If you’re an animal-loving yogi, you can’t look past The Compassionate Road, the website dedicated to cruelty-free living, naturopathic advice and yoga.
Gemma’s educative and spiritually-oriented content is impressively researched and beautifully presented. She’s wholeheartedly dedicated to unveiling the truth about our food industries.
Not only is she an inspiring example of living ‘as cruelty-free as possible’, she empowers others to shift their own habits with her beautifully designed, jam-packed, free EBooks.
In her interview, Gemma tells PRAVAYAMA how yoga philosophy weaves throughout her life, why she’s no angry vegan, and how creativity is key to getting an important message heard.
Her Compelling ‘Why’
I started The Compassionate Road after having a decade of experience as a Naturopath and involvement in animal rights. It is actually more of a calling for me than anything. I simply can’t sit peacefully with myself knowing what goes on within factory farms and not say something. I wanted to share how it’s possible to live cruelty-free, healthy lives.
I have a strong sense it is my dharma to help shine a light on another, more peaceful manner of living without harming so many animals for our food and lifestyle.
The Peaceful Message
I don’t want to go about it in an ‘angry vegan’ manner because I don’t think judgement actually helps affect change. When we feel judged we automatically want to protect ourselves and our values, and we’re less likely to be open to exploring new ways of being or doing.
What we eat is a very personal issue that carries with it more than just nourishment, but who we are, our past-times; food is part of what weaves our life together.
The Power of Informed Choice
I simply want to make it clear what is happening to animals before they end up on our plates, and the environmental consequence of factory farming, because it’s not something we are taught in school or told about on the packets.
We eat three times a day, every day, so it is one of the most powerful ways we can use our purchase power to influence the environment, ethical farming and our own health.
I think the problem lies in our disconnection with what we are eating. Most people don’t want to support practices that are causing suffering to living beings, they just don’t know it goes on, or what the alternatives are. When we know the truth about our food we can make empowered choices about what fits our values.
“When we know the truth about our food we can make empowered choices about what fits our values. It isn’t about being perfect; it is about evolving, doing the best we can and enjoying the process.“
For example, 80% of meat products now come from factory farms where animals are denied to fulfil their natural instincts. They are kept in filthy conditions with extreme crowding, often in cages so small they can’t turn around, with no fresh air or sunlight and fed unnatural diets full of daily medications and antibiotics.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and rainforest and habitat destruction. It is not sustainable for us to continue to eat meat at the rate we are, in the manner we are raising them.
So on The Compassionate Road I have a range of plant-based healthy recipes for people who want to cut down or stop eating meat. There’s Naturopathic health advice, and other features on life and yoga. It isn’t about being perfect; it is about evolving, doing the best we can and enjoying the process along the way.
Getting Creative & Staying On Message
As part of this journey, I have learnt more about myself and our connection to the earth. I’m involved with wonderful people and projects, such as a documentary that will be released next year and a book I’m just finishing up.
I have to keep the message creative because otherwise it can get a little hard to deal with, all these hard truths. Creativity is something that has kept the path one of interest, growth and hope. I think it is what brings joy into our lives, when we follow that spark inside us to create whatever it is we are being called to bring into existence.
Abhyasa (Dedicated Practice) & Vairagya (Non-Attachment)
I had only practiced Ashtanga yoga after I was introduced to at 19 years old, and it always fit for me – the sequences, the repetitiveness allowing for a form of moving mediation. I travelled to Mysore to study there and have done retreats around the world with respected Ashtanga teachers.
But after having my second child, I struggled with finding the same dedicated love for it. My body had changed, it was softer, my hips were not as stable and I had a niggling injury in my lower back – but more than that – I had changed.
The second series in Ashtanga is a strong practice, with deep backbends and some strong upper body strength needed, and instead of looking forward to it, I found myself resisting it.
It took me a couple of years of pushing through it to realise this resistance was not about laziness. I was just ready to explore and change the way I was moving my body. I was so dedicated to Ashtanga, that I had to let go of some of the guilt that I felt I wasn’t doing it the ‘right way’.
Ishvara Pranidhana (Devotion, Surrender)
This for me has only become a very real practice in the last year. I have always had a devotion to God/the universe but I was still holding on, still feeling like everything was all up to me, on my terms.
I think losing a few of my close friends in the last year has really shaken that part of me away. Being around death of those you love can move the ground from under us and has really given me deep lessons in attachment and surrender. And it has resulted in a greater sense of peace and knowing of a higher purpose to it all.