All yogis are vegetarian, everyone knows that.
Well…no, not exactly. As popular a belief as that is, eating meat does nothing to diminish your legitimacy as a “true” yogi.
On some level, I can understand where the assumption comes from. A lot of yogis do choose the veggie life. Ahimsa, the practice of nonviolence in all aspects of life, is a key value in both yoga and vegetarianism. Many people decide to give up meat as an act of ahimsa – believing animals shouldn’t be mistreated or killed in order to provide food for humans. In theory, I 100% agree. In reality, however, for various reasons, that just doesn’t work for everyone, and I don’t think that should have anything to do with an individual’s yoga cred.
Before I go any further, let me make it clear: this is not, in any way, shape, or form, meant to offend vegetarians, or criticize their lifestyle. I completely see the merit in a vegetarian diet, and if that works for you, great! Like I said though, it’s simply not a realistic choice for everyone. Health issues, geographic location, affordability, family values or beliefs…any number of things can present an obstacle in pursuing a meat-free diet.
For me, coming out of years of restrictive and disordered eating, I know vegetarianism is just not a healthy possibility, physically or mentally. Although meat is not a huge part of my diet, and I could happily live off of black beans and lentils, I do sometimes (I won’t lie, it’s not often, but sometimes) crave a nice barbecued steak, or even just chicken nuggets. Placing that “vegetarian” label on myself, and banning those foods, would just be a new unnecessary, unhealthy food rule.
Even for people with a normal, healthy relationship with food, I don’t think placing rules or moral values around food is a good idea. If your body is craving meat, go for it! If your body is craving veggies, that’s fine too! It shouldn’t be such a big deal of what you can or cannot eat. Whether you choose a burger or a salad, it has absolutely no impact on your worth as a human or as a yogi!
Although this is not a hate on vegetarians, it is kind of an “ugggghhhh” on the judgy, holier-than-thou, veggie recruiters. You know – the people who go around spurting facts about how everyone should become a vegetarian, or giving you the side eye as you eat your non-veggie lunch. “Wow, I can’t believe you can eat that and not feel guilty about that poor little animal…” You know. Those people. All that judgment and food-shaming doesn’t sound very ahimsa to me, just sayin’…
In my opinion, food and diet is a fairly personal thing. You do you, and let me do me. What each of us chooses to do on the yoga mat and in the kitchen are completely unrelated choices, I think. Nowhere in the great yogi guide to life does it proclaim “thou shall not eat meat”. It does kind of mention “no judgment” though. So maybe just mind your own, eat what makes you happy, and then let’s all just chill out and do some yoga.
Namaste, bon appétit.