furry and slippery.
Fueling yourself in the most optimal of ways, is one of the most kind ways you extend compassion to yourself.
To overlook the health benefits of eating animal sourced nutrition, is to deny the nature of humanity.
I eat meat, because I believe it is the healthiest way to fuel my body.
Where things have gone extremely wrong in our modern world, is how we raise, farm, and process the animals that did not choose to be our dinner.
The practices in modern “farming” are horrific.
There is no kindness. No compassion. Animals are seen as product and this product is produced at alarming rates, which necessitates systemic cruelty, disease control, and poor nutrition of these animals.
They live horrible lives, are unhealthy and are killed mercilessly.
So much harm is done here for even me to turn to vegetarianism.
I believe in the power of each individual to make a difference.
We have an enormous impact on our economy, on the food industry, on the way our food is raised and treated, with our dollar.
There are small farms, even close to your home, that are raising happy and healthy animals for your consumption. By choosing to support these smaller farmers, we can change where our world has gone wrong.
My practice of Ahmisa, is first, to love myself and fuel my body with the food that supports my optimal health.
Second, I want to source the animals that have had good lives. That are healthy. Because ultimately, when they are healthy, they are healthier for me too. This is proven scientifically, but for me it’s a question of energy. If you put love into the animal, you put love into your body.
Now I know that sourcing your meat from small farmers, or buying organic meat in the super market is pricey. Going to a farm to get your meat may also be difficult if you don’t own a car to get there, or have the means to stock up on larger quantities.
Personally, I still do not source my meat the way I intend to because I am on a tight budget, and because I would like to buy a large quantity and freeze the meat at home, but I do not have the space for a small freezer.
So I have made a choice. I choose to start with eating the foods I feel love myself the most. And I will source out higher quality and more loving options as soon as I feel I am able to do so.
Your choice may be different.
And as much as I have taken the time to explain the reasons for my choices above I want you to know one thing:
I fully, 100% respect your choice.
No matter what your reason for not wanting to eat meat. If you decide you still can’t bring yourself to see the animal as a Being that deserved to die for you, if you have decided that you are more comfortable doing your best to be as healthy as possible without animals on your plate, if you have decided that kindness to the animals comes before the kindness to yourself – I respect your choice.
The beautiful thing about this glorious world we live in is our diversity. We each are faced with choices on a daily basis, and we each have our reasons why our choices go one way or another. Without diversity, the world would be a boring place!
I respect your choices, and I know that you respect mine.
Next week, I will cover how one can eat a Vegetarian Paleo diet. How to apply the basic understandings of an optimally healthy diet, to the framework of your belief system. Because I believe that within diversity, inclusivity is key.
What are your thoughts on today’s Blog post?
If you are a vegetarian, what motivates you to make that choice?
Are you interested in exploring other possible food choices to optimize your health?
Please share your questions and comments below! I’d love to hear from you!