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June 11, 2021

How a Plant-Based Diet Affects the Body & Mind.

It’s summer solstice time! 

Since the lockdowns, we’ve probably spent more hours sitting at the computer, not using gyms, eating more junk food, had less energy and motivation, and developed poor eating habits.

There is no better time than now to start cleansing the body with healthier plant-based eating. 

“All tremble at violence; all fear death.

Putting oneself in the place of another,

one should not kill nor cause another to kill.” ~ “Dhammapada,” verse 129

Shifting to, or maintaining, a vegetarian or vegan diet to create a healthier body and a more peaceful mind can be a simple process. Just as you brush your teeth and shower to keep your outside body clean, you can also eat foods that keep your insides clean and well-nourished. In the process, you can save harming the animals and the earth for ethical and sustainability benefits.

Even if you don’t become a vegan, you can try some additional healthy plant-based meals as side dishes or for certain days of the week. The healthier you eat, over time, can shift cravings to healthier food as you feel more energy and vitality from fresh greens and vegetables.

As a lifelong vegetarian raised by parents who shifted to a Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (no meat, fish, or chicken) before I was born, I didn’t have to give this diet much thought. When others ask, “What do you eat?” My answer is simply, “Everything but the meat.” It is simply not in my consciousness that animals are food.

For those of you who do see meat as food, if you increase your daily intake of vegetables, nuts, grains, and fruits, you may decrease your desire to consume meat. You feel better overall. I also shifted to vegan eating seven years ago, which excludes dairy products and eggs as well. I not only do not miss it but feel better in mind and body from eating a diet that is optimal nutrition for my body.

Research shows that eliminating dairy and meat (and all animal foods) from your diet can improve health and prevent heart disease and other diseases. As a yoga teacher and stress management specialist for the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal programs the last few years, I saw firsthand how people’s health improved from a vegan or vegetarian diet (with exercise and yoga as well). 

A plant-based vegan diet is typically one in which vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains are eaten in balance to create optimal health and vitality. With the proper balance of the protein and nutrients your body needs, you can shift to or maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet with ease.

Keep it simple, not eating too much or too little protein and balancing meals with vegetables and grains while making it appealing to your taste buds. Let your dietary habits support “an easeful body, peaceful mind and useful life,” as Swami Satchidananda Saraswati taught as the goal of all yoga.

Start by adding more vegetables to your meals or as a side dish. There is also Meatless Mondays: you can choose one day of the week to try wholesome and nutritious vegan meals.

Enjoy these recipes:

Edamame and Pomegranate Seed Salad

Ingredients: 

>> edamame

>> sliced almonds

>> pomegranate seeds

>> cucumbers

>> carrots

>> sprouted mung beans (soak and rinse daily until the mung beans sprout)

>> black pepper

>> fresh organic lemon juice

>> olive oil

Benefits: simple to make yet tasty and nutritious. Also, mung beans are great protein, good for those transitioning to a vegetarian/vegan diet.

Power Protein Sprouted Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

>> soak lentils overnight (you can also sprout them for an extra day)

>> sliced almonds

>> sesame seeds

>> parsley flakes (or add fresh organic greens)

>> add some oil and fresh-squeezed lemon

Simple and nutritious!

 

 

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