A plant-based diet is becoming a larger part of the health world. We will go over a plant-based diet and discuss how it’s similar and different to Ayurveda.
With a plant-based diet, also sometimes called a whole-foods diet, you follow these principles:
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and healthy oils make up the majority of what you eat.
- Meat, fish, poultry, and other animal products are allowed, but they typically are eaten infrequently and in smaller portions.
- Processed foods, refined grain, and sugars are avoided.
- Food quality matters: locally sources, organic, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) foods are preferred.
A plant-based diet typically includes:
- Fruits: Bananas, berries, citrus fruits, peaches, pears, pineapple, etc.
- Healthy fats: Avocados, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, etc.
- Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, etc.
- Non-sugary condiments: Mustard, nutritional yeast, salsa, soy sauce, vinegars, etc.
- Nuts, nut butters, and seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, natural peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, etc.
- Plant-based proteins: Legume protein (e.g., black beans), tofu, tempeh, etc.
- Spices, herbs, and seasonings: Basil, black pepper, mint, rosemary, salt, thyme, and turmeric, etc.
- Unsweetened plant-based milks: Nut milks such as almond milk or cashew, coconut milk, etc.
- Vegetables: Asparagus, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, lettuces, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, yams, etc.
- Whole grains: Barley, brown rice, farro, quinoa, rolled oats, etc.
- Some alcoholic beverages in moderation; typically those that don’t contain added sugar and aren’t mixed with other sweetened beverages
- Still water
- Unsweetened sparkling water
- Unsweetened teas
We like a plant-based diet as it also favors getting your food products from good sources. When meat is supplemented into the diet it tends to be with high-quality products such as:
- Free-range, organic chicken
- Organic dairy products from pasture-raised animals
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Pastured-raised or grass-fed beef or pork
- Raw honey
- Wild-caught, sustainable seafood
Ayurveda is similar to a plant based diet in many ways from the local, organic, and well-sourced foods to eating non-processed foods and drinks. Today, Ayurveda is mostly plant-based, where it focuses mostly on a vegetarian diet with some meats depending on your constitution. Ayurveda is a complex system, so it can’t be summed up so quickly with a food list like a plant-based diet. Here are a few ways it’s different from a plant-based diet:
- Ayurveda focuses on aligning with the seasons and eating seasonally. This means the same foods and drinks are not eaten all year long. Each season asks for different nutrients and energetics.
- In Ayurveda food, lifestyle, and herbs are tailored to each individual. It’s not just about food. It takes the whole body and mind together.
- Ayurveda cannot give a general “food list”. Food lists change in Ayurveda depending on your cycle of gut healing, your dosha (body and mind constitution), and the seasons.
- Ayurveda can be used with a vegan, vegetarian, light meat eating, or a gluten-free diet.
- Ayurveda is also a lifestyle change that uses exercise, sleep, herbs, spices, daily routines, foods, and massages to heal the body. In Ayurveda, though food is the primary access point to healing the gut, it is not just a food plan.
Overall, due to some of the complexity of Ayurveda it can be confusing to a beginner. It is also extremely beneficial to work with an Ayurvedic Practitioner, which not all people can afford or have the time to do. This is we think a plant-based diet can be a good way to start to become aware of the source and quality of your food. It can be good especially if you’re starting out on a healthier lifestyle.
However, Ayurveda works to take this idea a step further and tailor it to each individual to help optimize energy, gut health, and any chronic or acute illness. In Ayurveda, one size does not fit all and one food doesn’t work all year round. Ayurveda works to align each individual with nature and liberate the Self.