Many people are vegans or vegetarians and avoid eating meat altogether. Others eat it all the time, and many others are in the middle of that somewhere. If you are somewhere in the middle, or are considering being somewhere in the middle, then this blog post is for you.
My personal experience with meat
I once was a vegetarian for 6 years. I was never low on iron or anything else, and it was totally healthy for me. Then I got pregnant, and I couldn't believe the strong craving I had for a steak one day when I was at a barbecue. I went for it, ending a 6-year vegetarian streak. While I judged myself for not being a good yogini, I also wondered if perhaps my body just needed it. After all, when you're pregnant, your blood volume increases dramatically and low iron is incredibly common. So, I trusted the old wisdom. I trusted that the cravings of the pregnant woman should be followed.
After my son was born, I didn't really want meat much after I stopped breastfeeding. As a child, I didn't really like meat much either. I told my mother when I was little that I wanted to be a vegetarian, and everyone laughed at me, the way they laughed at my vegetarian uncle who lived on a commune with a guru. I would sit at the dinner table for 30 minutes after everyone else because my father said I couldn't leave the table until I ate everything on my plate. Except I did not want to eat that pork chop, and eventually my mom would let me off the hook without telling my father. You can see how that probably screwed me up in some way, but we all need obstacles to overcome from our childhood. Adult life would be too easy without them!
I often get an empathic connection with a creature and feel too bad to eat it, while other times I see it simply as a substance that may have some use to me.
My kid loves meat. I let him eat it. He still hates most vegetables. He loves fishing. He caught three sardines fishing recently, and we cooked them for dinner. He drew the fish a picture and posted it on the refrigerator door where they were being preserved until dinnertime. The picture's caption said, "Thank you, Fish. R.I.P."
My vegan teacher
I once had a vegan yoga teacher who took dozens of supplements every morning with her coffee. I wondered if that was really the most effective way to accomplish what she was trying to accomplish. If she was not eating meat for ethical reasons because she felt it was cruel to eat meat, or bad for the environment, then what about all the plastic she's utilizing from those little supplement bottles? We can always find something to judge. Can't we? Meanwhile, there's what your body really needs, and what resources you have available to do the job that are the most effective. That has to matter.
How meat is used in Ayurveda
Meat is recommended medicinally in Ayurveda for people with high-vata, catabolic conditions (such as dryness, light sleep, mood swings, anxiety, tremors, wasting, constipation, difficulty regulating temperature). It’s generally not recommended for the category of high-kapha, anabolic conditions (extra growths, tumors, excessive mucus, slowness, stubbornness, heaviness), nor is it recommended with high-pitta, inflammatory conditions (inflammation, intensity, anger, burning sensations, looser stools, acne, rashes, heavy periods).
But all meat is not equal.
White meat turkey is different than eating dark meat. Dark meat on birds is generally oilier than white meat, so if you have more kapha, then dry white meat is better for you. If you have more vata, then dark meat is better for you. If you are struggling with pitta conditions, then ease up on meat, and focus more on your broccoli, carrot or squash side dishes.
If you're going to eat meat, then the Fall season could be the best time of year to do it, considering it's the season when vata goes up.
You can take a middle path
I generally don't eat meat, except for medicinal purposes, or when I want to appreciate the hard fishing work of my kid. Sometimes I like the taste of it, and at other times it grosses me out. I'm very particular about the texture of it, and the specific part of the animal that I will eat.
You can decide to take a hard stance for ethical or environmental reasons. I do think we should all be aware of the larger impacts of our choices. However, I've met plenty of vegans who have health issues, and plenty of big meat eaters who do too. To our bodies, evil vs good has more to do with whether you can have a bowel movement every day, whether you're free from plaques, inflammation, or excesses or deficiencies of things. And sneeze, yawn and cry when the the time calls for it.
For me, I choose a middle path, and it brings me peace of mind.
I'd love to hear how your approach is working!