In NYC I became a yogi and a vegan.
- First step into the yoga and vegetarian world
5 years ago, I took a yoga class for the first time at “Yoga to the people” in NYC. I was living one block away from their East Village location. At about the same time, I became a vegetarian, to truly embrace the yoga values. Shortly after settling down in the Big Apple, I developed a weird skin reaction. Seeing many different specialists, it was apparently linked to my poor diet that included meat. I was already considering myself as a low meat-eater but was still eating a burger from time to time! To understand why my skin reaction was linked to my animal product consumption, I did a deep dive into the meat industry and learned that this industry was injecting antibiotics to animals and had terrible health impacts. I decided to stop eating meat at this point, and one month later my skin was back to normal. I was relieved and became excited to learn more about animal product industries. I wish I had known earlier the impact of animal product consumption on animal welfare, the planet, and my health.
Who gives you the option to try vegan food for the first time? When do you learn about a vegan lifestyle? Unfortunately, unless you seek out this information, or are lucky enough to have a vegan in your life, these things may never happen. I had to reset my food habits as well as my lifestyle.
- Switch to a vegan lifestyle
Back in May 2019, I adopted a fully plant-based diet. I was already aware of the animal products industries' drastic consequences watching amazing documentaries such as Cowspiracy, What the Health, Dominion. Unfortunately, nobody had ever told me about the amazing effect of being vegan. When most of us consider changing our habits, we tend to see the restrictions of such changes. “I will have to stop eating cheese, fish, butter…”, instead of visualizing the amazing new opportunities that a change brings to your life. To quit smoking is tough, but after a period of time, you will begin to feel the many positive impacts it has on you. It’s the same with veganism.
No one had ever told me how amazing the vegan lifestyle was until I met Marie Assaker, my first vegan friend through the She for She network. Naturally, I met more and more vegan people in the City who inspired me and showed me the way. If they can do it, why couldn’t I?. All beings, meaning every single animal, not just cats and dogs. It’s hard to describe how much joy being vegan can bring, it’s an intense and powerful positive change. I feel now that I am more grounded, more connected to wildlife and every being.
After realizing you aren’t restricting your food options then you also discover how amazingly tasty the food is. I used to say I could never live without cheese (I’m French!), but here I am, loving the vegan life! We [I tend not to take all the credit when I’m cooking? There is very often someone close by to help me!] blow people’s minds when we cook. It’s actually super easy. You can find cruelty free butter and cheese in every store now in the City and it’s spreading all over the world. We can find more and more products with almost similar tastes and textures matching the harmless ethic, which have not been tested on animals or using animal lives. The idea is to explore the diversity of nature. Chickpeas are my best ally. Did you know you could make whipped egg whites with chickpea juice (called Aquafaba). I used to love Nutella when I was a child, today I’m eating a vegan chocolate spread with no palm oil. So not only, I eat cruelty-free but also have a much better impact on the environment.
Embracing the yoga and vegan values changed my cooking skills. I’m more aware of the products, and their journey to come to my plate. I don’t buy packaged fruits, or packaged vegetables anymore. I’m respectful of all ingredients. Being vegan is not only about food, it’s about a more respectful lifestyle for everyone. The food aspect is, indeed, a huge part of it. 3 times a day I decide to be part of the world I dream about. Practicing yoga and embracing yoga values is a spiritual journey, as much as veganism. I feel more connected, more aware of my surroundings.
- Yoga is vegan
The day you become vegan you will become also aligned with your human, environmental, and yogi values. We all dream of a better world. A future more mindful of everyone. Veganism and yoga help us move toward this direction.
There is no other way. We cannot claim we want this world to be better without changing our daily habits and way of life. We eat on average 3 meals a day. When preparing those meals we can choose to be harmless, to not cause pain and live a healthy and mindful life. Yoga values are entirely embraced into veganism. The 8 limbs of yoga outline it, especially Ahimsa: nonviolence towards ourselves and all beings.
- A spiritual journey
Veganism challenges your perception as much as yoga. When I’m in a child pose I think about surrender. I may be seen as a strong woman, but on my mat I allow myself to be vulnerable.
This vulnerable feeling makes me think about all these yoga poses named after animals: cows, cats, dolphins, cobras, eagles, elephants, frogs. Once affected only by the natural cycle of their environment, their lives now depend on our human choices. Every day we make decisions. Every day you can decide to live the way we all dream about. A more sustainable, less violent world, not only for ourselves but for all beings. Acknowledge what you are capable of doing on your mat, and try to send the same intention in your daily life. Why would you apply the yoga values only on your mat? Why have we been told to love rabbits, horses, fish but we decide to eat them for food when it’s not necessary? There are so many alternatives, which don’t involve taking a life.
Ahimsa – one of the five Yama – Sanskrit of “non-harming”
What does the vegan world look like? A less violent world, a non-harming one, not only for animals but also for all beings If we apply the yoga values to our life, we make a huge step forward. As a yogi, respecting the value of life forces you to find alternatives to the mainstream solutions, cultivate your uniqueness, your joy, own less, and be present. I like to think that the evolution of humankind is a moral one, a non-violent one. Maybe finding, all together, our common soul. We are one.
Playlist while writing this article for Yoga is Vegan
- Fool for you – Snah Aalegra “I love you time and time again” #UnconditionalLove
- Cosmic Caribbean Cruise by Cosmic gardens – (available on Soundcloud) #plantpower
- Un Solo Mundo by Maya Burns #ourplanet
- Natural Blues - Moby #activism