Is Vegetarianism Too Hard? Try Semi Vegetarianism

I have a friend who stealthily urges me to turn vegetarian. He sent me once in a while some videos on why eating meat is like crime. His idea is basically like this: you kill living creatures that deserve to live if you eat meat. You allow yourself to be a walking cemetery. Under no circumstance, leave meat.

His message is clear and sound. There is no reason why I can neglect or misunderstand it.

But if he does it because he believes that it is part of his faith, I also have my own reason. I have my faith which does not seem to allow me to go completely vegan. As a moslem, I have Idul Adha. Though I can skip eating meat, there must be a meaning behind the celebration of Idul Adha. And according to my interpretation, God allows us to enjoy meat once in a while as our body needs nutritions in it. No matter how nutritious plant-based diets can be, there must be some elements that you miss from avoiding meat altogether. It is a self denial to say, “We do not need meat at all”.

Though we can eat meat, it does not necessarily mean we must consume it every day, every time we wish. That is another extreme end of spectrum.

I need the balance. And I discover that in SEMI VEGANISM. We definitely still can eat any meat, only with less frequency and in a restricted amount.

Meat, if consumed without control, gives us health issues. It causes addiction as well.

Now that people live in an era when meat is cheaper and almost everywhere, they can eat meat every time they have meal.

But this brings health impacts as well on our overall quality of life. People start suffering from gout, diabetes, coronary diseases, etc because of this horrible meat-loaded diet.

We need to transform our foods of choice. We must transform the way we think of foods.

Meat should be consumed less frequently in a fewer amount. Eat meat only once a week to stay  healthy and fit.

And moslems in the epoch of Muhammad PBUH were semi vegetarians. They ate date and water on daily basis. But meat? That is just on rare occasion. It is not part of daily meal. Meat is eaten as a mark of important celebration.

So eating healthy, fresh [instead of processed] foods is in fact not only good in terms of your health maintenance. It also shows that you observe your religious teachings.  God tells us to eat what is halal and thayyib, which means our food must be sourced in a halal way and  all substances in it is halal and proves to be beneficial for the body. (*/photo: WIkimedia Commons)

Being a Vegan Yogi: Is It Really Necessary?

Can being a vegan make any difference in your yoga practice? (Wikimedia Commons)

Must a yogi or yogini be a vegan?
It’s a bit confusing to me as a yogi for these recent years. Some of my gurus and senior practitioners provide various examples on this way of life. The vegan way of life.
I know some yoga gurus who eat no meat. Some others don’t abide this rule. They eat somewhat liberally, if I cannot say haphazardly. A few try to be vegans but to no avail they retreat. Eating as a vegan in Indonesia is quite hard unless you have your own kitchen. Not to mention the temptation. But that is a series excuses. They just don’t have the consistency and determination, I guess.
Uniquely enough, I also ran into a guru who used to avoid eating meat but then he practiced it no more ever since. His cease of vegan way of life occured after he was on his brief excursion in India. He told me he stumbled upon an Indian. A vegan he was, the guru specified. But the thing is the guru then discovered he got scammed as a helpless foreigner and tourist by the vegan Indian.
“So what’s the point of being a vegan?” the guru protested. All he know about being a vegan is bringing ourselves closer to virtue. To God the Almighty. Yet, the fraud that just happened to him changed his perception on vegan way of life.
“It’s overly hyped,” he concluded. “Being a vegan doesn’t guarantee you to be more virtuous, to be kinder, to be better as a human being.”
In his case, I cannot refute. The experience was so raw and mind-boggling. This might be true or false. He is entitled to his own opinion that vegetarianism is vanity.
So far, I have never had such incidences. Bad vegans probably exist out there but they are outnumbered by the good ones, I am sure. As far as I am concerned, vegans around me are kind, compassionate and lovely human beings. They are less judging, and as energetic as carnivores but more controlled in some way.
So I look for more examples in the yoga world. And I found some teachers like Kino MacGregor and Sharon Gannon who advocate the vegetarianism. An ashtangi I know also happens to be a vegan.
Gannon, dubbed also as a spiritual activist and animal rights defender, remarked that yogis and yoginis “must remain steady and solid in our convictions.” She exemplified the Earth as the perfect example of this steadiness in conviction. Never does it slip away from its course.
“Patanjali says in his sutra:’sthiram sukham asanam’,” she explained. The word ‘sthiram’ means firm and steady in our life. It means sticking to our course of action, she added.
Often we are confronted by people who think we are overreacted by avoiding eating meat, accusing us of loving animals more than fellow human beings. But Gannon said it is not supposed to be like that. And she reasoned that loving should not be restricted to human beings. “Extend it (compassion) to all beings because we are all one, connected to each other,” said she. That said, hurting animals means hurting ourselves. Poisoning rivers mean poisoning ourselves. When we pollute the air, we pollute ourselves.
Speaking of the issue of yoga and vegetarianism, Gannon bases her logic and arguments on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and particularly on the second chapter of the sutra. “Otherness is the biggest obstacle to enlightenment, because in enlightenment is when you perceive the oneness in all being. An enlightened being doesn’t see others. An enlightened being only sees God,” she expounded.
This otherness can be dissolved by not hurting beings that are different from us. This is ahimsa. And do not lie to them, which means satya or honesty. And never steal from them, called asteya. What is more important is never abuse others for sexual pleasure, that is brahmacharya. And never let yourself swept by greediness. This is aparigraha or greedlessness.
Maybe we ask in mind, if eating animals cannot be justified, what about eating plants? Well, plants are creatures, too. Plants can feel. They are alive. Kino MacGregor, a renowned ashtangi, answered,”Plants as sentient beings are lower on the totem pole.”
MacGregor also mentioned that teh leats harmful food we can eat is a fallen fruit. “It’s given freely, ripe and a tree wants you to eat its fruit to spread seeds,” she elucidated.
So if a yogi or yogini desires enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal of yoga practice, hurting other creatures is never allowed. This means not eating animals, too. Happiness, she said, cannot come from exploiting others.Finally, we should answer the question in the opening of this writing: “Must a yogi or yogini be a vegan?” Only you can answer. (*)

