I have become a walking cliche and it feels really really good. Over the past 4 days I've been keeping to a vegan and sugar free
diet lifestyle. Cliche right, a vegan, yoga teacher who doesn't eat sugar? Hear me out. Both of these decisions I made due to watching recent movies and then trying on said diets for size. The first, "That Sugar Film", convinced me to cut out refined and processed sugars. Not too hard, I mostly already do this, but the decision just made me think more about what I'm eating. Maybe a few less of those afternoon muffins and croissants. I feel more clear headed.
The second, a movie entitled, Earthlings, which is described on their website as - "an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research". I have been an ethical vegetarian since I was 13 years old. I had read an article about how cattle and pig farming was cutting down the rain forest which not only destroyed natural habits for many native animals and people but also ruined the soil, drying it out and making it useless after only a few years of grazing. That was it for me, no more meat. My mom was a big fan of this idea...for years I ate a pile of nuts and a few slices of cheese while my family had steak and chicken. Even though I wasn't eating meat, I occasionally eat some fish and I very frequently enjoy cheese, milk and butter.
Well, skip back to Sunday night, 20 minutes into "Earthlings" and I had to get up and go to the bathroom because I was crying so hard I was making a bit of a scene. The movie shows all numbers of horrors, starting with how many people get their pets, via puppy farms. It takes you on a visceral tour of the factory farms where our steak, pork and chicken come from. Then onto dairy cows, fish, the atrocities of animal treatment in the entertainment industries and finishes out with how we get leather goods and furs. I won't describe anything I witnessed here because, honestly, it was so graphic and upsetting that I wouldn't wish the images on anyone.
At first I was pissed, angry that I was submitting myself to seeing this. I'm a pretty sensitive soul, especially when it comes to violence and graphic movies. Then, it stirred something deep in me. I left with a sense of righteous indignation that we let these behaviors and this horrendous treatment of animals go on like this for our own benefit. Not to mention the side effects factory farms have on the environment and our oceans. Plus I, literally, couldn't stomach the idea that my choices were contributing to the suffering of other sentient beings. I couldn't consume something that had been created out of such misery, violence and disregard for life. I walked into that room an partial vegetarian and left swearing to honor a full fledged vegan diet.
Now, I'm not writing this blog in order to preach to you and tell you what you should or shouldn't eat, should or shouldn't do. My purpose is more to share my own process, journey and personal investigations with you in the hope that it might stir your own process. Furthermore, not everyone is meant to abstain from meat, or gluten, or dairy or whatever. Do what is right for you.
When I was living in New York, one of my close friends read "Skinny Bitch" a book about turning vegan and thus loosing weight. One morning after her recent conversion, she made a few of us scrambled tofu flavored with nutritional yeast. I was a bit outraged, surely just eat the eggs. You're not killing animals by eating eggs and aren't whole foods better for you than processed; tofu being a processed version of soy beans. And, nutritional yeast, well what the hell is that?
Cut to July 2015 - yesterday I had scrambled tofu for breakfast and today I bought nutritional yeast at About Life (the health food store). As I said, I have now become what I always thought was a walking cliche. But, I feel really good! I've always been a healthy eater but healthy in moderation. A sweet treat here and there, grilled cheese, chips, milk shakes, I don't like to turn down a delicious meal. It's only been 4 days, so maybe too soon to tell if this will continue forever, but for now, I've been slowing down as I eat, I feel more appreciative of the food I'm eating, I'm eating for sustenance and not emotional satisfaction and overall I feel more conscious. I have to stop and think about what I'm eating and the ingredients going into my food.
That's what this whole yoga spiritual journey is about - raising our awareness, with a look towards enlightenment and the realization that we are all one, all united and part and parcel of the bigger whole. Like a drop of water and the vast oceans, we are all the same. Consider this vegan yoga teacher's consciousness raised.