When I found this page, I was overwhelmed with joy. I started reading many of the yogi stories and felt inspired to write my own.
One yoga experience I cherish very much was in New York in the Jivamukti Center; I felt so connected with everything around me and experienced real bliss. I was beyond happy that they connected veganism and yoga! The Jivamuktea Café was completely vegan, and I thought to myself: ‘’This is yoga, this is compassion, this is justice for all living, this is the true meaning of Ahimsa.’’
About five years ago, I was searching for the healthiest diet and that’s how I stumbled upon veganism. I was intrigued by all the information I found. How animal products are linked to many health issues and major diseases such as heart-diseases, cancer and obesity. How plant-based diets helped heal many people, helped athletes perform better and many other stories of people who started thriving on plant-based diets.
I started reading and watching everything I could regarding veganism. I came across the documentary Earthlings and was left completely heartbroken; how could we do this? It showed all the horrible ways in which we use, exploit and kill animals: for food, fabric and entertainment, as if they are commodities. It was heartbreaking to wake up to this massive injustice; how could we use trivial reasons such as taste, habit and convenience over the basic right of any being to live their own life?
Before I came across veganism I had been vegetarian for some time and was astonished by how I had not realized earlier that I was still contributing to animal exploitation and suffering. To be fair, I think it didn’t even reduce the amount of animal use, for when I was vegetarian I consumed even more dairy and eggs than before. I wish someone had told me then what I know now. After finding veganism, I also became aware of the fact that terms like organic and free-range don’t have any value, for every animal product includes suffering (eggs, dairy, honey, wool and so on). (You can find many information on the internet about how even these seemingly innocent products cause much stress, pain and death). But even if the animals weren’t experiencing pain, I would still be vegan, for I don't want to be part of a system that brings life into existence to exploit and kill it. It breaks my heart that animals are living beings who have their most basic right taken away: to live their own life, free from enslavement, exploitation and killing. I love how Sharon Gannon states: ‘’If we want to be free then we must free others, if we want to be happy then we must not make others unhappy, if we do not want to be sexually abused then we should not abuse others and on it goes.’’
For me personally it was really insightful to change perspectives, to see myself in the other. What if I was the animal, what if my freedom was taken away, what if I were ‘owned’ by another living being, what if I was repeatedly artificially impregnated and had my baby taken away over and over again (dairy), what if anyone took away my hard work (honey, eggs, etc.) without my permission? (I don’t even go into what happens to the calves, how producing more eggs has a tool on the chickens’ reproductive system out of stress, and the fact that bees are abused and killed in the process). I realized that there isn’t a right way to do the wrong thing. So, for me, becoming vegan was the only way to realign with my heart.
I believe veganism is not only about compassion and empathy, but also about justice for the animals, our planet, our health, for all living. When I see an animal I see a life, a someone, not a commodity, so I could never justify treating it as such.
For me the most important reason to be vegan is because I respect all lives and don’t want to deny anyone the right to life. I also did a project on world hunger during my high school years and this made me aware of the fact that we could feed every single human on the planet if we all eat plants. How big the tool of animal products is for the hungry people, whose grain is fed to livestock in the West instead. And if this wasn’t enough the massive environment destruction animal products have, from carbon emissions, water pollution, oceanic death zones to deforestation.
My yoga journey started four years ago, and I immediately felt strongly drawn towards the philosophy. I decided to get a Sanskrit tattoo of Ahimsa, which I thought of as a beautiful way to always wear the word ‘vegan’ on my body, this is how inseparable Ahimsa and veganism are for me. I love the meaning of Ahimsa and I hope to truly embody the essence of non-violence and compassion for all living into my daily life. I also found a strange kind of comfort in the Bhagavad Gita quote: ‘’When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.’’
Two years ago, I did my 200-hour yoga teacher training and what I really loved about the course was that the focus was on realigning with and teaching from your own heart. During the course I slowly became more in touch with my own heart. I met many wonderful people and am still grateful for al the lessons and things it brought into my life. It was after the training that I slowly but steadily became more aware of the things that live inside me. I am still on a journey to practice more Ahimsa towards myself as well.
In the future I hope to become a yoga teacher and a voice for the animals. I hope to create my own platform, so I can show how important veganism is for respecting all life. Besides it has so many wonderful aspects, veganism helps our planet thrive, it can help end world hunger and can benefit our health in so many ways. I hope to help people choose the compassionate road as well, and thus to do my part in helping all beings to be truly happy, free and feeling deeply loved.
Thank you for reading my story. Let’s radiate love and light everywhere we go.
Let’s be real love warriors for all living.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu