Last week Michael wrote about ahimsa and it got me reflecting on my own messy, awkward attempts at trying to incorporate ahimsa (non-violence/non-harm) into my own life. As I sit down to write this, I realise that I can’t avoid talking about my relationship with vegetarianism; more specifically my departure from a vegetarian lifestyle. This feels very uncomfortable, because I know it will be a great disappointment to some people I hold very dear.
To set the context – Up till summer 2015, I had been vegetarian for around about ten years. There were a few years at the beginning where I called myself vegetarian, but would occasionally eat a bit of meat. Not good quality meat and not with much/any thought of where it had been sourced from. I’m afraid to say that I’m talking Sunday morning low-quality pork sausages from a greasy spoon in East Belfast.
Going to my yoga teacher training (October 2006) changed all that. I resolved to be strictly vegetarian and I was – for a very short while! I don’t remember when I went back to eating fish, but I don’t think it could have been very long. Actually, only a cursory probe into my memory banks reveals at least one memory of eating a fish taco in Mexico, less than a month after my YTTC.
I started to admit to myself that I was really pescetarian. About 11 months after that first fish taco, I ate fish and chips at a renowned joint in St Ives. An hour or so later, I had agonising abdominal cramps. That was the sign from the universe that I needed – (I was big into that at the time!) – and so I gave up fish as well as meat.
This continued on for years and years. When I met my husband Michael (at the ashram where I had originally taken my YTTC) I had assumed he was vegetarian too. We were committed yogis after all and since all the food at the ashram was vegetarian, the issue just never came up. So I was genuinely horrified and angry to discover that he was a devoted omnivore with zero intention of giving up meat – again! It’s up to him to tell his story, but he had been vegetarian and even raw vegan in the past, and he wasn’t anymore.