Meat and yoga.
Not so different than oil and water.
Any time Aaron and I even so much as mention animal-derived products on this blog (including dairy products), we get attacked.
But you know what? A lot of yogins eat meat.
And meat-eating and all of the problems and quandaries associated with it aren't just going to disappear if we close our eyes and pretend they don't exist. There is what seems like an endless number of problems with the food system in this country, and most of those problems have to do with meat: from CAFOs to agricultural subsidies, from GMOs to union issues, meat is the rust that corrodes some of the weakest links in our food chain.
It's a touchy subject, I get it. Ahimsa. I understand. I also think that there are lots of ways to interpret ahimsa, and for me, a lot of that has to do with taking the initiative to educate myself and others about how meat and dairy animals in this country are raised, kept, and slaughtered.
As a conscientious eater, cook, writer and teacher, I make it a point to know the provenance of every piece of meat I eat or cook. I have taken the time to research how the meat animals at every single farm I patronize are raised. In many cases, I have visited these farms in person and am on a first-name basis with the person (or people) responsible for raising the meat. At times, I have petted, fed, slaughtered, plucked, dressed, or chased (!) the animal whose meat I'm eating--that's a pretty short food chain.
I believe in educating and empowering people to return to age-old methods of feeding themselves and their families, with the ultimate goals of: preserving our environmental resources; helping people create healthier eating patterns; and, by encouraging a shift toward the consumption of sustainably-raised, -slaughtered, -butchered, and -cooked meat, reducing the demand for and consumption of factory-farmed meat. I also believe that such practices will help reduce the consumption of meat in general, regardless of how it is raised. Once a person sees how much work, time, and care goes into thoughtfully raising one animal for its meat, how could she ever look at a plastic-wrapped packaged of chicken breasts at the grocery store in the same way again?
One thing I've learned as a cook is how personal food decisions are; the most offensive and insensitive thing I can do is make split-second judgments about anyone's eating habits. I catch myself doing this all of the time, and any time I'm tempted to preach about what's "right" and "wrong" I bite my tongue. Preaching and scolding usually don't work very well in changing people's minds, and they definitely don't work as tactics when convincing folks that their food choices could use some improvement.
As yogins, isn't it more skillful to face the questions head-on with full integrity, non-judgment, and a big-picture view?
Think of this an open call for your (respectful) opinion, yogins--the comments are your forum. We're all ears...