Hello from VT! I’m here for a week-long yoga workshop and am excited to share some thoughts on sustainable and ethical eating from a yogic perspective with you. I’ve also got the recipe for this super simple and satisfying soba noodle salad. Continue reading for all the details…Practicing yoga has changed the way I live my life. Not only has the physical practice influenced my daily routine, my diet and my lifestyle, but the philosophy has also shaped my values. Yoga philosophy has become my way of understanding the world and my place in it. Today, I want to begin to discuss how to understand sustainable and ethical eating from a yoga philosophy perspective. I’m eager to know what you think about all of this so please comment below.The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outline the eight limbs of yoga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi) and how to practice yoga in a way that removes suffering and brings us closer to true consciousness. The yamas (non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, correct use of energy, and non-greediness) are best practices for how to interact with the world around us in an ethical way. They are positive affirmations of right behavior, the first of which is ahimsa, or non-violence. In this context, violence includes physical harm, verbal harm, or mental harm inflicted on oneself or another living thing and can include direct harm, provoking someone else to violence, or condoning or allowing violence. Over the years I’ve tried to focus on creating non-violence in my life and the lives of those around me by listening to what my body needs, eating well, having a positive body image, not judging myself or others, not gossiping, and not using a harsh tone of voice (Thanks for your patience, Anders) Until this week I hadn’t thought too much about ahimsa as it relates to food. Now, it’s all I want to talk about. Thanks, Christine for sharing your knowledge with us and for the insightful and inspiring workshop!
I started thinking about non-violence as it relates to the dietary choices I make and it became clear to me that being vegetarian, vegan or plant based isn’t enough. In fact, I think that these categories can sometimes promote complacency by giving us the false impression that simply not eating meat or animal products means that we are eating ethically and sustainably. Our food system is highly interconnected and every ingredient carries some karmic impact.
Things we might not normally think of as connected to acts of violence, when considered in the broader context, become more and more troubling. The pesticides used to grow conventional vegetables kill bees, birds, and insects and pollute water sources resulting in negative consequences for human health as well. Workers are often subject to poor working conditions and live in poverty so we can eat cheap food. Imported foods inflict violence on the planet through the carbon footprint inherent in shipping long distances. Rainforests are destroyed and native species are driven to the brink of extinction to produce palm oil and soy. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to eat perfectly and I often struggle with how much to share or what to point out for fear of alienating and frustrating you all. I also recognize that everyone has their own limitations and opinions. But, the truth is, that every one of us makes daily choices that can promote widespread health, well-being and happiness instead of violence. It just takes a little more work.
I’d encourage you to use this space as a resource. Here on the blog, I try to provide information, inspiration, seasonal recipes, and sustainable product recommendations that help you source your food mindfully. Do research, ask me questions, and support the companies who are doing it right. Now, soba noodle salad…
*Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tag photos of my recipes with #tendingthetable.
*I like to make this recipe with whatever veggies I have on hand. I often make it with grated carrot and cabbage for a simple and bright version. Other times I’ll toss the noodles with roasted sweet potatoes and sliced cucumber. And it’s also great with asparagus. Feel free to experiment with other variations. Simply swap out the cabbage with whatever is in season and available.
Soba Noodle Salad
FOR THE DRESSING
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
FOR THE SALAD
4 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
chopped scallions, cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds to garnish
FOR THE DRESSING
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well mixed.
FOR THE SALAD
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Be careful not to over cook. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Combine the noodles and cabbage in a large bowl. Add the dressing and the garnishes and toss to combine. Enjoy.