Traditionally, practitioners of yoga and meditation have been vegetarians as they believe that a vegetarian or vegan diet benefits the mind and body. This was further based on their beliefs that eating meat resulted in bad karma. For example, the killing an animal involves the animal having emotions of anger, fear, pain and other sufferings. Traditional yogis believe that these energies are absorbed into the meat which is then energetically absorbed into our bodies on eating the meat. This then prevents the flow of Prana which has a negative effect on yoga and meditation. The second belief is that killing an animal goes against Ahimsa – the “do-no-harm” principle that should be a part of any yoga lifestyle.
Having seen many clients trying to lose weight through natural remedies and cures, the one common thread was that very few of this cohort were vegetarians. This is explained by the fact that plant-based diets and strict Paleo diets are known have lower fat and sugar content than the conventional meat diet.
Vegetarians are typically leaner than meat eaters because a vegetarian diet usually has less saturated fat and focuses on foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains that often have fewer calories. Vegans have even less exposure to fats since they avoid all animal-based products including eggs, milk, cheese and more. This may allow vegans to more easily lose weight. So, these diets along with a strict, short-term Paleo diets may be the best weight-loss dietary solutions.
Now a Complementary Medicine study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has confirmed that having a healthy vegetarian diet is more effective weight loss solution than the conventional Western diet.The study looked at 74 participants with type-2 diabetes for six months.
Half of the participants had a vegetarian diet i.e. 60% energy from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25 % fat. The diet was mainly vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts, with one portion of low-fat yoghurt a day.The other half were assigned a conventional low-calorie, anti-diabetes diet (Mann 2004) i.e. 50% energy from carbohydrates, 20% protein, less than 30% fat.
The researchers (Kahleova et al 2017) monitored the weight and levels of adipose (fat) tissue in the thighs of participants.
The results revealed:
- Vegetarian group – lost an average of 6.2 kilos
- Conventional western diet – lost an average of 3.2 kilos
- Both groups had reduced sub-cutaneous fat
- Only the vegetarian group had reductions in;
- subfascial fat (on the surface of muscles)
- greater reduction in intramuscular fat (fat inside the muscles)
These results indicate that the vegetarian diet reduces muscle fat and is the best weight-loss solution. Furthermore, consuming more vegetables means having more fibre from the plant food source, which in turn may improve the population of healthy gut bacteria. Vegetarians struggle like everyone else to avoid junk food, processed foods and other unhealthy eating habits, so it is still recommended to avoid junk and processed vegetarian foods.
These CAM findings confirm what the ancient practitioners of yoga and meditation have always known i.e. eating more vegetables is the path to good health. However, a more integrative healthcare approach is required which includes exercise and stress management into the healthcare protocol.