Why Do We Eat What We Eat- Starting The Conversation

So, I recently sat down to write a new article for YogiApproved. In essence, I tried to make an extension of the “Eating Meat with Integrity” article but I just might be tiptoeing into uncharted, and arguably dangerous, territory. I titled the article “lets have a real conversation: the vegan vs hunter debate.”

In the article I basically discussed the ever-persistent existence of conflict between those who eat meat and those that do not. Not just vegetarians and the occasional Texas Road House goer but I went a step further. What’s the most extreme veggie lover?  A vegan. And what’s the most extreme meat eater? A hunter.

I write about the controversy in starting a real conversation about why we make the dietary and lifestyle choices that we do. I talk more about tolerance and the conversation than I do about anything else in the article. So I wanted to use this blog post to get to the real meat (ha ha) of the issue. Why do we eat what we eat?

Being more aligned with the hunter’s point of view myself I naturally turned to my favorite resource on the subject, Steven Rinella. The host of a show that is literally called Meat Eater on Sportman’s Network and author of a book bearing the same name.  So being daring enough to be both a yogi and a meat eater, I finished my YogiApproved article and then continued my research….

One day while I was scouring the internet for documentaries on everything from veganism to recipes on rabbit (we’ll discuss my abnormal attachment/ addiction to documentaries another day) I came across this talk that Steven Rinella gave at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

 

If you’re curious, give it a watch here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMXTjAjjQmM)

 

What did I get out of this? Hunting is something spiritual.

In this talk Rinella says, “I’m not going to lie to you and say that if I couldn’t hunt I couldn’t eat. I’d eat just fine. But spiritually I’d be starved to death.” It got me to thinking… People look for their spiritual kick, so to speak, in a multitude of different ways. A lot of us choose yoga, mediation, journaling, etc. and when you become involved enough in these things you take them on as part of your lifestyle. For example, most people find themselves modifying their daily life and dietary choices to compliment their yoga practice. Perhaps it’s time that hunters and non hunters alike learn to freaking respect each other.

I also thought of the men and women who I know in my life that are serious about hunting. They take to the woods unsure of whether or not they will even see the animal they are after but they enjoy the whole process and soak up the feelings of a universe and forces larger than themselves. The same way yogis get on their mats every day not sure if they’ll be able to accomplish that difficult inversion. In both instances spirituality is key and there are plenty of internal as well as external forces at work for and against the spiritual seeker (weather, gravity, whatever it may be).

Similarly, hunters and yogis are met with their own unique set of disappointments and life altering moments. I fell out of a headstand the other day (just when I thought I’d finally mastered those) and immediately felt angry… then I had to laugh. That’s life. Things don’t always go as planned and as soon as we think we’ve got it all figured out we are promptly reminded that that is not the case. I think hunters regularly experience and grow from similar disappointments and detours to their ultimate goals as well.

So the importance of what we eat and where we can begin to answer the question is found in the journey. We may become vegan because we love yoga and the non violent tradition so much. We may become hunters because we love nature and a connection with our meat hunting and eating ancestors.

I have experienced the spirituality of being packed in a studio with 25 other sweaty yogis and it felt similar to the spiritual experiences I’ve had in nature and in eating meat. I know, for me, that eating meat is different than the norm. The meat I eat, nowadays, is either wild game or certified humanely raised and handled meat from our ranch or bought at my local Natural Grocers. So this means I package the meat in ziplock bags in meal sized portions and label it as “Lexi Kosher”(a term my family has come up with that has come to mean one of severe things: “humanely certified by a non government affiliated entity, raised on our family ranch,  shot and field dressed by someone she knows, or basically she just knows generally where the meat came from and how the animals life was pre lets fry it and eat it”). Knowing I have enough to feed me and that I handpicked it myself after doing the necessary research gives me a new appreciation for what I am putting in my body.

I have seen this kind of spiritual relationship with meat come from hunters I know as well. But I would argue that they are even more spiritually in tuned with their food than I am after a Whole Foods shopping spree. The truth is, hunters know everything about their food and they take my idea of knowing where our food came from to a whole knew level. My younger brother, Brody, is a great example of this. The deer he hunted, shot, and field dressed himself this fall has fed the two of us for more nights than I can count so far. If you know Brody, he’s not generally a sharer by any stretch of the word. But when it comes to his wild game, not only does he like to be a part of the whole process from a deer track in the dirt to the burger on your plate but he loves to share that experience with whomever he can. And he makes some killer jalapeno deer burgers (I’ll be taking dinner reservations starting now). So when I sat down to ponder this question why do we eat what we eat I had to ask Brody, a pivotal question, why do you hunt? His answer was “In a modern world it’s nice to get back to our roots sometimes. Its nice to know where food comes from and knowing you’re part of the process makes your food more enjoyable.  Also, you get a more intimate connection and understanding of the natural world and animals than you would get from simply hiking or bird watching.” Simple enough.  Even someone who doesn’t hunt can probably agree that getting back to nature and knowing where our food comes from is important.

