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Yogic Aspects of Diet

One should eat to live and not live to eat. Food should not be the main purpose of life for a human being. However it is an important part of the human life. Bhagavad Gita advises Mitahara or moderation in diet as well as all aspects of life.

Food may be divided to different types according to the Gunas.

      • Rajas – Spicy / stimulating items
      • Tamas – old /processed food.Sattva – Fresh / uncooked Food

    Satvik Diet:

    • Plenty of Water
    • Freshly cooked food
    • Uncooked – Salads, sprouts, fruits
    • High fiber
    • Nutritive – greens
    • Soups and juices – mineral balance

Yogic Method of eating:

A Yogic should fill his stomach as

  1.  ½ stomach of food
  2. ¼ stomach of water and
  3. ¼ stomach for the divine (or) (empty)
  • Everybody should take 2- 2½ liter of water per day for efficient functioning of all cells and tissues as well as the organs and systems of the body.
  • Food consumed at the time of anger or when the mind is disturbed is a potent Poison.
  • Balanced diet with equal importance to the constituents of food is also important.
  • One has to take food in a proper and clean place.
  • Eat according to hunger only and not for taste.
  • Eating should be in a slow movement action and it should be eaten properly by chewing properly.
  • Eating at the right time is also important and in the good company with sharing.

According to the Doshas

  • Anti Vata diet – warm , heavy, fruits ,avoid beans
  • Anti Pitta – cool, raw, fruits– avoids oils and spices
  • Anti Kapha diet– dry food, avoid fruits, can take more of spices

Swami Kuvalayananda on diet

  • Lacto Veg. diet with cereals but not much pulses.
  • Egg – high protein – not good for Yoga.
  • Low protein diet – as there is increased sympathetic drive initially
  • Low salt / salt free diet
  • No stimulant / irritating items.
  • Unwise to dogmatize: Eskimo: on veg. diet?

Dr Swami Gitananda Giri on diet

  • Lacto vegetarian diet
  • 40% raw, fresh foods, natural seasonal foods
  • 60% cooked food -whole grain products
  • Don’t overcook
  • Save the water for sambar, soups and sources
  • Skin of the Veg /fruits – alkaline
  • Poly unsaturated oils
  • Avoid refined food items
  • Avoid unnatural / produced items
  • Eat to satisfy hunger and not psychological disturbance.
  • Beware of bad habits – appetite
  • Don’t misuse salt or spices
  • Balanced diet in Calorie needs with adequate vitamins and minerals


Yogis have long realised the importance of a controlled special diet in Sadhana, but only recently has diet become a subject of study in Sports Medicine as a source of power, energy and endurance with the capacity for speeding up the recovery along with rebuilding and remodeling of organic tissue. Controlled diet in sports should not be looked at from the standpoint of “instant results”, but rather as a factor which builds the body slowly towards speed, endurance and power, and above all, gives the body the ability to recuperate, heal and rejuvenate. The vegetarian diet, as understood in Yoga, is the most natural one for biological man.

It offers him an abundant source of food, carrying life sustaining nutrients, power and energy, and above all, offers a diet low in toxins. Activities such as strenuous, acrobatic Yoga practices and sports produce excess metabolic waste matter, which then has to be cleansed through the body’s various eliminative systems. Improper diet inhibits this cleansing process, making it difficult to eliminate waste through the lungs, skin, urinary bladder, kidneys and the bowel and causes an unwelcome toxic load on the body. This in time has disastrous consequences in the form of diseases through infection, premature aging, and stiffness, leading to muscular and skeletal disorders. Muscular cramps and spasms are a common indication of a shortage of vital minerals in the diet and of toxic waste matter accumulating in the system. Irregular and difficult breathing are a direct consequence of a heavy animal protein diet and indicate a neglect of proper breathing techniques.

The fastest, the fleetest, the most sure-footed animals in nature and those species having the greatest endurance and strength are the vegetarian members of the animal kingdom. Good examples are the deer for speed and the elephant for strength. Biologically, man is also a vegetarian, but one who turned to an animal flesh and animal by-product diet at some time in his evolution. Still millions of humans today are natural vegetarians and possess great endurance strength, and longevity. It is a modern myth that a high animal protein diet produces the best athletes. Perhaps it does produce the most violent and vicious animal instincts in some of the aggressive, competitive and combative sports.

Anyone questioning the ability of the vegetarian diet to build up a super sportsman need only to look at the astounding records of Edmond Moses (USA), Paavo Nurmi (Finland), and Murray rose (New Zealand) amidst a galaxy of other Olympic vegetarian super athletes.

While vegetarianism as a way of life is catching on in all Western countries and a great amount of information is now available to support the vegetarian concepts of non-violent super energy, the public knowledge is as yet limited. It is the purpose of this chapter to encourage a deeper study of the vegetarian diet and the spectacular role it can play in the development of a well-rounded-out human personality, as well as producing a strong and healthy physique.

One of the first and most necessary pieces of information is that, “the universe and all its power are contained in a tiny seed”. The end product of the growth of this seed contains only an extension of nutrients, roughage, and energy producing material. The power is in the seed. Indeed, a seed is a very good model to explain the wondrous powers of universal energy in minute form. A seed is a microcosm of universal forces inherent in food.

The power in a seed or for that matter in any food can be described in four terms:

  • Biogenic,
  • Bioactive,
  • Biocidic and
  • Biostatic

When water is applied to a seed, the bioactive stage is that where the seed sprouts and grows, releasing tremendous energy in the form of enzymes. In this phase protein changes to essential amino acids and when the starch changes into simple sugars the Vitamin content of a seed can increase as much as 300 percent in the case of vitamin E and up to 600 percent in the case of Vitamin C. The biocidic stage occurs in the aging and self destruction of a dying seed, and the biostatic stage is when the seed dies, not having fulfilled its purpose.

These categories provide a conceptual model for the function of food in the diet and in the very modern sense allow us to understand the role that various kinds of food play in producing health and energy or in reducing energy, leading to infection, sickness and disease. The biogenic stage can be incorporated into one’s regular diet by the sprouting of seeds grains, pulses, peas, beans and lentils and many other fruit-pit items such as fruit-pits, nuts and fruit stones. All biogenic foods are able to synthesize entirely new compounds and substances in our body system affording natural immunity to infection, destroying microbes and other ingested poisons. They also aid in correcting faulty digestive processes and add to the bulk of the diet producing good elimination. The life sustaining bioactive group of foods includes all fruits and vegetables as long as they are unprocessed foods.

This bioactive group of foods should be in a natural, raw, uncooked or semi- processed state whenever possible. The fiber in a bioactive diet stimulates the digestive and eliminative processes, keeping the intestinal tract young and active and avoiding the onset of aging disorders.

There are two types of fibers in the bioactive group which are to be seen in the residue and bulk of whole grains, seed cases and shells as well as the peels and rinds of fruits and vegetables and in the long fibers in all green leafy foods. The gel in fruit is the second category and helps to keep an active digestive system and promote the absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the intestinal tract, keeping the body light and youthful.

The biocidic group includes life-destroying and health destroying foods that are in the process of rot and decay. This includes all animal flesh, fish and fowl and animal by-products. In modern times this biocidic group has become a menace to mankind through the addition of preservatives, chemical additives, extenders, adulterants, coloring and flavors. The ‘fast-food phenomena’ has added to this health-destroying group. All processed foods with chemical additives, grown on land needing chemical fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides and ripened chemically should be completely avoided as they will destroy the healthiest of bodies and minds.

The biostatic group is made up of dead foods containing toxins, poisonous matter, and decaying noxious cellular ingredients. All over cooked and long stored food must be termed biostatic. This would include all types of frozen and tinned foods and much so-called dried or dehydrated food.

A good, power-packed, healthy diet should be made up of 40 to 60 percent of raw and unprocessed food and the balance being made up of lightly cooked, steamed, or baked dishes.

Most modern youngsters are “always hungry” and on the look out for a “handful of munchies”. These modern taste satisfiers do nothing but titillate the tongue and can lead to a break down in health, destroying a hoped-for-career, accelerating the aging process and unfortunately, also inhibiting the development of a dynamic mind.

