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Meat eating and Yoga?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 11, 2011 at 10:03 PM

I just read this on the renegade health blog.

What do you think on this. Is yoga and meat realy bad. There are so different forms of yoga. Why Mister Cousens said this?

http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2011/02/11/maybe-youre-not-getting-enough-protein/#comment-105399

@#10: Good for you! Considering your moniker, I thought you???d like to know what I???ve heard from Dr. Cousens, at a lecture/meditation he gave at a NY yoga studio:

???Don???t eat meat and do yoga! Don???t smoke cigarettes and do yoga! They???re incompatible. If that???s what you eat, find another type of exercise.???

(Of course, I paraphrased, since I wasn???t recording at the time.)

46bee6b93ee79082ea1094f26c2da5a4

(837)

on January 27, 2012
at 01:59 PM

"Yoga developed not as a form of what we would today call exercise; not as a means of getting slim, supple, or flexible" Ironic then that it totally does!

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:23 PM

and by the way...i'm a certified yoga instructor, and have studied the relevant texts that so many yogis use to justify their argument.

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on January 27, 2012
at 08:45 AM

Thanks for that, my thoughts exactly! Maybe we can start a meat eating movement within the yoga community. . .

Bf96d0a97418613fcbd6ec2ec9a50f0d

(131)

on January 27, 2012
at 07:45 AM

Totally agree with you. Yoga's number one priority is taking care of your self... non-violence is not very applicable to creatures who would have not being born, feed and taken care of otherwise.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:09 AM

More then 50% of India is non-veg (Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians (Parsees), Sikhs, and many Hindus. excepts from a Swami: http://naturalhygienesociety.org/articles/swami_narayanananda.html Ancient Indian sages were non-vegetarian and offered even beef to the gods.

987245b845fb284e7866cfb133e94e09

(40)

on November 26, 2011
at 09:32 PM

My husband was reading this over my shoulder and made me LOL. Have to share his comment: "Meat eating and Yoga? At the same time? What a great sport!" I thought that was funny. Talk about "mindful eating". :)

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:10 AM

I prefer the Thuggees -- gotta admire the Kali worshippers who practiced what they preached!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:16 AM

"For me being a vegan was a "violent act" towards myself" a great quote. A mojito drinking yoga teacher, superb!

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on July 08, 2011
at 06:00 PM

This blog, "Meat and Yoga" might be of interest: http://www.meatyoga.com/

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 07, 2011
at 10:53 PM

Eating meat and doing yoga is like smoking cigarettes while riding your bike: you just might explode. Leave the yoga for the vegetarians:)

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:48 PM

theres certainly a difference between senseless violence and natural violence.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 06:08 PM

Would you have come to terms with the violence that destroying entire ecosystems to grow wheat and all of the thousands of animals that die in the wheat threshers cause if you stayed a vegetarian? IMO, organic meat does much less damage and causes less death and violence then eating wheat.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 01:44 AM

Ah, that's similar to acupuncture which has been documented in the West 2,000 years before it was ever found in China; martial arts which were first practiced in ancient Greece then brought to Rome who brought it to India then China. Even the "Chinese Abacus" was used for 1,000 of yrs in the Middle East and West before China/India Guess if it's not from the East then it must not be cool. P.S, supposedly Kombucha is actually from Russia. *anthropology.net/2009/07/21/… *en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration* *en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus*

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 01:42 AM

Ah, that's similar to acupuncture which has been documented in the West 2,000 years before it was ever found in China; martial arts which were first practiced in ancient Greece then brought to Rome who brought it to India then China. Even the "Chinese Abacus" was used for 1,000 of yrs in the Middle East and West before China/India Guess if it's not from the East then it must not be cool. http://anthropology.net/2009/07/21/otzi-icemans-tattoos-were-born-in-fire/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus P.S, supposedly Kombucha is actually from Russia.

