Perhaps you’ve been practicing yoga for years, or maybe just a few months. Either way, there’s no doubt that you’re noticing all sorts of positive effects! You’re probably feeling more energized, grounded, stronger, and lighter.
Having experienced all these amazing benefits, it’s no wonder that you are interested in learning more about the yoga lifestyle. Outside of regular yoga practice, the yoga lifestyle can influence all aspects of how you live your life.
Ancient yoga texts teach about a true yoga lifestyle. One teaching is called yama, which describes the ethical treatment of other living things. Part of this teaching is ahimsa, or non-violence. One easy way to adopt this teaching into your daily life is to make the switch to a plant-based diet.
And the benefits of going plant-based go far beyond the ethical treatment of animals. A plant-based diet is better for your health and may increase your longevity. And it’s a more sustainable way of eating that’s much better for the environment too.
Here’s why you should consider making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle and how the transition can be a smooth one.
How a Plant-Based Lifestyle and Yoga Go Hand in Hand
The plant-based lifestyle and yoga go hand in hand. In fact, yoga originated in India, which has a long-standing tradition of eating mostly plant-based. And, as we mentioned above, many yoga teachings support eating only plant-based foods.
While not harming others is part of most spiritual practices, the yogic concept of ahimsa also applies to all animals and the planet. Choosing a way of eating that has the least negative impact on yourself, animals, and the Earth makes the most sense for yogis who wish to follow a true yogic lifestyle.
Not only are you setting a good example for others by minimizing your impact on animals or the planet, but you’re also practicing the concept of non-violence toward yourself by eating in a way that’s better for your overall health and wellbeing.
Variations of a Plant-Based Diet
Many people automatically assume that following a plant-based diet means you’re a vegan or vegetarian, but that’s not always the case. There’s no formal definition of a plant-based diet, but most agree that it’s any style of eating that is based primarily on plants with minimal or no animal foods.
Here are the main variations of a plant-based diet to help you decide which style of eating makes the most sense for you.
A true vegan diet means you eliminate all animal foods. This includes meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, and any animal by-product that may be added to processed food.
Many who choose a vegan diet also choose not to wear clothing made from animal products or use personal care products that contain animal products or have been tested on animals. This is one of the strictest variations of a plant-based diet and lifestyle.
Vegans consume mostly whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs, spices, and plant-sourced fats. Some vegans take things a step further by consuming only raw foods or foods that have been heated at very low temperatures.
The vegetarian eating style is probably the most popular variation of a plant-based diet. It’s usually not as restrictive as a vegan diet, and some variations allow you to consume certain animal foods.
For example, an ovo-lacto vegetarian excludes all animal flesh but does consume dairy products and eggs. Many people who choose this style of eating do so for the health benefits and the ability to focus strictly on whole foods and ethically raised, organically sourced dairy and egg products.
The pescatarian diet is a plant-forward diet that allows for the consumption of fish and seafood, but no other types of meat. Some pescatarians also consume eggs and dairy products, and some don’t.
This is one of the most flexible plant-forward diets and it’s an excellent stepping stone for those who want to ease into vegetarianism or veganism.
The flexitarian style of eating is mostly plant-forward, but it does not prohibit animal products. Most flexitarians consume small amounts of animal products. They still get some amazing health benefits, but they have a lot more flexibility in their food choices.
Why Yogis Should Consider Going Plant-Based
Healthier weight management is one of the greatest advantages of going plant-based. But plant-based diets also lower your risk of many chronic diseases, promote longevity, and support mental health, too.
A plant-based diet can also improve flexibility for yogis, increase energy, reduce inflammation, and much more. Here are some advantages yogis can look forward to after making the switch:
Yoga requires energy and focus, and according to Ayurvedic principles, the food you eat plays a key role in how you feel mentally and physically. Plant foods create more energy, while animal foods offer low energy.
Better Yoga Performance
Since a plant-based diet is naturally low in cholesterol and saturated fat, it improves blood thickness and circulation. That means your blood will reach your muscles more efficiently, which improves athletic performance and helps you flow through the poses more smoothly.
Plant-based diets are also rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals. This reduces muscle fatigue and improves recovery times. To maximize the antioxidants in your diet, be sure to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day.
Many foods that are abundant in a plant-based diet, such as leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, are rich in vitamins A and E. These vitamins are crucial for healthy skin. In fact, many people notice a huge improvement in their skin after giving up meat and dairy and including more plant-based proteins instead.
Improved Muscle Tone and Definition
Switching to a whole food diet is amazing for gut health, which promotes healthy weight loss even if you don’t concern yourself with cutting calories. A lower body fat percentage means you’ll be more flexible, and your muscle tone and definition will improve.
Inflammation is a normal and necessary immune system response. Whenever an illness or injury occurs in the body, the immune system sends cells to repair it, which triggers inflammation. The problem occurs when inflammation becomes chronic or persists after the issue has healed.
In many cases, chronic inflammation is triggered by the consumption of meat, dairy, refined carbs and sugar, and other processed foods. By switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet, you’ve naturally eliminated these foods, which results in less inflammation throughout the body.
Wrapping Things Up: Transitioning to a Plant-Forward Diet
If eliminating animal foods doesn’t seem realistic for you right now, start by replacing some of the animal protein you eat with plant protein. Focus on incorporating more whole foods into your diet and limiting your intake of processed foods.
Try exploring more plant-based foods, such as non-dairy alternatives, plant-based meat alternatives, and whole grains to see what you might enjoy eating regularly. You can even start simple and swing by neighboring BARE Blends after a yoga class and try refueling with any of their plant-based menu items. And don’t forget, you can always start as a flexitarian or pescatarian and slowly transition into a vegetarian or vegan diet over time.