Full disclosure, I was not raised by actual wolves. I was raised by “The Wulfs”, a large German-American family in Clinton County, Iowa.
Like many midwestern families, or those of German heritage, the “Wulf Pack” eats a diet heavy in meat and dairy. A meal doesn’t feel like a meal unless it featured a serving of meat; breakfast sausage, lunch meat, steak or pork tenderloin, etc. And all my life, I was right there in the middle of the pack three times a day.
Flash forward to right now. Nearly 20 years in liberal Northern California and more than 6 years of yoga practice have rendered me a vegetarian.
So what? Well, in California, being a vegetarian in extremely easy because 1) nobody cares and 2) the regional cuisine offers a wide variety of vegetarian- friendly options. But at the end of July I’ll join the Wulf Pack at the family cabin in Northern Minnesota for our annual pack gathering where we will drink beer and wine, grill stuff, and have a really fabulous time doing it.
This is anxiety inducing for me because my move to committed vegetarianism is relatively new and I feel I’ll have to defend my rationale to the pack leaders (my mom, her siblings, and my cousins). I also don’t want to be considered “high maintenance” because I now have a “special diet.” So I had better hone my answer for just exactly why I would make such a choice and do some strategic thinking about what I’m going to eat that week.
Vegetarianism, technically veganism, is prescribed in a yoga practice because it supports the ideas of equality, compassion, and nonviolence, which are central to the yoga philosophy and required to attain enlightenment.
All of those things are great, but yoga is not the reason I became a vegetarian; I strongly suspect I would have found my way there regardless of my spiritual path. I have never felt great about where our meat comes from and what animal farming (on any scale) does to animals and the environment. I have also come to believe that a meat-centric diet isn’t that healthy for a person. When you live in a farming community, it is hard to own those thoughts.
Now I am all grown up and I live in suburban Santa Rosa, California. My meat comes from the grocery store, processed and packaged, with all the dirty work taken care of for me. But my life experience and the media remind me on a daily basis what is required to put a steak or a pork chop on my grill or a chicken in the oven. And for right now, I’ll pass the tofu please.
This article was first published on www.groundingup.com.