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on February 12, 2011
at 02:18 PM

Awesome post. My own little goofy experience: I have a close friend who used to make a living as a Vedic/Hindu astrologer; he's a deeply spiritual man and a nearly-lifelong vegetarian. Still, when he did my chart, he reads into it that I needed to eat lots of meat to be healthy. (I also learned that I have great potential to be both a warrior and a black magician, which is, you know, fun). He still calls me a hyper-tantric valkyrie.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 12, 2011
at 04:40 AM

The dalai lama eats meat, and he's probably the most famous yogi in the world.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on February 12, 2011
at 01:31 AM

yes, couldnt have said it better myself. i am paleo for health reasons, but have had to come to terms with the violence that it creates.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 11:21 PM

ahahaha http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/content/printVersion/752939/ "Unfortunately, the injection site — on Levy's right buttock — grew infected, so he went to see Cousens about it. Cousens didn't recommend an antibiotic. Instead, he treated the growing abscess with acupuncture and massage."

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 11:18 PM

hehehe, the dude is quackorama

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16 Answers

11
Ac10630b08a0649b0d21321b079d28e3

on July 07, 2011
at 12:50 PM

im a yoga teacher, I'm paleo and I eat meat. I went vegan before my yoga teacher training course because I had read that to be a yoga teacher you must be either vegan or vegetarian.

I switched to Paleo during my course but kept it to myself as my teacher was a staunch vegetarian and to complete the course you had to eat like a vegetarian. I agree with the principle of Ahimsa or non violence towards others and towards yourself. For me being a vegan was a "violent act" towards myself (im not going to get into all the health problems related to being a vegan and living off soy everything).

For me yoga is about connecting with yourself and finding out what works for you. I have always been told that yoga is not a religion and can be practiced by anyone no matter there race, sex, or religious beliefs. But it seems that this "open to anyone" policy gets chucked out when discussing diet and eating meat. Seems very contradictory to me.

I'm against cruelty to animals and only buy free range meat and eggs direct from the farmer.

I used to go along to classes at the Jivamukti center in London as I love there sequencing of posture and doing yoga to hip hop music but I couldn't handle how aggressively they pushed veganism in every class.

I don't have anything against vegans or vegetarians, but for me I'm proud to be a paleo yoga teacher who lifts weights and likes to drink mojitos ;)

You can still get the full benefits of yoga and eat meat so just do what works best for YOU!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:16 AM

"For me being a vegan was a "violent act" towards myself" a great quote. A mojito drinking yoga teacher, superb!

8c5533ffe71bd4262fedc7e898ead1ba

(1724)

on January 27, 2012
at 08:45 AM

Thanks for that, my thoughts exactly! Maybe we can start a meat eating movement within the yoga community. . .

Bf96d0a97418613fcbd6ec2ec9a50f0d

(131)

on January 27, 2012
at 07:45 AM

Totally agree with you. Yoga's number one priority is taking care of your self... non-violence is not very applicable to creatures who would have not being born, feed and taken care of otherwise.

10
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 10:40 PM

Probably comes from the religious association of yoga and Hinduism, a largely vegetarian religion. People saying that true yoga is this or that are overstating its roots. By coincidence I was just reading this article about how it's not really old or very Hindu anyway http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/not-as-old-as-you-think

I like Yoga, but there are some smug a$$holes in the yoga world, most of them vegan or vegetarian.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 01:44 AM

Ah, that's similar to acupuncture which has been documented in the West 2,000 years before it was ever found in China; martial arts which were first practiced in ancient Greece then brought to Rome who brought it to India then China. Even the "Chinese Abacus" was used for 1,000 of yrs in the Middle East and West before China/India Guess if it's not from the East then it must not be cool. P.S, supposedly Kombucha is actually from Russia. *anthropology.net/2009/07/21/… *en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration* *en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus*

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 01:42 AM

Ah, that's similar to acupuncture which has been documented in the West 2,000 years before it was ever found in China; martial arts which were first practiced in ancient Greece then brought to Rome who brought it to India then China. Even the "Chinese Abacus" was used for 1,000 of yrs in the Middle East and West before China/India Guess if it's not from the East then it must not be cool. http://anthropology.net/2009/07/21/otzi-icemans-tattoos-were-born-in-fire/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus P.S, supposedly Kombucha is actually from Russia.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on November 30, 2011
at 04:09 AM

More then 50% of India is non-veg (Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians (Parsees), Sikhs, and many Hindus. excepts from a Swami: http://naturalhygienesociety.org/articles/swami_narayanananda.html Ancient Indian sages were non-vegetarian and offered even beef to the gods.

