Fish and meat are listed among the "food injurious to the yogi" by the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (I, 59), and eating animal flesh violates the first principle of yogic ethics (yamas) by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras of non-violence (ahimsa).
The "Moods" and Food
According to Ayurveda, the Vedic science of medicine, all food is classified according to the three modes of maya, sattva, rajas and tamas. Each quality has a profound influence not only on our physical health, but also on our state of mind.
- Sattvic food promotes clarity and serenity of mind and is conducive for spiritual growth. It is fresh, sweet, juicy, light, nourishing, lightly cooked with minimal spices and includes most fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, whole grains, honey, pure water and milk.
- Rajasic food feeds the body, but promotes activity and therefore induces restlessness in the mind. Rajasic food is bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry. It includes most spicy foods, stimulants like coffee and tea, eggs, garlic, onion, meat, fish and chocolate, as well as most processed food. Eating too fast or with a disturbed mind is also considered rajasic. These foods create sensuality, sexuality, greed, jealousy, anger, delusion, fantasies, egotism and irreligious feelings.
- Tamasic food induces heaviness of the body and dullness of the mind, and ultimately benefits neither. It increases pessimism, ignorance, lack of common sense, greed, laziness, criminal tendencies and doubt. Tamasic food is dry, bad smelling, distasteful or unpalatable. It includes alcohol, meat, and food that is stale or overripe. Foods that have been processed, canned or frozen are tamasic. Overeating is also tamasic.
If you practice bhakti yoga meditation it is best to become vegetarian and adhere to a sattvik diet as much as possible. If your diet only partially includes sattvik food, you receive only partial benefit. It's like rowing a boat while it is still tied to the dock. You can do something more to speed up your journey -- untie the boat! Become vegetarian.
The basic food groups are:
Legumes (also called beans, pulses, dals, lentils or grams)
Fresh and dried fruits
Nuts and Seeds
Honey, Ayurvedic tonics and nutritional supplements
A new vegetarian may worry if he is satisfying his body's need for adequate nutrition. But old-timers (long-time vegetarians) know a vegetarian diet supplies all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) they need, less the damaging effects of non-veg food. Below is an approximate serving guide for a balanced daily diet:
- Grains -- 3-5 servings a day as: 1 slice wholegrain bread, or 1 small cup whole grain cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal
Legumes -- 3-5 servings a day as: 1 cup boiled dal, grams or lentils, or 1/2 cup boiled larger beans (kidney, black-eyed, garbanzo, etc.
Vegetables -- 4-5 servings a day as: 1 cup raw, 3/4 cup semi-cooked, 1/2 cup fully cooked
Fruits -- 4-5 servings a day as: 1 small fresh fruit, 1/2 banana, 1/4 papaya, 1 dried dates, 2 dried figs/apricots, 1 cup berries or cut melon
Dairy -- 2-3 servings a day as: 1 cup non-fat/skim milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup buttermilk
Nuts and Seeds -- 1-2 servings a day as: 7 almonds, 3 walnuts, 8 peanuts
Oils -- 1-2 servings a day as: 1 teaspoon healthy oil (cold-pressed olive, flaxseed, etc.
Honey -- 1-2 servings a day as: 1 teaspoon (unprocessed organic)
Tips for Shopping and Cooking
Use a pressure cooker
Many new vegetarians are often confused about how to cook legumes and beans. The fastest, most economical way to do this is in a pressure cooker. If this is a completely new experience for you,
Think you might need more protein?
Your diet may provide enough protein for your needs - but there are other plant-based protein options. Ask me for vegetarian protein ideas.
Local health food stores
Local health food stores and markets are bound to have vegetarian foods and products you haven't seen before. Ask questions about vegetarian foods that are new to you.
Exploring the local markets in your area of cultures that are inclusive of vegetarianism. Have you ever visited an Asian Store? All stores that cater to customers of India origin sell a huge variety of legumes, pulses, grams and beans. You will find lots of new and interesting items to add to your diet -- it will inspired you in your quest to become vegetarian. Visit us for ideas and tips regarding vegetarian receipes, I will be back soon with fresh and yummy information.
Not all recipes will follow the guidelines for a sattvik diet, so don't be scared to make changes to ingredients to optimize a dish.
Become vegetarian and establish a sattvik diet and lifestyle. Develop a library of vegetarian resources that will support you and your practice of yoga meditation