YIV: How were you first introduced to yoga? Why have you continued to practice?
JS: I started practicing yoga right after college, prior to that I had no real body awareness or focused interest in physical movement. But as I began working a physically demanding job, I began to notice the debilitating effects of my chronic scoliosis. Searching for relief, I came to my mat for the first time. I immediately fell in love with how expressive, explorative and calming yoga was. I felt strong in my body for the first time ever and was able to see my physical strides reflected mentally off of the mat.
YIV: When did you go vegan? Why did you make the decision to do so?
JS: I went vegan on September 7th, 2015. I made the decision after a lifetime of chronic and undiagnosed stomach pain and a variety of other "mystery" ailments.
Something inside of me just snapped and I knew that meat, dairy and eggs could no longer be a part of my diet. I was living in LA at the time, working at a large yoga company so there was no shortage of inspiration and amazing foods to try. Everything felt new again, I fell in love with cooking on a deeper level then ever before. As I began to eat whole plant foods and feel WONDERFUL I started to research more about the ethical side of veganism. I always tell people that while health brought me to veganism, the ethical reasons are why I will be vegan forever. Veganism is my yoga off the mat.
YIV: Why do you think yoga is vegan?
JS: I received my 200-hr YTT from Kripalu School of Yoga & Ayurveda in the Berkshires and literally means 'compassion'. For me, there is no deeper truth; yoga is compassionate living. As Swami Kripalu said, yoga is to be a pilgrim on the path of love. To me, nothing is more compassionate than choosing life over death, kindness over cruelty and health over convenience.
YIV: As a teacher, do you ever introduce the concept of ahimsa or veganism to your students? If so, how has it been received?
JS: As a teacher of compassion, I recognize that everyone is on their own individual path. My approach is never to tell anyone what to do but rather to share my lifestyle in a friendly, open manner that is void of judgement and to be open to hearing about alternative. I do not work veganism/whole foods into my teaching but I have engaged in plenty of conversations with my clients off the mat - sharing my lifestyle, my blog (livecleankitchen.com) and my story! I feel this approach makes people curious rather than resistant - and I've had quite a few people tell me how inspired they've become!
YIV: What advice would you give to a yoga student who wants to become vegan?
JS: Use compassion with yourself. Start slow. Find recipes you love. Make sure you're getting all your vitamins and minerals. Cook in bulk. Watch documentaries. Read a lot. Keep yourself informed. Share.
YIV: Do you have a favorite vegan recipe you would like to share?
JS: I guess I am bias but, love all of the recipes I have created on livecleankitchen.com
YIV: Where do you love to go for vegan food?
JS: I love to cook at home. Before finding veganism I loved to eat out but I am so in love with cooking that no longer long for that.