HOW TO GROW FROM VEGETARIAN TO MEAT RESPONSIBLY?
THE Keys to Mindful, Yogic Eating in the Modern World
As a dedicated student of yoga, there is a point when the practice moves beyond the physicality of the practice and extends into other aspects of your life. You might find it influences your attitude, your demeanor, or even your food choices. In the Yoga Sutras, vegetarian diets are outlined as the ideal dietary choice for yogis. Diets high in vegetables and grains, and low in meat or dairy products, have the least amount of impact on your body and the earth, according to these teachings. But in the modern world, yoga is very different and the dietary needs of yogis are very different.
At some point, I think most yoga students consider going vegetarian or encounter vegetarianism amongst their peers and fellow yogis. The yoga studio, which often overflows into the health food stores, is a common place to here the words ‘organic’, local, ‘sustainable’, vegetarian’ and vegan’. Many yogis I know, including myself, have gone from meat eaters to vegetarians, to vegans, and may be back again or some variation of the diets. So what do you do when you have made the switch to eating vegetarian and realize that your body needs to start eating meat again? How do you make the switch responsibly and sustainably, with the least amount of impact on your mind, body and environment.
A few years ago, my diet was vegan, or more accurately, plant-based. I used honey for medicinal rea- sons occasionally, but refrained from eating dairy, eggs, or meat. Then one day. I noticed 1 was craving eggs. Even adding more protein and iron to my diet didn’t stop the cravings, so I finally decided to eat eggs from a local farm with happy, healthy chickens. I felt great and ate a lot of eggs for the first few weeks, then slowly backed away and ate them once in a while as part of a more balanced diet.
I did the same with dairy, fish, and eventually meat. Each time I went through a cycle of eating a lot of the new food for a week or two and then balancing it back out of my diet. I may have a serving of dairy or two a day and possibly meat or eggs on some days, and other days I have more or none at all. The key is to stay mindful about how and why you are consuming and where the food comes from. With this approach, you are finding the balance your body needs while staying mindful and aware of the impact you have and the sustainability of your food choices It can be a bit complicated to start changing the way you eat, whether you are cutting out meat adding it in, or drastically changing another part of your diet. Here are a few ways to make sure you stay mindful and yogic when you consume meat And the best part-these work for vegetarian diets as well.
EAT ORGANIC WHENEVER POSSIBLE
BUY FROM LOCAL FARMERS
EAT MOSTLY VEGETABLES
EAT AT FARM-TO -TABLE OR LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANTS
If you don’t want to cook and buy meat, and only want it occasionally, try eating out. While eating out might not seem like the most mindful choice at first, many local restaurants shop in local stores and local farms, making their meats and duty much more sustainable than traditional chain restaurants. The food is often fresher and less expensive, plus consumer demand for farm-to-table is growing. These restaurants may not be organic but they will usually have options for meat that are sustainable and from local farms. This way, your occasional indulgence can continue to be mindful and sustainable for your community, rather than support practices that don’t align with your life- style and yoga practice.
INCLUDE VEGETARIAN MEALS IN YOUR ROTATION
Just because you eat meat, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it at every meal or throw away your favorite vegan and vegetarian recipes As you add it un. you might find yourself craving meat or dairy with each meal After awhile, this will balance
out and you’ll find the right amount for your bodies needs. Once you are through this first introduction of meat back into your diet, start adding back in some of your favorite non-meat recipes, or even declare a few days of the week ‘no meat days. This can help you keep your vegetable intake high and keep your body, mind, and yoga practice in balance.
Eating meat is a personal choice for your body, much like your yoga practice. Whether you choose to eat it or not, you can make choices that help Support your yogic lifestyle, rather than choices that make you second guess yourself. The next time you head to the grocery store or a friend’s house and are tempted to try buying or eating meat again, put these steps into practice and know that you are doing so the modern, mindful and yogic way.