Vegetarian Food Pyramid

It has been almost 5 years since I turned vegetarian and interestingly never a day I regretted my decision.  People often ask me for my reasons to be a vegetarian – is it religion, health or being environmentally conscious? My experience is that to be a vegetarian is a conscious choice which complements my yogic lifestyle. This choice must come from deep within. It should not be something that is driven from external factors like a protest against the commercial poultry and diary industries or as a support to protect our mother earth.  Anything that is externally driven without consciousness causes suppression of desires which could result in more psychological disorders in later stage. My experience was a gradual yet natural progression of simply listening to my body.

After practicing yoga regularly in 2001, my body started to reject red meat.  The smell of meat was too off-putting for my senses that I dropped them out of my diet.  After sometime, I also lost interest in chicken and the chicken dropped me too. However, I continued to savour on seafood and eggs. It was in 2006 when I met my guru that I decided to turn vegetarian because when one is initiated as disciples and a healer, he or she has to be a vegetarian – as a channel for Cosmic energy to serve people. The devotion (Bhakti) happened in me and I was ready to change my eating habit for my spiritual growth. Some of the immediate benefits of becoming a vegetarian I personally experience are:

  1. My body becomes more sensitive to prana (life force) energy flow and the effects of food on my body
  2. I experience constantly a feeling of lightness and bubbling energy within my body and inner space which is such a joy
  3. My senses are a lot more sensitive and I can smell, taste or experience food that my body rejects
  4. I am able to enter into deep meditative state easily without falling asleep into dullness
  5. I hardly fall sick which saves me from expensive medical bills and medicines
  6. My bowel movement is regular and constipation is a thing of the past
  7. I encounter more spiritual experiences now than before
  8. My body is able to retain a higher energy frequency of Kundalini energy (potential energy) and subtle vibration
  9. I look younger than my actual age and feel like I am in 20’s
  10. I don’t feel tired easily which allows me to do more with creativity

Below is a short extract of an original article on Yogic diet which I find very informative and would like to share with readers. It is written by Dr R Nagarathna and Dr HR Nagandra from Swami Vivekananda Yoga Prakashana (SVYP). The yogic concept of food takes into consideration the total dimension of human existence. Apart from the atoms & molecules with which our gross physical body is made of, we all possess Prana (life force), Mind, Intellect, Emotions & the Spiritual Dimension.  Yoga is that process by which we bring an integration of the entire personality at all these levels.   The stamina of the body is to be developed, the Prana should be brought to a nice balance, the mind should be calmed down, the emotion should be stablised and the intellect should be under total control. A “balanced diet”, therefore according to yoga is that diet which restores balances at all levels.  Only such diets could aid in a holistic way of living. The ancient sages arrived at the concept of healthy diet and describe their general characteristics into 3 categories:-

  • Tamasic – Foods that are stale, tasteless, stinking, cooked overnight, refuse & impure. Those foods which are “dead”, partially spoiled, which have lost their essence, which have been processed a great deal which have been preserved in some way having no spark of life about them, or which lack the vitality of food that is alive. Eating Tamasic food makes one less alert and may vacillate between an irritating restlessness and a tendency to fall asleep.
  • Rajasic – Foods that are bitter, sour, saline, steaming hot, burning are the ones liked by the Rajasics.  Food which stimulates the nervous system, speeds up metabolism and activates. These Rajasic foods will energise but not in the sense of lending a clear balance energy. They tend to stimulate and push the organism to increase its speed and to indulge more in physical activity, sensual pleasures & comforts.
  • Sattvic– Those foods which increase the life & vitality, purity, strength stamina, health, happiness & cheerfulness & good appetite are termed Sattvic.  These foods are savoury, oleaginous, substantial, agreeable and are liked by the Sattvics. Those foods which are fresh, wholesome, natural, of good quality, yet mild in spices, neither over or under-cooked, are experienced as lending a calm alertness and at the same time a state of quiet energy. They are said to nourish the consciousness.  They not only provide nourishment for the body, but they do not adversely affect the overall energy state.  They add vitality to the total system by bringing a perfect, harmonious balance of energy stated in the food itself.  They don’t pull energy from the body or weigh it down, they don’t make it heavy, and neither do they irritate nor push it beyond its capacity. Rather, they provide a precise balance of nourishment and create no undue waste.  Such foods are the ones which are most likely to give the body lightness, alertness, energy and create a clear consciousness.

Fundamentally, as a yogi, one learns the art of using the least for himself. Unnecessary & useless waste of energy is cut down. For better efficiency, he changes his body structure by harmonizing the breathing pattern and removing mental and emotional imbalances.  His body learns to function efficiently requiring lower calories that can obtained by simple wholesome vegetarian diet. With progress, a yogi learns to manage his metabolism with hardly any food. The sign of progress is to move from high calorie meat diet to low calorie vegetarian diet and proceed on to hardly any calorie in the diet.