 

So why the nervousness about the yogi approved article? …

The best way to explain my general hesitation surrounding the attempt to post an article about hunting in a yoga publication can be illustrated in a recent conversation I had with a fellow meat eating yogi. I messaged a wonderful instagram follower of mine about my “how to eat meat with integrity” article, because I saw she had liked my post about it and I was so excited about being published that for the moment I had no qualms in regards to promoting myself and what I thought was a pretty good article. She replied by expressing an intent to print my article and share it with her acupuncture clients. The most striking part of her message however said “it’s nice to meat a yogi that doesn’t want to burn non-vegans at the stake” followed by some of those emojis that look like their laughing so hard they’re crying. I realized in that moment, that although she was making a joke that her statement held an uncomfortable amount of truth in it. And here it is… yogis can be judgy too.

One of my favorite groups of people I have ever met has been through yoga but there are a few yogis here and there that don’t act so yogic if ya know what I mean. I’m talking about the “look at my backbend in my overpriced lulu lemon bra drinking my vegan protein shake and let me give you alignment pointers before I have to rush off to whole foods and to get some incense and essential oils people”. Now I’m not dogging on lulu lemon because I have one of their bras and it’s amazing, and I love a good shopping spree at Whole Foods, and the Indian Temple incense as much as the next yogi but when did it become okay for yogis to think that they’re better than other yogis. Isn’t this exactly what we go to yoga to escape?

Now don’t get me wrong, vegans take their share of crap too. I notice this whenever I jump on periscope to talk about diet. I often get questions like, “you’re not a vegan are you?” and I immediately get offended for all the vegans out there. Maybe I am! If I was vegan I’d sure as heck be proud of it! Just in the simple phrasing of that question leaves me, not a vegan, slightly offended. What if we just started to approach things with respect and asked questions really wanting to know the answer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things like “I can’t read your article/blog because I’m a vegan and you write about eating meat.” You are correct. I do write about eating meat but why on earth should that mean that you can’t read it? Refusing to listen to other ideas is akin to believing that your way of doing things is the only right way. I’d hope by now that none of us think that way.

 

Maybe people don’t want to have a real conversation because they know we’ll never agree…

My answer to this response would be that as a society we still talk about politics and religion, both things there’s a slim chance we’ll ever agree on. Educated people have an interest in opposing beliefs and nothing bad can come out of a conversation in which we can talk about our different lifestyles and cultivate the ability to explain why we do what we do or act how we act or eat what we eat.

FIRST YOGI APPROVED ARTICLE!!!

Hey world!
First of all, thank you so much for taking a moment to visit my blog! I hope to make frequent visitors out of you guys!
I am just making this post to announce my excitement and gratitude for the publishing of my first article on yogiapproved.com. The article is entitled “How to Eat Meat with Integrity” and I am actually pretty proud of this one! I think that often times people believe that as a yogi, or just as a human, that we must live our lives in extremes. So if you’re going to change your dietary habits you should become full on vegan overnight… OR if you’re not willing to do that, you should embrace being a carnivore and eat any and all kinds of meat that you can find.
In this article I have taken the time to explore a middle ground. What if you want to be a yogi but you still want to eat meat? What if you don’t know how you feel about eating meat? What if you’re curious about where our meat comes from? These are all questions that I had on my own spiritual adventure that I have attempted to answer with this article. I researched everything I could, as someone who grew up with meat eating as her way of life, and this article contains the information I have obtained and where it has led me so far. I would love for you all to read it and feel free to engage in dialogue about what eating meat means to you here on Well-Done Yoga or on the YogiApproved site! So here it is!
http://www.yogiapproved.com/health-wellness/how-to-eat-meat-with-integrity/

 

Thanks again!
Namaste.

Sitcoms, Nail Salons, and Yoga- A Journey in Self Acceptance

I was watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother the other day… Re-watching is actually a more accurate description. It is the episode entitled The Final Page- Part 2. It’s the one in which Barney proposes to Robin on top of the World Wide News Building. Ted encourages Robin to pursue Barney if she is still in love with him even if she thinks the odds of them ending up together are slim. In this particular episode Ted says something incredibly insightful, as only Ted can. “Making an ass of your self for love is underrated.”

I’ve seen this episode countless times but it hit home more this time than ever before… And I realized that making an ass out of myself for love is something that I’ve always embraced. In fact, I consider myself a bit of a Ted, but I like this about myself. I also realized that it took me a long time, lots of tears, and painful realizations before I could embrace the part of my nature that just doesn’t want to let things go.

