Animal based versus Plant Based Food- Ayurvedic perspective

Student SDCOA

It is clear that plants can provide all the nutrition that humans require. There is a large amount of scientific evidence that human biochemistry is adapted to working with plant based chemicals very effectively and that our ability to utilize animal byproducts was an evolutionary afterthought.

Comparative anatomical examination of human dental patterns show adaptation for mainly plant eating, as does gastrointestinal tract length. Plants contain all the necessary macronutrients, vitamins and mineral required for survival. There is a perception that plants do not contain much protein, and yet this is not correct, as there are multiple sources of good quality plant based protein. Man can synthesize almost any chemical required for life, except a small group of so called ‘Essential Amino Acids’ which are plentifully available from plant sources.

However, plant based food is not just equivalent to animal food, but in many ways superior. Plants have many phytosterol and other phytochemicals which have significant wellness benefits. Many of these substances have been linked with anticancer effects and as therapeutic in other chronic disease states.

Plants have high levels of antioxidant compounds which can bring health benefits. Geographic regions such as the Mediterranean or Asia that have high levels of plants in their diets show general trends for low disease rates and increased longevity. Vegetarians in the West have been shown to have lower disease rates than non vegetarians, although this may be an epiphenomenon of an overall healthier lifestyle. Herbal medications are almost uniquely derived from plant sources, and indeed many western pharmaceutical compounds have an early origin in plant derived chemicals, for example digitalis.

The concept of diet for any dosha is to try to balance your dominant dosha, or bring it back in to alignment if it is deranged. Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, spreading, and liquid, so eating foods that neutralize these qualities – foods that are dry, mild, cooling, grounding, stabilizing, and dense – serve to balance excess pitta. Tastes that reduce Pitta are bitter, sweet and astringent, whereas tastes that increase Pitta are pungent, spicy, oily, salty and sour. Foods that are not too hot, or cooked in too much oil will also balance Pitta. The lightness of pitta is best balanced not necessarily by heavy foods, but foods that provide the heaviness as sustenance such as grains or other energy giving foods. However Pitta dosha can have a strong appetite and therefore moderation is required. Pitta dosha does well with regular meal times, and eating in quiet, calm environments.

Although it would be impossible to give a full list of all acceptable foods for PItta, here are some examples. Generally most sweet fruits such as apples, berries, coconut, dates and figs are good. A

lmost all vegetables are good for Pitta, including the naturally sweet root vegetables such as beets, carrots, winter squash, olives, onions and crucifers. Grains are also generally good in moderation, including oats, pasta, amaranth, rice, wheat and tapioca. Dairy is cooling and PItta balancing, including unsalted butter, cheese, milk and yogurt. Legumes are pitta balancing including garbanzo beans, lima beans soybeans and peas. Some nuts and seeds are good including almonds, flax and sunflower seeds. Ghee, canola and olive oil are good. Spices suitable for pitta are basil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger, minter, spearmint and wintergreen - again more cooling spices. Burdock, chamomile, hibiscus, jasmine and kukicha teas are also helpful