Eat organic WHENEVER POSSIBLE
The easiest thing you can do to consume your meat, dairy, and even your produce and grains, more responsibly is to eat organic whenever you can. Organic foods, especially meats and dairy are important because they have strict regulations on what the animal can and can’t eat or be grown with. These foods aren’t loaded with pesticides from the food the animal consumed, and they are also not loaded with growth hormones or antibiotics. The practices of the farm are usually more ethical and many organic foods are also labelled ‘humanely raised’. If your body craves meat or dairy, this is a fantastic option that will keep you mindful with each purchase and meal. Eating this way 100% of the time might not be possible for you depending on what you have where you live and your budget, so shoot for the 80-20 rule, where 80 per cent of your food is organic and 20 per cent is conventionally grown, or buy organic for the items you use most frequently.
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Buy from local farmers
Sometimes, even better than organic is to buy straight form your local farmer. This goes for meat and dairy, but also for other produce. Many farmers aren’t labelled organic, simply because the certification process is rigid and expensive. When asked they may tell you that they don’t use hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics to feed and raise their animals, and that they don’t spray their crops. They’ll also be able to tell you if the animals are pasture-raised, free-range, or raised within the farm stables. These can all help you find farms that raise happy, healthy animals, while supporting a local business, and practising sustainability. And even if your farmer isn’t organic, or does use some practices that aren’t perfect, this is still a way to practise sustainable farming, local farmers, and a small business, where you can help shape the demand for more organic and healthier options right in your area.
Eat MOSTLY VEGETABLES
Just because you eat meat and dairy, they don’t have to be the main component of your diet. For most people, eating meat is a source of protein and iron that help their bodies to stay strong, supported, and functioning well. For some people, plant-based protein just isn’t enough and they find themselves exhausted, constantly hungry, and even anaemic. Incorporating meat at one meal a day or even sporadically throughout the week is often enough to get back on track and find balance in your body. Regardless of if you consume meat once a week or in each meal, try keeping your nutrient dense vegetables as the main show. This will help keep your healthy vs. unhealthy fats in check, as well as your micro and macronutrients. It will also up the fibre content as you add in more protein for smoother digestion of each meal.
Eat at farm-to-table OR LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANTS
If you don’t want to cook and buy meat, and only want it occasionally, try eating out. While eating out might not seem like the most mindful choice at first, many local restaurants shop in local stores and local farms, making their meats and dairy much more sustainable than traditional chain restaurants. The food is often fresher and less expensive, plus consumer demand for farm-to-table is growing. These restaurants may not be organic, but they will usually have options for meat that are sustainable and from local farms. This way, your occasional indulgence can continue to be mindful and sustainable for your community, rather than support practices that don’t align with your lifestyle and yoga practice.
Include vegetarian MEALS IN YOUR ROTATION
Just because you eat meat, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it at every meal or throw away your favourite vegan and vegetarian recipes. As you add it in, you might find yourself craving meat or dairy with each meal. After awhile, this will balance out and you’ll find the right amount for your bodies needs. Once you are through this first introduction of meat back into your diet, start adding back in some of your favourite non-meat recipes, or even declare a few days of the week ‘no meat’ days. This can help you keep your vegetable intake high and keep your body, mind, and yoga practice in balance.
Eating meat is a personal choice for your body, much like your yoga practice. Whether you choose to eat it or not, you can make choices that help support your yogic lifestyle, rather than choices that make you second guess yourself. The next time you head to the grocery store or a friend’s house and are tempted to try buying or eating meat again, put these steps into practice and know that you are doing so the modern, mindful and yogic way.
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