The paleo-yogi dilemma.


My wife and I have decided to "go paleo" and try a grain-free diet experiment next month (we're both yogis) and I have been thinking a lot about Ahimsa (the yogic principle of practicing non-violence) in relation to how we eat. Too often, the knee-jerk reaction for yogis is to proclaim that vegetarianism is the only way to truly practice Ahimsa.

I disagree.

In India (the birthplace of this concept) you have an "endless growing season" and people have access to fresh vegetables and grains all year round, whereas, if you live in a climate like mine (Western Canada), you have a very short growing season. In that case, unless you are a super back-to-earth-type who cans, pickles and stores fruits and vegetables for consumption during that long winter season, you are forced to import most of your food.

Aside from the harm you may be inflicting on yourself by solely eating grains and vegetables, what violence are you doing to the earth by importing fruits and veggies from hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away? What is the carbon footprint of your beloved kale and avocado? In comparison, eating meat from a local compassionate farmer looks far less "violent" when viewed through a wider lens (in my opinion).

Just like I think we need to adjust our yogasana practice to suit the individual, we also need to understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to diet and adherence to the yogic principles set out by Patanjali over 2000 years ago. By the way, he never said anything about eating vegetarian, but he talks about acting with devotion to the Source (Ishvara Pranidhana).

I think that if done consciously (Where is my meat coming from? Under what conditions did this animal live and die?) and with devotion (Giving thanks to the animal and the Creator for sustaining you and dedicating that energy to doing good works), then eating meat can be a part of a balanced yogic diet.

Now, feel free to pelt me with your $4 imported organic heirloom tomatoes.


PS. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you are a yogi who is eating paleo. I'm also open to a good argument against it. I just haven't been able to come up with one myself.