First Person - Why I Went Vegan
I had been a vegetarian for over six years when I decided to become a vegan. That was almost two years ago, and I have embraced every bite of it. The big “aha moment” was during a one-month intensive Jikamukti yoga teacher training program at the Omega Institute in New York. I watched the powerful movie Earthlings, which revealed to me the intense suffering and cruelty behind the dairy and egg industries.
I loved animals and yet my choices were not consistent with that love. I have been taught that “gu” means darkness and “ru” means remover. A guru removes the darkness and shows you the light. My gurus are Sharon Gannon and David Life, and the Jivamukti practice is based on a compassionate lifestyle. My ignorance or avidya (the ancient Sanskrit word) was removed, and I could finally see and feel the pain of each sentient being and the harm that factory farming inflicts upon the animals, Mother Earth and me.
Some physical benefits of being a vegan have been an even leaner and more toned body and increased flexibility. Actually, since becoming a vegan (and in particular eliminating dairy), there have been so many benefits that it is hard to list them all, however, better digestion and a huge boost to my immune system are some of the most important health benefits. As a yogini, the most important change in becoming a vegan has been the deep spiritual journey that unfolds each time I set down for a meal. Mindful eating is one of the most profound practices any human being can cultivate in this lifetime. After all, “you are what you eat.”
Most people understand this on some level. As Americans, we tend to think of this law of karma only in terms of weight gain or physical disease such as diabetes, stroke, heart attacks or cancer). However, the yogi also realizes the effects on not just the physical body, but on the subtle body (your thoughts, words, mood)—all that will eventually matter through actions and decisions. Remember, what you think matters. If you ingest fear, pain and suffering, then you will inevitably become those things and experience physical and emotional disease. The yogi only wishes to plant mutually beneficial karmic seeds for people, animals and Mother Earth. The practice of yoga in this lifetime and in this body is to evolve to a higher level of consciousness. The yogi wants to be free. As a vegan, I feel in tune with nature—light and radiant. As a yoga teacher and a vegan yoga studio owner, it is important to extend these teachings to anyone interested.
My favorite way to get vegan protein into my diet is with green juices. Most people don’t realize that raw green foods are an incredible source of protein and calcium (amongst many other super phyto-nutrients). I make 100% organic, raw super power green juices with kale, chard, spinach, romaine, wheatgrass, fresh ginger, spirulina and also add apples, carrots or beets for a little natural sweetness. Adding in fresh turmeric is a great natural anti-inflammatory for maintaining healthy joints. Delicious.
Valerie Grange, co-owner of BuddhaB Yoga, a vegan Vinyasa yoga studio and Jivamukti™ Yoga Center Affliate, shares her story and her decision to become a vegan.