Kunci Kesehatan: Perbanyak Makanan Segar dan Kurangi Porsi

Pernahkah kita bangun tidur bukan dengan rasa segar dan penuh tenaga tetapi dengan rasa lemas dan lelah di sekujur badan? Mungkin itu disebabkan karena makanan yang sebelumnya kita makan. Jadi bukan serta merta terjadi begitu saja.

Berikut adalah sejumlah penjelasan terkait dengan pola makan yang sehat sebagaimana disampaikan dr. I Nyoman Arie Purwana, MSc. dalam sesi sharing di Yoga Gembira Taman Suropati tanggal 8 Juli 2012. Dokter Arie ialah ahli medis sekaligus pemerhati nutrisi dan kesehatan lingkungan.

Menurutnya, hanya 15% dari bahan makanan yang masuk tubuh yang terserap oleh badan sementara sisanya 85% terbuang keluar sebagai feces dan keringat. Vegan life style bukan sebagai satu-satunya cara untuk sehat tetapi hanya membuka pintu kesehatan.

“Makin sederhana makanan, semakin baik,” demikian prinsip dr. Arie dalam memilih makanan untuk diri dan keluarganya. Semua yang terproses sebelum masuk ke perut juga sebisa mungkin dihindari dan jika dikonsumsi pun tidaklah berlebihan.

dr. Arie menegaskan bahwa menu makanan sebaiknya tidak mengandung DUITS (daging, unggas, ikan, telur, susu). “Sebenarnya yang kita makan, menurut penelitian NASA di AS, bukan bahan makanan tetapi energinya. Jadi semakin terolah semakin jelek dan sebaliknya,” tuturnya.

Dalam sesi tanya jawab, dr. Arie menjawab beberapa pertanyaan yang sering kita pikirkan sebagai orang awam dalam ilmu gizi dan medis. Ini rangkuman singkatnya yang saya tuliskan sebagai dialog tanya jawab:

1. Pertanyaan : Pola makan yang baik apakah harus dalam porsi kecil tapi sering?

Jawaban: Ada beberapa versi. Konsepnya semakin sedikit kita makan, semakin sedikit makin baik. Dalam hal ini berlaku hukum fisika: “Benda yang bergerak akan cenderung terus bergerak dan sebaliknya”. Energi itu kekal, dan cuma bisa diubah bentuknya. Makin sedikit Anda makan, makin baik dan efisien tubuh akan mengelolanya. (Ia menyebutkan ada orang yang sanggup bertahan hidup dan beraktivitas seperti biasa hanya dengan minum air putih). Apa yang ada di alam sama dengan apa yang ada di tubuh kita. Kalau makanan dipecah akan ada CHON (karbon, hidrogen, oksigen, nitrogen). Jangan heran kalau di Internet, ada orang yang bisa bertahan hidup dengan makan lebih sedikit dari orang kebanyakan. Masing-masing orang punya keunikan masing-masing. Makin sedikit makan makin baik. Butuh latihan dan proses untuk bisa mencapai tahap itu, serta waktu untuk menerapkan hal ini.