7
A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

on February 12, 2011
at 09:00 AM

Here's a relevant link to another thread - The answer is also below http://paleohacks.com/questions/20887/what-do-you-think-of-the-claims-of-shiva-nata-yoga/20899#20899

*It is strange but very very few really know the origin of Yoga. Yoga is NOT a form of exercise or a magical cure for anything. The Ancient Hindu texts describe two ways of life, to be able to achieve singularity, or what is described as a union with God. Existentially speaking, to become one with existence, becoming completely aware of everything around you, from rocks to humans. One path is the path of denial and the other path is the path of indulgence. The path of indulgence is known as 'Tantra' where you are encouraged to indulge in everything, fully, that life has to offer - be it fine foods, sex, entertainment of every kind. The idea being that after there is nothing left to indulge in, you are left only with yourself to deal with and when one transcends that, enlightenment is achieved. Similarly, The path of denial is known as 'Yoga' where you are encouraged to deny all comforts - become a yogi. One is encouraged to live with just subsistence level everything and sit in various positions to keep the body healthy, control breathing, meditate etc. until there is nothing left to deny and once again you are left only with yourself to deal with and when one transcends that, enlightenment is achieved. Over the centuries both Tantra and Yoga have been bastardized into things that do not even have a resemblance to their origins. Both Yoga and Tantra are a way of life with a specific purpose and not a fad as they are now known to be.

7
7431586c21bca496c5a7ec7bd0ca4d6e

(974)

on February 11, 2011
at 11:00 PM

Anyone that goes by the title "Dr. Sir Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D. (H.), D.D." is full of it. Oh, and he claims to be a rabbi and a Native American Sun Dancer, too. He obviously knows better than you because he has more titles and degrees than you.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 11:21 PM

ahahaha http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/content/printVersion/752939/ "Unfortunately, the injection site — on Levy's right buttock — grew infected, so he went to see Cousens about it. Cousens didn't recommend an antibiotic. Instead, he treated the growing abscess with acupuncture and massage."

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 11:18 PM

hehehe, the dude is quackorama

6
F9a0b72f38860d7601afd5a45bb53394

(3618)

on February 12, 2011
at 12:37 AM

The yoga = vegetarian thing probably does come from Hinduism, which Melissa already pointed out. Now, Hinduism is not monolithic. And it's not just a matter of there being several different ways to worship the same God, like you see in Christianity. Rather, Hinduism comes from a background of several different layers of culture plus a whole bunch of different ethnic groups in the Indian subcontinent all with their own local gods and goddesses and so on. One major change was a really old culture, the Dravidian, overlaid by another culture called the Vedic. (Also known as Aryan--these were the original Aryan people, nothing like what Hitler envisioned later.)

The two major branches of Hinduism which seem to have the most acceptance among Hindus generally are the Shaivite and the Vishnaivite--worshipers of the gods Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. Shiva began as a Dravidian deity but was adopted by the incoming Vedic peoples, and as far as I know Vishnu's always been Vedic. Now with the Dravidian deities you had more chthonic elements, sort of like the Titans in Greek mythology, while the Vedic deities tended to have more of an intellectual and spiritual orientation at the expense of the physical. So from the Dravidian influence they got tantric practice and from the Vedic they got the ascetic. Despite certain references to tantra you might run across in some strains of yoga today, it's been mostly the ascetic that's won out.

So it's no surprise that yoga and vegetarianism are so closely related now. The ultimate goal of yoga seems to be spiritual development, and meat-eating is seen as being too closely linked to physical nature. (Think about where the term "carnal" comes from and what it means now. Same concept.) So there are going to be a lot of people who practice yoga and see it as incompatible with a culinary practice that is viewed as grounding in nature. When you want enlightenment, supposedly, the last thing you want is to be anchored in the body.

Of course this all depends on which type of yoga you are practicing and what your ultimate goals are. If you're just after hatha yoga and the physical exercise then I can't see why it matters what you eat. And of course if you don't see spirit and matter as separate or antithetical then this is all academic anyway.

Might interest you to know that some other types of Hinduism are not as much into the vegetarianism as the most popular two branches. There are also shaktas, or worshipers of the Goddess--and some of them not only eat meat but also perform animal sacrifice. They aren't talked about much outside of India, and you probably don't want to mention them around Vishnaivites in particular unless you're out to ruffle feathers. ;)

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on February 12, 2011
at 02:18 PM

Awesome post. My own little goofy experience: I have a close friend who used to make a living as a Vedic/Hindu astrologer; he's a deeply spiritual man and a nearly-lifelong vegetarian. Still, when he did my chart, he reads into it that I needed to eat lots of meat to be healthy. (I also learned that I have great potential to be both a warrior and a black magician, which is, you know, fun). He still calls me a hyper-tantric valkyrie.

