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A question I get asked a lot about is nutrition, especially being a vegetarian and doing yoga. As a certified yoga instructor, I have spent time reading through yogi literature, and trying to implement the yogi principles to my life. This being said, always know that there is no right or wrong way to do yoga, simply take my words for what they are, words. So, let’s dig into this topic of being a veggie and a yogi!
Before we get too far into this post, let’s define what a vegetarian is and what that lifestyle looks like! Being a vegetarian can oftentimes be confused with veganism or pescatarian.
- A vegetarian is any individual who does not eat meat, so no fish, no poultry, no red meat, basically not eating animals in general.
- Veganism is where an individual does not eat any sort of animal product/by-product. No meat, no eggs, no dairy, no honey, nothing made by animals or the animal itself.
- A pollotarian is a type of vegetarianism where the individual does not eat any sort of red meat, seafood, or fish – they only eat poultry.
- Pescatarians avoid red meat and poultry, but do eat seafood and fish.
- Flexitarians are not technically vegetarians, but they limit their meat consumption, opting for a plant-based diet on a day-to-day basis.
As you can see, there are multiple levels of vegetarianism, and note that I didn’t even include all of the subtypes! There are so many so feel free to check out the following link to find out more information from the Vegetarian Nation (http://www.vegetarian-nation.com/).
Switching up the pace again, for just a second we are going to get a quick snapshot of the Yamas and Niyamas of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas are guidelines that help us to live ethically! The Yamas include: nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess, and nonpossessiveness, while the Niyamas include: purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender. These principles help us yogis to make decisions in everyday life, and allow us to be ethically mindful beings.
Woohoo! That was a heck of a lot of information, so how do these ethical principles relate to vegetarianism? Well, technically according to the Yama of nonviolence, a vegetarian lifestyle is promoted as this lifestyle does not hurt any animals. The nonviolence Yama discourages violence against other individuals and animals alike. This being said, technically yoga discourages meat consumption.
BUT, how does this relate to you, your life, and your yoga practice? I just want to remind you that these principles are recommendations, I know I have difficulty with several of these guidelines on a daily basis! I, for example, don’t eat red meat, but I do eat poultry, seafood, and fish. This post, is just to serve as a tool to put in your toolbox, helping you to live more mindfully, with intention, and understand how your everyday choices have global impacts.
Benefits of being a vegetarian:
1) Decrease your carbon footprint: something that isn’t publicized a lot is the pure amount of energy it takes to feed, raise, and process meat products. When comparing soy protein to animal protein, the animal protein takes up to 12 times greater land space, 13 times as much energy (i.e. fossil fuels like gas), and 15 times as much water to process!! Purely from an environmental standpoint, adopting a vegetarian lifestyle may decrease your individual carbon footprint, helping you to become more eco-friendly.
2) Cheaper grocery trips: going vegetarian may actually help to cushion your wallet?! A recent study that was published in the Journal of Health & Environmental Nutrition, estimated that vegetarians can save AT LEAST $750 per year more than meat-eaters! Holy Moly, $750?! Think of all that you could do with that money, travel, shopping sprees, savings…the list goes on and on. I personally never knew that adopting a vegetarian lifestyle could help me save this much, but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re thinking about decreasing your meat consumption.
3) Increased overall health: plenty of studies have recently been published to support the notion that vegetarians may have better health outcomes which make them more likely to outlive meat-lovers! Lowered levels of blood pressure, body mass index scores, and cholesterol have been recorded by researchers examining vegetarian diets. In addition, lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even death has been supported as well, increasing the benefits of trying out this lifestyle!
*Remember, these are just a few benefits you may experience if you take on this diet/lifestyle, you may find more and you may find out that some of these don’t suit you (these are generalized results).*
Benefits of not being a vegetarian:
1) Unlimited meal choices: I know when I first started limiting my meat intake, I felt like I didn’t have as many choices when trying to meal prep, plan what I was going to eat when out with friends, etc. etc. This lifestyle can be a transition, and can create a sort of anxiety about knowing what to eat especially out at restaurants. Creating this sort of negative relationship with food can be detrimental, especially if you start to restrain your food intake, etc.
2) No trying to explain vegetarianism to friends and family: it’s no surprise that the people close to you will notice if you change your diet/lifestyle to one without meat. Sometimes older family members may not be as supportive as you would think, of this change. Ultimately it is your choice, and how others view this/you should not matter, but it is something to be aware of!
3) Don’t have to read food labels: when you’re trying to avoid animal products, you have to read the labels to ensure that meat isn’t in the ingredients. Some foods you wouldn’t even think about can have ingredients that aren’t vegetarian. This process can seem tedious when you first start out, and may not get better until you’ve spent some time researching vegetarian foods and figuring out your go-to staples.
Ultimately, this lifestyle is a personal choice, I am just trying to provide all of you with information to guide your decision to know if this is right for you. There is no right or wrong way to eat, practice yoga, and live your life, so do what’s right with you my lovely little llamas!
What do you all think about taking on a vegetarian lifestyle? Would it be something you’re interested in, or something you would never consider? Have any tips or tricks for starting vegetarianism in your life? Any favorite vegetarian foods?
I can’t wait to hear from all of you!
Occupational Therapy student Mandy Fabry always had a passion for yoga. Trading in her traditional role as a student to begin her journey as an instructor and blogger. She projects an air on lightness and celebrates each body, breath, and movement. Her background not only nourishes the physical body, but restores the soul as well. Appreciating the body as a whole is Mandy’s main focus, and will bring awareness and balance to all aspects of your life. She is excited to take this next step with you, and hopes that the benefits and lifestyle of yoga can be accessed by all.