I guess this is it

8 Sep

The more I commit to yoga, the more I find myself contemplating ahimsa, and the adorable baby cows I drive by daily, and the amount of time I spend yelling at my kids, and the judgment I pass on others, and somehow organically this shift occurs – I start eating less and less meat. Accidentally, with very little effort, I’ve gone a whole week without meat. If I didn’t know myself so well, I would be so tempted to impulsively declare myself a vegetarian and make wild statements about the evil nature of meat eating. I did that years ago, in college and spent almost two years sans meat. Now I know better, or at least I know myself better. (Being that judgmental is a horrible way to live, and always backfires…) I find myself a little older, and a little more humble. Despite my best efforts, I’m sure somewhere in my future there’s a piece of grilled chicken. I’m not going to let that stop me from doing what I can today.

So without grand statements, I will recognize that it is happening – I am transitioning into a vegetarian. I know it’s a process, and I know not all weeks will be as easy as this one.

I contemplate the word ahimsa. In Sanskrit, the A- part of the word means “not like”, and the -himsa part of the word is “lion”. So in essence, the first yama, of the first limb of yoga means “not like a lion”. I find so many different meanings in that phrase. From what I think I know about lions, they sleep most of the time, and wake up occasionally to hunt, usually picking off the young or the weak animals if possible. Firstly, I need to learn not to be lazy like a lion! Second, being aware of those around me who are helpless or vulnerable and need help. And of course, there is the question of eating flesh.

There are so many sides to ahimsa. Applying more kindness to myself on the mat, watching my thoughts for judgments about myself or others, and how we use our planet. But, I also think that to someone committed to the yoga path, ahimsa also means a bit of experimenting with a life outside of killing animals for food, clothing, etc.

Years ago, among other books, I read Diet for A New America by John Robbins and it was pretty eye opening. It’s time to do some more updated reading and perhaps dust off my old books. If awareness is the key, then I’m well on my way. I love animals, but I’ve never been a huge overly-sentimental animal lover. I get a bit turned off by all of the judgment and anger behind the animal rights movement. At the same time, I do give it a lot of consideration and can see the intention behind the PETA type of folks. It’s time for me to gently lean into a new lifestyle, so I’ll be keeping a very honest and possibly humiliating public journal of my vegetarian journey or lack thereof. Check out the new tab on the top of this blog for daily whining and a-ha veggie moments.

Here is today’s self deprecating entry:

Day One: September 6, 2008

Here we go… documenting the transition of one wanna-be vegetarian, from grilled chicken to – ??? I don’t know!!! – to be honest, I’m still not sure what to eat now. What I can promise is a frank and honest look at the process.

After a week without meat, and finding it kind of fun, I’m looking around for veggie blogs and not finding very much about the process – mostly just a bunch of recipes. Let’s talk about the recipes!…. I just can’t stomach tofu. TVP is OKI guess, but I really could live without it. Seitan??? I still don’t know what it is. All of that processed vegan crap in the freezer section of the health food store? Well, I don’t like regular hot dogs, so I can’t even think about stomaching that disgusting looking processed crap in sausage form, let along anything called tofurky.

Yes, it’s going to be interesting. It’s a good thing I’m a creative person and enjoy cooking. I also love what I call “real” food. I’m thinking avocados here… yea, lots of avocados. As long as chocolate is not in the animal family, I think I’m going to be just fine.

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5 Responses to “I guess this is it”

  1. ScottyDoo September 8, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    I’ve contemplated moving slowly towards vegetarianism, until I realize how much of a carnivore I am and that am not quite ready to let go of that, heh.

    I still research it and find the lifestyle to be noble.

  2. barefootbhakti September 8, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    I like what Kathy Freston says about “leaning” into more awareness, and I think you hit it right on the head. you slowly move towards it.

    It’s a huge leap to make from our background to vegetarianism or veganism. I did it in the early 90’s while I was at BYU, and it was incredibly difficult to find options there. Ultimately – having children did me in.

    Really though, when you cut out other vices or enjoyments like coffee, wine, etc., what are you left with? We are left with sugar and a good BBQ! Just don’t ask me to give up the sugar too. That attachment I’d like to hang on to for a while.

  3. ScottyDoo September 11, 2008 at 3:45 am #

    Coffee isn’t a vice, I could quit anytime I wanted to, really…I swear…I’m not lying…I’m not addicted…I just don’t want to =)

  4. seangreenfrog September 12, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    For a long time, I resisted applying the label “vegetarian” to myself. It isn’t that I was embarrassed by it — rather that I didn’t want to turn my practice of ahimsa into part of my ego/identity. Finally, I succumbed. It seemed too in-your-face to explain to carnivoring friends over lunch or dinner why I was eating and happy with something that didn’t seem like a real meal to them. It was easier for them to accept that I am one of those peculiar “vegetarians” than it was for them to hear me tell them that I had concluded that factory farming practices were an abomination, and that while I view the difference in consciousness between me and a cow as a significant difference in degree, I perceived no meaningful difference in kind.

    I now wonder whether I was really reducing their suffering by giving into the label or just my own at their expense.

  5. barefootbhakti September 12, 2008 at 10:19 pm #

    Sean – isn’t it interesting? Making the shift within yourself, and then easing others into it? I suspect that you were reducing both their suffering as well as yours. Truly, the two are so inter-related, I wonder if there is a difference. At some point, picking up the label worked. (I’m not there yet)

    It’s been an interesting shift. Because I had all of the knowledge from my life as a vegetarian 13 years ago, I realize how much denial and repression I was putting myself through by avoiding the facts about meat. Life seems to be less “stuck” through this shift, and after years of a dogmatic approach to vegetarianism, it’s nice to softly slide into it this time. Humble and open. The information that I am re-reading is sinking in at a much deeper level. Like you said, I’m understanding the concept of consciousness this time.

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