Dried nuts, sunflower seeds, roasted pulses and grams, sprouted seeds and grains, pieces of fresh fruit and raw vegetables can replace in a healthy sense the “munchies”. These youngsters should be taught to germinate and sprout seeds, grains and grams while in school and college. Even in northern countries sprouts and germinated seeds can be raised without the sun and in cold climates. In sprouting beans, peas and grams, the starch is reduced but there is an increase in vitamins. Protein in wheat is increased in wheat sprouts by ten per cent and the essential amino acids like lysine, needed in the body for balance increases as much as 25 per cent. Vitamin C, the healing vitamin is increased in sprouting and the germination processes. Vitamin E content of sprouted wheat is tripled in four- day-old wheat grass.

Believe it on not, pro-Vitamin A or carotene is found in greater abundance in sprouted legumes, lentils, peas and beans than in the carrot. A study of vegetarian nutrition in Yoga and the role that it can play in a healthy diet is not only exciting but tremendously rewarding in the knowledge that can be acquired.

While a proper, balanced diet is essential to people of all ages, one must also recognize the role that water plays in the metabolism of the body. No matter how good the diet the body cannot transport nutrients, unless it possesses good blood circulation. Healthy circulation depends much upon fluids, most particularly water, in the diet. Vigorous Yogic and sports activities dehydrate the body quickly.

Rapid breathing associated with exertion throws off moist-laden carbon dioxide from the body. Sweat increases and fluids are actually used up in dynamic activity by the cells. A sports enthusiast must learn to ‘sip water”. Gulping down water after rigorous Yogic or sports activity can be dangerous, but “sipping” water actually becomes beneficial. At least one liter per hour of fresh water must be replaced in the body. Shorter periods of time can be adjusted to 250 mls. Every 15 to 20 minutes. Mineral replacement fluids are now available for this purpose but fresh fruit juices still represent the body’s best way of absorbing the needed fluids along with vitamins and minerals most acceptable to the body in the shortest period of time.

Adding lime or lemon juice to other fruit juices enhances the Vitamin C content. Excess body activity in hot climates or in the tropics requires a greater intake of salt which is sweated out through the pores of the skin and passed through urine. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as salads made up of fresh greens put back natural salts into the tissues and cells. Table salt should be used with caution and with all attention to the body’s real needs. Soups made up of fresh vegetables, especially greens, have high potassium content and replace needed cellular constituents quickly, avoiding strain on the bowels, kidneys and bladder. A light broth or soup made from grains along with vegetables like tomato, beans and potato replaces necessary minerals which may be lost in a strenuous workout.

One should never over eat when the body is tired or strained. Instead, it is better to take plenty of fluids, fruit or vegetable juices or light soups, and then have a lengthy relaxation or sleep. Over loading the body when tired interrupts proper digestion and may lead to damage in the circulatory system as well as accumulation of mucous in the respiratory tract.

It is also important that some mono-unsaturated fats be included in the diet. Poly-unsaturated fats have long been extolled for their virtue in a natural diet for strength and endurance, but in these modern times many of these valuable fruit, vegetable and nut-fats go rancid when stored for a lengthy period of time, and therefore are highly treated with chemical stabilizers and preservatives. Mono- unsaturated fats are stored longer and more safely and should be used in dressings for salads and in soups and other dishes.

A small amount of mono-unsaturated oil or fresh poly-unsaturated oil can be added to cooked dishes and soups just before serving. It is important to be cautious as they are turned into dangerous saturated fats by frying or cooking. Saturated fats found in all animal flesh, fish, fowl and animal by-products clog up the circulatory system leading to premature aging, heart disease and untimely early death.

Remember that sugars and starches are only fuel for the body and the unrefined sugars and unrefined starches break down more slowly in the system. Starch, a granular carbohydrate, is found in most plants, vegetable foods, grains and pulses. Reacting with certain digestive enzymes, maltose and dextrin are produced as fuel for endurance. Refined sweets and sugars indeed are super octane fuels but have their drawbacks. The main source of sugar, as sweet crystalline carbohydrate, is from sugarcane, the sugar beet and the sap of trees like the maple and fruits. Neither type of carbohydrate rebuilds the system.

