My mother never knows what to expect when I come home.
Chatting about my plans for Thanksgiving, there will come the inevitable pause as she tries to plan her menu, “ So, uh…what exactly are you eating now?” Then the big (and well-deserved) sigh, “I can never keep up.”
Poor Mom. Yogis change diets like models change clothes. Vegan one week, then gluten-free, then sugar-free, then paleo…we range happily through the frontiers of cleanses, fasts, and dietary upheavals. Yogis can become obssessed by their diet because – like fitness professionals – we want a physical body that feels clean, lean, and efficient when we pratice. There are good philosophical motivations, too; ancient texts exhort yogis to practice sauca (cleanliness) and kriyas (purifications) as part of their practice in order to purify the body and clarify the mind.
Traditionally, yogis have avoided eating meat as part of the practice of ahimsa, non-violence. Some styles of yoga like Jivamukti explicitly include vegetarianism as a pillar of the practice. Go to any ashram, and nine out of ten times you will served a vegetarian meal. However, after years of no meat, many of my yogi friends have begun adding meat back into their diet. Why? Weakness? Boredom?
Energy. They just didn’t feel good.
For some of them, they’re adding meat after more than fifteen years without it. “I smelled a steak,” said one ruefully, “and that was it.” Some yogis are ordered back onto meat diets by their doctors. “I was so sick, I had no energy,” another confided. “I really didn’t want to do it. But once I added back a little meat, I just felt so much better.”
However, even if they’re adding back in animal products, many yogis still seek diets that are very clean. Free of processed foods, flours, and additives. It’s not so surprising that some have turned to the paleo diet for inspiration. At my office – yes, the yoga one – there is currently a book circulating called, “Eat Bacon, Jog Less.” Now, my office is full of health conscious critters who go to yoga classes and participate in midday jogging parties. Even here, bacon could be next on the menu.
While true vegans (those who abstain from use of all animal products for ethical reasons) would emphatically disparage the conflation, a cross over between vegan and paleo is now – rather shockingly – at hand. Apparently, we no longer need to choose. Become “Pegan,” if you will, and embrace the vast foundational similarities between vegan and paleo diets.
- Eat lots of warm, cooked vegetables
- Eat good fats
- Not too much fruit, and eat seasonally
- Eat whole foods
- Avoid processed foods (including flours)
Nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies will form the basis of your meal. Eschew the dairy, grains and flours that aren’t part of the hunting and gathering lifestyle.
And then, if you are a carnivore, go ahead. Throw a steak on it.
*For my true vegan friends, try “Oh She Glows.” I promise: not a steak in site.