The Yoga Diet: Power Your ‘Prana’ With Plants
Yogis across Australia are seizing on a lifestyle trend that can benefit you both on and off the mat. By doing this one thing three times a day, you can transform not only your body but also your mind. And regardless of how long you’ve been practising or how flexible you are, it’s really not too much of a stretch to try – unless you count reaching into the fridge or pantry.
Of course, I’m talking about eating vegan. According to Google Trends data for the past 12 months, Australians have searched for the word “vegan” more than citizens of any other country have. Why are so many of us ditching meat, eggs, and dairy “products” and powering up with tempeh, plant milks, and chia seeds instead? For one, awareness is spreading that vegan eating naturally complements yoga, since both promote peace, wellness, and compassion.
Ahimsa Extends to Animals, the Planet, and You
As yogis, we strive to practice ahimsa – or non-violence – towards all sentient beings as well as the Earth. Eating vegan helps us embody this philosophy more fully, by allowing us to avoid contributing to the abuse and killing of animals who are used for food. And a United Nations report concluded that animal agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to the world’s most serious environmental problems, including greenhouse-gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and desertification. Eating vegan is also a great way to be kind to yourself, since animal-derived ingredients have been linked to an increased risk of suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Speed Up Recovery and Reduce Inflammation
Many of us initially turn to yoga to help us heal from an injury, and what we eat can either aid or delay our recovery. Plant-derived foods have an alkalising effect on the body, and there’s a strong correlation between alkalinity and reduced inflammation – which speeds up the healing process. By contrast, animal-derived foods are acid-forming and inflammatory. So whether you’re seeking to bounce back from an injury more quickly or avoid inflammation after an intense vinyasa class, plant foods are key. Moreover, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, women who avoid red meat have lower levels of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which have a significant impact on recovery in the body. A study published by Nutrition Research found that vegans had lower dietary-inflammation scores than non- or even semi-vegetarians. Many athletes and celebrities – including ultra-athlete and yogi Rich Roll, Aussie cricketer Peter Siddle, and yoga ambassador Russell Simmons – also promote the advantages of eating vegan.
Boost Your Mood and Motivation
The importance of mental health has never been clearer – it’s estimated that one in six Aussies will experience depression during his or her lifetime. Researchers from the University of Queensland recently found that eating fruits and vegetables boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves even our physical health. Meat-free meals can also make us feel more energised. Vegan foods contain all the nutrients that we need to be healthy – such as plant protein, fibre, and minerals – without all the cholesterol, saturated fat, hormones, and antibiotics that make us feel sick and sluggish in animal-derived foods.
Here are some tips for making your prana plant-powered:
- Veganise your favourite meals.
There’s a good chance you’re already eating vegan food (hello, green smoothie), and veganising your favourite meals is about as easy and satisfying as a good savasana. Why not try making a tofu breakfast scramble or a lasagne packed with vegetables and veggie mince? Meanwhile, stock your fridge and freezer with some delicious vegan cheese, chocolate, and ice cream.
- Download a mobile app, such as HappyCow, to find vegan-friendly restaurants.
Vegan options are popping up on just about every restaurant and café menu these days, so eating out is stress-free. If in doubt, download the HappyCow mobile app, and you’ll have a guide to vegan-friendly eateries wherever you go.
- Order or download a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit from PETA.org.au.
Full of useful information, tips, and recipes, PETA’s vegan starter kit is free and can be delivered to your door or downloaded onto your device. Sign up for a 30-day vegan challenge to kick things off … “yoga” to try it!