Yoga Is Failing Animals

The teachings of Yoga are clear: 'ahimsa' - which means 'non-violence' - is the first (and therefore most important) precept of Yoga.

Something else that is clear is that living a non-violent life where you do NO harm to other beings means living vegan. (Note that I said "living vegan". I didn't say eating a vegan diet, and I certainly didn't say eating a vegetarian diet, but rather living vegan.)

Yet Yoga is failing animals miserably.

Why? Because most Yoga teachers are not vegan. And their not being vegan means they're not educating their students that veganism is part of the ahimsic Yogic life. Therefore, insofar as the Yoga teachers are failing animals, Yoga is failing animals too.

It's a disgrace to see the teachings of Yoga let down like this. And I've heard all the lame excuses from various Yoga teachers too. Believe it or not, the following gigantic list of excuses were given to me within a ten minute window from a man who is considered somewhat of a 'spiritual master':

  • Veganism is extreme. (How is not funding torture and killing extreme? Paying others to abuse and kill for you is what's extreme. Over 56 BILLION farmed animals and TRILLIONS of sea animals being killed every year is extreme.)

  • Ahimsa only extends to human beings. (Wow. So if non-violence only extends to some beings, does not being racist only extend to certain races? Being choosy in your morality is an illogical stance to take. Ahimsa is not anthropocentric and speciesist. Ahimsa encompasses ALL beings.)

  • Veganism is not for everyone. ( non-violence is right for some people, and violence is right for others? Seriously???)

  • Ahimsa is about reducing suffering. (Ahimsa means "NON-violence" not "reducing violence to the extent that it suits you.")

  • Some people won't ever be vegan. (And some people will never accept men and women as equal. That doesn't mean I should become a sexist because other people are. Ahimsa is about non-violence, and non-violence means veganism. Other people choosing violence doesn't give us an excuse to choose it too - especially for those who claim to be treading the Yogic path.)

  • Being vegan is a personal choice. (Wow. Amazing. I never knew that torturing and killing was classed as a "personal choice". I just thought it was immoral.)

  • It's okay for people to eat 'humane' meat, dairy and eggs. ('Humane' meat, dairy and eggs is an absolute MYTH. Visit Humane Myth and see for yourself.)

  • "I like a bit of cheese." (Well, I'm sure you do, but the cows being tortured to get that cheese don't like it one bit. Again: ahimsa is not about your own selfish desires, it's about non-violence towards ALL. This "be non-violent as long as it’s convenient to you” approach is weak and totally missing the point of ahimsa.)

  • Some people need meat. (All humans have the same basic physiology. The millions and millions of vegans in the world - all with slightly different constitutions - prove that no one needs to eat meat or any other animal products.)

  • Humans are predators. (Really? Then how is it that humans cannot run down animals, and kill them using just their hands and teeth?)

  • You can go and become a Jain monk and walk around with a mask on and sweep in front of you in case you kill bugs. (Uh, no one mentioned anything about becoming a monk. Ahimsa means non-violence, which means being vegan - not being a monk. "Vegan" and "monk" are very different words.)

  • The environment will not be saved by veganism. (A little research will show that the single most destructive force to the planet is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture involves the consumption of massive amounts of of water and grain, the use of damaging chemical fertilisers, the emission of enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, extensive deforestation, an extraordinary amount of soil erosion, and a great reduction of species diversity. Therefore veganism WILL save the Earth. And that's not an opinion, it's a fact.)

  • It's okay to eat animals as long as you do so mindfully. (Eating mindfully means really thinking about what you're eating. And thinking about eating the dismembered corpses of tortured animals should surely make you vegan!)

Miraculously, something this particular 'spiritual master' (note the sarcasm-impplying inverted commas: they're on purpose) didn't mention is an excuse I've heard from other Yogis and Yoginis scrambling for excuses to not be vegan. And that excuse is that eating dairy is traditional in India and because Yoga comes from India it's therefore okay to eat dairy. The implication that if something's done in India it's therefore right is ludicrous. Tradition is never an excuse for animal abuse, and violating mothers and stealing milk meant for their babies is just wrong - it doesn't matter where what country we're talking about.

But even teachers who are vegan and educate their students about veganism are not all unequivocal about it. For example, there is a Yoga school here in Sydney that rightly equates ahimsa with veganism and advocates as such. This is great, yet they recently brought in an overseas teacher to do a workshop entitled "living ahimsa"...and the teacher is vegetarian!

I asked the director of the school: "How can you take someone talking about ahimsa seriously when they themselves don't live ahimsa?" She replied, "Nobody is perfect." My response was : "Well, sure, nobody is perfect, but EVERYBODY can be vegan. You don't have to be perfect to live ahimsa - you just have to be vegan."

It's bad enough that so many Yoga teachers don't take the first and most important precept of Yoga seriously enough to be vegan. But it's thoroughly disappointing that a school whose philosophy involves strongly advocating veganism does not expect a self-professed 'spiritual' teacher talking about living ahimsa should herself be living ahimsa.

I'll conclude by repeating that the Yoga teachings are clear: ahimsa is the first and therefore most important aspect of Yoga. Living non-violently means living vegan, and until Yoga teachers embrace this truth and educate their students about veganism, the great tradition of Yoga will continue to fail animals.

Find out more about veganism by clicking on these links:

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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