I recently had the luck to meet Julia Volobujeva, a Russian/Lithuanian inspiring woman who lives in Greece and after spending some time with her, I realized that she has a very interesting story, one of those that is worth to share. So, I asked her to share with us her journey from being a vet working to a pig industry to becoming a plant-based macrobiotic yoga teacher who now is raising with her husband 3 calm, happy and healthy kids that are not only plant based but they also don’t eat sugar or chocolate.
1) What exactly was your responsibility in that pig farm? Did you see horrific things?
After I graduated, I got a job as a representative of a pharmaceutical company in Lithuania, for large animals, and my focus was big pig farms and vaccines. I worked as an assistant of the vet in the pig farm for a few weeks in Lithuania to learn how the things are “from the inside”. But I could never do that as my main job because of the noise. Yes, the noise. Some people are more sensitive the smell, some to the view, me – to the noise. The pigs at the farm are screaming, constantly, many of them. I could be inside only with ear buds. So, I was very happy with my job which included visiting the farms and slaughter houses with the vets and finding out the problems in the farms and if there was a possibility to solve the problem by using the vaccines.
I must say here that neither during my studies nor while working there, did I ever have a single thought of quitting meat consumption. And I saw a lot of terrifying things.
For example, my class was the last one that the students were allowed to perform experiments on live animals, we used frogs. During my studies and work I saw everything that you see in any documentary regarding unethical treatment of animals. We were the first year who were taught that cutting ears of puppies is forbidden, but at the same time I studied with the people who were breeding such dogs!
The only thing that made me doubt my studies and ask myself if they make any sense, was one picture that a professor showed us, a picture regarding milking – the picture showed a wild cow and how the cow looks now, after all the genetic modifications that humans did to the cows. It was day and night! I thought back then… “what have we done to them and what for?”.
2) Did you first take the yoga course and then the macrobiotic one or vice versa? Did the one lead you to the other or they are irrelevant to each other?
The last drop in my relationship with classical medicine was a year of work as a medical representative working for a big well-known company with a big research center, where lots of trials are conducted while creating new drugs. I bared only one year there, for many reasons. At the same time, I started practicing yoga, as many do simply for the sake of health. But the more I was distancing myself from science and research, the deeper I was falling into yoga. I ended up staying for 4 years in the ashram as a karma yogi doing selfless service and learning all the aspects of yoga philosophy and Ayurveda. I came back to usual life in January 2010 and in September 2010 I met my future husband Stavros Karagilanis who introduced me into the philosophy and lifestyle of macrobiotics. We then started living and practicing macrobiotics together.
I did two levels of macrobiotics with my teacher in Belgium. The philosophy of yin – yang that I learned there made so much sense for me because I found a lot of similarities with the philosophy of yoga and Ayurveda. Macrobiotics are based on the philosophy of Chinese medicine. And since I got to know better Ayurveda and Macrobiotics / Chinese medicine, I understood how puzzled the western science is and how fragmented are the studies and the research we do. That is why often, if we speak about new drugs or vaccines, the negative side effects are found out after some time of the drug or vaccine even being out in the market.
I often say: if you want to know the truth about how to eat, how to be healthy or how to treat the disease… about what should be your diet if you are pregnant or what should be the diet of the kids in order to grow strong, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually – look at these two systems – Ayurveda and Chinese medicine / Macrobiotics. None of these systems speak of vegan diet, but none of them talks about animal products to be the main item in our diet. Both systems are more than 5000 years old and millions of generations grew up using these systems and none of them has failed yet! I stay up to date with science, I read new researches & articles and I always smile when I read some “new” discovery which is known to Yoga/Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for ages.
It was not because of ethics or an extreme love towards animals, that I went vegan but because of health reasons (I saw how bad animal products are for our health) and for environmental reasons as well. I first went pescetarian and some years later, thanks to the influence of my husband, I went vegan as well.
(Julia shared with me some experiences during her stay in Belgium and what I still have in my mind is the case of a woman with Parkinson’s desease who was shaking badly in the beginning and after 2 weeks only, of following a vegan macrobiotic diet, with 0 sugars of course, not even fruits consumption, she stopped shaking and reduced dramatically her meds. That’s a desease that western medicine is still looking for its cure. In that school, it’s not allowed to consume animal products because it’s like a healing house, not just a school).
3) Please tell us some things about the vegan macrobiotic philosophy briefly, as if it was an elevator pitch! Which is the most important take-away?
Macrobiotics primarily is not a diet but a peaceful lifestyle overall. So if we want to live in a peaceful world, nowadays, there is no other way than by going vegan, and I say this from an energetical point of view. Aggressiveness comes also / needs animal products, because animal products have a strong yang energy so if you don’t eat animal products, you get this strong yang energy either from strong cooking methods (e.g cooking for a long time on real fire, not with electricity) and by exercising outdoors. Yin / yang always finds the balance, so either you do it consciously or it’s going to happen on its own.
4) Now you are raising 3 beautiful healthy girls, aged 6,4 and 1 year old. What’s the biggest challenge in raising vegan kids in a non-vegan world? Actually, they are not just vegan kids, they are sugar-free kids who eat healthy plant-based food and they don’t even eat chocolate. I am in awe. This is quite an achievement. Other parents should follow your example!
Of course, it was not easy for me to change the way of thinking, of course it is not easy to be surrounded by people who have no idea of the other way of thinking but the most difficult part is to let your children into a world where they are considered to be different. Because they are different from the kids they go to school with.
They are the only plant-based kids and even more the only kids who don’t eat sugar in the whole school. But we are lucky. I became the member of the parents committee in their school and I met some moms who agree about the negative effect of sugar and would love their kids to eat more veggies. It is not easy to change the habits of eating in the family if not both parents agree to do it but I am very grateful to these moms because they make an effort and whenever my kids visit their house, there are some vegan snacks served and even desserts without sugar!
I learned one important thing from yoga: You can’t teach anyone anything, you can only share – practice yourself and those who need it will pick it up from your example.