I am deeply grateful towards those who understand that being vegan is crucial in the true meaning of yoga. Coming to this realization myself, after I had already been vegan for five years and practicing yoga for ten, I began to feel greatly disappointed with my respected yoga teachers and fellow practitioners. How could we be talking about such deep and existential concepts as elucidated by the scriptures and ancient teachings of interconnectedness, without talking about what we put on our plates and into our mouths? I became frustrated with the convenient ways my teachers and fellow practitioners tailor the meaning of ahimsa in ways that justify them in foregoing much of the real, deep, transformational self-reflection work necessary in a spiritual path.
Luckily, my karma aligned me with two very genuine teachers in New Jersey - Tim Shaw of the Jivamukti lineage, and Adam Sobel, a student of Dharma Mittra’s. With the consistent messaging of these two beautiful humans in their classes and in their lives, I was shown that the life of a cow or a pig or a chicken is no less valuable than the life of a cat, dog, or a child. I credit the instant realization of my true nature being vegan to this, as well as the nonchalant way Tim asked me after class one day, “why aren’t you vegan?” To which I responded, “I don’t know”.
My journey through veganism has been the most profound and beautiful yoga - it has been a coming home. I truly believe every one of us as humans would agree that we don’t want things to suffer. We avoid it at all costs and we feel immense joy and connection when we’re able to relieve another being’s suffering. Yet we don’t live in alignment with that desire. Our current society is driven by our collective ego and attachment, and it leads us to believe that enslaving and exploiting animals for our purposes is normal, and hides behind closed doors the horrific reality that would surely stop all of us from participating in it if everyone saw the real suffering that goes on.
Each individual comes to this realization in their own time. But it is also critical for those of us who have lifted the veil from our own eyes to dispel the darkness so many are still lost in. We need to give others the chance to live more freely, more in tune with their true nature, so our world can be more harmonious. This can only come once we stop contributing to the suffering and harm being imposed on other beings - human and non-human animals alike.
Once we truly understand our intrinsic and undeniable connection with nature, that we are merely a small part of the big picture, we remember we are the same as animals. We are humanimals. It’s time we remember and return back to a place of mutual respect with nature, where we strive to uplift others, knowing that we can’t be free until we are ALL free.