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on November 09, 2011
at 09:10 AM

I prefer the Thuggees -- gotta admire the Kali worshippers who practiced what they preached!

4
Bd6450474c7df5ecc3bbe1369a9a9abe

on February 11, 2011
at 10:53 PM

There is a philosophy in Yoga called "Ahimsa", which means to do No Harm. That is why many Yogis are Vegetarians. I am a Yoga teacher and former vegetarian, turned Macrobiotics, turned Paleo... Check out this blog post http://www.yogauntwisted.com/yoga/doing-more-harm-than-good/ Namaste' Carrisa

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on February 12, 2011
at 01:31 AM

yes, couldnt have said it better myself. i am paleo for health reasons, but have had to come to terms with the violence that it creates.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on February 17, 2011
at 06:08 PM

Would you have come to terms with the violence that destroying entire ecosystems to grow wheat and all of the thousands of animals that die in the wheat threshers cause if you stayed a vegetarian? IMO, organic meat does much less damage and causes less death and violence then eating wheat.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af

(1791)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:48 PM

theres certainly a difference between senseless violence and natural violence.

4
8632c87a833f1d30f5fa8d4768d10c45

on February 11, 2011
at 10:15 PM

ummm... I love yoga, and I love meat, why would the two be mutually exclusive?

4
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on February 11, 2011
at 10:12 PM

What? There are Yoga police? Do whats right for you and your body.

3
Bf96d0a97418613fcbd6ec2ec9a50f0d

(131)

on January 27, 2012
at 07:59 AM

I'm going through 500h yoga teacher training with one of the world's leading program. So far I've seen only 20-30% yoga teachers who are vegetarians :-) For most of us it's not even a question, we love bacon!

Also if somebody reads Sutras of Patanjali closely and with a right translation there is no religion or strict vegetarianism. A lot of it was superimposed later by different schools and institutions for political reasons (hard to feed and raise cattle in that areas).

Non-violence towards yourself has higher priority, then towards cattle who would not have lived otherwise if not for the industry.

Last argument, the latest time period when yoga started is around 4,000BC when agriculture was already wide spread in that regions. Paleo end around 10,000BC so it's fair to say that yoga as a system of healing and moderation in behavior including food could have been born out of necessity to stay healthy in post-paleo world.

3
Medium avatar

on November 09, 2011
at 03:49 PM

Yoga developed not as a form of what we would today call exercise; not as a means of getting slim, supple, or flexible; not as a means of developing "human potential." Many young people would be surprised to learn that yoga did not originate in Malibu.

Yoga began in the context of a world-denying ascetic religious culture, where the highest attainment of an adept was to gain release from the wheel of death and rebirth. Release from samsara: the suffering viewed as synonymous with embodied existence. Yoga was not viewed as a means to be or get what we would call "healthy." Yoga culture was vegetarian because meat was seen to "ground" adepts in the very world from which they sought release.

So it's no real surprise that many of today's yoga practitioners are drawn to these same assumptions, with the veneer of self satisfaction and moral superiority that attends most vegan discourse. How cool one must be, not to consume "low-vibration" foods like meat.

I am in no way dissing yoga as a contemporary practice for self development. Nor am I saying all contemporary yogis do or should eschew meat. (If they consume it, hopefully they do chew it, but that's a different issue.)

There are many forms and branches of yoga in today's world. Yoga asanas are incorporated in many exercise programs that never use the word "yoga" or carry any of its baggage, as it were.

I enjoy stretching the way cats and dogs stretch. I have taken my share of yoga classes with fellow students who have mastered advanced asanas with exotic names, and I can't imagine returning to one of these classes. As for "hot" yoga, I never enjoyed anything less than being in a 80 degree room with 20 people whose bodies poured forth sweat while annoying Vangelis soundtracks sealed the deal.

46bee6b93ee79082ea1094f26c2da5a4

(837)

on January 27, 2012
at 01:59 PM

"Yoga developed not as a form of what we would today call exercise; not as a means of getting slim, supple, or flexible" Ironic then that it totally does!

