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To Meat or Not to Meat?
Page 2: Quality Yogic Eating

In a way, whether or not you eat meat is less of an issue than the quality of what you are putting in your body. Americans have the five food groups: meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables and chocolate - sorry, I meant grains. Yogis have three categories, or Gunas, for food: Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. This gets into the basic essence of food, and its relationship to your spirit.

(Article continued below.)

  • Sattvic foods are pure - they are unprocessed, fresh, are chemical free and are organically grown. They include the majority of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products, and honey. These are true Yogic foods which enhance tranquillity, energy and health.
  • Rajasic foods are stimulating, spicy and pungent. This category includes all meat, including fish, eggs, hot peppers, the more powerful spices, and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, cola and tea. These foods are agitating in nature. It has been said that certain cultures would feed their soldiers meat before they went off to war. Think about it - aren't meat-eaters, for the most part, more aggressive than vegetarians?
  • Tamasic foods are the antithesis of Sattvic - they are impure, stale, fermented, spoiled, highly processed and/or addictive. That last quality is the reason why caffeinated drinks make both this and the Rajasic list - they are addicting and stimulating. This category includes frozen dinners (yes, even frozen vegetables), anything canned or in a box, chemically processed food, and any food that has been sitting around for a while. These foods enhance laziness, compulsion and overemphasize pleasure. Not surprisingly, Tamasic foods makes up the majority of what many Westerners eat.

If you really want to enhance your health and your Yoga practice, it is most important to cut down your exposure to Tamasic and Rajasic foods - not the easiest thing to do in this day and age! All three types of foods do have their place in a balanced diet, but most of us in the Western World consume too much Rajasic food, and far too much Tamasic food! As a result we are a slothful, temperamental, pleasure-seeking bunch. No wonder it's so hard to start up a workout program - and then keep it up!

A true Yogic lifestyle is one that is based on moderation. Being a food fanatic who can never dine in a restaurant or at anyone else's home is as bad as living on a diet of fast food and frozen dinners. Chances are if you make just a few modifications in your diet you will notice a difference almost immediately. Try this: for one meal a day, a few times a week, eat primarily Sattvic foods - beans and brown rice, a sandwich made of whole wheat bread, avocado, sprouts and cheese, or a big salad full of your favorite vegetables. Eat some fresh fruit as a snack. See how you feel after a few weeks. If you like what these changes in your diet are doing for you, then you can explore further.

Previous page >> Is Vegetarianism Necessary for Yoga? >> Page 1, 2

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