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Samin Nosrat Samin Nosrat
A professional cook, freelance writer, and teacher, Samin looks to tradition, culture and history for inspiration for her creations. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Aaron Hyman Aaron Hyman
Ivy League chef and yogi has the recipe for practice.

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What's on Your BBQ?

barbeque.jpgMeat 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?  

Let's get a conversation going. Meat's in the news every single day, and it's not going anywhere (Did you hear about Mark Zuckerberg?  Or test tube beef?  Both of those bits have endless moral implications to consider.) 

Think of this an open call for your (respectful) opinion, yogins--the comments are your forum. We're all ears...


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i am a certified yoga teacher, and although i have always agreed philosophically and morally with most vegetarians and vegans (i think) about the reasons not to eat meat, i have never had the willpower to keep it up for more than a few months. after reading "animal, vegetable, mineral" by barbara kingsolver, in which she makes similar arguments as above for non-judgement of dietary decisions, i am starting to feel a bit differently...maybe if just to soothe my own conscience! we may evolve into a non-meat eating society some day when we are able to get all the nutrients we need year round from eating locally and seasonally, but we don't seem to be there yet. until we are, i think it is important for us to practice non-judgement.

i am a certified yoga teacher, and although i have always agreed philosophically and morally with most vegetarians and vegans (i think) about the reasons not to eat meat, i have never had the willpower to keep it up for more than a few months. after reading "animal, vegetable, mineral" by barbara kingsolver, in which she makes similar arguments as above for non-judgement of dietary decisions, i am starting to feel a bit differently...maybe if just to soothe my own conscience! we may evolve into a non-meat eating society some day when we are able to get all the nutrients we need year round from eating locally and seasonally, but we don't seem to be there yet. until we are, i think it is important for us to practice non-judgement.

I have to wonder how many of those who attack any deviation fr. a strictly non-animal derived diet, are wearing leather shoes. Stop the stone throwing, say I.

My journey to veganism started a long time ago after my body gave me the signs to stop eating meat. It started with red meat, I could no longer digest the meat, my tummy would be upset for days after. Then I watched the movie 'Earthlings' which started me on a somewhat moral journey into veganism. I am from Canada, and they say the food industry is different here, but I don't know.... I try to eat locally sourced food as much as possible. When I do cook meat for my husband, it's organic and well sourced. I to like to know exactly how the animal lived and died. I never push my thoughts onto others unless they want to know more. I recommend to people the book 'omnivores delemia' as it goes into the food industry as a whole and does not just attack the meat industry alone. I think the most important thing we can all do is to know where our food comes from, and read ingredients!!! Know what you are putting into your body.

I was a vegetarian for fifteen years and for a variety of health-related reasons started eating meat regularly last year. I am recently most stoked about Farmer's Market buys and Whole Foods Rating system-- step five animals run around, have toys and do not receive any physical alterations. My boyfriend has a smoker so we can make jerky, and bacon from scratch and use ever chicken carcass for stock. It feels good to cook farm to table and use the whole animal.

Eating meat is not a choice. Eating meat is a sublimation. Eating meat is a result of paradoxical thought. To justify eating meat today, passive aggressive people projected thought today so there would be meat eaters yesterday. Thus also paradoxically justifying and enabling meat eating today. Vegetarian living is the same as everything can't until you can. The laws of metaphysics won't allow you until your body heals of such things. Lacto-Veg is the safest and healthiest. However there is still abuse in the dairy field. It is also very difficult to get rid of all animal products. Cars have leather interiors, gelatin capsules contain animal products, protein bars have collagen etc. However any reduction in the killing of living beings diminishes the vibration that leads to killing and thus reinforces the non-violence. Now obviously one cannot eat another living being for we are not this body, However I would not recommend trying to eat other living being even in an illusionary physical sense. Again for reasons of non-violence, one could look at it as not playing well with others in kindergarten. It isn't a life ender but lacks a certain sense of civility and causes spiritual disruption somewhere in one's karmic life. This disruption leads to further imprisonment/lives on prison planet Earth. The spices and herbs also prepare the body for vegetarian healthy living. India's cooking provides a higher level of harmonic balance. The spices and herbs of India are included in many hormonal balancing supplements today. So there is an art, science and healing process to healthy vegetarian eating and lifestyle. I am an athletic individual and can vouch to the success possible as well as the gastric benefits of a lacto vegetarian diet. There is also a quandary to veg diets and any vibration of such a thing. The planet then finds a reduction in large predators on the planet. We must be prepared to lose lions tigers and bears if we keep thinking and trying to evolve into a veg world. When predators begin to diminish the world freaks out and then begins a campaign to save the meat eater. It is just the true nature of things of metaphysical thought and reality...See(C)

