A common debate in yogic circles is whether or not you have to become a vegetarian or vegan in order to really become yogis. While most advanced yogis don’t eat meat, there are other things in the Indian diet, like ghee, a form of clarified butter, that point to the possibility of staying healthy without having to give up all the foods you love.
Americans and Europeans may not stock ghee in their refrigerators on a regular basis, or even have access to it, but here are some reasons why eating lots of vegetables instead of meat and processed foods will aid your yoga practice:
Light is in your food
Fruits and vegetables contain not only vital phytonutrients, minerals and amino acids, but they are also full of ‘light’ or vital force. It is believed by many yogis that eating vegetables is like eating the sun. It is encapsulated through photosynthesis in the leaves, stems, roots and flowers, as well as the fruit and energizes your body with prana when you eat them. Especially in foods like goji berries and spinach, wild blueberries and kale, you can consume less food and get more nutrients.
Humans have different excretory systems than meat eaters
Many yogis believe that humans were not meant to eat meat because our intestines are too long. Animals that consume meat have a very short intestine, so the food does not sit in their bodies to putrify over time. It goes in, and quickly comes out, whereas, anything we eat has over to travel over 23 feet in the small intestine and 5 feet in the large intestine. This is why meat-eating leads to disease. The body extracts what it needs from the food, but then it must get rid of the excess via the excretory system. Fruits and vegetables break down easier and make it through the system much easier.
Veggies are healing
Many fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs from the Ayurvedic sciences (yogic medicine) contain special nutrients that calm the mind or re-stabilize the nervous system. When you eat a cleaner diet, you will not only feel mentally bright, but you will also have more energy and better moods.
Yogis don’t eat a sentient creature
Many schools of yoga, such as Tibetan yoga, believe that you shouldn’t eat anything with sentience. That means a consciousness. While you could argue that plants have consciousness as much as a chicken, it is generally believed that being a vegetarian allows creatures to ascend in to higher life forms, and is also better for the planet.
If you aren’t a vegetarian already, you don’t have to be. Most people find that the more often they practice yoga, the more they are naturally inclined to start making different food choices. Listen to your body and make it a gradual process.