These days grocery stores carry plenty of vegetarian products and most restaurants offer many choices of vegetarian meals. Conclusion? There must be a growing number of people doing away with meat and turning to vegetarianism, even if only a few days a week. If you are not one of them, have you ever considered whether you would be a good candidate for cutting out animal products completely from your diet?
Ayurveda, the holistic medicine of India, says that only a person who has a true Pitta* constitution is suited to become a vegetarian. This is mainly because animal products provide us with warmth and, as the pitta dosha consists of the elements fire and water, pitta people become out of balance if more heat is given to their already internally hot constitution. Eating meat will only aggravate their fiery temperament and body and increase their tendency towards irritability and aggressiveness, inflammation, high blood pressure and skin rashes.
Another way of determining whether you have the right body type for a vegetarian diet is to look at your basic metabolic type. Are you a slow burner or a fast burner of the food you eat? Vegetarian metabolisms burn sugars and carbohydrates very slowly. This means that they oxidize sugars into energy at a slower rate than is needed to fully digest large quantities of heavy proteins and fat, such as meat, fish and eggs. As a result, a large meal, such as a big steak, will make them tired and mentally lethargic. A slow oxidizer is more suited to eating more fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates than animal products. A fast oxidizing metabolism however, needs the heaviness of meat and animal fat in order to slow down the rate at which the food is turned into energy. Carbohydrates and starches are burned too quickly, causing irritability with sharp, but short-lived, bursts of energy. If you find yourself feeling nervous after a heavy meal of starches, and concentrated animal protein gives you steady energy and makes you vital and mentally alert, then you need a carnivorous diet. Still unsure? Then you may be one of the many who have a balanced metabolism. Their digestive system has adapted over generations to enable them to eat both meat and carbs without too many problems, as long as food combining rules are followed.
Chinese Medicine frowns on a completely vegetarian diet as being too strict and not in keeping with the basic principle of consuming everything in moderation. As well as considering whether the person is yin or yang in constitution, the season of the year and the climate must also be taken into account when planning what to eat. The more cooling and moist yin foods (most fruits and vegetables) are consumed during conditions of heat and dryness, while warming yang foods (most animal products) need to be taken in cold damp seasons and climates. Only by keeping in harmony with nature’s cycles can we maintain good health. Eating local and organically grown produce is recommended to avoid over exposure to chemicals and toxins.
Perhaps the ideal solution for most people is to become a part-time vegetarian, or a flexitarian, following a more plant based diet, with a little meat from time to time.
*see previous posts on doshas and Ayurveda
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