Went vegetarian in 1972 and, due to health related reasons, went Vegan in 1992. Damned dairy was inhibiting my iron absorption! Within weeks my good health turned into amazing, sparkling health.

Human mother's milk is 2.5% protein so we should avoid too much. Excess protein has been linked to arthritis and a number of cancers. There's no doubt that it causes Osteoporosis and premature aging. the excess fats in meat lead to diabetes, cancers, heart disease, candida, etc..

Meat eating is a disaster for human health, a disaster for the planet and a disaster for the poor, miserable creatures caught up in the ignorance and greed which drives the whole affair.

Basically articles like this by people who know they're doing the wrong thing and are trying to justify their weakness and ignorance before their peers completely destroy the credibility of your site and your magazine. What on earth do you think you're doing even publishing this disgraceful nonsense? To me it just screams of "we're broadening our appeal" and attempting to broaden your circulation, but at whose expense?

To the Morally Outraged:

It is too bad, and highly unyogic, for you to act in such a superior and judgemental manner. There are billions of people in the world and no two are the same. You cannot place your moral outrage on those of us who for extreme allergy reasons must eat animal protein. I am allergic to every legume protein out there and there are many, many more like me. Those who are avowed meat-eaters because they like meat are, at least for the most part, non-judgmental about those who shun meat.

The fact that militant vegans refuse to participate in the consumption of animals is in no way going to make any difference at all to the industry as a whole. It will not change how the slaughter companies and meat suppliers treat their animals and employees. This is 21st century America and it is run by corporations that don't give a hoot about your morals and they will continue to do business as usual. It is sad but true.

I would just ask that you please have some compassion for those of us who would like to be vegetarian but cannot for health reasons, and let go of your moral outrage towards those who simply like to eat meat. Being judgemental and angry towards those who eat meat is in direct conflict with the principle of ahimsa. Tolerance and compassion must be practiced on every level, not just towards those who you think deserve it.

Thanks for this piece! I am a meat eater, and often feel judged (to varying degrees) by the yoga community at large both for eating meat and for not having the desire to someday become a vegetarian. I've thought about it, considered what is best for *my* body, and am at peace with my choice. I would never deem it appropriate to tell vegetarians or vegans to change their diet to fit mine, and wish that same respect be given to me.

I have been a meat eater for the majority of my life but started a gradual transition to vegetarian and then vegan across 10 years. I've been vegan for 2.5 years and will never go back. Honestly, it is challenging for me to refrain from judging others who support an industry of animal cruelty and killing to put tasty food on their plates when there are healthy and delicious alternatives. However, i used to eat meat too. Even once i learned about factory farming, fish feeling pain, and dairy cows being subjected to rape, i did not immediately make the switch. It had to be the right time for me to be open to each successive level of change. So I try not to judge people who are at different places in their lives. Instead, I try to focus on what we have in common and what brings us together. I do work with volunteer groups to educate others about the multiple benefits of a plant based diet and I do activism that supports rights for animals. I'm not perfect in my commitment to a vegan lifestyle but I do the best I can. I am practicing acceptance of knowing others are doing the best they can as well. We are all on a path and it does no good to judge others for being ahead or behind. The ultimate goal is ahimsa. Lets work together toward it.

A thoughtful piece - thank you. I think we could all learn something from our ancestors in terms of food production and preparation...whether it be from the cultures that were vegetarian or those that ate meat. We are all different and have different needs in terms of achieving optimum health. Wouldn't it be nice if we could respect each others differences rather than attacking and judging them.

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