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Yogic Diet

Eating is the sacred process of creating and sustaining both the gross and subtle body of the Yogi. Yogis believe that our thoughts are composed from the subtle energy in food. Thus, they follow a balanced lacto-vegetarian diet that promotes meditative states, is non-violent, and environmentally conscious. The Yogis consume foods that increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, and reject any foods that disturb the mind.

The Yogic diet is based on moderation, freshness and balance. Following the theory of the gunas, the Yogis consume foods that promote clarity (Sattvic foods), and abstain from those that produce inertia (tamasic foods such as those frozen, canned, or processed foods) and stimulating foods (rajasic items such as alcohol, coffee, onions, and garlic). Furthermore, the Yogis emphasize that is essential to be aware of how one is eating. For instance, foods eaten in a hurry, overeating or undereating, and entertainment foods should definitely be avoided.

Digestibility

The yogic diet consists of pure, simple and natural foods which are easily digested and promote health. The emphasis on simple meals promotes digestion and assimilation. Eating foods that are first-hand from nature, that are grown in fertile soil (preferably organic and without pesticides or chemicals) will provide all nutritional needs. Recently, there has been much emphasis on “nutritional requirements”: the needed amounts of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins that everyone needs. However, this notion does not take into account the quality and source of those nutrients. For instance, it does not take much to understand that food that is overly processed, refined, and overcook does not have the same value as fresh food. This processes result in nutrients that cannot be easily digested, and are thus not assimilated.  Finally, by eating a vegetarian diet, one is closer to the source of the energy, which is tun results in easier to digest foods that help ensure proper metabolism.

Vegetarianism

The Yogic diet is vegetarian for physical, psychological and spiritual reasons. Eating meat is a secondary source of energy which originates in plants. The sun is the source of all energy in our planet, and thus, the closer we are to that source, the more nourishment we receive. Eating meat is a secondary source of energy which originates in plants. Physically, diseases such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, heart attacks arthritis and gout have been associated with meat eating. Furthermore, the human digestive system is not designed to digest meat quickly to rotting of the meat in the digestive track. With the current cultural practices, animals are loaded with hormones and antibiotics, among other substances. Morally, vegetarianism is an expression of non-violence: not only at the moment of slaughter of the animal but throughout its life. Economically, a vegetarian diet provides lost-cost food. For instance, it is calculated that it takes between four to ten times more land to raise one pound of beef protein than it does to raise one pound of vegetable protein. Spiritually, vegetarianism supports a sattvic state of mind, and is thus desirable in the practice of meditation.

Any change in diet should occur gradually and under proper guidance. In particular, it is extremely important not to feel that one is abstaining from any foods, but instead, one should slowly substitute foods. There are many delicious vegetarian options that you have never tasted. And easy way to begin the change to a vegetarian diet is by including greater amounts of vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts into the diet. A simple change from eating meat with every meal, to eating it only twice or thrice a week is a great change. Don’t become overly worried about getting enough protein as there are many other factors that are often neglected. The current “standard” of daily protein consumption by health departments is based on outdated data that can be easily disproved scientifically. Foods such as dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds provide good quality protein that can easily be broken down and used as a building block in the body. In a subtle level, these provide prana that is of higher quality and easily assimilated.

In general, food should aid in maintaining a healthy body, but also a keen intellect and a tranquil mind. Amidst entertainment, processed and fast foods we often forget what the purpose of eating is: “Eat to live, not live to eat”.