Meat-Eating Yogi: How I Feel About What I Eat
I was at the beginning of writing a blog post about a new recipe that I tried where I made zucchini boats. They were really tasty and I was excited to post it on this blog because this is where I want to promote being healthy in all aspects of life. Suddenly, I stopped myself.
First you need to know, I've never been much of a cook. If you know me, you know that I love breakfast and that's something I can nail in the kitchen, no questions asked. However, I've never taken the time to devote myself into cooking and I've always been nervous when it came to meat.
Not because I think I shouldn't eat it but honestly because I'm nervous of cooking it wrong. Whether that be undercooking it, using a method that is frowned upon, cutting it wrong, or adding flavours that don't complement it, etc.; not to mention, it kind of grosses me out raw.
I know what you're thinking. Well, Ash, you're lucky! You don't like handling or cooking meat, you can become a vegetarian. After all, you do yoga, you care for your health & well-being, don't you kind of have to?
The short answer is no.
Let's talk about diets.
What an overpopulated and highly opinionated topic to bring up. I've been thinking about the best way to approach this on my channel. I don't want the yoga devotees to hate me, the vegetarian activists to protest me, or a loyal follower to question me; so here it goes:
Hi, I'm Ash Robertson and I eat anything.
I mean, not anything (you wouldn't find me winning the jackpot on Fear Factor) – but meat, dairy, fish, etc. are all welcome in my lifestyle.
I know, I know. “The environment!”, “Cute, living animals!”, “It can actually be cheaper!”, “Try this – you won't be able to tell the difference!”
I'm not here to argue the stats or the facts. Every individual is obliged to eat what they want. I understand and respect the advocacy for vegan/vegetarianism. I also understand and respect the defence of the meat-eaters.
The person that scoffs at you for using palm oil as it contributes to deforestation, is the same person that adds to the illegal deforestation to farm avocados in Mexico. There are people that argue the water usage for specific meats vs. specific vegetables; and there's the debate of nutrients & vitamins from each diet. On and on it goes.
There will always be pros and cons. You can't advocate that one specific diet is the best solution worldwide for every single individual. There are way too many factors for such a blanket statement.
That's why the lifestyle I've chosen for myself is BALANCE.
I know this has been a keyword this year, I see it everywhere and that's because it's a fantastic way to look at life.
I'm not against eating vegan meals. I can unintentionally go a day without eating meat quite easily. Natural foods are delicious and I'm all for consuming them. But, I'm also a sucker for meat. Smelling that divine steak cooking on the barbeque in the summer, the tiger prawns roasting in garlic butter when you're out for dinner, or turkey gravy you smother over your stuffing at Christmas (yes, that's better than the turkey itself). All of these meals are foods I look forward to eating. Not only for purpose but for pleasure & memories. We only live once.
There are many ways to define "healthy":
- Do you eat "right" (vegan, meat, keto, paleo, sattvic, etc.)?
- Do you exercise (do yoga, cardio, weight lift, etc.)?
- Do you meditate (practice silence, practice breathing, draw, dance, laugh etc.)?
- Do you buy local?
- Do you maintain minimalism?
- Do you save your money?
- Do you look after your personal hygiene?
- Do you surround yourself with positive people?
- Do you get enough sleep?
- Do you clean up your personal space?
- Do you socialize enough?
- Do you take breaks from social media?
- Do you spend enough time alone?
- Do you consistently go for check-ups (look at risk factors, do your pap smears, etc.)?
- Do you read (fiction or non-fiction)?
- Do you continue to learn & grow?
You can improve your life in large or small amounts in countless ways. Every person is different. We have differing access & privileges based on our locations/status, our bodies respond to internal & external processes in diverse ways, and we all live on individual timelines. Sure, right now I'm a carnivore; maybe when I'm 30, I'll become a vegetarian. There are also people who have been vegans for years and then come back to meat. Everyone is on a unique journey with road stops all along the way.
Some of this list, you can't pick up and stick to immediately and some you can't quit cold turkey. So for now, I'm focusing on my mental & physical exercise. I do pay attention to my diet when it comes to processed sugars, I've never been a fan of milk so I do enjoy the oat, almond, or cashew variety, and I always eat fruits (and try to do my best with vegetables).
I'm aware of my unhealthy habits (sitting too long, staring at screens, and eating potato chips/chocolate/cheese more often than I should); but those are things I'm aware of and understand. I don't want to deprive myself of experiencing my favourite tastes or ones I still have yet to try. Although, I know better than to rely on unhealthy habits to provide instant gratification that will diminish an hour later. So, I eat as healthy as I can – but if you catch me with a New York Fries poutine, ketchup chips, or a tootsie roll; I won’t try to hide it from you.
For anyone who practices yoga and is 100% true to the philosophy, they may doubt me. A lot of them associate "Ahimsa: Non-Violence” to vegetarianism (as meat-eating is harmful to animals). Which in turn means, that majority of practicing yogis are vegetarian/vegan. There is a loophole here though, in the fact that non-violence is also a practice for yourself & your body. If you find that you can't sustain the vegetarian lifestyle or commit to finding all of your necessary nutrients elsewhere – then you are going to cause yourself harm. If you deprive yourself of certain foods; you may become weak, continue to feel hungry, or resort to foods that (while vegetarian, may not be great for you long-term, such as: over-indulging on pasta or breads continuously). If that's the case, then there is still harm being caused, only to yourself instead.
I wanted to put this out there so that I'm not preaching what I don't practice. So, I won't feel guilty about putting up a zucchini boat blog post because it has meat in it. Or if I eventually do a plant-based recipe even though that’s not the diet I strictly follow. I want you to be able to trust me and still enjoy my content even if we don't follow the same exact lifestyle. Or who knows, maybe I'm creating more of a connection to those that do. I mean I can't be the ONLY meat-eating yogi in the world.
I hope this shed some light on you if you are struggling with figuring out the best diet that works for you. For me, diets have never worked. I shifted my habits when I took note of everything I was consuming, found the patterns that I thought would benefit me to cut back on, and tried to do so. I’d either aim for smaller portions or opt for the healthy alternative. Over time, your tastebuds adjust and you begin to favour certain tastes over others. Adapt to alternatives – your body will thank you over time. If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll find your own way on your own time. I trust you.