Friday, August 7, 2009

Farmers' Market Loot, August 6, 2009 and Yogic Diet

It has been coming for some time; here is my first 'controversial' post. First I'll give you today's tally: 2 flat-breads from Wild Flour Bakery 1 honeydew melon, 1 cantaloupe, 1 pint blueberries, 1 quart green beans, and 1 quart tomatoes from the fruit farmer 1 dozen eggs and 1 pound of bacon from the local meat producer. The cash total was $29, $9 of that was the bacon. Yes, that's right, I bought bacon. The traditional Ayurvedic diet is ovo-, lacto-vegetarian, and Ayurveda is closely tied with yoga. I do consider myself a serious yogini...but I am not a vegetarian. I continue to eat all types of meat from pigs and cows to fish. To me the yogic diet is not strictly vegetarian, but is rather to eat mindfully, keeping ahimsa clearly on the mind while choosing our food and consuming it. Ahimsa is the practice of non-harming in thought, word, or deed; expressing love and compassion for yourself, others, and the world around you. Of course, this is an impossible goal. B.K.S. Iyengar points out in Light on Life (2005) that even Gandhi, a great example of ahimsa, was in violation when he went on long fasts, harming himself in order to prove his point. Many yogis practice ahimsa of diet via vegetarianism or even veganism. I applaud all of you, but this diet is just not for me. I do not eat a lot of meat, in fact the last time I ate meat was last Saturday where burgers were the only main course available. The fact is I love the taste and texture of meat. I realize that consuming it is harming not only the animal that needs to die, but also damaging the environment. American beef farms alone have a larger carbon footprint than America's cars. Further, the large-scale meat industry typically treats its animals cruelly and feeds them monotonous diets leading to the need to pump in the antibiotics...which can lead to resistant microbes. Our health is another consideration. Consuming a lot of meat and animal products can lead to so many poor health conditions like hear disease, cancer, and diabetes. It's a bad situation. All of this so I can have cheap meat on my plate? That is not necessary. On the other hand, tofu makes me sick to the stomach; I can only eat so many bean dishes. In my everyday life, about 10-15% of my diet is meat. If I don't eat meat once in a while, I begin to feel a little off and then get sick. I come from a very meat-based culture; there is typically meat for every dinner back home. However, if I were to go home as a vegetarian, I would be hungry and make my mom upset that I didn't even try the ham, turkey, or baked beans she lovingly cooked. My personal perspective on this is that I don't buy cheap, industrial meat. I buy local, pastured animals that aren't unnecessarily pumped full of medicines. If available, I will always choose a wild animal harvested by my relative or boyfriend. I choose my fish according to A) what is likely to be harvested near me and B) choose carefully along the lines of sustainable and mercury-level charts for fish. Buying these meats is more expensive and takes more thought. The trade-off is worth it for more nutritious and flavorful meat. Because its more expensive, I take care to use all of what I get. I boil bones to make homemade broth and I save my bacon drippings in the fridge for cooking. The higher price also encourages me to eat less, having a smaller environmental and karmic impact. When it comes down to the choice of eat meat, or eat very little or nothing at all, I will choose to eat the meat every time. These are mindful choices, and I think that they are in line with mindful eating...what I consider to be the 'meat' of the yogic diet. Reference: Iyengar, B.K.S. 2005. Light on life: the yoga journey to wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom. Rodale, Inc., U.S.A., 282 pp.

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