Ayurvedic perspective on vegetarianism

The ancient Indian science of healthy living – Ayurveda – considers nutrition as one of the most important aspects of our life, which can maintain or disrupt the balance in the body. In this article, we would like to highlight Ayurveda’s position regarding animal products.

Ancient sources often referred to certain types of meat that could be useful in treating a variety of imbalances. The habitat in which the animal lived, as well as the nature of the animal itself, were factors that determined the quality of the flesh.

In other words, the elements of nature that prevail in a given region also prevail in all forms of life in this region. For example, an animal that lives in water areas will produce a product that is more moist and massive than one that lives in arid areas. Poultry meat is generally lighter than the meat of surface animals. Thus, a person can try eating heavier meat to quench weakness or exhaustion.

The question arises: “If there is a balance, does the consumption of flesh help maintain it?” Recall, according to Ayurveda, digestion is the process underlying all human health. Heavy foods are more difficult to digest than light foods. Our task is to establish the process of digestion in the body and get more energy from food than is required for its absorption. The heaviness of meat, as a rule, drowns out the process of assimilation and mental activity. Modern pathophysiology has an explanation for this phenomenon: with poor digestion, there is a tendency for the development and reproduction of anaerobic bacteria. The presence of these bacteria promotes the conversion of animal proteins into harmful substances such as phenol and “pseudomonoamines” such as octopamine.

Meat and eggs also have the property of tending to aggressive and spiteful behavior (so-called rajasic behavior). Part of the reason is the presence of arachidonic acid (an inflammatory substance) as well as steroids and other substances that have been injected into the cattle. Animals are the final food chain for many environmental poisons such as pesticides, herbicides, etc. The conditions under which an animal is killed cause it to release a stress hormone that affects the flesh eater. We reflect the quality of the foods we eat. We are what we eat, literally. Balance in the body means evenness and alertness. The consumption of meat does not contribute to the development of these qualities. Meat burdens digestion with its heaviness, promotes inflammatory changes, and also prevents exit from the body, leading food residues to rot.

Modern research has uncovered some worrying relationships: increased rates of stomach cancer are associated with a predominant consumption of fish. Numerous symptoms of sclerosis with animal fats in the diet. There is evidence that the presence of butyrate is inversely related to the incidence of colon cancer. Healthy bacteria in the colon digest plant fiber and convert it to butyrate (butyric acid).

Thus, if a person does not consume vegetables, butyrate will not be formed in the body and the risk of morbidity will increase. A study in China by Colin Campbell documents these risks and links them to animal proteins. By providing this information, we are not trying to scare people into eating meat. Rather, we want to convey the idea that health is directly related to the food we eat. Digestion produces more useful energy for life from plant foods – then we feel filled with life. After all, from the point of view of Ayurveda, the ability to maintain balance in the body at a healthy level depends on the state of the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha).


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