The protein building blocks for this purpose must come through a balance of amino acids from nitrogenous sources. All animal protein is originally derived from grains, grasses, leaves of trees, legumes and vegetarian sources. A judicious combination of grains and vegetables, nuts, legumes and grain seeds produce all known amino acids to build a strong, healthy, long lasting physical body.

It is thus quite clear that a mixed diet of grains, seeds, nuts and vegetables is more than adequate for health, a strong muscular system, good skeleton structure, and the harmonious working of all body organs. The pacifying effect of the vegetarian diet producing a calm, clear concern for the world also recommends itself to all people irrespective or any man made barrier.

The best diet in the world can be completely negated by smoking of tobacco, the use of alcohol, and by many popular drugs, especially the so-called “consciousness enhancing” drugs. A clean life style goes a long way to winning out in life’s real contests, no matter what the game. A young sportsman today must remember that he may have a future as a sporting coach or as a good, healthy citizen and that health is built in the “spring time” of one’s life. It is sad to note that many sportsmen “sell off” any chance for a healthy future and a happy, contented, vigorous old age for ego-aggrandizement and fleeting monetary pleasures.

Strength, endurance, and positive wholesome enjoyment are not the prerogative of youth alone. Food is the source of energy. Sustenance, change and growth in our lives. At all times “Diet Power” is the fuel for contented emotions, peace of mind, and success in its most real sense. The greatest champion is he who has vanquished his own lower nature, and “Diet Power” gives a “rocket thrust” to that eternal human struggle.

From the book, “Yoga and Sports” by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj and Yogamani Yogacharini Kalaimamani Smt Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Satya Press, Ananda Ashram, Puducherry, South India

* Notes for Scientific Basis of Yoga Education –Compiled and Edited by Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani *


While their numbers are rapidly growing, vegetarians are still a minority, and it is not unusual to be confronted with a meat-eater who not only protects his own right to eat flesh, but argues aggressively that vegetarians should join him in his carnivorous diet. Carnivores may regard non meat-eaters as a strange lot who munch on “rabbit food,” and whose diet doesn’t have the substance to make them strong, productive human beings. The following presentation is designed to turn the tables on such discussions by showing the devastating effects of meat-eating both on individuals and on our planet. It is based on a richly informative poster entitled, “How to win an argument with a meat-eater,” published by Earthsave, an organization based in Felton, California, giving facts from Pulitzer Prize nominee John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America. Below are eight separate arguments against meat-eating and in favor of a vegetarian diet.

  1. The Hunger Argument against meat-eating

Much of the world’s massive hunger problems could be solved by the reduction or elimination of meat-eating. The reasons:

  • Livestock pasture needs cut drastically into land which could otherwise be used to grow food;
  • Vast quantities of food which could feed humans is fed to livestock raised to produce meat.

This year alone, twenty million people worldwide will die as a result of malnutrition. One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. One hundred million people could be adequately fed using the land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by a mere 10%.

Twenty percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is eaten by people. Eighty percent of the corn and 95% of the oats grown in the U.S. is eaten by livestock. The percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock is calculated byexperts as 90%.

One acre of land can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes, or 250 pounds of beef.

Fifty-six percent of all U.S. farmland is devoted to beef production, and to produce each pound of beef requires 16 pounds of edible grain and soybeans, which could be used to feed the hungry.

  1. The Environmental Argument against meat-eating

Many of the world’s massive environmental problems could be solved by the reduction or elimination of meat-eating, including global warming, loss of topsoil, loss of rain forests and species extinction.

The temperature of the earth is rising. This global warming, known as “the greenhouse effect,” results primarily from carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas. Three times more fossil fuels must be burned to produce a meat-centered diet than for a meat-free diet. If people stopped eating meat, the threat of higher world temperatures would be vastly diminished.

