Dirty Little Secret
June 5, 2013 § 13 Comments
A video of a Brazilian toddler talking about why he wouldn’t eat the octopus his mother prepared went viral last week. Unfortunately, the version with English subtitles has since been taken down but you can still absorb his adorable-ness in the original video. Like his mother, I found myself crying by the end, moved by his earnestness and the simplicity of his reasoning.
Sadly for Luiz Antonio, I still enjoy octopus and most of the animals he wants to keep “standing up”, and therein lies my dilemma. I find myself in the unique position of thoroughly enjoying two areas of interest that are, in some circles, diametrically opposed. Yogis are supposed to be vegetarians, preferably vegan (apparently). My experience in Mysore showed that the typical Ashtangi’s attitude towards food is primarily utilitarian – it is a means to an end, the end being the asana practice and the broader journey towards a sattvic state. Conversations about food in this group have a stronger focus on nutritional value, less on textures and flavors.
In the other part of my life, however, I am part of circles where food IS the end, and we talk endlessly about the variations on a recipe, how we would do it differently, what we could improve on the next round, and so on. And yes, we talk about the joys of meat consumption too, a topic that has recently left me feeling like a hypocrite in Ashtanga circles. I feel like the Ashtangi with the dirty secret: I like meat and dairy, and I don’t plan on ever giving it up. Never mind that meat isn’t a regular part of my diet, or that when I prepare it, I make sure to source it locally from sustainably-run farms. The fact that I eat meat at all feels like I’m breaking the biggest taboo in Ashtanga.
Of course, this could all just be in my head. My guilt issues manifest in “Ashtanga police” form, popping up just as I’m getting ready to photograph a food blogging conference where I will be immersed in familiar conversations about textures, flavors, butchery, ingredients, pickling, baking, brewing, etc etc etc. I’m still working through this, looking, hoping, for the middle ground where I can comfortably straddle both fields of interest and not be intimidated by superficial judgements of my food choices. A work-in-progress, definitely.