Yoga might be a practice that encourages calm and peace of mind among its practitioners, but it is not without its own share of controversies. One of the most enduring debates is whether or not to shift to a vegan, or at least a vegetarian, diet once you commit to a yoga lifestyle. Are you thinking “should I go vegan?” Read on to learn more about the great debate.
According to DoYouYoga, the idea that yoga practitioners should refrain from eating meat is anchored on “ahimsa”. It’s one of the five “yamas,” or constraints, that are embedded in the practice of yoga. The term is roughly translated to ‘absence of violence’, which has been interpreted as eliminating all forms of violence, including physical and emotional, to yourself and to others.
Some yogis believe that this practice should go beyond how a person acts towards other human beings, which is why they avoid eating meat. They believe that consuming food sourced from animals is a form of cruelty that goes against the principles of yoga. In other words, eating plant-based food is a considered as compassion.
However, there are also others who say that eating meat at least occasionally is still acceptable, as long as the “do no harm” principle towards other people is still followed. Ironically, some yogis say that depriving yourself of meat, especially if your body needs it, is also a violation of ‘ahimsa’. In doing so, you are being cruel to yourself by making yourself susceptible to illnesses. So what’s the right answer?
It Ultimately Boils Down to You Personal Choices and Perceptions
Frankly, it’s up to you. An article on the Huffington Post stated practicing ‘ahimsa’ is observing active kindness, and this includes making the best choices for the self and refraining from being judgmental toward others.
With that said, there are a variety of benefits that veganism offers. Yoga Journal claims that shifting to a plant-based diet will allow you to become less susceptible to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, you become less at risk of getting serious ailments such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, as well as heart and kidney diseases. Shifting to this diet can help reduce pain caused by arthritis and other joint conditions, too. At the same time, you are not likely to become overweight.
Collectively, it can contribute to longevity. Health IQ delved into the science behind the notion, and it was revealed that vegans actually have lower mortality rates compared to meat eaters. Additionally, The Evening Standard listed down the effects of a properly set up vegan diet which includes having more nutritional value, weight maintenance and even the potential of better muscle performance which is important for yoga.
An increasing number of athletes have even shifted to this diet. And albeit there are less empirical evidence, there are also vegans who claim that they now enjoy higher energy levels, better skin, hair, and nails, and lesser allergies since their shift to a plant-based diet.
Nonetheless, the Telegraph notes that there is still a good chance for vegans to experience nutrient deficiency if they don’t choose the right types of food. In fact, it is still possible for you to fall victim to the same diseases that meat eaters are susceptible to if you don’t follow a well-balanced diet.
What are the Negatives of Going Vegan?
One of the pitfalls of being a vegan is unknowingly eating bad carbohydrates. It can lead to weight gain because they are unaware that there are other types of food that they can eat. Others may end up consuming a lot of sodium because they rely too much on processed food. Still others may deprive themselves of protein because they believe that the nutrient can only be gotten from meat.
All things considered, having a balanced diet even while being vegan is perfectly achievable, so long as it is done correctly. For instance, we listed tips and shared some recipes here on Yoga Lifestyles so you can prepare vegan-friendly snacks. The best thing you can do is to learn about as many alternatives as you can. The knowledge will allow you to plan and monitor your food intake more effectively and see if you’re getting enough of every important nutrient.
Want to Try a Vegan Detox?
If you want to get started, you can try going on a retreat or taking part in a detox program, like the 7-Day Raw Detox Challenge we featured previously. Do your research so you can see what types of food you can enjoy while following a vegan lifestyle. Do not be afraid to experiment to see which combination works for you.