Trees, and especially the old-growth forests, are essential to the survival of the planet. Their destruction is a major cause of global warming and top soil loss. Both of these effects lead to diminished food production. Meat-eating is the number one driving force for the destruction of these forests. Two-hundred and sixty million acres of U.S. forest land has been cleared for cropland to produce the meat-centered diet. Fifty-five square feet of tropical rain forest is consumed to produce every quarter-pound of rain forest beef. An alarming 75% of all U.S. topsoil has been lost to date. Eighty-five percent of this loss is directly related to livestock raising. Another devastating result of deforestation is the loss of plant and animal species.

Each year 1,000 species are eliminated due to destruction of tropical rain forests for meat grazing and other uses. The rate is growing yearly. To keep up with U.S. consumption, 300 million pounds of meat are imported annually from Central and South America. This economic incentive impels these nations to cut down their forests to make more pasture land. The short-term gain ignores the long-term, irreparable harm to the earth’s ecosystem. In effect these countries are being drained of their resources to put meat on the table of Americans while 75% of all Central American children under the age of five are undernourished.

  1. The Cancer Argument against meat-eating

Those who eat flesh are far more likely to contract cancer than those following a vegetarian diet.

The risk of contracting breast cancer is 3.8 times greater for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week; 2.8 times greater for women who eat eggs daily compared to once a week; and 3.25 greater for women who eat butter and cheese 2 to 4 times a week as compared to once a week. The risk of fatal ovarian cancer is three times greater for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week as compared with less than once a week. The risk of fatal prostate cancer is 3.6 times greater for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily as compared with sparingly or not at all.

  1. The Cholesterol Argument against meat-eating

Here are facts showing that:

  • U.S. physicians are not sufficiently trained in the importance of the relation of diet to health;
  • Meat-eaters ingest excessive amounts of cholesterol, making them dangerously susceptible to heart attacks.

It is strange, but true that U.S. physicians are as a rule ill-educated in the single most important factor of health, namely diet and nutrition. Of the 125 medical schools in the U.S., only 30 require their students to take a course in nutrition.

The average nutrition training received by the average U.S. physician during four years in school is only 2.5 hours. Thus doctors in the U.S. are ill-equipped to advise their patients in minimizing foods, such as meat, that contain excessive amounts of cholesterol and are known causes of heart attack. Heart attack is the most common cause of death in the U.S., killing one person every 45 seconds. The male meat-eater’s risk of death from heart attack is 50%. The risk to men who eats no meat is 15%. Reducing one’s consumption of meat, dairy and eggs by 10% reduces the risk of heart attack by 10%. Completely eliminating these products from one’s diet reduces the risk of heart attack by 90%.

The average cholesterol consumption of a meat-centered diet is 210 milligrams per day. The chance of dying from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol is 210 milligrams daily is greater than 50%.

  1. The Natural Resources Argument against meat-eating

The world’s natural resources are being rapidly depleted as a result of meat- eating. Raising livestock for their meat is a very inefficient way of generating food. Pound for pound, far more resources must be expended to produce meat than to produce grains, fruits and vegetables. For example, more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S. is consumed in livestock production. The amount of water used in production of the average cow is sufficient to float a destroyer (a large naval ship). While 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat, 5,000 gallons are needed to produce a pound of California beef. That same 5,000 gallons of water can produce 200 pounds of wheat. If this water cost were not subsidized by the government, the cheapest hamburger meat would cost more than $35 per pound.

Meat-eating is devouring oil reserves at an alarming rate. It takes nearly 78 calories of fossil fuel (oil, natural gas, etc.) energy to produce one calorie of beef protein and only 2 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of soybean.

If every human ate a meat-centered diet, the world’s known oil reserves would last a mere 13 years. They would last 260 years if humans stopped eating meat altogether. That is 20 times longer, giving humanity ample time to develop alternative energy sources.

Thirty-three percent of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and  mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by the U.S. are devoted to the production  of livestock, as compared with 2% to produce a complete vegetarian diet.

  1. The Antibiotic Argument against meat-eating

Here are facts showing the dangers of eating meat because of the large amounts  of antibiotics fed to livestock to control staphylococci (commonly called staph  infections), which are becoming immune to these drugs at an alarming rate.

