Our world is out of balance. Patanjali declares in Yoga Sutra II, 46, that yogis should establish a steady and joyful connection/ relationship with the Earth, including all beings, humans, animals and Mother Nature. A steady and joyful connection implies that the relationship should be balanced, mutually beneficial. In our project to do so, Patanjali Asthanga’s system (8 steps plan to Yoga, Union) gives us the steps to follow, the 1st limb is the five yamas, or restrictions; one should to observe in regard of his relationships with all other beings. The first yama is Ahimsa or non-harming, non-violence, first touchstone of our project. To support our goal, we should develop the most possible peaceful lifestyle. Thus, a yogi must develop a vegan compassionate diet, not killing animals in order to eat them; and not use animals’ derived products. The third yama is asteya or non-stealing. The meat and dairies industries steal the lives of animals, steal their babies and steal the food produced for these babies (milk), etc. In that sense a peaceful yogi can’t support these industries by eating meat or dairies. The fourth yama is Brahmacharya, it means sexual continence. Currently, in order to produce milk, eggs and other animal products, animals are abused sexually and often endure other atrocities at the hand of men.
The 5th yama is Aparigraha or greedlesness. A human doesn’t need to eat meat or dairy to be healthy. Ironically, the opposite is true. The food industry will have us believe that we must consume animal products, and what is more in big quantities. Not only is this false, it also promotes over-consummation, thinking we need more than what we actually do. These products are advertised with images of happy cows and pigs, when in reality the slaughter houses and dairy factories are just the opposite. Such lies goes against the second yama Satya or Truthfulness. Many ignore the « inconvenient truth » about the realities of the food industry as these are hidden so as to support its financial gain. This leads the consumer to living in Avidya (first klesha described by Patanjali, or mind affliction, obstacle that one should transcend in order to attain yoga).
The relationship with others is out of balance, our culture supports violence, lies, steals, abuses other beings by enslaving them, exploiting them and killing them. We can’t hope for happiness and balance if we deprive others from happiness; we can’t hope for freedom if we exploit others.
In addition, raising animals for food creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportations worldwide. It causes more water pollution, ocean pollution than any other industries, and waist a huge amount of water. These industries contribute to deforestation in order to grow crops to feed these animals. Most of the crops are genetically modified and pollute the earth. Animal agriculture kills the planet. In order to attain union, yoga, one should heal the disease of separation created by our « cult-ure » and the egoism by which we live (asmita, egoism or individualism is the second klesha) keeping ourselves disconnected from the importance of having actions that benefit all and not only us.
Yogis see Truth, balance and union. Beyond asanas and other practices, yogis are aware of our interconnectedness, Oneness and « dares to care » about all beings. They must show the way to Truth and set an example through their worlds and deeds of a peaceful, conscious, compassionate and happy lifestyle through. As says Sharon Gannon: “There is nothing more political than what you eat, where you live, how you live and the way you dress”. Veganism is the most effective way to live in harmony and to save our planet; and thus is a touchstone to attain Yoga.
Carol Issa Karing Kaur