Do you have to be a vegetarian to do yoga in Vermont?
Ahimsa, or non-violence, is one of the most important tenets of yoga. There are as many interpretations of ahimsa as there are yogis. Some people practice to the max and treat all sentient beings (even spiders and mosquitoes) with reverence. Others practice ahimsa through the use of humane slaughtering techniques and respectful handling of livestock. Many of us are somewhere in between.
In Vermont, the land of grass-fed organic beef and Ben and Jerrys, it can be very difficult to be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. But taking a break from meat and dairy can have some significant health benefits including clear sinuses, clear skin, more energy, and better digestion. Giving up dairy can make your body feel like a fog is being lifted.
One of the common pitfalls of changing your diet in this way is trying to replace meat and cheese with things that are just not meat or cheese. Some main-stream menu plans would have you use all kinds of imitation meat and cheese products (vegan cold cuts for example). Frankly, most of these taste, well, imitation. I recommend using real ingredients instead. And an open mind.
There is no reason a tofu dinner should taste the least bit like a steak dinner. Really. It’s like drinking almond milk and being disappointed that it does not taste like cow’s milk. How could it? Why should it?
Here is a great post about going Vegan. Cheese lovers are hard pressed to give up the object of their affection and often opt for a more flexible option: Enter the Flexitarian. (Flexible + Vegetarian = Flexitarian).
Studies show that vegetarians live 3.6 years longer and, on average, weigh 15% less than non-vegetarians. Flexitarians might end up with similar statistics, as they no longer have to deal with the kinds of familial pressures about eating meat that often surround the dinner table.
In the end, whether you choose a vegan diet or an omnivorous one, eating mindfully can make all the difference in healthy weight and lifestyle. Yoga and meditation, in my opinion, are the most effective ways to accessing this kind of mindfulness.
If you are a beginner, think about trying a series. If you are a regular yoga practitioner, think about Andrea’s Sunday classes or Martha‘s – both include several minutes of meditation. And Christine leads a Sunday evening mindfulness practice – it’s free! All you’ve got to lose is your hesitation.
A special thank you to Glaeser Sign Company