The animals that are being raised for meat in the United States are diseased. The livestock industry attempts to control this disease by feeding the animals antibiotics. Huge quantities of drugs go for this purpose. Of all antibiotics used in the U.S., 55% are fed to livestock.

But this is only partially effective because the bacteria that cause disease are becoming immune to the antibiotics. The percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin, for example, has grown from 13% in 1960 to 91% in 1988.  These antibiotics and-or the bacteria they are intended to destroy reside in the meat that goes to market.

It is not healthy for humans to consume this meat. The response of the European Economic Community to the routine feeding of antibiotics to U.S. livestock was to ban the importation of U.S. meat. European buyers do not want to expose consumers to this serious health hazard. By comparison, U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries gave their full and complete support to the routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock, turning a blind eye to the threat of disease to the consumer.

  1. The Pesticide Argument against meat-eating

Unknown to most meat-eaters, U.S.-produced meat contains dangerously high quantities of deadly pesticides.

The common belief is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture protects consumers’ health through regular and thorough meat inspection. In reality, fewer than one out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues.

That these chemicals are indeed ingested by the meat-eater is proven by the following facts:

  1. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. mother’s milk contains significant levels of DDT. In stark contrast, only 8% of U.S. vegetarian mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT. This shows that the primary source of DDT is the meat ingested by the mothers.
  2. Contamination of breast milk due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal products found in meat-eating mothers versus non meat-eating mothers is 35 times higher.
  3. The amount of the pesticide Dieldrin ingested by the average breast- fed American infant is 9 times the permissible level.


  1. The Ethical Argument against meat-eating

Many of those who have adopted a vegetarian diet have done so because of the ethical argument, either from reading about or personally experiencing what goes on daily at any one of the thousands of slaughterhouses in the U.S. and other countries, where animals suffer the cruel process of forced confinement, manipulation and violent death. Their pain and terror is beyond calculation.

The slaughterhouse is the final stop for animals raised for their flesh. These ghastly places, while little known to most meat-eaters, process enormous numbers of animals each years. In the U.S. alone, 660,000 animals are killed for meat every hour. A surprising quantity of meat is consumed by the meat-eater.

The average per capita consumption of meat in the U.S., Canada and Australia is 200 pounds per year! The average American consumes in a 72-year lifetime approximately 11 cattle, 3 lambs and sheep, 23 hogs, 45 turkeys, 1,100 chickens and 862 pounds of fish! Bon appetite!

People who come in contact with slaughterhouses cannot help but be affected by what they see and hear. Those living nearby must daily experience the screams of terror and anger of the animals led to slaughter. Those working inside must also see and participate in the crimes of mayhem and murder. Most who choose this line of work are not on the job for long. Of all occupations in the U.S., slaughterhouse worker has the highest turnover rate. It also has the highest rate of on-the-job injury.

  1. Humans Have neither Fangs nor Claws

A ninth and most compelling argument against meat-eating is that humans are physiologically not suited for a carnivorous diet. The book Food for the Spirit, Vegetarianism in the World Religions, summarizes this point of view as follows.

“Many nutritionists, biologists and physiologists offer convincing evidence that  humans are in fact not meant to eat flesh._” Here are seven facts in support of  this view:

“Physiologically, people are more akin to plant-eaters, foragers and grazers, such as monkeys, elephants and cows, than to carnivora such as dogs, tigers and leopards.

“For example, carnivora do not sweat through their skin; body heat is controlled by rapid breathing and extrusion of the tongue. Vegetarian animals, on the other hand, have sweat pores for heat control and the elimination of impurities.

“Carnivora have long teeth and claws for holding and killing prey; vegetarian animals have short teeth and no claws.

“The saliva of carnivora contains no ptyalin and cannot predigest starches; that of vegetarian animals contains ptyalin for the predigestion of starches.

“Flesh-eating animals secrete large quantities of hydrochloric acid to help dissolve bones; vegetarian animals secrete little hydrochloric acid.

“The jaws of carnivora only open in an up and down motion; those of vegetarian animals also move sideways for additional kinds of chewing.

