The (un) vegan yogi

I’m not a vegan. I do yoga.

Contrary to popular belief, these two things don’t always go hand in hand. I’ve been criticized for this “hypocrisy” but most of those criticizers don’t even give me the time of day to explain myself. So, this blog is for you (vegan) haters. 

In the Yoga world, there is a word called, ahimsa, that translates to non-harm to self, others and the world around you. Some believe this is the basis of why you should convert to a vegan lifestyle. However, I refuse.

I’ve gone vegan twice in my lifetime and neither for the sake of humanity or with good intentions. If you read my previous blog, I’ve struggled with disordered eating for the past decade and veganism doesn’t help the problem much. If you haven’t read my previous blog, go ahead and read that blog here.

First and foremost, going vegan has always been a stint for me to be skinny. There was no attribution to saving animals or doing the right thing. I’ve been a vegetarian since the third grade and that I can say was for the sake of animals but veganism on the other hand , not so much. I understand that being vegan can help with global warming, animal cruelty, and water conservation but I won’t do it. Call it selfish to not go vegan but taking care of my body is way more important than living up to some, “idyllic yogi lifestyle.” Remaining vegetarian is the best option for me not to go down a terrible downward spiral of disordered eating.

Another thing I’d like to point out is how veganism makes my body feel. The first week or two, I feel wonderful and energized but that feeling doesn’t last for long. I then start to feel groggy, tired, always hungry and like there’s something missing out of my diet. Quite honestly, I start to feel like shit. Another tenant of yoga is listening to your body. If my body tells me that something doesn’t feel right, or something doesn’t suit my body then I won’t ignore this feeling. Instead, I’ll take note and decide what I should do. In this case, not continuing veganism is the clear winner. I interned with an registered dietitian for a summer who believed that any diet was suitable as long as you knew what you were doing and working with a professional. I have only a small idea of what I’m doing and I’m no longer working with a professional. So I’m not going to rely on google for advice and I’m going to stick with what I know instead.

Veganism brings with it (for me at least) eating every hour on the hour which is not ideal for my life. As much as I love to eat, there is nothing more annoying than being in agony every hour on the hour from hunger. I’m currently taking 5 classes and work 25 hours a week so eating so frequently just doesn’t work for my lifestyle. I always come prepared with snacks and lunch but it doesn’t always do the trick. Damn you fast metabolism. 😉

Also, have you ever been to a BBQ and there’s nothing for you to eat? What about a family dinner? Dinner out with the family? All these situations seem nominal until you’re in them. I’m pulling the, “first world problem card” here but it really sucks going to eat with no food options other than plain pasta, burger buns or salad. It’s hard doing things with your family and friends when you’re a vegetarian but then you throw veganism into the mix and your options are super limited. I’m not saying you can’t go against the grain, I do it all the time, but my life is way too jam packed and full of family functions to be worrying about whether there was parmesan cheese sprinkled on the salad or not. Sorry vegans.

I’ll explain what I do eat so that everyone stops asking. I call myself a “sustainable vegetarian.” I eat a mostly plant-based diet and occasionally eat meat that is only sustainably sourced. This doesn’t include free range meat or organic meat from the grocery store. No, the meat needs to be from a local farm. I don’t believe in factory farming, I believe its unsanitary, unsustainable, non-environmental and cruel. However, I’m not against eating meat, I just don’t think westernized society needs to eat it as often as we do. I don’t drink milk, but I eat cheese. I’m half Italian and it’s something I won’t give up, sorry not sorry.  I eat plenty of grains, nuts, fruits and veggies. 

I’ve had a so called, “compassionate, loving, vegan,” tell me that I lack these same characteristics because I won’t go vegan. Sounds pretty uncompassionate and unloving if you ask me. Simply because I don’t follow a certain lifestyle, doesn’t mean I lack love or compassion in my life. In fact, if I have any deeming qualities in my personality they would be both traits. 

I once started a “recycling program” at my old job that didn’t recycle for the sake of humanity and doing the right thing.  I mentored a teenage girl for a full year listening to her when she needed someone to talk to her, helped her with homework and showed her love where it lacked so much in her life. No pay, just out of the kindness of my heart. Last week, one of my yoga student’s dog died. After class, she cried in a bathroom stall and when she came out, I held her until she was ready to go home. 

I am no super human. I deserve no trophies, medals or awards. I simply try to always do the right thing. I carry compassion and love in my heart like its nobody’s business and I am so tired of vegans telling me that I am not worthy, not a true yogi or compassionate because I refuse to latch on to their lifestyle. This is not a blog to hate on vegans, veganism, etc. No, being a vegan is a very noble thing to do and I respect that. 

This blog is written because a friend asked me last week if all yogis were vegan. The answer is NO.

This blog was written because I can’t stand people who believe they are more righteous, all-knowing or better than anyone because of their diet.

This blog was also written for anyone who is scrutinized for living a lifestyle that complies with their being and their truth. It’s your life, not theirs.

EAT FLESH. EAT PLANTS. EAT BOTH OR NEITHER.

In the words of the greatest philosopher that ever lived, “whatever floats your boat.”  

Thanks for reading! If you signed up for the 5-week video yoga challenge, the videos are in the works and on their way. Thanks for your patience. 

Namaste, Kay. 

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