Yoga star Bryan Kest asks at his local farmers’ markets about how they grow their food and raise their livestock. He finds organic sources of fruit and vegetables for himself and his wife and three kids. And…this yogi eats meat. We asked the self-proclaimed “selectarian” how he arrived at his food philosophy.
Q. How has your diet evolved over the years?
A. As a fifteen-year-old kid in Detroit, I ate the standard American diet of cheeseburgers and Twinkies. I was absolutely healthy when I decided to start practicing yoga and try out vegetarianism. Back then, there weren’t levels of vegetarianism like lacto/ovo whatever. If you ate fish or dairy, you weren’t a vegetarian. I was totally extreme for eight years only eating plants and always feeling “off” and always craving meat. My hair was falling out and I would get nosebleeds out of the blue. I didn’t wear leather or ride in cars with leather seats. I remember being excited when they finally came out with fake leather shoes. Do you know how to tell if someone is vegan? They will tell you. I was like a born-again vegan. It was like an extreme religion. Plus I never felt good—I was gassy, bloated and constipated.
Q. When did you decide to change?
A. For about three years, I got really into the Native American world. I respected their natural way of life and loved how they would show respect for the buffalo after the hunt—giving thanks for its meat and its hide. So I decided to reintroduce meat into my diet. The first thing I did was order sushi. I took a moment before the meal to bless the spirit of the fish—and after I ate, I hadn’t felt that great for eight years. No bloating, no gas.
Q. Do you think your food preferences have anything to do with blood type?
A. I love that book Eat Right For Your Blood Type and I’m a blood type B—which, according to the book, is the only type that thrives on dairy and meat. I always craved meat and dairy while I was a vegan. Another great book is The Perfect Health Diet by a couple of Harvard professors. But the book that really made an impression was The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. One of the basic principles is that humans aren’t made to eat grasses like wheat or corn. Our stomachs don’t process that stuff the same way a gorilla or a cow would. I never felt good eating grasses and I finally understood why. The Paleo Diet says surprising things, like we should eat 65% fat, 20% carbs or starches and 15% protein, which is the exact makeup of our muscles. They also say to eat white rice instead of brown rice because it’s easier to digest. So now, I wake up in the morning, exercise, and then eat a bowl of organic fruit and yogurt, or eggs with gluten-free toast, or potatoes and salmon with onions. I feel great. I’m just more conscious of what I eat and my mom laughs now that I’m back to eating meat and potatoes. The only thing I really shun is sugar.
Q. Do you have any favorite places to dine in Los Angeles?
A. I love to take my wife to this upscale French restaurant in Santa Monica called Mélisse. Their menu is seasonally driven and sourced locally whenever possible. We’ll take the kids to an organic Japanese place called Fresh In The Box or an eco-friendly chain called True Food Kitchen, founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, that subscribes to an anti-inflammatory diet and provides an organic, locally-sourced menu. We kind of avoid the extreme macrobiotic and vegan places.
Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga
Power Yoga Studio-West
1410 2nd St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Power Yoga Studio-East
522 Santa Monica Blvd. (Upstairs)
Santa Monica, CA 90401