Vegetarianism and Ahimsa

The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga can be seen as the journey from the outer to the inner. As we purify the outer, we are opening the pathway to go deeper inside.

Practicing the first limb, Yamas, we are no longer bothered by the damages resulting from unethical choices and we can focus on improving our personal life.

Some yogis believe that diet is key to practice the principle of Ahimsa, or non-harming, non-violence, the first of the five Yamas.

Then a question arises: Is Vegetarianism necessary to practice Ahimsa in our daily life?

Some will answer that it is the basis of being kind to others. This means not to hurt oneself but also animals and the planet. The extreme application of this way of thinking will be to become vegan (no animal based foods including honey), not to wear clothes made from animals (leather for example) and not to use cosmetics made with animal based ingredients. Eating organic and local food will also be necessary not to kill insects or parasites and not to damage the planet.

Although vegetarian diet offers many health benefits, it may also pose some unique nutritional risks. Being vegetarian does not fit everybody and there is many other ways to incorporate Ahimsa in one’s life.

To practice Satya, the second principle of Yamas, we need to be truthful with ourselves. Hence, if we truly believe that vegetarianism is not our way to practice Ahimsa, we shouldn’t do it because it would mean living in lies but also hurting ourselves which is the opposite of Ahimsa.

Yoga is also about tolerance. I believe that there is no such thing like one unique right way to practice Ahimsa. Anyone can find his/her right and true way.

Amelie