My brother and I haven’t always gotten along .. likely because I used to live a life clouded by ignorance .. But recently, we’ve grown quite close, and I realize now that he has some intelligent ideas up in that mind of his.
One such idea surrounds a simple test pertaining to our nutritional habits. Although vegetarianism is what traditional yoga would recommend, for whatever reason, it isn’t always ideal for certain individuals. Those who include meat and animal products in their diet, this test is for you.
Whatever you include, whether chicken, beef, pork, or something else, you should be comfortable grabbing a rod or a rifle, going out into the woods, killing, cleaning and eating your own meat.
For me personally, I recently started eating fish once or twice per week to increase the amount of proteins and healthy fats in my diet, as a way of helping to counteract the stress handstanding places on my muscles and joints. So while I was in Calgary, I decided to experiment with my brothers dietary test.
I borrowed a friend's fishing rod, and hiked up the Kananaskis foothills to a high altitude lake. I set up a campsite and decided to fish for dinner. Catching the fish wasn’t an issue. Most were too small and were released back into the wild. Eventually however, I reeled in a dinner sized trout.
To quickly put a fish out, you’re supposed to hit it hard on the top of the head. I remember looking down at this fish, seeing it looking back up at me, and with the back end of a hunting knife, I took its life. I haven’t felt pain like that in a long time. It was as if I’d just killed part of myself. Even just writing these words, the same sensation of suffering stirs up and down my spine.
This experience taught me a lot about myself, and about the food related choices I’ve been making. Its easy to walk into a store and buy a few cuts of steak. Its something else entirely to experience the process from start to finish. If you eat meat, there is (relatively) nothing wrong with that, provided you feel comfortable with every step of the process.
PS - I have to touch on certain indigenous cultures who have always caught and killed animals in order to survive. There is a certain degree of ceremony, gratitude and reverence mixed into the indigenous way of taking an animals life. The peoples of such cultures make use of every part of the animal and grow up with an intimate understanding of the way nature functions, and how to appropriately tap into its life-giving essence without destroying entire eco systems. As such, these ancient societies, and others who live like them, cannot be rightfully compared to the mechanism of modern food consumption, and exist outside the context of this article.