Being in the yoga industry, I have obviously heard plenty of buzz that vegetarianism is better for your health. Common sense says plants are loaded with nutrients and probably a superior choice when it comes to choosing foods than most alternatives; however, making a big change is never easy. Over the past 7 years I have found myself making excuse after excuse not to believe the things discussed in documentaries Food Inc, What the Health, and Cowspiracy. I found myself justifying the information by saying, “I will buy grass-fed, I will buy local, I won’t support the processed meat industry.” In reality, I was only taking the nuggets I considered ‘truth’ from the documentaries and tossing out the information that felt inconvenient.
In 2011 I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training at Laughing Lotus in NYC; wherein, I was to follow a yogic diet practicing ahimsa non-harm through vegetarianism. The information booklet we were given at registration read, “do not eat foods with a face or a heart.” I was excited about the accountability factor during my summer intensive; however, when I found out that some yogis scampered out for lunch at the burger joint down the street my commitment felt cheapened and it wasn’t long before I was swapping my falafel and hummus plate for a chicken wrap.
Each time I recommitted, I changed my mind. Each time a close friend, someone I admired, or a family member made a comment about my vegetarianism, I interpreted it as an insult. I was insecure about my decision because of my history with food; more specifically, my history of not eating food. Everything I have learned about eating disorder recovery emphasizes, everything in moderation. Restriction of any kind is frowned upon; thus, I allowed the fear of being seen as someone still struggling with anorexia to keep me from committing.
One day a few months ago I was sitting on my back porch with Thunderbolt Studio Manager, Alex Bartee, and her husband-to-be Clark Davis. When the conversation shifted to their veganism, I listened with defensive ears. I recall telling Clark that a doctor told me it was important to eat meat while I was pregnant and that I had been forwarded an article about a vegan who was supposedly starving her baby because her breastmilk wasn’t nutrient-rich. Clark’s response was akin to listening to a vegan activist, he was educated, passionate, and convincing, a true man of conviction. In less than thirty minutes I realized the truth; there is no humane way to kill an animal, it is nearly impossible to avoid toxic food contaminants in flesh foods, and as a leader in the yoga community I needed to shift my own actions.
In yoga I teach connection, an awareness about one’s impact on another, the why practicing yoga in a room with others is so moving. I teach students to dissolve their state of individual reality; instead, adopting an inclusive ‘we are one’ ideal. If I can resonate on the mantra, we are all more alike than we are different, it’s easier to understand the harm in eating animals. For the same reasons I look at brand integrity before selling a label in our yoga studio, I see my new journey as a vegetarian as non-negotiable.
Check out Thunderbolt Studio Manager and instagram sensation, @plantifulalex, for inspiring vegan recipes, her testimonial, and more.