Real Talk: How Can You Be a Yogi and Eat Meat?

We teamed up with our friends at EPIC to answer the questions you had about our “conscious carnivore” editorial series.

We recently teamed up with our friends at EPIC Provisions to explore what it means to be a conscious meat-eater. We know many people in our community believe being a carnivore is not consistent with adhering to yogic philosophy, so we worked with EPIC to gather some of your questions and address them directly. We believe that open communication is the first step toward understanding other people’s needs and beliefs in the mindful space. Please feel free to continue the conversation by commenting below! 

Wanderlust Community: Ahimsa is the first yama, the principle of non-violence. That means not killing animals. How can you say that good yogis eat meat?

EPIC: Ahimsa is a beautiful teaching and we’ve tried to incorporated its core meaning into our company values since our founding. We strive to practice compassion in all of our decision-making here at EPIC and we respect vegetarians and vegans by promoting everyone’s freedom to make their own choices; even if that precludes them from eating our bars.

Our objective at EPIC is bigger than just making delicious/nutritious animal-based foods.  We’re striving to promote a truly holistic approach to animal harvesting where the focus is on end-to-end compassion. We source from farms and ranches who raise their animals ethically with love and care. In this way, we’re at the forefront of an effort to flip the trajectory of food production by providing happy animal proteins and fats. This allows mindful people who choose to eat meat to nourish their bodies without compromising their core beliefs about compassion for the animals and the land we all share.

WL Community: If our dollar really counts, then how about we just stop buying meat altogether and focus on healthy crops from the land? Wouldn’t that be even better?

EPIC: Katie and I once believed that being vegan would help change the meat industry because we were opting out of supporting livestock production. We were wrong. The world around us continued consuming meat and the conventional feedlot model continued to prosper. It occurred to us that we could have a greater impact on animal welfare and meat production by voting with our purchasing dollars. Every time we purchased meat from a local, animal welfare, or pasture focused rancher we were incentivizing producers to “do the right thing.” The vast majority of people who support this type of ranching are the conscious consumers who care about the Earth, animals, and their health. If we all “opt out of voting,” feedlot ranching will continue to thrive.

We’re at the forefront of an effort to flip the trajectory of food production by providing happy animal proteins and fats.

WL Community: Animal-based oils are terrible. No animal wants to be turned into glue. Or broth. Would you want that? Plant-based cooking oils are healthier as well.

EPIC: The majority of animals processed in the U.S. are harvested for their “premium cuts” which include lean steaks, brisket, and fillet. Unfortunately, a large percentage of this animal is wasted and converted into a byproduct like fertilizer, biodiesel, and processed pet food. We believe that the best way for omnivores to honor the entire animal they choose to eat is to create nourishing products in a natural, whole food, simple form that is consistent with the diets of our ancestors. By doing so, we are able to help ranchers trying to convert their operations to a more sustainable, humane, and pasture-centered approach because we can commit to purchasing more than the “premium cuts.”

There is no research to support that plant-based cooking oils are healthier than animal based cooking oils—it is important to clearly distinguish between the consumption of conventional animal products and pastured animal products. Our animal-based cooking oils are more stable at high heat than many plant-based oils on the market, which means they don’t break down as easily when cooking with them. When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that you definitely don’t want to be consuming. The fatty acid content of animals tends to vary depending on what the animals eat. If they eat a lot of grains, the fats will contain quite a bit of polyunsaturated fats. If the animals are pastured-raised or grass-fed, there will be more saturated and monounsaturated fats in them. Therefore, animal fats from animals that grass-fed are excellent options for cooking.

WL Community: Shouldn’t we start with sustainable farming first? I mean, that seems like the most important first step. If people don’t even understand the importance of sustainability, they’re not going to understand regeneration. How can you say it’s not important?

EPIC: By definition, “sustainable farming” means maintaining the existing conditions of the land. It is neither destructive or regenerative. We believe that the current agricultural system in this country is broken and that the status quo is nothing worth sustaining. If we can use animal impact to replicate the symbiotic relationships between large herds of ruminates and soil health, why would we not? This conversation may be ahead of its time and difficult for some people to grasp, but it’s actually very simple: We can go beyond “sustaining” and actually heal, restore, and repair ecosystems with our agricultural models. Consumers who support this type of regenerative agriculture are creating a net positive return on the planet.

WL Community: What’s better for the animal/environment: Organic grain or non-organic grass?

EPIC: What is best for the animal directly correlates into what’s best for the environment as well as the consumer. Ruminate animals (bison, cows, sheep, deer) are biologically designed to consume grass. Simply put: When these animals eat grain, they get sick. As a result, the meat from grain fed animals is lower in key vitamins and minerals when compared to healthy grass-fed animals. The beauty of well-maintained grasslands is that they require little to no input. When managed appropriately, grasslands can flourish through rain water and animal fertilizer. This is how nature intended and this symbiotic relationship adds health to the ecosystem as well as the animals grazing them.

If you have more questions, please leave them in the comment field below.