“The life of all living things is food; the entire world seeks food. Complexion, clarity, good voice, long life, understanding, happiness, satisfaction, growth, intelligence are all because of food” ~ says the ancient classical Ayurveda text, Charaka Samhita!
What is it that Ayurveda recommends? A strictly vegan diet? Or is consumption of meat allowed? What is Ayurveda’s take on maintaining and attaining a healthy state of mind and body?
It's time that we debunk the popular myth that Ayurveda is strictly vegan or vegetarian. Just like plants and grains, Ayurveda accepts meat as a form of food!
Infact, no other food excels meat in producing nourishing effects in the body (mamsam brahmananam),1 says the ancient Ayurvedic master Charaka.
We have been consuming meat longer than we think or imagine. Evidence of humans consuming meat dates back to over 2.6 million years.2 We evolved into and became what we are because of this dietary choice that we made millions of years ago.
The classical texts impart elaborate descriptions of the properties of various meats, especially their Vata-reducing properties.
Here are some!
1.Goat meat, mutton, and lamb
Charaka also says that good quality meats are brimhana (strengthening and building) as well as balya (promoting strength).
It further states that meat soups (mamsarasa) are one of the best for the body. They are sarvarogaprashamanam (alleviates all diseases) and promote vidyam (wisdom), swarya (good voice), bala (strength) of vayas (age), buddhi (intellect), and indriyas (senses).7
With a laundry list of so many health benefits, it might just be about time for us to get that good ol’ bone broth in our systems!
Read More: Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know
Another popular misbelief is that you are not supposed to have meat or related products while undergoing Ayurveda treatments or when having Ayurveda medicines.
This statement cannot be more misleading or untrue!
The truth is that Ayurveda does advise certain pathya-apathya (wholesome and unwholesome foods and regimens) depending on the nature of the disease.
Infact there are certain conditions & diseases for which Ayurveda advises the intake of meat and bone broth as medicine.
It is ideal to have meat at midday because your digestive fire will be the highest during that time!
Pro tip: Cook meat properly with clarified butter, curd, sour gruel (Kanjika), acid fruits like pomegranate, and pungent and aromatic condiments like black pepper.
Though heavy to digest, meat prepared like this is considered quite wholesome... It possesses relishing, strength-giving, and tissue-building properties.
Ayurveda has explained the different types of eggs in classical texts. Ducks, poultry, and quail eggs are effectively used as medicine in various diseases like chronic cough, Tuberculosis, heart diseases, decreased sperm count, and among others.
Eggs are also said to improve the growth and development of children. Modern medicine states that an egg has 9 essential fatty acids along with omega-3 fatty acids. A large egg contains over six grams of protein. It has 4.5 grams of fat which is only 7 percent of the daily value. Only one-third (1.5) grams is saturated fat and 2 grams is mono-unsaturated fat.
Eggs are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other necessary food components, that a human body requires.
Though eggs are highly nutritious, they are heavy in nature. Their heaviness makes digestion difficult. So, people with good metabolism can definitely include eggs in their diet.
Let's look at Fish through the Ayurvedic Lens!
Acharya Susruta, the ancient Ayurvedic author and father of surgery talks about the nutritional benefits of including fish in the diet. He even explains in detail the quality of fish residing in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers.
Fun Fact: Ayurveda prefers small fish varieties over larger ones because small fishes like anchovy are light for digestion, provide instant energy, are delicious, and pacify all the three doshas.
Also, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times in a week, as part of a healthy diet and for a healthier heart!
Fish is packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that can lower blood pressure and aid in reducing the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
What about shellfish allergy?
Shellfish allergy is one of the most common food allergies, and Ayurveda has spoken about it in certain texts!
There are two groups of shellfish: Crustacea (such as shrimp, crab, prawns, and lobster) and Mollusks (such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops).
Crustacea cause most shellfish reactions, and these tend to be severe, unpredictable, and potentially life-threatening. An example is anaphylaxis, even a very small amount of shellfish can cause one.9
Ayurveda considers prawns to be the worst of fish varieties since it aggravates all the three doshas. Intake of prawns and milk together is considered virudh ahara (incompatible), so it is best avoided.
Keep in mind the following things when you consume meat.
According to Charaka, healthy and wholesome food, even if taken in proper quantity, does not get properly digested when the individual is afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep, or excessive vigil.
Therefore, taking care of your mental health is all the more important!
Food taken in proper quantity provides strength, vigor, good complexion, and nurtures the health of the tissues. In order to live healthily, one must live in harmony and follow a diet suitable as per the bodily constitution.
How do you prefer to cook a scrumptious meal of meat that pleases both your health and your taste buds? Share in the comments below.
1. Yadavji Thrikamji Acharya (2013) (eds.) Charakasamhitha, SutraSthana 25/40, Chowkambha Surabharathi Prakashan.
2. Evidence for Meat-Eating by Early Humans- https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/evidence-for-meat-eating-by-early-humans-103874273/#:~:text=The%20first%20major%20evolutionary%20change,least%202.6%20million%20years%20ago
3. Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, XXVII.61
4. Ashtanga Hridayam, Sutrasthana, VI.63-64
5. Ashtanga Hridayam, Sutrasthana, VI.65
6. Yadavji Thrikamji Acharya (2013) (eds.) Charakasamhitha, SutraSthana 27/81, Chowkambha Surabharathi Prakashan.
7. Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana, XXVII, 311
8. Yadavji Thrikamji Acharya (2013) (eds.) Sushrutasamhita Sutrasthana 46/351-358, Chowkambha Surabharathi Prakashan.
9. Fare Food Allergy Research & Education – Shellfish Allergy
Comments will be approved before showing up.