I do realize that in yogic philosophy, the concept of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, also pertains to animals. Buuuuut, I have had trouble completely adhering to the “rules” and no longer consuming meat (uhhhh, gasp). I know. If you are a hard-core vegetarian/vegan I am sure you are thinking of a million reasons why I shouldn’t eat meat. I know. I’ve seen the documentaries, read the articles and realize that it’s creating pressure on the environment and that treatment of animals if often inhumane. So it’s not that I am unaware, it’s that honestly, I find it a quite challenging diet to grow accustomed to.
Some people may not even consider me a real yogi, considering that I am admitting to you, at this time, that I still eat meat. I will say however, that in several periods of my life including my time here in Portugal, I’ve definitely felt my body calling for a more vegetarian/pescaterian lifestyle. In those periods when I think of meat my body is just like, ummm, no thank you. Instead I’ve been eating tons of vegetables, avocados, quinoa, bulgur, lentils, dates, fruits and other power foods. I even made black bean brownies the other day that were AMAZIIIING.
However, every now and then I have a craving for meat, particularly around my female cycle when I know my body needs more iron. Truth be told, I don’t think I know enough about the vegetarian diet to be able to nourish myself properly and ensure my body has everything it needs without meat products. I know it’s possible, however, in paying attention to my body I realize that I am still not independent of my desire from meat. Nor do I necessarily think it’s a horrible thing. Allow me to explain.
At the end of the day I just don’t want to feel guilty for eating meat. I know that above all, I do my best to listen to my body and care for it the best way I know how. Key words, know how. I could spend countless hours researching and developing menus or faithfully following amazing blogs like (simplyella, etc) and committing myself to the lifestyle. I can’t honestly say it’s out of reach because it’s not, so you might call this laziness but I call it uncertainty.
I suppose the truth is that I don’t want to shut myself off completely from something that in all honesty, I quite enjoy. I love when my dad does his famous barbecues, having an incredible burger at my favorite place, or my mom’s breaded Spanish chicken recipe. I don’t want to feel guilty for enjoying those things, nor do I want to feel guilty for the consumption of animals, and therein lies the quagmire.
So, I have indeed made a very important decision, (in my Audrey Hepburn voice from Breakfast at Tiffany’s) no longer will I feel guilty for eating meat… Recognizing that my lack of intelligence on the matter may prohibit me from choosing non-meat options, as well as the need my body has for something in the food I am craving. I do, however, make continual strides towards a more vegetarian lifestyle. Primarily, I feel my body calling for it and secondary, I feel a moral imperative to lead a non-harmful existence.
Bottom line is I will not judge myself or feel guilty for choices that I know are not made in a malicious spirit. If I had to kill an animal myself I’d probably turn vegetarian in a hot second, but in today’s world most of us are are not required to do that work. It may sound hypocritical, but that’s why this is a confession. I am aiming to do better but I am just not all the way there yet, nor am I sure that it’s a goal I am striving for. I am just walking my path and seeing what comes up along the way.
My intention behind writing on this oh-so-sensitive topic is to lift some pressure off of myself by letting you know directly that I am not “a perfect yogi”. I am not the ideal that some of you think I should be, nor am I making certain lifestyle choices some of you may consider contrary to yogic philosophy. That doesn’t prohibit me from being someone of value who has something to offer. It doesn’t stop me from striving to live the yamas and niyamas to the best of my ability. It doesn’t make me a terrible person who is cruel or inhumane. It doesn’t. And if you are someone like me, know that it doesn’t make you these things either.
We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have, so go forth and enjoy your life. Live in a way that feels authentic to you instead of trying to fit into a mold or live up to standards set by others. Do what feels true for you. Embrace who and what you are right now, at this moment, otherwise you will be waiting to be someone you haven’t yet become. Be free from the perceptions of others that you may be happy with yourself. If you are unhappy with yourself, then strive towards that which you wish to become, but love yourself all the way through that change. None of us are perfect, but we can still vow to love ourselves regardless of where we find ourselves on the path.
Peace, Love and Namaste!