Non-violence and the carnivore Yogi

A comment a reader, Renee aka n9vember, made about hard-core Yogis being vegetarians due to ahimsa (i.e. non-violence) got me thinking: how do we Paleo Yogis (or any meat-eating Yogi, for that matter) fit that principle into our lives? I won’t be tackling our practice of ahimsa towards ourselves (how often do you castigate yourself or push your body beyond its limits?) or even towards others. I will, instead, focus on non-violence in the way we feed ourselves.

One important aspect of the relation between ahimsa and vegetarianism lies in Yoga’s origins, that is a culture that supports the reincarnation of the soul, be it in a human or animal body. In that framework, killing and eating an animal that acts as the vessel to a human soul would be perceived as a morally reprehensible act.

This cannot be applied to those of us who don’t believe in reincarnation, though. As we must respect those who are vegetarians for spiritual reasons, so must we be respected for choosing to eat meat since we have no moral/religious reason not to do so.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t practice ahimsa towards the animals that nourish us. One way of doing just that is hunting our own food and respecting the animal by using every part of it, including nutrient-rich organ meats and bones (e.g. to make broth). Another way would be to make sure the proteins we consume come from humanely (an oxymoron, but there you have it) treated animals.

When you hear most Paleo experts suggest eating meat from free-range/grass-fed/wild-caught animals, ahimsa is naturally not taken into consideration. The fact of the matter is that the meat such animals produce is superior to what the average consumer is used to eating. And I simply believe that as Yogis we have an extra incentive (i.e. practicing non-violence) to follow those suggestions.

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