“I truly believe that you can measure the progress in your yoga practice by the amount of peace you feel in your daily life and how you share that with others.” Anna Laurita
The above quote is in my training manuals, website, and I say it frequently in our classes or when someone asks me how they will know if they are making progress on their yogic path.
How can you improve your peace quotient for yourself and others? By going vegan of course!
I was a vegetarian for many years before going vegan. I have been practicing veganism for over 7 years. What took me from vegetarianism to veganism? I wanted to:
• Boost my asana practice in terms of flexibility, strength, and stamina.
• Be more peaceful in my meditation.
• Be more peaceful in my daily life knowing I am causing no harm to others.• Be a shining example as one who seriously follows the path of yoga.
I had to get out of denial that being a vegetarian was the best I could do. Once I made the switch with a few small changes, boy did the improvements I wished for come my way, even though I’m in my 50’s!“Do you need to be a vegan to practice yoga?” This is a common question I get from my yoga community. There is no denying that the first foundational root of the “tree of yoga” - the yogic path to liberation set forth by Sri Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras- is Ahimsa (non-harming). A yoga teacher must be careful in this situation however as the answer can be harmful to the aspirant. If I say “Yes”, then many people would become vegan overnight without the proper education on how to care for themselves (thus harming themselves). Instead, I say: “One seriously following the path of yoga will adopt a vegan lifestyle over time.” I don’t leave it at that, I’m careful to share the steps needed:
- Gather resources to become vegan, such as vegan websites, cookbooks, get weekly meal - planning advice and even take a session with a local naturopath or nutritional counselor.
- Visit various websites or local stores to find the items you will need such as Vitamin B-12, nutritional yeast, good quality seeds, pulses and grains, vegetables and fruits from a reputable seller as well as organic, non-GMO tofu and more. If you live in a developed country these things are easy to find. If you do not (I live in a small beach town in Mexico) it may take a bit more effort, but is not impossible.
- Let people know about your new vegan lifestyle. Don’t apologize - Celebrate! Offer to bring a vegan dish to a gathering where they may not be prepared for your new choice (make the dish super delicious too - so it will inspire others to try more vegan recipes!)
- Gradually become a vegan outside of your diet by not purchasing clothing or household items made of leather. And don’t buy personal care products that were tested on animals.
- Finally, to stick to your path, be curious, read labels, ask questions. Here in Mexico for example, it’s common to make soups ( even vegetable soup) with a meat stock, so I ask. Some tortillas are made with lard, so I ask, some bean dishes are made with both lard and meat stock, again, I inquire.
- Be a beacon of light for others who want to start on the vegan path, start a facebook group or a meetup group in your community that would help others on the vegan path. Make a meal swap event where everybody shares vegan meals and their recipes.1
It’s not an arduous task to become vegan, but it does take some planning, like anything you care for. I promise if you try, you will feel more free, lighter, happier and alas, more peaceful. Your digestion will improve, your joints will be more supple and you’ll even save the earth! An article in the Scientific American2 reported a whopping 14-22% of greenhouse gasses exist because of the meat production business alone.
Do you need more inspiration to save the earth through veganism? If so, there is even a vegan calculator3 that shows you how much of the earth’s resources you’re saving by going vegan. Every day you’re a vegan, the numbers of earth resources you save go up. Get inspired!
- Anna Laurita