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Karma Veg: Is being vegetarian a requirement for yoga?

By Jess Lewis-Peltier
December 27, 2010
File under: Healthy Eating, Vegetarian, Yoga


So you’ve taken up yoga complete with your sticky mat, chanting and deep breathing. You’re feeling the healthy glow and are now thinking of taking it a step further by becoming vegetarian. After all, it almost seems requisite; but whether or not someone is required to be vegetarian when practicing yoga is the subject of much heated debate.

The simple answer is no, it is not a requirement. However, as each aspiring yogi/yogini delves deeper into yogic philosophy, it is difficult to ignore the principles that support this lifestyle. While listening to your body and its diverse nutritional needs is very important, you must also listen to your spiritual and karmic needs allowing those to be your compass in deciding what’s right for you.

Although yoga by no means forces the vegetarian lifestyle, there are many aspects of the philosophy that can, for some, ultimately lead to this conclusion. Many who practice yoga feel that the vegetarian lifestyle is one that is kind, clean and sustainable and most importantly adheres to the principals of Ahimsa and Prana.

The first, Ahimsa is the reason most widely used for those arguing for yogis to go veg. The second, Prana, is less cited, but an infinitely more powerful concept.

Ahimsa literally means non-harming. Some interpret this to mean that a meat-inclusive diet is harmful not only to the animal, but to the human body as well and consider eating flesh foods a big no-no. With factory farming, it is impossible to argue that the animals do not suffer. Every minute of their lives is filled with cruelty that we are purposefully shielded from by the industry.

Violating the concept of non-harming doesn’t stop at animal welfare; it extends to humans as well. Consuming animal products can potentially harm us for a long time. Eating meat pumped full of antibiotics and hormones further damages our body, as we store these substances in our tissues and organs.

Prana is the Sanskrit word for “vital life.” It is the spiritual energy force from which we are all created and sustained. Applying the principle of prana to the way we eat is really very simple. Foods that are clean, fresh and rich in vital enzymes are full of prana. Processed foods are lifeless and have none of their vital life force left; their life-breath has been taken away. If you consider the adage “you are what you eat” then eating foods that are clean, organic and full of life’s energy impart a healthy, clean and radiant glow.

For some of us, the decision to become vegetarian or vegan is an easy one, but for others the decision and transition may seem difficult. The best thing you can do is take it slowly and honor your body throughout the process. Make note of how you feel when you add more pranic foods to your diet. Most say they feel lighter and clean.

Easy tips to get you started:

1. Eat more organic fruits and veggies. They are full of life force and nutrition. Buy locally for a few extra karma points.
2. Eat less processed foods and when you do, choose those with the fewest ingredients.
3. Read! There are tons of wonderfully simple vegetarian cookbooks out there. Add one or two wholesome recipes a week and you will begin to feel amazing in no time.

Jess Lewis-Peltier, ‘The Holistic Yogini‘ is a naturopath, biochemist, herbalist and yoga teacher living in southern California. Facebook Jess and follow her on Twitter.

Comments (32) Email Link
  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Yoga and vegetarianism - from ecomii blogs [] on
    December 27, 2010 9am UTC

    [...] Yoga and vegetarianism – from ecomii blogs – view page – cached [...]

  2. Ursula Burke
    December 27, 2010 4pm UTC

    I was resistant to becoming a vegetarian for many years justifying my decision with everything I could think of. My practice didn’t flourish fully until I became veg. I became even more flexible and now feel deeply connected to my practice. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with others.

  3. Jason
    December 30, 2010 3pm UTC

    I’m just getting into Yoga and these tips are great! Matching the appropriate nutrition with physical activity is always of great importance.

  4. dave lynnd
    December 30, 2010 3pm UTC

    Great article! It really makes sense how being a vegetarian fits so well with yoga.

  5. Jordan H.
    December 30, 2010 3pm UTC

    Good point about “you are what you eat”. I never thought about it like that, but it certainly throws vegetarians’ purposes into a different light.

  6. Lisa
    December 30, 2010 3pm UTC

    This article really builds a connection between the practice of Yoga and vegetarianism. Excellent tips on getting started, thanks a lot!

  7. Nikki
    December 30, 2010 5pm UTC

    Veg is really the only way to go if you want to live a clean, healthy life regardless if you do yoga!!

  8. Jackson
    January 2, 2011 2pm UTC

    Do you have any examples of veg cookbooks that you would recommend?

  9. Stu
    January 2, 2011 2pm UTC

    Matching yoga with vegetarianism seems natural to me. Yoga is about spirituality and karma and so to is being a vegetarian.

  10. Sasha
    January 2, 2011 2pm UTC

    The way animals are treated in the farming industry is outright disgusting. Thanks for the info on merging yoga and vegetarianism!

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    January 4, 2011 9am UTC

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  12. madison
    January 18, 2011 6pm UTC

    I think the most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy.Nowadays people want to look young and for this they uses many therapy or treatment but aging process, which is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be slowed down by practicing yoga.

  13. Singh
    January 18, 2011 6pm UTC

    I am always wonder that is it necessary to be vegetarian for karma? I think its your internal feeling that Yoga is about spirituality and karma and so to is being a vegetarian.

  14. yoga world
    January 19, 2011 6am UTC

    yoga world…

    This is interesting, post more often!…

  15. Paul
    March 5, 2011 7am UTC

    Jess thank you for this amazing article, it has already added value and benefits to my life. Thanks:)

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    August 31, 2011 3pm UTC

    For lots of free info and links about the *many* benefits of vegetarianism (and the many problems with the production and consumption of meat), please visit (and share)

    Eco-Eating at

  17. prAna
    September 1, 2011 1am UTC

    Great article Jess! It is interesting how many yogis are vegetarian/vegan and that percentage seems to grow the deeper their practice…

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