Article contributed by Leslie Petersen. Exclusively for inspirationalsouls.com
Whether you’ve never been to a yoga class, you’re new to the practice of yoga, or you’ve been attending classes quite religiously for a while, you might be wondering why most avid yoga practitioners are either vegan or vegetarian. Truth is, the choice to eat vegan or vegetarian comes from the extension of yoga practice into a lifestyle. In fact, what sometimes draws people to yoga are the numerous holistic benefits a regular practice can provide.
A blog post by Daydreaming in Paradise highlights yoga’s wide variety of spiritual benefits, one of which is how it reminds you to practice compassion in your day to day life. This is because, as mentioned in the same article, the origins of yoga is based on the Yoga Sutras, which are texts that define the structure, practice, and philosophy of yoga.
These texts include the Eight Limbs of Yoga, with each limb pertaining to concepts or beliefs that help achieve a healthy and fulfilling life. Studying the philosophy of yoga through the Yoga Sutras allows yogis to extend their yoga practice beyond their yoga mats and eventually become the main driving force in their way of life.
Veganism and Spirituality
One of the concepts in the Yoga Sutras is Ahimsa, a Sanskrit word which means non-violence, extending into universal love and compassion for everything on this earth. For vegan or vegetarian yogis, veganism serves as a spiritual practice for them, with the practice of ahimsa extending to include non-violence towards all living creatures. A Prayer for Compassion, a documentary was shown last year at the National Vegetarian Museum in Chicago, features the element of compassion in the choice to be vegan. The documentary features people of different faiths who have chosen veganism for themselves in order to extend peace and relieve suffering for the lives of not only people but also animals around the world.
Veganism and Lifestyle
Apart from being vegan because of compassion for other beings, being vegan is also a way to be compassionate to yourself. A diet that consists mostly of plant-based products has long been touted as being a healthier alternative. As mentioned in an article by cnet.com, health concerns involving animal products, as well as the health benefits of plant-based eating habits, are some of the main reasons why people decide to go vegan. Apart from being a way for you to take control of your health for the better, the practice of mindfulness also helps change the relationship that you have with food.
An article by the Yoga Journal highlights how yoga practice helps you set aside time and energy by concentrating on how your body feels at the present. This same kind of self-awareness and mindfulness can be extended into eating. As defined by ABC News, mindfulness in eating not only means being conscious of what we eat but also how the food that we eat helps our body heal and thrive. Just like how yoga cultivates an awareness with how your muscles feel during a class, this same meditative practice extended into daily life can remind us that eating is not only about filling hunger but also about nourishing ourselves as a whole.
Veganism and Activism
For many vegans and yogis alike, the concept of non-violence and the devotion to ending suffering can extend into being vocal in various pressing advocacies of our time. Just like how ahimsa not only means to do no harm but also to want peace for the world, veganism is also a way for people to show their compassion for the earth. An article by The Independent cites notable research by the University of Oxford that shows that cutting out meat and dairy products reduces your carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent.
Compassion for all living creatures includes the fight for animal rights as well, looking to end the unjust harming of animals and overall having the heart and compassion for life. Apart from following a vegan diet, there are also a ton of ways for you to put your heart into the fight for animal welfare. Inspirational Souls features a series of interviews and profiles of different animal rights activists all of whom are inspiring and enlightening in their own unique way. Finding the right advocacies you can put your heart into not only helps you practice ahimsa fully but also keeps you devoted to the cause of veganism and embody peace and non-violence in any way you can.