2. Pertanyaan: Bagaimana supaya setelah makan tidak mengantuk?

Jawaban: Jika tidak bekerja, cobalah untuk makan secukupnya, tak berlebihan. Jika dilatih, tubuh akan secara naluriah mengatakan, “Saya sudah cukup makan segini.” Tubuh akan memberikan sinyal mengenai porsi yang dibutuhkannya. Kedua , jika terpaksa sudah makan banyak, dan tak bisa olahraga, setengah jam setelah makan, perbanyak gerak untuk membakar kalori.

3. Pertanyaan: Menguap apakah karena kekurangan oksigen?

Jawaban: Ada kemungkinan seperti itu. Tapi bagaimana bisa kekurangan oksigen? Caranya cari ruangan yang bersirkulasi lancar. Tubuh kita sedang bekerja berat sehingga membutuhkan oksigen lebih banyak untuk mengolah makanan. Sehingga semakin berat makanan, semakin banyak oksigen yang digunakan dan makin mengantuk. Badan akan terasa segar jika kita bijak memilih makanan yang segar. Untuk nasi yang notabene berkarbohidrat tinggi, perlu dikurangi karena membuat menngantuk.

4. Pertanyaan: Apakah kita manusia harus tidur 8 jam?

Jawaban: Tidak mutlak, tetapi tergantung metabolisme masing-masing, dan tergantung kualitas tidur. Ada yang hanya butuh 6 jam tidur sudah segar. Yang lain meski sudah 8 jam lebih tetap lesu.

5. Pertanyaan: Sarapan pagi terbaik apa dan kapan?

Jawaban: sebagian orang mengatakan saat pagi hari badan akan beraktivitas berat sehingga membutuhkan banyak energi, sehingga disarankan makan karbohidrat. Tapi tidak semestinya demikian. Setelah pukul 7-8 pagi, makan 2 pisang, buah apel, dan makan agak berat di jam 11-12. Namun intinya makin sedikit makanan, makin segar, makin baik.

Sebenarnya makan utama itu cuma 2 kali sehari, jam 11-12 dan jam 6-7 malam. Setelah jam 7 jangan ada makanan masuk perut. Kecuali air putih atau buah/ jus tak bergula. Ini membuat tubuh lebih segar.

Sekadar memberikan afirmasi tentang konsep makan sehat dengan makan lebih sedikit, hal ini juga selaras dengan apa yang diyakini oleh ilmuwan yang meneliti puasa dan manfaat kesehatannya bagi manusia. Dr. Krista Varady.

[…]  they (scientists and that) reckon there’s a link between calorie restriction and longevity. Michael Mosley is off on a fascinating journey to find out – in the US, a country obviously famous for its calorie restriction. Actually, and fascinatingly, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, life expectancy increased, by six years.

Sebuah fakta yang menarik sekali ditunjukkan di sini. Di saat resesi ekonomi yang justru makin banyak orang seharusnya mati kelaparan, angka harapan hidup di AS malah naik. Aneh? Tentu tidak kalau kita mengetahui manfaat puasa dan pembatasan kalori yang masuk ke tubuh.

Sebuah analogi menarik untuk menggambarkan dengan mudah bagaimana puasa dan pembatasan kalori membuat manusia lebih sehat dan panjang umur serta awet muda ialah mengibaratkan tubuh sebagai sebuah mobil. Saat kita makan tanpa kendali dalam jumlah banyak dan makanan itu kurang sehat, tubuh seolah adalah mobil yang terus dipacu denagn kecepatan tinggi tanpa henti. Ini membuatnya terpicu untuk terus berkembang, sel-sel badan dipacu untuk terus tumbuh dengan dijejali makanan, yang akibatnya adalah naiknya risiko kanker dan penyakit degeneratif: “When we eat a lot, our cells are locked in the grow mode, which makes them susceptible to cancer and diabetes.” Mobil itu pun akhirnya suatu saat akan hancur berantakan karena melaju dalam kecepatan kencang terus menerus tanpa adanya perawatan di bengkel yang teratur dan memadai.

Sebaliknya, saat kita membatasi kalori yang masuk dengan berpuasa dan makan lebih sedikit, kita seolah menginjak pedal rem mobil dan membuatnya lebih pelan dan berhenti sejenak untuk perawatan menyeluruh. Akhirnya usia mesin pun bisa lebih panjang. Demikian juga badan ini.

Nah, setelah membaca semua ini, masihkah ingin makan banyak sekarang?