February 23, 2016

8 Reasons Why I’m a “Gheegan.”


On my first trip to India I started off as a vegan.

When I arrived I had been a vegan for just under a year, and I was in that “let me tell you why I’m a vegan” mind set.

If a person is both a vegan and does Crossfit, which one do they tell you about first?

OK, back to my point.

So, I was in India. I was a vegan. The food choices available were limited in aspects of vegetables, and even protein dishes were hard to find because of all the clarified butter; ghee. Consequently, I found myself a little weak. This was reflected in my morning Ashtanga practice.

After two weeks, and with strong consideration, I made the decision to start implementing ghee into my diet upon the recommendation of an Ayurvedic doctor. Holy cow what a difference!

A spark of vitality that had been missing for quite some time came back and color rushed to my cheeks.

Now before all of the lovely and respectable vegans start filling the comment section with rebuttals, I fully understand that the vegan diet works wonderfully for some. However, as a holistic health practitioner, I am a strong advocate of bio-individuality, meaning: not one diet fits all.

The addition of ghee happens to suit my needs and gives me the strength to go from early morning Mysore practice all the way until the evening. When I started adding ghee to my morning pre-practice cup of coffee? Well now that makes for a whole other article.

In the meantime, here are the top eight reasons why I’m now a Gheegan:

1. High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Because ghee—if it is from grass-fed cows—is high in Omega 3s, it protects against inflammation and heart disease.

2. Promotes Healthy Weight

Ingesting ghee helps pull fat-soluble toxins from your cells and stimulates your fat metabolism resulting in your body burning its own fat for fuel.

3. Supports Gut Health

Ghee creates beneficial bacteria in our gut and it also contains butyric acid, which helps keep the lining of the gut wall strong. This prevents you from getting leaky gut syndrome.

4. Easy to Digest

Because ghee is lactose free it is easy to digest. Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine meaning “science of life”, teaches that ghee stimulates the digestive fire which speeds up the metabolism.

5. Lactose Free

Ghee is safe for those with dairy allergies because the lactose has been removed during the clarification process. Most of the casein (the protein from animal foods shown to cause cancer) has also been removed. However, if you are casein intolerant you should not consume ghee as it still contains trace amounts.

6. Makes for the Perfect Cooking Oil

Ghee has a high smoke point of 485’F / 252’C making it a great oil for cooking.

7. Tastes Amazing

Ghee is rich and delicious. One of my favorite meals is veggies cooked in ghee with some hemp seeds sprinkled on top.

8. Fat Soluble Vitamin Heaven

Ghee is chock full of vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin E: Most adults are deficient in this. It’s important to get sufficient intake as it is a potent antioxidant and immune system booster. Vitamin E is also important for eye health and has cancer fighting properties.
  • Vitamin A: Important for healthy vision, immune function, and proper cell growth.
  • Vitamin K: Prevents blood clotting, protects from heart disease, ensures healthy skin, forms strong bones, and promotes brain function. In studies it has been show to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Vitamin D: Plays a key role in almost all of our physiological functions. It is an immune system regulator so it is vital to our health. Vitamin D aids in prevention of osteoporosis, many types of cancer, depression, diabetes and obesity.

This experience provided me with a valuable lesson on compassion and flexibility. I was so adamant on adhering to a certain food philosophy, I was blinded by my body’s declining health.

According to the Yoga Sutras, one of the doctrines we are to follow is ahimsa; non-violence. This means non-violence to others, but many forget that this also means non-violence to ourselves. My body was not in a good state, and continuing to deprive myself of the nutrients it needed was not following ahimsa.

Cows are respected in India, and even though I’ve found that the dairy industry is not as romantic as it once was here, it is still very easy to find organic ghee from a happy cow. Almost every day while I’m in India, I feed the neighborhood cow my left over scraps. I enjoy this part of my day for the chance to smile at her, and to give her thanks for the sustenance she provides us.

So ghee or not, remember to listen to your body. There is no need to subscribe to a philosophy if it is not serving you. The ultimate key is to get in tune with what our body needs, and to remember to be compassionate with ourselves.





Author: Jenna Longoria

Associate Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Larry Jaconsen/Flickr

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