Ahimsa or "compassion" applied to diet or Yogic Diet
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is the Ashtanga (8 limbs) or Raja (Supreme or Higher) Yoga system
starts with Yama and the first one is "Ahimsa". Ahimsa is translated as non-violence or transcendence of aggression in thought, word & action. It is mentioned in scriptures that mastering Ahimsa provides the person "siddhi" or skill of being able to create peaceful atmosphere, examples of it can be, wild predator animals do not attack such person & actually become peaceful themselves &do not attack their potential victims either. Certainly, it's of great wealth mastering One's own inner aggression & all it's subtle forms as judgement, criticism, self-defence, rude speech, any form of physical violence to Oneself or others. Overcoming them is a practice & a process, which may take months, years, decades or lifetimes. But the benefit is huge, as it brings Peace & Harmony. Modern Science has proved that anger creates harmful hormonal responses within our body chemistry. Outerly, aggression manifestation be it in speech or action, creates enimosity.
Humans we have to deal with our aggressive reactions & patterns which are part of our lower mental nature. One of those patterns manifests as consumption of other creatures: meat, fish, seafood, insects, etc. As long as other forms of Life similar to human are killed to be consumed as food, there is a certain form of aggression, even if a person does not directly participate in the killing process just by eating it. Scientifically it is proved that regular meat consumption is not healthy neither natural for humans. It seems all Humans are at a different level of evolution, not everyone is at the same level. Certain people have already been vegetarian/vegan in previous lifetimes, so for some it is not new. But for others, consuming animals in their diet is normal & not questionable. But this does not mean that tomorrow someone who eats meat might decide to stop it. And it will be definitely positive for that person's evolution, personal wellbeing & overall wellbeing. Plant based vegetarian diet is more suitable & natural for man & at the same time animal kingdom does not need to suffer unnecessarily. Another argument in favour of vegetarianism is that there is undoubtedly a Higher Force which gives Life to all humans, animals & all creation, therefore that same force has to be the One to take it away. All creation has same right to follow it's natural cycle & that right has to be respected only than there can be Harmony. Animal Kingdom is a lower kingdom in the sense that their Highest Chakra is our Lowest One, animals lack the Faculty of awareness & Higher Intuition which Humans do have and can develop. So the fact that predator animals kill their victims is normal within Animal Kingdom. Human Kingdom on it's evolution also has used Power, Authority, Money as forms of Strength over others. But the ultimate Strength is Awareness, Liberation, Freedom from Limited or Lower Mind as no riches, fame, Wealth can provide Man true peace & harmony. So, vegetarian diet is the first step into "ahimsa", by stopping to consume animals & thus stopping to contribute to animal killing is an act of respect, kindness & peace.Those who consume animal products in their diet should know that everything in this World has Energy or Aura. So whatever food we eat, that food has a vibration or energy. Now think about a plant, it has the energy of the Elements: Sun, Air, Water within it which give it Life or Prana to exist. When we consume fruits, it is natural & harmonious as fruits given by a tree if not harvested simply naturally over ripe & disintegrate. If we pick up a fruit, the tree will not die, will still produce many more fruits. But it's not the same case with animals, if we kill an animal, this same animal can not reproduce, & this animal suffers, undergoes pain & fear which through hormones go into the bloodstream. So when we are consuming a piece of meat we also consume it's energy of violence, aggression & fear & the hormones from blood. Did not want to go into that detail but it's important to understand how meat consumption affect us. Still it's an individual choice, and people in many places on Earth do consume it. In some places there might be no other available choices due to climate as in Tibet or in Siberia, etc.
Now i would like to share my personal experience with meat & vegetarianism. I was born in a country &culture where meat consumption is accepted & widely spread, children are fed by parents since young age with meat because there is a belief that meat is the only & best source of protein necessary for growth. Naturally, i became vegetarian when i was 28 y.o. it happened two weeks before my first trip to India - the country with most percentage of vegetarian population in the World. After the shift, i realised that i lacked skills to cook vegetarian meals, proper ingredients combination, could not find vegetarian restaurants, some of my relatives started to question if i could maintain my good health without eating meat, my gym trainer categorically disapproved it & reminded that without animal source protein i was bound to fail with my strength increase & muscle growth. So it became a process of learning & unlearning, also researching & developing will against outer pressure & disapproval. Eventhough, it seemed so many factors were not in favour, i kept listening my intuition which was just guiding me to continue with courage on my own journey & not giving importance other people's opinions or beliefs. Today after 11 years of my vegetarian experience, i can say, vegetarianism is healthy, beneficial if it is applied as a balanced nutrition. It is beneficial not only for the practitioner but also for the whole planet, it brings personal Harmony & contributes to collective Harmony. It was easy to be vegetarian in India, where vegetarian culture is well preserved & practiced, having it's roots in Ayurveda - the ancient science of Life. It was not easy when traveling somewhere else for the first time, the most challenging place to find vegetarian food was Shanghai (China).
Now i am living in Ubud Bali, which i call it the Vegan capital of the World. There are few fully vegan restaurants & many restaurants offering vegetarian & vegan options here in just a 30 thousand population village. But tourism attracts people from all over the World here. Many people have the chance to try different vegan dishes. Local people are mostly non-vegetarian even though they are Hindu. Being vegetarian according to Yoga does not mean you have overcome inner negativity, but it's helpful to be vegetarian & not contribute to animal killing for food. It's ok if you eat meat, it is ok if you do not, such choice does not make one better or worse, we are all equal & have different needs on our Journey. But it's good to understand properly how food can affect us. Meat consumption does not contribute to One's Harmony & Inner Peace but vegetarian food does. Vegetarian food is lighter than meat, it's more sustainable to consume vegetarian diet. I also discovered that vegetarian diet creates less toxicity & does not affect flexibility as non-vegetarian diet. It's so much easier to practice asana & meditation on vegetarian diet, but remember eating with moderation is also very important factor & eating foods which do not create toxins, foods suitable to one's own constitution.