Calling all vegetarians

26 Oct

So I’m walking on this yoga path. It’s a great path. Every so often I pass something new and jump all over it like a real explorer. The thing is, I’ve walked right past vegetarianism and looked the other way. Once in a while I stop for a week and try to really embrace it.

I know. I know. Vegetarianism is better for the environment. It’s better for my body. It’s better for my practice of ahimsa. I know. In my early 20’s I spent about a year and a half without meat. It was positive experience and and I felt super healthy.

Here it comes. But….

It is so hard. It is so hard to make sure all of the food in my house is up to the standards I know I should keep. It is hard enough to get 5 different people to eat one meal. If I take the meat out of it, my already skinny boys will waste away, or I will waste away under the mountains of complaints I get. My life is already full of the mundane challenge of trying to keep everyone fed, organized and happy… I feel like I just can’t tackle a project this big. The hubby? He’ll totally support my commitment, but I won’t hold my breath that he’ll join me.  I can start with myself, but then I’ll have to deal with meat in the house and I really enjoy it myself.

Many yogis defend their meat consumption and I won’t even try to go there. There really is no other way to practice ahimsa. Even if you believe it’s ok to slaughter and eat animals, the production of meat is just so detrimental to the environment. I don’t see the non-harming there.

So all you amazing vegetarians out there, here is my plea for advice. How do you do it? What in the world do you feed your families and how did you make that transition? Once made, how do you keep the focus?

I’m on the path peeking at those veggies out of the corner of my eye…

4 Responses to “Calling all vegetarians”

  1. greenfrog October 27, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    I found it easier to make the transition to a vegetarian diet by not trying to take anyone else with me. I love to cook for my family, and that still means meat for most of them. Perhaps that is a compromise to your principles that you don’t want to make, but it has allowed me to make the initial step without the burden of carrying everyone else with me.

    When we eat together (I tend to work beyond the hour my kids think is reasonable for dinner, which may put me in a different situation than yours), I eat what my family eats, sans the meat. I maintain protein levels using protein supplement powders mixed with diluted orange juice, as I’ve not found the assertions that we get plenty of protein from fruits and vegetables to be true — at least not true for the level of exertion required by a daily vinyasa practice.

    One other point — I’ve found it easier to move from carnivore to ovo-lacto-vegetarian, than to vegan. Based on my beliefs, I’d be happier as a vegan, but I decided that to impose that on my family and my co-workers (I often travel on business with others) would have led to a degree of separation that I thought was counterproductive to other values I hold. When I’m on my own — either on business trips or every now and again when my family goes on vacation without me — I’m pretty happy as a vegan.

    I was listening to a dharma talk recently where the speaker quoted Jack Kornfield to the effect that there are stages to renunciation. A particular renunciation can start as a practice, but over time it becomes a necessity, and — finally — a joy.

  2. barefootbhakti October 27, 2007 at 8:21 pm #

    Thanks greenfrog. It’s encouraging to hear that you’re able to make it work. Sometimes all I need is a little hope…

  3. Rebecca Harrach November 4, 2007 at 9:31 pm #


    Your post really struck a chord with me because I’ve been on the same journey. I am a professional chef and have eaten meat all my life (mostly), but in the last few years I’ve read more and more about the meat industry and how meat is produced in this country, and I finally decided I can’t participate in that system anywhere. Even if you hypothetically agree that animals are meant to be slaughtered for food (which I don’t really, but for the sake of argument), the way that we breed, raise and slaughter animals is brutal and disgusting. It is the ultimate suffering and I won’t be a party to it! Plus its healthier, better for the environment, just overall great to make the switch.

    Your biggest concerns seem to be the difficulity of making the lifestyle change, and what to feed your family. As to the lifestyle change, I bet that if you make a two week committment you will mostly lose your taste for meat. An added bonus is that if you eliminate meat from your diet, you open up room for more delicious nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables. You will actually be able to eat more delicious food than you did previously! Give yourself a trial period and your palatte will change.

    As to what to feed your family…I have two small children and a big old husband and they are all used to eating meat. Not anymore! I basically stopped buying meat for dinner (or anything else) a few months ago without really saying anything. Instead I made many pastas, vegetarian lasagna, bean soups, veggie tacos, rice and vegetable casseroles, stir frys, roasted vegetables with whole grain pilafs, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes with vegetables, quesadillas….the list can go on and on. Buy some inspirational cookbooks like the Moosewood Cookbooks or the Greens Cookbook for ideas. Your boys will not waste away. Feed them nuts, seeds, grains, whole grain pastas–they will get plenty. Its not even healthy for them to eat meat every day and it is healthy for children (and all of us, really) to be slim. I know the motherly panic of getting kids to eat, but have faith. Keep eggs and dairy in their diet and they will get more than enough animal protein. Having said that, if we go out and my kids want meat that’s fine. I’ll let them make their choices and we can talk about it in more detail when they are a little older. I know some super strict vegetarian families where the children totally rebel, so I’m trying not to be too tyranical, but I could see myself trying to educate them a bit more in the future.

    Next time you are in Oakland, go over to Berkeley and go to Cafe Gratitude and see what can be done with raw, vegan foods. They have some smoothies over there that will blow your mind! Yum!!

    On a more spiritual level, I find that eating plant foods gives me more “life force”. Things that grow out of the ground out in the sun seem like alive, whole foods that really nourish me. When I see a sweet, juicy fruit or a super crisp perfect lettuce or pea from my garden, I want to bite right in! Meat is dead and has suffered to get to you. All sorts of horrible things that I won’t go into here have happened to that animal. I don’t want to bite right in to that. However, basically all of my friends (who are in the food industry) are carnivores and would shudder to read this, so I understand the cultural pressures. I am a bit more quiet about it in social situations, and I do not judge. My choice is my own.

    As to protein, I haven’t had a problem yet but I do eat a lot of whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley), beans and nuts. Nut milks and rice milks are good, too. I also eat SuperFoodPlus from and that stuff is awesome. I ran a marathon two weeks ago on an almost vegan diet and I was 36 minutes faster than last year. And I felt great.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but its obviously on my mind. Please feel free to write me for advice or support.


    P.S. I miss yoga desperately. I am hoping to get Tuesday nights into my routine but as you know its hard to get away from the kids.

  4. barefootbhakti November 5, 2007 at 3:49 am #

    Thanks Rebecca… It’s so helpful to see how others make it work. (BTW, how is the professional chef thing going… did you find a veggie restaurant to cook in?)

    I’ve done the veggie thing for quite a while in the 90’s, and read a lot of info then, so I feel educated on the benefits. It’s probably good if I dust off a few good books just to keep me motivated.

    I’m finding that the meditation practice every morning leaves me not interested in meat. I just haven’t craved it since I’ve started my commitment.

    The last few days I’ve just been making vegetarian meals without saying anything. So far, nobody seems to notice. Tonight I made a super yummy tamale pie with salsa/bean filling. Hubbie and son #2 loved it. Son #1 turned up his nose, and 3-year old spit it out dramatically complete with side effects. At this point it’s a matter of stubborn-consciousness. Hopefully I’ll be the last one standing.

    Thanks for the support… it’s nice to have a contact when I get frustrated:)

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