To Veg or Not to Veg

An interesting article on vegetarianism, thanks to my go-to-girl Cath Michell.

As she so rightly pointed out, very interesting to read about the connection between smart kids and deciding to go veggie at a later stage of life!

Let me hasten to add that I am not (yet?) the full article when it comes to vegetarianism and I sometimes have a craving for biltong that I simply cannot (and choose not to) ignore, so I hope to not appear hypocritical, as Mr. Hitler is reported to have said in the final paragraph of the article. I firmly believe in the concept of ‘each to his/her own’ and that we are all at our own points of our evolutionary development (and who knows what the future holds) but the more I read about vegetarianism, especially from an environmental and animal rights point of view, it seems to make more and more sense.

10 interesting vegetarian facts

Thought you knew everything there is to know about the vegetarian diet? These few facts may surprise you:

1. Vegetarianism has traditionally been linked to the people of ancient India. Even today, Indians make up more than 70 percent of the world’s vegetarian population.

2. The first Vegetarian Society was formed in 1847 in England. The main aim of the members was to dispel the common belief that it’s not possible to lead a healthy life without eating meat.

3. There are varying degrees of vegetarianism. The strictest of vegetarians not only steer clear of all forms of meat, they also avoid all animal products, including honey (bees are often killed in the production of honey), and foods which might contain traces of animal products, such as bread baked in buttered tins and sugar to which bone charcoal has been added (to make it white).

4. You might recall the scene in Notting Hill where William Thacker (Hugh Grant) goes on a blind date with a slightly off-the-wall “fruitarian”. Fruitarianism is a very real form of vegetarianism, where the diet consists of fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant material that can be gathered without killing the plant (e.g. pears can be picked without killing the plant, carrots cannot).

5. Many vegetarians follow a meat-free diet in an attempt to lower the pressure meat production places on the environment. According to Wikipedia.org, growing crops for farm animals requires nearly half of the United States’ water supply and 80% of its agricultural land.

6. Other people go the vegetarian route for religious reasons. Some of the denominations that actively advocate vegetarianism include the Hare Krishna and Rastafarian movements.

7. British research shows that a child’s IQ predicts his likelihood of becoming a vegetarian as a young adult. You guessed it: the smarter the child, the more likely he’ll eventually shun meat.

8. While veggie eating holds many health benefits, it also has other interesting effects on the body: research shows that avoiding red meat improves the sex appeal of male body odour.

9. The list of famous vegetarians includes Sir Paul McCartney, Ozzy Osborne, Sinead O’Connor, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Leonardo da Vinci.

10. And then, of course, it’s believed that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian during the latter part of his life. In fact, it’s said that he predicted that the world of the future would be vegetarian. Records show that Hitler amused himself by telling grim stories of slaughterhouses while entertaining meat-eating guests. When they were put off their food, he would mock them for their hypocrisy. On one such occasion, he remarked: “That shows how cowardly people are. They can’t face doing certain horrible things themselves, but they enjoy the benefits without a pang of conscience.”

(Carine Visagie, Health24, updated February 2011)

Sources:  http://www.ivu.org, http://www.healthday.com, http://www.vegetarian.org.uk

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Advice for Creating a Healthy Diet

There are so many different opinions out there as to what is the ‘best’ way to live and, specifically, eat healthily, that sometimes I find it confusing to say the very least. Who to believe, who to listen to, what to take seriously and what to dismiss as just pop-science or fad.

As a result, it was immensely refreshing for me to read the below article by Aadil Palkhivala, an Ayurvedic practitioner who is widely regarded as one of the world’s top yoga teachers.  Things that particularly resonated with me are his simple yet powerful statements like ‘There is no perfect diet, and no ideal food. I encourage you to monitor your food intake to determine what works for you and what doesn’t—diet has to be adjusted individually’. Good common sense in many respects, and principles that are easy to follow and live by. I look forward to reading much more from this wise man! (See the original article at http://www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/697?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=DailyInsight).

Advice for Creating a Healthy Diet – by Aadil Palkhivala 

As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I believe that a yogic lifestyle and proper eating habits go absolutely hand-in-hand. I recommend that my students eat food that creates balance in their system, for balance and harmony are essential elements of yoga.

There is no perfect diet, and no ideal food. I encourage you to monitor your food intake to determine what works for you and what doesn’t—diet has to be adjusted individually. There are, however, rules to go by. First, you should not feel sluggish or tired after a meal. If you do, change what you are eating until meals do not make you tired. Second, there should be no pain, bloating, or gas production after you eat. Third, your bowel movement should be easy and effortless, come out with minimal gas, and when examined, should be light in color, should have a minimal smell, should be smooth and well formed, and should float. The bowel will tell you whether the food you are eating is good for you or not.

General rules for eating include: Eat clean, organically grown food. Avoid all pesticides and artificial fertilizers as well as chemicals of any kind. Avoid tamasic and overly rajasic foods such as sweets, coffee, and alcohol. (In the Ayurvedic system the word “rajasic” refers to foods that are active or turbulent, and that may cause agitation, anger, or fear. “Tamasic” refers to foods that make one feel heavy, dull, dark, or lethargic.) Reduce meat and animal products intake to a minimum. Usually cow’s milk is very difficult to digest unless it is organic and unprocessed; it should usually be drunk within 30 minutes of milking, while it is still warm. On a final note, there are certain body types that need a little animal product to feel balanced. Test your diet through the intuition that develops from the practice of yoga, and not what anyone believes is a yogic diet.

Eating right involves the process of eating as well as what is eaten. The yogi eats when he is calm and relaxed, and not when stressed or in a hurry. The yogini chews her food well and eats as slowly as possible, finding gratitude and joy while savoring each morsel. Eating should be done in a calm atmosphere in silence or with slow soft music. This aids digestion, since digestion is a parasympathetic activity, and loud, quick-beat music, tension, and hurry, all lead to a sympathetic nervous response.

In summary, trust your instincts as to what to eat. Eat slowly and peacefully, enjoying whatever is presented on your plate or banana leaf!

Recognized as one of the world’s top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo’s yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally renowned Yoga Centers in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is also a federally certified Naturopath, a certifiedAyurvedic Health Science Practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified Shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.