3
Medium avatar

on February 11, 2011
at 10:15 PM

What the...I don't even....

2
4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:22 PM

the flawed assumption underlying the claim that yoga and meat-eating are incompatible, is the notion that a vegetarian diet is harmless and non-violent. this is however, totally false and born out of ignorance.

it's more important how you source yourfood -- whether meat or not -- and that ultimately makes a bigger statement than WHAT you're eating . a vegetarian diet is not any less violent than a omnivorous one! think about all the animals that get killed by the giant machinery harvesting the grains, or all the billions of insects that are detroyed through the use of pesticides. do these little animals not matter as much as the other ones simply because we can???t envision what they feel the same way? what about the enviornmental depletion and top soil erosion caused by the way grains are grown? the argument that a vegetarian diet is a loving one is weak and shallow, and if you really think about these issues a little more deeply (maybe read ???the vegetarian myth???), you???ll see that a vegetarian diet is not the answer.

and don???t even start about all the starving people that could be fed if we didn???t raise cattle. cattle aren???t supposed to eat grains! they eat grass and their manure fertilizes the pastures. the problem lies with the industrial food system, not meat production. we need to acknowledge the problem with the way we do things and support a system that is more sustainable (like getting meat from small sustainable farms).

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on January 27, 2012
at 12:23 PM

and by the way...i'm a certified yoga instructor, and have studied the relevant texts that so many yogis use to justify their argument.

2
Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 07, 2011
at 10:13 PM

I teach Yoga, have practiced yoga (hatha, vinyasa) for years, and don't see any problems with eating meat.

I think that the non-violence argument is bogus considering that many animals die in the process of spraying fields with pesticides/herbicides, threshing/harvesting the grain, and then there's the whole thing about human beings dying from heart disease which is likely due to a high-carb grain based diet.

I think that I will actually cause far fewer deaths by eating meat. I also intend to have a natural burial so I will eventually be food for many other living things.

1
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on November 09, 2011
at 01:08 AM

I'm Hindu and eat all types of pastured meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy.

excepts from a Swami: http://naturalhygienesociety.org/articles/swami_narayanananda.html

Ancient Indian sages were non-vegetarian and offered even beef to the gods.

...bulls, calves and barren cows were allowed to be killed and eaten. Instances from the Vedas support this statement. Yajur Veda, Satpath Brahmana, Brihatarunyaka Upanishad, Adhyaya 6th, 4th Brahmana, 18th verse runs thus: ??? "He who wishes for the birth of such a son as would be a reputed scholar, frequenting the assemblies and speaking delightful words, and as would study all the four Vedas and attain the full term of life, should have rice cooked with the meat of a vigorous bull or one more advanced in years and he and his wife should eat it with clarified butter. Then he would be able to beget such a son." Even the old meat-eating habits of the people are still to be found in many parts of India, where the Brahmins and 'the other three castes take fish and meat freely, as in Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Kashmir and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Manu, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Nanak, Leotose, Sinto and RamaKrishna were all non-vegetarians. If religion forbids fish and meat-eating as sin and limits its followers to vegetable diet alone, were these great. men, non-religious ?

We must take into consideration the time, clime, constitutional agreement and local availability. Nature has Her own plan concerning this. Necessity is the mother of invention. In all these cases, if the people are to live, they must utilize the easily available articles of food and drink in their region. The food chosen should be sweet, pleasant, simple, nutritious and easily digestible.

1
7c068e0afd33ae34618499578444a5e1

on February 16, 2011
at 10:10 PM

It is a kind of lobby. In the past (and today) there were yogis that used to eat meat. Some say it is easier to calm the mind in a meat free diet. My own experience shows me that. Haven't you noticed that vegetarians are always tired or in a sleepy mood compared to a Paleo dieter?

Yoga is consciousness, not a dogma. Health is consciousness as well, so it doesn't make sense if a vegetarian eats soy and sugar and avoid meat. Ahimsa is like the Christian love, both impossible.

-1
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on July 07, 2011
at 02:03 PM

Like everyone else said, yoga is heavily associated with Hindu culture and Hindus are religious vegetarians.

I am certified as a yoga instructor and do lots of yoga, I have had no problems integrating it with my meat-eating lifestyle (well, except when I attend events, workshops or trainings that serve only grain-laden vegetarian fare!). I am not a religious person and don't practice most of the religious aspects of yoga.

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