Food Philosophy: Plant Based Diet
“Make a compassionate choice”
Yoga often evolves in three phases: from being self-centered, to focusing on the breath, to eventually expanding the heart.
My diet has evolved in a similar way, shifting over time, from pleasure to health, and then to a deeper dimension: compassion.
I finally became aware that I wanted to eat with kindness, and my diet has gradually come to be “heart centered”.
For me this means eliminating all animal flesh, and as much as possible all animal by-products, because factory farming is inhumane to the animals, damages the environment, and contributes to deforestation and climate change.
Born in Argentina, I grew up enjoying eating meat of all kinds, without ever thinking about the implications. Therefore, I must admit that making this final shift in my diet has been a challenging commitment.
However, I realize that eating with compassion can be a profound spiritual experience. A plant-based diet allows me to live in alignment with my core values.
To me, being vegetarian is an aspiration to live as kindly and compassionately as possible. It’s an ongoing process. Nobody is perfect. We cause harm just by living on this planet, but we can all aspire to be mindful and conscientious and to continue making improvements. The ultimate goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with other animals, with other people and with the environment.
You don’t have to follow any certain type of diet to practice yoga, however, traditionally the yogi diet is vegan, or vegetarian, in other words, no animal flesh. The main difference between a vegan and a vegetarian diet is that a vegan diet does not include any animal byproduct (such as milk or eggs) while a vegetarian diet does. A typical vegan/vegetarian diet is based on all fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and grains.
Basically, yogis classify food as either tamasic, rajasic or sattvic.
In general terms tamasic foods are stale/preserved/ impure; rajastic foods are tasty/stimulating; and sattfic foods are fresh/health and pure.
TAMASTIC foods: are those that cause mental dullness and physical numbness. Examples of tamasic foods include: the meat of all animals including fish, alcoholic beverages, highly processed foods, junk food, fast food, canned and packaged food, picked foods, and salted foods.
RAJASTIC foods: are those that have a stimulating effect on the mind and body. Rajasic foods make people physically more active, but over the long term, too many rajasic foods may lead to over stimulation and restlessness. These foods lead to aggressiveness and irritability. Some examples include: spicy, sour, pungent and stimulating foods, such as onion, garlic, cayenne peppers, turmeric, curry powder, meat, fish, eggs, beverages containing caffeine such as tea, coffee, and colas.
SATTVIC foods: are those that lead to clarity of mind and physical health. Most serious yoga practitioners make sattvic foods the mainstay of their diet. Food should be organically grown, if possible, and free of preservatives and additives. Sattvic foods include: Honey, Nuts and seeds, Dried peas, lentils and beans, grains, organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, butter and clarified butter (ghee).