People often comment on my pictures on Instagram about my diet and what I eat. About a year and a half ago I decided to give up meat and dairy and to follow a vegan diet. I wasn’t the kind of person who made a gradual change, the kind that would first give up meat, and then cheese, and then…ice cream….what, no ice cream?! I made the decision to go from someone whose staple ingredient in every meal was cheese, and whose love for ice cream was so strong no evening was complete (or satisfying) without it, to overnight swearing off meat, cheese, dairy, and all animal by products. So why, you might ask, would I change my diet so drastically and give up some of my favorite foods? And the answer is not simple or concrete, but the reasons are many.
The first reason came from ahimsa, meaning non-violence, and is the first of the yamas or ethical values in the eight limb path of yoga philosophy. I felt that I wasn’t being true to myself or to my yoga practice as I so blatantly violated one of the yamas. Another reason I felt compelled to become a vegan is because according to the blood type diet that encourages eating right for your blood type (I’m blood type A+), meat and dairy are not beneficial to my physical and spiritual wellbeing. The last reason is largely tied to the first, and has to do with how inhumane and disgusting the meat industry is in the United States. I watched too many movies (Food, Inc…..yuck) and youtube clips of factory farms to choke down chicken wings or hamburgers in ignorant bliss. I was no long ignorant and eating meat was anything but blissful. I’m a believer that the food we eat should nourish our bodies, but should also bring us pleasure and passion. I want to reiterate that this was a personal choice to change an eating habit that was affecting my practice. I certainly don’t expect every person who practices yoga to stop eating meat, or that you’re not a true yogi if you enjoy eating Parmesan. I especially don’t believe that guilt should in any way result from what we eat. I will neverjudge what other people eat or believe about food, and would hope that others would allow me to eat how I please also without passing judgement. Eat what you want, but ENJOY it! I am not a strict vegan, some days I crave fish, so I eat it. Sometimes I want a cookie made with eggs and butter, and trust me, there’s no hand quicker than mine in the cookie jar. Being vegan is a guideline that I live by day to day, but I never prohibit myself from trying something that I really want.
Craving cheese was the greatest mental challenge I had to overcome when I made to switch to being vegan. Surprisingly, after a few months I soon found that I no longer craved it. I started to feel lighter in my body, mind, and in my yoga practice. I now have more energy, better sleep patterns, and perfect blood pressure. I experiment with my food, create delicious alternatives to meats and dairy (think mushrooms, nuts, and coconut cream and oil), and shamelessly depend on my go-to vegan cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli for mouthwatering recipes. I also gather incredible vegan recipes from Pinterest, Food 52, and from friends and family. I hope you enjoy some of the recipes I post here, or at least become mindful that there are healthy, nutritious alternative to meat and animal byproducts that are heavenly to taste.