"I am tired of seeing people fall for the illusion that a dead tortured bird and a bunch of sides served at some family gathering is the proper way to be thankful. Many people in the world right now would be thankful for a cup of rice or a peanut butter sandwich to eat, yet in America, we have to promote death and gorging ourselves to show we are thankful."
A year and a half ago, I experienced an awakening relating to the food that I put in my body. Becoming vegan is not a fad diet. It’s not about my waistline. It's about a lifestyle of mindfulness, knowledge, and kindness. Yoga philosophy has Eight Limbs to practice on the Path to Enlightenment. Enlightenment is about awakening to the truth and knowledge. One of these limbs is about Universal Morality, Yamas. This includes kindness, Ahimsa, to all beings.
Saying hello to animals along the Camino de Santiago 2018
Before I chose to open my eyes to the reality of where our food comes from (documentaries available on Netflix), I was like most of you, an omnivore that just went with the flow. I ate what everyone else ate because it tasted good and I was told that we “needed” animal protein. However, there is a very dark side to this ignorance, and a negative karmic cycle, that results from being a part of animal torture and murder in the world today.
As a nation, we put up decorations of leaves and turkey feathers to celebrate abundance. Yes, we have much more than we need. Did you know that turkey may have not even been on the menu at the 1621 celebration of Pilgrims at Plymouth, which is considered the first Thanksgiving. According to tradition, pilgrims received foods that were native to the New World and now, four hundred years later, we are trying to re-enact that one meal at the expense of not one turkey, but 46 million tortured turkeys every year!!
I found this statement on an underpass along the Camino de Santiago.
Most turkeys are packed so tightly into factory farms, that they only live a fraction of their natural lifespan, never seeing the light of the sun in dusty and ammonia-filed buildings. With such a stressful life, these turkeys tend to injure themselves with their sharp beaks and toes. So, instead of allowing these birds more space, the babies are now mutilated with a hot blade or high-voltage electrical current to eliminate portions of beaks and toes without any anesthetic. If that's not devasting enough, most domesticated turkeys don't even have the chance to make love to each other! Males are genetically modified and bred to develop such large breasts that they can no longer mount females. Human now manage the artificial insemination in the turkey industry. Further, turkeys are so abused in the transport to the slaughterhouse that thousand die in the process. The remaining ones are slaughtered while fully conscious.
And, according to prominent Buddhist, Thick Nhat Hahn, "Every day, over 40,000 children die in the world for lack of food. We, who overeat in the West, who are feeding grains to animals to make meat, are eating the flesh of these children."
How did this become acceptable?
Is this what we call progress of society?
I am no longer interested in sitting at the family table with the carcass of a dead bird or seeing the glorification of violence towards turkeys on TV, the grocery store, or Facebook.
I don't need one day to give thanks either. I am thankful every day for what I have. I'm thankful for awakening to the reality of this holiday feast. I am grateful for the opportunity to CHOOSE what I put into my body. I will spend the day honoring my body with yoga and meditation.
I invite you to educate yourself on where your food comes from and vegan nutrition. Kathy Freston describes this process well in her recent book, Quantum Wellness. Even just taking a simple step of eliminating one animal at a time from your diet will make a difference in the long run. After all the animals, then you can start eliminating animal products like mild, cheese, and butter.
We are so lucky to have a variety of plant-based products like vegan butter and cheese (Miyokos is the best), oat milk, and tofu products so that we can still enjoy some of our classic comfort favorites. After a while, you begin to fall in love with the taste of fruits, legumes, and vegetables. There are so many natural gifts of the earth, yet our society has twisted the facts and decided to take what is not ours to take.
Can you stand with me to stop this cruelty?
This Thanksgiving, be grateful for the abundance of the earth and the ability to CHOOSE!
You have the choice to avoid eating, buying, and participating in this awful cycle of animal torture products!
Gandhi reminds us, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
You can still create beautiful and delicious fall vegan dishes like Sweet Potato Casserole, Roasted Beets and Carrots, Apple Pie with the help of so many online recipes and cookbooks!
You can also help support organizations that are working towards reform, such as Farm Sanctuary.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world!"
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
Fun Yoga On the Bay
Travel the world with me through yoga!
These themed lessons are fun for all ages and levels at Mission Bay Park.
See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad