693,136 marine animals
2,249 cows and calves
485 pigeons and other birds
23 donkeys and mules
15 camels and other camelids
Yoga and Veganism
“Lokha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu”
May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
Veganism is a way of life which embodies compassion, generosity and respect for each other, the planet and all living beings. Veganism is not just a diet that rules out eating animal products; it’s a shift of consciousness, a mentality, it’s a way to actively improve the world.
Veganism denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, entertainment, science and medical research, or any other purpose; and promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. Unlike every other diet, Veganism is not based on nutrition alone.
The important connection between Veganism and Yoga -
Ahimsa is the Sanskrit term for non-harming or non-violence and is the ethical foundation of Yoga. It is the first of the
recommendations (yamas) listed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (one of the most important texts on Yoga philosophy, in which
he outlines the 8 limbs of Yoga). The term ahimsa refers to our thoughts, our words and our actions. Practicing ahimsa
requires compassion and empathy for all others. It calls us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. This directly
relates to Veganism in that when we see ourselves in a fish, cow, deer or any other living being, just as we do with our
cats and dogs or fellow humans, we are unlikely to harm them. We have profound respect for our own life and when we see
ourselves in others we have respect for their life. The practice of ahimsa is then a practice of connecting with all living beings
and becoming the peace you would like to see in the world.
The goal of Yoga is self-realization, eternal bliss and recognizing the oneness of being, and we cannot achieve oneness if we are harming others.
We reap what we sow. This is why so many Yogis choose to follow ahimsa - Veganism is a path to spiritual bliss.
However, although many Yogis abstain only from eating animal flesh, they continue to consume dairy, eggs, bee products and use animal products for clothing. They are not making the entire connection - they do not see that the treatment of animals kept for their products is as cruel as those raised specifically for slaughter. Furthermore, once these animals have stopped producing their products, they are sent to the slaughterhouse anyway.
“Our violent actions speak so much more loudly than our peaceful words”
~ Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet - eating for spiritual health and social harmony.
According to a 2008 survey by The Yoga Journal, 7% of Americans regularly practice Yoga. However, only 1.3% of the United States population follows a Vegan diet.
So why do so many Yoga practitioners turn a blind eye to Yoga’s peaceful philosophy? In short, most people dismiss Veganism as an option because they believe it will be too much of a hassle, that it’s a nutritionally deficient diet, they’re addicted to animal foods, and don’t feel they have the support to live a Vegan lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the refusal to adopt a Vegan lifestyle causes people to miss out on the philosophical and spiritual benefits of practicing Yoga. If people only practice asanas (physical postures), then they are not truly experiencing Yoga; they are just stretching.
People often ask us if we practice Yoga everyday. We answer yes, but we don’t do asana everyday. We practice Yoga everyday because we approach every being and situation with compassion and ahimsa - with Veganism.
Making the connection between your actions and the lives of animals, people and the environment is one of the highest things you can do in this lifetime.
The principal of ahimsa extends beyond humans and animals, and includes the environment as well
Animal-based agriculture is the number one cause of deforestation, air pollution, and water pollution. The facts and statistics of destruction animal-based agriculture has on our planet are astounding. One simple example: maintaining a carnivorous diet for a single person requires 4,200 gallons of water per day. A Vegan diet for a single person requires only 300 gallons of water per day. There is little point tinkering with your shower head to save water if your meals three times a day contain animal products.
The third of Patanjeli’s yamas is asteya, which means "non-stealing."
The meat, dairy, egg, bee and fashion industries are founded upon stealing - stealing life for the consumption of flesh, stealing mother’s milk intended for her new calf, exploiting and commodifying a hen's body and stealing her eggs, stealing honey, bee pollen and other products intended for food, feeding their babies and hive insulation, stealing wool, skin and fur all intended to be worn by the animals who were born in those skins.
As Sharron Gannon (co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga) said, “To confine an animal for its entire life is to steal its life. To kill and eat animals is to steal their lives from them. The meat and dairy [and egg and bee] industries have successfully convinced us not to see animals as having their own purpose for living, a purpose that doesn't include being exploited and used up by human beings. In our present time, we may not think we are stealing from others when we eat meat and dairy products [and egg and bee] because we have been deluded by our culture into thinking that animals exist for our benefit. In fact, it is expected of us that we eat them, and it is considered strange to question this expectation. But the truth is that the animals never entered into any agreement to be bought and sold. We have been stealing their lives for our own selfish reasons. According to Patanjali, this is not conducive to our material, mental, and spiritual prosperity”.
“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white or women created for men”
~ Alice Walker, activist and author of The Color Purple
Don't feel that the problem is too big, don’t get caught up in inaction. You can make a difference to thousands and thousands of innocent animals, restore the environment and cultivate compassion to all beings by adopting a Vegan diet and lifestyle.
Find strength to go Vegan in the following quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. "Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it polite?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor polite, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells him or her that it is right."
If your conscience is calling you, then come and be inspired to be the change you want to see in the world … join a Love Truth Joy Yoga Retreat.
We were so inspired by Dr. Will Tuttle’s “The World Peace Diet - eating for spiritual health and social harmony”, that we undertook his Mastery and Facilitator Training Courses in 2013. We are now both accredited World Peace Diet Facilitators. (http://www.worldpeacemastery.com/)