“Carnivora must lap liquids (like a cat); vegetarian animals take liquids in by suction through the teeth.

“There are many such comparisons, and in each case humans fit the vegetarian physiognomy. From a strictly physiological perspective, then, there are strong arguments that humans are not suited to a fleshy diet.”

  1. The Health Benefits of Vegetarianism

It was only recently that smoking only recently became recognized as a health and environmental hazard. As a result of research and education on a habit once believed to be not only harmless but stylish, most major U.S. cities have banned smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes in all public places. Smoking has also been outlawed in government offices and completely eliminated from all domestic U.S.  air flights. Now, another, even more devastating problem is under scrutiny. Its threat to health and the environment is being realized based on overwhelming evidence amassed by recognized authorities over the past fifty years. Recently a group of eminent doctors called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), themselves members of the American Medical Association (AMA), have gathered to change the U.S. consciousness on human nutrition, particularly among the medical community. The PCRM is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., consisting of doctors and lay persons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research and health promotion.

Founded in 1985, the PCRM is supported by over 3,000 physicians and 50,000 lay persons PCRM president Newal D. Barnard, M.D., is a popular speaker and the author of The Power of Your Plate.  As stated by the PCRM in their 1991 literature, “A vegetarian diet has been advocated by everyone from philosophers, such as Plato and Nietzsche, to political leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin and Gandhi, to modern pop icons such as Paul McCartney and Bob Marley. Science is also on the side of vegetarian foods. A multitude of studies have proven the health benefits of a vegetarian diet to be remarkable.

“Vegetarian is defined as avoiding all animal flesh, including fish and poultry.  Vegetarians who avoid flesh, but do eat animal products such as cheese, milk and eggs are ovo-lacto-vegetarians (ovo = egg; lacto = milk, cheese, etc.). The ranks of those who eschew all animal products are rapidly growing; these people are referred to as pure vegetarians or vegans (vee’guns). Scientific research shows that ovo-lacto-vegetarians are healthier than meat-eaters, and vegans are healthier than ovo-lacto-vegetarians.” It should be noted that the Indian Hindu tradition has always been lacto-vegetarian, permitting the consumption of milk products.

The PCRM literature lists a host of health benefits of a vegetarian diet, including the following:

  • Preventing cancer: “Numerous epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that vegetarians are nearly 50% less likely to die from cancer than non-vegetarians.”
  • Preventing heart disease and lowering blood pressure.
  • Preventing and reversing diabetes.
  • Preventing and alleviating gallstones, kidney stones and osteoporosis.
  • Preventing and alleviating asthma.
  1. The New Four Food Groups In 1991 the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine submitted a proposal to change the official “four food groups” which have been promoted by U.S. Nutritionists in the U.S. for the past 35 years. Their proposal reflects the fact that the long-held belief in meat as an essential dietary element is being displaced with new findings on the harmful effects of a meat-centered diet. The PCRM Update, May-June 1991, explains, “On April 8, 1991, PCRM unveiled a proposal to replace the Four Basic Food Groups. The Four Food Groups have been part of U.S. Government recommendations since 1956, but promote dietary habits which are largely responsible for the epidemics of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious illnesses in this country. The old four groups were meat, dairy, grains and fruits/vegetables. The ‘New Four Food Groups’ are grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Meat and dairy will lose their food group status [by this proposal]. The ‘New Four Food Groups’ represents a nutrition plan that is based on healthy, fiber- rich plant foods rather than the former emphasis on cholesterol-and-fat-laden foods. ‘The meat and dairy groups were the principal sources of cholesterol and  saturated fat, which is the biggest culprit in raising blood cholesterol,’ says PCRM  Nutritionist Virginia Messina, M.P.H., R.D. ‘These foods are simply not necessary in  the human diet.’ “PCRM poster offers the following description of the four new food groups.
  1. Whole grains include breads, pastas, rice, corn and all other grains. Note the emphasis on whole grains rather than refined grains. Build each of your meals around a hearty grain dish grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc.
  2. Vegetables are packed with nutrients; they provide vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin and other vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory or bok choy are especially good sources of these important nutrients. Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winte

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