Yoga Q+A: Do I Have to Be Vegetarian or Vegan to Do Yoga?

Welcome to Yoga Q+A, THE place to get straightforward answers to your Yoga quandaries and curiosities. You want to know + I’m here to help – it’s that simple.

So … what Yoga question am I diving into this time?

Yoga Q+A: Do I Have to Be Vegetarian or Vegan to Do Yoga? @

“Do I have to be vegetarian or vegan to do/practice Yoga?”

Brace yourself: we’re about to get controversial up in here!

I’ll need to break this down into a few, more specific questions to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Do you HAVE TO be vegetarian or vegan to practice Yoga? No.

Does yogic philosophy EXPLICITLY say you need to be vegetarian or vegan? No.

Does yogic philosophy SUGGEST you should be vegetarian or vegan? Yes.

This all ties into the yogic concept of ahimsa, often translated as non-harming. Being the first of the 10 yamas + niyasma (which we’ll cover more in-depth very soon), ahimsa is often said to be the most important. In fact, some ancient + modern yogis believe that if you practice ahimsa fully, the other 9 yamas + niyamas don’t need to be pursued because ahimsa encompasses them all.

Expanding on the translation of “non-harming”, another way of thinking of ahimsa is embracing compassion and love for all – yes, ALL! Anything + everything on this planet: have compassion for it + freakin’ love it.

That includes you, your neighbor, your family, your friends, your co-workers, that person you don’t like so much, that kid who used to pick on you in school, all those who have different beliefs than you, trees, flowers, water, air, + animals.

It’s easy to see how having compassion for an animal doesn’t involving killing it for the sake of eating it. That being said, what you chose to eat is a personal decision. I have meat-eating friends, vegetarian friends, + vegan friends – and we all manage to get along! Also, your personal health is a major factor in what eating habits works best for you.

I’ve heard countless stories from friends who’ve stopped eating meat + felt exponentially better. On the flip side, I’ve also heard countless stories of vegetarians + vegans starting to eat meat again because not eating meat made them ill.

There is no one answer, no one eating plan that works for everyone – physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a yogic sage. I’m a person, just like you. I’m delighted to help in any way possible, and that often includes sharing my perspective on what eating habits have worked for me, especially since I’ve been able to keep 50+ pounds off for 5+ years. Those habits did include eating lean meat and, over the years, I eat less + less meat, subbing in a variety of greens, beans, lentils, quinoa … etc., though I’m not strictly vegetarian or vegan.

Do you HAVE TO be vegetarian or vegan to practice Yoga? No.

If you choose to eat meat, the least you can do is buy organic or local. Yes, it costs more, but it also tastes better, has a lower impact on the planet as a whole (remember, ahimsa), + contains more nutrients than non-organic meat. Bonus: if you can only afford so much organic meat, it’s hard to overeat. Of course, the same goes for EVERYTHING you eat (how many barcodes have you had today?), but hey, it’s a practice. 😉



Do you have a question (or two, or three) about ANY aspect of Yoga?

COMMENT below, share your thoughts, join the conversation, + I just might answer your questions in the next Yoga Q+A post! (or you can submit your question via email)

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