Monday, February 1, 2010

Eating meat: Does ahimsa really matter?

This morning a fellow yogi forwarded an article from the New York Times about yoga and food.  While it has always been my understanding that food should be avoided at least two hours before and one hour after a strenuous yoga practice, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea to package yoga and food together.

The article seems harmless enough - Western yogis enjoying organic food right on their sweaty mats (ew) after class.  Who am I to judge how, when, and where one chooses to eat? 

The part of the article that pissed me off was a quote from Sadie Nardini, NYC yoga teacher and author of Om Scampi, her wordy confessional essay about eating meat.

“Nowhere is it written that only vegetarians can do yoga,” she said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “We do not live in the time of the founding fathers of yoga, and we don’t know what they wanted us to eat.”

I think ahimsa is pretty clear, and if you are participating in the consumption of animals you are certainly "doing harm."   That said, there are plenty of yoga classes in gyms accross the country that focus only on the physical practice of yoga.  It is certainly possible to do the postures and ignore the spiritual teachings.  People do it everyday.  However, I don't think that is Ms. Nardini's point.

I'm no saint.  I enjoy fish on a fairly regular basis, but I'm not going to pretend that it's okay simply because Patanjali is not alive today to tell me that doing so violates ahimsa

Furthermore, I think that animals that are treated well and killed humanely do far less damage than the factory farmed variety.

My real beef (pun intended) is Ms. Nardini's defensiveness and lame excuses for why it's okay for modern yogis to freely eat meat.  I wonder if she would be willing to go out and kill her own meat.  That might kill the taste of intolerance in my mouth.

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