The first part of this journey was the realization and acceptance of the fact that I am one incredibly nostalgic, not to mention romantic, human being… Kinda like Ted actually. I always see the past as better than it was and there was a time when I would do anything to preserve things exactly as they were. I would focus on all the good memories from the past and try to force things to remain, or go back to, the way they were. This reminds me of something my mom use to always say… She’d tell me that no matter what kind of relationship you are in- romantic, friendship, whatever- that you should always be happy more often than you are sad or the relationship is not worth it. Similarly and equally as wisely stated in one of my favorite, just as quirky as it is heartwarming British films, Hector and the Search for Happiness (more on this film and Hectors adventures later).  One of Hector’s newly acquired friends tells him that when evaluating a relationship one should consider “does this person bring me primarily a) up or b) down”. In retrospect this is some of the best advice I have ever received but I know that I seldom took it to heart. Even if I was mostly sad and a person primarily brought me down I never wanted to give up, on the odd chance that this person was my soul mate. I reasoned that not only had I grown comfortable in this relationship but “jerks have to have soul mates too right?” I’ve come to terms with the fact that in the heat of the relationship I would always want to push through or keep fighting for it even if things had gone south a long time ago. Bottom line: I’m incredibly good at the fighting to make things work part of the relationship, but absolutely awful at letting go of the things that are already gone part.

Another thing I had to realize… Possibly the most painful… Was that no one I had ever been with had been willing to make an ass out of themselves for me. So I would go to the ends of the earth, send a message when I knew I shouldn’t, forgive things that shouldn’t be forgiven, and say things that were better left unsaid, all in the hopes that things would mend and fall back in to place. After my first major breakup I spent months in this kind of limbo, waiting for a message, an apology, anything. Then I’d end up sending the text. We’d meet up and get coffee or try to go to some of the places we use to when we were together and I’d only end up feeling twice as empty as I had before. I neglected to realize, something that a wonderful friend told me several months later “it’s okay to grow out of someone”. Meaning, it’s okay to accept that things have changed and basically “please stop forcing this because it’s killing you”. Once again, in retrospect, I’ve realized how many people actually helped me get through something that I felt so alone in dealing with. I have amazing friends and an incredibly family. And what’s more than that, I have friends that have become family and that means more than the world to me. But all of their advice was always along the same lines: “let it go.”

Some of the people with the best insight into my situation, however, had only known me a few minutes. The one who speaks most to my “make an ass of yourself for love” nature was a small man who gave me a neon pink manicure a short time after a breakup. I was a mess, which came as a surprise to no one but everyone tried to cheer me up none the less. My aunt took me to get my nails done, and… as one does… I ended up informing my nail tech of the whole sordid affair. He just listened quietly for a long time and waited so long to speak that I actually wondered if he’d heard me at all. When he did talk he said, “never chase a boy. You have too much to offer and if he can’t see that then he is not worth it.” So simple yet so incredibly true. Later he kindly berated me for my posture saying that a pretty girl should always sit up straight. As I left the nail salon he called after me, “What two things?” and I responded ” Sit up straight and don’t chase!” Something that my aunt still texts me on occasion to remind me. After a long time reflecting on what my nail tech said, living through a few more experiences, and watching a few more cheesy sitcoms and romantic comedies  I concluded that chasing isn’t always bad… in fact, it’s part of who I am. People who chase the person they want to be with are not only romantic and nostalgic but they are willing to open themselves up completely and consequently live and love with their whole heart. I also concluded, however, that someone who tries and loves this hard deserves someone who would do the same for them. Basically, making an ass out of yourself for love is a two way street.

So, making an ass of yourself is good, but the other person has to make an ass out of themselves as well. And let’s be sure to clarify being an ass and making an ass out of yourself/ going out of your way to tell someone you love them are two different things. 😉 The excuse that someone is stubborn can only exist for so long before you have to realize that they really aren’t going out of their way at all for you. After certain break-ups I had to realize that I was a piece in a puzzle of convenience to this person and there would never be any changing that. You can’t always be the first one to reach out after a fight, the first to say you’re sorry, and you can’t be willing to forgive anything just to return to normalcy. I promise, if this person is all you’ve ever known chances are you can do better. So I guess it’s kinda like a line from another insightful romantic comedy, He’s Just Not That Into You, “If a guy wants to see you he will make it happen”. Sometimes those of us Teds out there have to realize that while we’ve been busy making an ass out of ourselves he (or maybe she) has not been trying to make it happen. A painful realization that, for me, led to a lot of self destructive thoughts…

Here’s where yoga comes in. Yoga teaches self love in the most honest and sometimes brutal way possible. We have to realize how little we meant to someone, breaking our heart and our ego, before we can actually realize how much we are worth. It’s sounds like kind of a paradox… And sometimes this is something we won’t realize until we take a prescription of equal parts yoga, crying it out, and ice cream with your best friend and/or mom.  But the ultimate conclusion is: you are worth it.

Although we are constantly told to stop chasing, and trying, and sacrificing (and there is something to advice of this kind) those things make us who we are. As Ted says “take it from someone who’s an expert at making an ass of themselves” never lose that part of you! Never stop being a romantic, and don’t be afraid to make an ass out of yourself for love, just have enough respect, for yourself, to know where to draw the line. Your love for others should never exceed your love for yourself. Actually, if you can’t fully love yourself then loving another person is messy, painful, and confusing at best. If you’re like me (FELLOW TEDS UNITE!) enjoy the journey of making an ass out of yourself for love and embrace that part of you but don’t forget to hold out for someone who will fight as hard for it as you do. Because, gosh darn it, you deserve it!