by Anna Ferguson
Veganism is a way of life that embodies kindness, generosity, and respect for oneself, our fellow humans, the planet, and all living beings. This requires practicing regular self-care so we are fueled with the gentleness and compassion necessary to truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, hooves, fins, paws, or claws—and view all others as our equals. This is what the practice of yoga is all about. Ahimsa, nonharming—or in the positive, kindness is both our call and our answer.
Practicing a peaceful lifestyle is just that: it is a practice, as opposed to a perfect way of life. Just like anyone else, vegans and yogis have moments of frustration, anger, and get upset. The practice of ahimsa is doing our best to unconditionally accept and love both oneself and others. Accept, love, and give blessings to the slaughterhouse worker, the rapist, and the child abuser—as well as to your children, family, and friends. Accepting and loving others does not mean that we justify, condone, or accept harmful behaviors. While we strive to assist others in making kind choices, we accept and love them regardless of their behavior and treatment of others. This is not an easy practice to embrace, but it is an important part of our journey as vegans.
The practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence, involves a conscious choice as to how we act. Whether or not someone chooses a peaceful path is up to them, and as part of the practice of yoga practice we do our best to not destructively criticize others for their choices. Instead, we practice focusing on our similarities with others, rather than our differences. Sharing our commonalities is a form of celebration. The joy of living in a nonviolent and all-loving and kind way—one that is personal and shared with others—inspires me to embrace the practice of ahimsa and a compassionate lifestyle. This lifestyle, as I envision it, is both peaceful and empowering. It is one that enables us to take responsibility for our own lives while showing respect for the earth and other living beings.
Practicing yoga via conscious breathing, physical postures, and meditation makes for a more peaceful and joyful vegan that is able to hold greater capacities for compassion to all, humans included. When we are angry we tend to point fingers and may even feel hate or disgust toward people. This leads to burnout and deeper angst and frustration. When we practice conscious breathing, yoga postures, and meditation, it gives us the strength to pause before saying or doing something out of frustration or anger and to respond to the circumstances of life in a more calm way. This allows for a deeper connection with others and the opportunity to see things from their point of view.
Through a consistent yoga practice, I believe people make wiser choices and deepen their intuition. This may lead to more cooperation and collaboration amongst fellow vegans that are in the movement, as well the pre-vegans just coming into the movement. When we are working on ourselves to develop greater inner peace and are able to work in collaboration with others, rather than be in conflict with others, it makes for a more effective and stronger movement.
Ahimsa is a practice that involves making the best possible daily choices. Everything we think, say, do, watch, listen to, eat, drink, wear, and purchase casts a vote: Do I vote for ahimsa or against? For hitting or hugging? Numbness or empathy? Anger or happiness? Frustration or joy? Stress or relaxation? Confusion or clarity? Lies or truth? Worry or faith? Doubt or certainty? Rape or respect? Murder or life? Environmental destruction or sustainability? Poverty or prosperity? Disconnection or connection? Separateness or oneness? Violence or peace? Division or union?
We are each responsible for the world in which we live. Some of the most important votes happen every day, and they have the potential to create profound change. Some days our votes are more peaceful than others—it is a lifelong practice—but all are unique and possess the power to create a kind and peaceful world.
There are many paths to truth. There are many paths to sustainability. There are many paths to yoga. There are many paths to peace. There are many paths to veganism. None pass through violence.
To the Vegan Activist
by Anna Ferguson
To those that just went vegan
To those that have been vegan since birth
To the undercover vegan slaughterhouse workers exposing the darkness
To the vegan documentary film producers and filmmakers shining the light
To the vegans that share their signs and voices at marches
To the vegans that silently bear witness at vigils
To the vegan chefs changing minds with delicious food
To the vegan cook sharing meals with friends and family
To the vegan recipe sharers inspiring people to try something new
To the compassionate health professionals
To the plant-sourced fitness experts and bodybuilders
To the vegan life coaches
To the body positive vegans
To the high fashion vegans
To the hippy vegans
To the punk vegans
To the minimalist vegans
To the sidewalk chalktivism vegans
To the t-shirt wearing vegans
To the button and sticker wearing vegans
To the tattooed vegans
To the vegan authors
To the vegan bloggers
To the vegan YouTubers and vloggers
To the vegan social media likers and sharers
To the vegan musicians playing and singing from their heart
To the vegan celebrities using their platform for compassion
To the vegan artists painting, drawing, and molding a vision of a more peaceful world
To the vegan entrepreneurs sharing compassionate and innovative products
To the vegans that make a conscious effort to purchase those products
To the vegan-centric schools teaching compassion alongside core academics
To the homeschooling vegans
To the vegans navigating public or private schools
To the vegans passing out pamphlets on college campuses
To the vegan dads that gently remove spiders from their homes
To the single vegan moms shifting and encouraging their teens to share in a newly adopted lifestyle
To the vegan parents that are doing their best to raise their children with values that honor empathy and kindness
To the religious vegans
To the atheist vegans
And to the spiritual vegans living a compassionate lifestyle
To the self-care vegans
To the mindfulness vegans
To the meditating vegan yogis
To the sanctuary starting vegans
To the adopt a cat and dog vegans
To the community building vegans
To the vegans that show up and play a part in building these communities
To the environmental vegans
To the social justice vegans
And to the intersectional vegans guiding us in the understanding of the interconnected nature of all forms of oppression
To the vegans changing laws
To the vegans changing hearts
To the many vegans not mentioned…
To the Vegan Activist…
Those that are actively and consciously working on themselves to embody empathy and compassion and with every word or action taken, ask themselves: “Is what I am saying or doing an extension of my compassionate values?”
May we be united in our compassion—for each other and for any fellow being suffering from exploitation and oppression.
We are all on the front lines. Actually, no…there are no front lines. This is not a military effort. This is a compassion effort. We are all in this together…in this circle of compassion.
Stand in your power. Stand in your peace. Stand in your kindness. Stand in your empathy. Stand in your compassion.
There are many ways to be an activist. What inspires you? Who has inspired you?
Anna Ferguson is the author of the first vegan-centric yoga and art book, World Peace Yoga: Yoga for People Who Breathe, a companion book to Dr. Will Tuttle’s The World Peace Diet, a #1 Bestseller on amazon.com that has been translated into 16 languages. In addition to being co-creator of World Peace Yoga studio in Cincinnati, Anna is engaged in several evolving paradigms as a co-founder of Heärt Montessori, a school where empathy and compassion are taught as part of core academics, the Jubilee Animal Sanctuary, providing a glimpse of what a peaceful world looks like, and the Cincy VegFest, an annual one-day vegan festival. Anna is active on social media and you may find her on Facebook and Instagram @annafergusonpeace.
“A full spectrum exploration of why, how, and what yoga truly is and strives to be and embodies. This is the real deal manual for complete harmonic yoga oneness.” – Kip Andersen, Film director and producer of Cowspiracy and What The Health
Order your World Peace Yoga book at www.worldpeaceyogabook.com