Under the general classification of lacto-vegetarian diets is a comprehensive system called Ayurveda. It is an ancient holistic system of health maintenance that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term that can be roughly translated as meaning “science of life.” It encompasses not only science but a philosophy as well. In Ayurveda, the whole of life’s journey is considered to be sacred.
The guiding principle of Ayurveda is that the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body, and freedom from sickness depends upon contacting our own awareness, bringing it into balance and then extending that balance to the body.
Although we perceive our bodies to be solid, they are constantly changing and renewing. We acquire new stomach linings every five days. Our skin is new every five weeks. Every year, fully 98 percent of the total atoms in our body is replaced. Ayurvedic medicine gives us the tools to intervene at the level where we are being recreated new each day.
In Ayurveda, everything in our universe is perceived as being composed of five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements form the basis for all things, from the individual’s constitution to the tastes of food. Balancing the elements is key to maintaining health and successfully healing illness, whether physical or mental.
Unlike traditional Western medicine, Ayurveda is not confined to the healing of disease in a superficial treatment of symptoms. Instead, it evaluates the complete body-mind of the individual. It sees medicine and diet as complementary rather than separate. No one can expect to retain vitality, recover from disease, or succeed in the practice of yoga without the appropriate knowledge of the powerful effect diet has on physical health, mental clarity and spiritual progress.
Indeed, Ayurveda places great emphasis on diet as an integral part of the successful practice of any spiritual discipline. Like macrobiotic philosophy, Ayurveda stresses balance and harmony, but through the concept of prana, or “life force, energy.” Any imbalance of prana in our body can be experienced as illness, discomfort or pain. Harmony is expressed in a healthy body through balance of breath, food, water, sunshine, exercise and sleep.
The Ayurvedic preparation of recipes is most exquisite in its exotic tastes, aromas, textures and colors. When people raised on a traditional meat-oriented diet shift to a vegetarian style of eating as practiced in the West, they often experience positive changes in their health. But when they try Ayurvedic recipes, they discover a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Their whole system responds to the nourishment that comes from the subtle tastes and aromas of the special blend of spices. These subtle spices and aromas play a vital role in bringing us to a deeper level of health and well-being.
Have an open mind and try things that have been proven for thousands of years. Following is a subset of Ayurveda, called the Sattvic Diet. It is a pure lacto-vegetarian diet that has many benefits.