“The most important part of the yoga practice is … diet.” —Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
Are the Yoga Sutras connected to an ethically vegan lifestyle? Jivamukti Yoga founder Sharon Gannon explores this concept in her newest book, Yoga and Veganism. She connects ancient yogic wisdom to veganism by delving into the core concept of compassion — for oneself, others and, of course, animals.
My personal journey to adopting a vegan lifestyle and my journey to becoming a yoga teacher were two separate entities that I recently learned, thanks to Yoga and Veganism, share a common value. In her book, Gannon coins veganism as the “diet of enlightenment” — a satisfying explanation to illustrate the similarities between my two intertwining journeys.
Naturally, yoga reveals to us patterns in our behavior and lifestyle; mindfulness has that power of bringing internal reflection to the light. It’s no wonder why only two years after becoming vegan I was ready to delve deeper into my yoga practice through a teacher training. Simply put, veganism is the practice of compassion for all beings, similar to yoga.
Even after reading this book, I do not believe every yoga teacher should feel obligated to become vegan, as I am not a perfect practitioner of all the sutras either. But, learning how yogic philosophy supports this lifestyle unpacks just another way yoga teachers can better share the benefits yoga has on the planet and its inhabitants beyond just a one-hour physical practice of it.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali presents an eight-step plan to total liberation through yoga. Gannon delves into each of these limbs, especially highlighting ahimsa, non-violence. She writes, “Billions of animals are killed every year for human consumption after living confined in horrible conditions on factory farms and enduring untold extremes of suffering.”
If there is something you want to achieve, the practice of yoga can help guide you there. Veganism is documented to have profound impacts on an individual’s health, the environment and animal welfare. Following a vegan lifestyle is to live with intention, a concept yogic texts have praised for centuries.
If you’re interested in learning more about spiritual activism, the Yoga Sutras, karmic relationships or simply want decadent plant-based recipes, Yoga and Veganism is a must-read. Gannon’s writing is not only rich in content, but incredibly captivating and potent.