Being vegetarian is a fashionable trend now-a-days. There is a general misconception that Ayurveda supports vegetarianism. Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian Food habits both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Health factors and personal choices should be considered while opting for a food habit.
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What is vegetarian food?
There are different versions and definitions for vegetarian food. They are –
- Lacto vegetarian – Plant based food plus dairy products such as milk, buttermilk, ghee etc.
- Ovo – vegetarian – Plant based food + egg
- Ovo-lacto-vegetarian – plant based food + egg + dairy products
- A Vegan diet – avoiding all animal origin products including honey, dairy products and egg.
- Semi vegetarian – ovo-lacto-vegetarian plus fish / chicken.
Veg, non-veg food advantages
Advantages of vegetarian food habit –
- Vegetarian food habit helps in inculcating self control.
- Many religions support vegetarianism. It is the choice of food habit for many spiritual seekers.
- Vegetarian food is low in fat.
- More sources of fibers is found in vegetarian food.
- Vegetarian food is considered to be ‘Satvik’ in nature. Satvik refers to the ability to imbibe noble qualities such as peacefulness, concentration, love for all, optimism in mind.
- Most of the vegetarian diet is easier to digest than non veg diet.
Advantages of Non Veg food habit –
- Excellent source of protein and vitamin B complex, especially Vitamin B 12
- Fish is a very rich source of omega 3 fatty acid.
- A well planned non veg food regimen will make the body strong.
- Ayurveda explains that meat soup is one of the best nutritious drink.
- For gym goers, non veg food will help to build muscle mass faster.
- Non veg food is excellent for gaining weight.
Non-veg food disadvantages
Disadvantages of non veg food habit –
- As per Spiritual believes, non veg food is rajasik and tamasik in nature. Non veg food harms concentration levels. It also increases anger and lust.
- Chances of occurrence of constipation, high BP, obesity, high cholesterol, heart diseases is more in non vegetarian food.
- Both veg and non veg food habits have their own advantages.
- It is not advisable for a vegetarian to switch over to non veg diet. Because stomach, liver, intestines will not be ‘ready’ with the required enzymes to digest food.
If you are following a non vegetarian diet, no need to think about switching over to vegetarianism
– if you have good control over the quantity of food that you eat.
– If regular physical activity is a part of your daily routine.
– If you are consciously avoiding excess fatty food and oily food stuff .
– If you are not a smoker and alcoholic.
– If you do not have higher spiritual ambitions.
Spirituality and vegetarianism
While answering to a query from his disciple, Swamy Vivekananda says that – for higher spiritual practice, the body needs to be very strong. For this reason, non veg food helps.
According to Divine Park, “what eats your mind is more important than what you eat.” But when one moves up the ladder of spirituality, naturally the mind and body will develop aversion towards Tamasik and Rajasik food and will eventually embark on vegetarianism.
Related article – Is Ayurveda totally vegetarian?
Protein in vegetarian food
Protein Myth of Non veg Foods:
Many meat eaters think that if they stop it, they will not get any proteins at all.
Many gym goers, health seekers think more the protein, healthier is the diet. Both these sentences are horribly wrong.
Dr Milton Mills MD, Critical Care Physician
All proteins are made by plants
Only plants have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and incorporate nitrogen ions into amino acids. These are transferred into the animals to form animal proteins.
Plant proteins have more beneficial effect on our physiology.
Body builders – say all the time, they need so much amount of chicken etc. This is utter non sense.
The largest and strongest of animals are herbivores – Elephant, Rhinoceros, Gorilla (Predominantly herbivore)
Dr Alan Goldhamer, Author of The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health & Happiness –
Having Brown rice, broccoli are good enough to get sufficient amounts of protein per day.
2000 calories of brown rice (50 g protein) and broccoli (30 g protein), including the essential amino acids.
Dr Caldwell Esselstyn MD, Director, Cardiovascular Prevention
Grains, beans, vegetables are loaded with proteins.
Susan Levin – Registered Dietician
Most Americans eat twice the amount of proteins that they need.
Daily recommended – 50 grams of proteins per day
US eats – 100 grams of proteins per day
Most Americans get half the amount of fiber that they need.
Fiber daily recommended quantity – 30 g average
US – eats 15 g
Food should be wholesome with proteins, carbohydrates, water, minerals, Vitamins, fibre and fats
As per Ayurveda, food should have all the six tastes mixed in them. – sweet, sour, salt, spice, bitter and astringent.
Dr Michael Greger MD, Author – How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
- The question is, not how to get your protein. The question is – how to get your fiber?
Human milk has the lowest protein content compared to any species / mammal that was ever tested.
The fluid that’s been designed by evolution over millions of years. It’s the perfect food for human babies.
This gives a sign.
- Milk protein per 100 grams
Human milk – 1 gram
Rat milk – 9 g
Gorilla milk – 1.4
Donkey milk – 1.8 grams
Cow milk – 3.6 g
Cat milk – 9 g
People who are consciously taking more protein, end up depriving themselves of fiber and vitamin.
When we transition a person into a veg based eating, their nutrition goes up, their vitamins go up,
You are not getting your nutrition in a meat based diet.
As per Ayurveda, even the feces has its own importance.
Feces should be formed at the right time. It should be retained in the body for some time. And it should be expelled from the body at the right time.
This is why, fibres are such an important part of our diet.
Less fiber -> more constipation -> Vata increase -> bloating -> increase of morbid matter inside the body -> build up of Ama – a product of altered digestion and metabolism -> a range of disorders
Dr Garth Davis MD – Author – Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It
I have never seen in my entire career a case of protein deficiency
Diet with very high protein create diabetes, create cancer