| Increase Your Prana with a Vegetarian Diet
by Stacey Tress
This article was inspired by a recent course my husband and I took. In this article, I will talk about the course (Art of Living Happiness course) and the vegetarian potluck the attendees and I shared in, which then lead me to rediscover my love of vegetarian food.
What is the Art of Living?
The Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) is a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization founded in 1981 by the world-renowned philanthropist and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The AOLF is present in 155 countries, reaching an estimated 370 million people worldwide with a vision of individual and social stewardship in society.
Over the past three and a half decades, the Art of Living has spread peace across communities through diverse humanitarian projects, including conflict resolution, disaster relief, sustainable rural development, empowerment of women, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all, and environmental sustainability.
The founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher, and ambassador of peace. His vision of a stress-free, violence-free society has united millions of people worldwide through service projects and Art of Living wellness programs.
Living Life to its Full Potential – The Art of Living Happiness Course
The Art of Living Happiness course integrates ancient yogic practices and wisdom into our lives today. Practising these techniques enables us to be more in the present moment and live with greater clarity, creativity, peace, and joy.
This program is offered here in Yorkton, SK, at Body Poetry Studio and is taught by Wendy Nesseth. Wendy is an Art of Living teacher, yoga instructor, mentor, and friend of mine. This course/program was taught over a weekend, from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. (www.bodypoetrystudio.com)
There are some “rules” when you are taking this program, and they are part of my inspiration for writing this article. Rules: no caffeine, no alcohol, no drugs, and eat a vegetarian diet. OK, so half of us immediately bolted for the door… joking! Initially, I thought how this course was turning out to be more than I had signed up for—no coffee all weekend? Vegetarian diet? What will we eat? Oh, and we had to bring a vegetarian potluck meal for both Saturday and Sunday. Oh boy, I was envisioning an endless carrot stick platter.
Why a Vegetarian Diet for this Program?
The quick answer is that there is more prana (life force) in vegetables than there is in meat. To help support/maximize the cleansing effect of the breathing techniques that we were doing, we needed to nourish the body with lots of prana. I will do a follow-up article (or part 2) called Ayurvedic Insights into Live Foods, as there is so much more to share!
OK, so back to this vegetarian stuff. There was a time, years ago, when I was a vegetarian. I’d go so far as to say that I had even dabbled in being a raw foodist. This was back when I was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and I was learning how to eat healthier and to add more alkalinity to my diet. I laugh at myself now, as I write this article, to my initial ignorance and thoughts about vegetarians only eating carrot sticks, because I did know just how amazing eating a vegetarian diet could be. It’s certainly much more than just carrot sticks!
What is a Vegetarian?
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”
*Shellfish are typically “a sea animal covered with a shell.” We take shellfish to mean:
• Crustaceans (hard external shell) large—e.g. lobsters, crayfish, crabs; small—e.g. prawns, shrimps
• Mollusks (most are protected by a shell) e.g. mussels, oysters, winkles, limpets, clams, etc. Also includes cephalopods such as cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.
Different types of Vegetarian Diets:
• Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
• Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
• Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
• Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products that are derived from animals.
Eggs: Many lacto-ovo vegetarians will only eat free-range eggs. This is because of welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens. Through its Vegetarian Society Approved trademark, the Vegetarian Society only endorses products containing free-range eggs.
Some people may be vegetarian for religious reasons. Jains, for example, are either lacto-vegetarian or vegan, while some Hindus and Buddhists may choose to practice a vegetarian diet.
Basic Vegetarian Nutrition
Everyone wants to be sure that they are eating a healthy diet. It has been demonstrated that vegetarian and vegan diets can meet the nutritional needs for people of all ages.
“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diet, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” [American Dietetic Association]
Current advice on healthy eating emphasizes the importance of a diet low in saturated fat, high in whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables; a vegetarian, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, could easily exceed the guidelines for eating 5-A-Day fruit and vegetables. A vegetarian diet based on whole grains, pulses (beans and lentils), vegetables, nuts, and seeds will also be naturally high in fibre and low in saturated fat, which are both good for health.
Being vegetarian means getting the nutrients that are associated with the conventional diet of meat, poultry, fish, and seafood from other sources. There can sometimes be concern that a vegetarian or vegan diet will be low in the nutrients found in meat and fish such as protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, or the essential fats sometimes referred to as “omegas.” In fact, these nutrients are part of vegetarian and vegan diets, in some cases in abundance! Being mindful about your diet isn’t just cause for concern for vegetarians but for everyone—and with any lifestyle choice you want to ensure you’re familiar with the best nutritional sources—and of course looking for local organic sources whenever possible.
Pulses, such as peas, beans, lentils, and, botanically speaking, peanuts, are excellent inexpensive sources of protein and also contain minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium. Soy products (please choose organic!) are a good source of protein. Free range eggs and dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir as well as nuts and seeds contribute to protein and also to zinc, calcium, and iron intake. Vegan options such as non-dairy soy milk (hemp milk is another yummy choice) and vegan “cheese” are valuable sources of protein and are often additionally fortified with calcium.
Iron and Zinc
Found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, fruits, dried fruit, eggs, and dairy products. Bread and breakfast cereals are important sources in the British diet. Flour is fortified by law [Bread and Flour Regulations 1998] with calcium and iron; many other products, like breakfast cereals are voluntarily fortified by the manufacturer. Using a sourdough starter with your flour for baking bread, muffins, pancakes, and more will allow better nutritional absorption and digestion.
Found in eggs and dairy products and in fortified yeast extract and cereals.
Obtained from eggs, fortified margarines, breakfast cereals (oatmeal), fresh mushrooms, soy products like tofu, soy chunks, and soy milk and from sunlight on the skin.
Essential Fats or “Omegas”
Nuts and seeds such as walnut, linseed, hemp, canola, and flaxseed as well as omega enriched eggs are all good sources of omegas. You could take the extra step to soak and/or sprout your nuts and seeds as this process will aid in nutritional absorption, digestion, and elimination.
These two recipes were amongst the many dishes we devoured at the potluck, and why I was inspired to write my article on this topic. I was truly inspired, renewed, and re-energized by the Art of Living Happiness course.
Red Lentil Soup
by Wendy Nesseth
2 cups red lentils
2 cloves of garlic
1 chilli pepper
Handful of fresh dill
- Thoroughly wash 2 cups of organic red lentils and soak them in fresh water for an hour.
- In a VitaMix, blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilli pepper.
- Put everything into a pot along with 1 tsp of sea salt and bring to a boil. Let simmer over low heat (lentils take about 20 minutes to cook).
- Add a handful of fresh dill near the end of the cooking process.
- Add 1 tsp of ghee to each bowl before serving.
Makes 10 cups
Mushroom Barley Casserole
by John Beaton
6 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups water
2 yellow onions, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup pearl barley
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Melt the butter in a 2-quart stove-top covered casserole. Add the garlic and onion and saute over moderately low heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and saute over moderate heat until the mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the barley and basil to the mushroom mixture, and toss lightly, then pour in the water and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Slowly bring the casserole to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Cover the casserole and bake in the oven until the barley is tender, about 45 to 50 minutes.
- Before serving, add the chopped parsley and toss gently. Serve hot.
Makes 4 cups
Discovering Nutrition, Paul Insel, R. Elaine Turner, Don Ross
Spiritual Nutrition, Six Foundations for Spiritual Life and the Awakening of Kundalini, Gabriel Cousens
Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT) and Young Living Essential Oil Distributor (#2282633), lives in Yorkton, SK, with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton which offers fermentation workshops, permaculture design work, organically grown produce, and more! She also offers essential oil support and carries a wide variety of Young Living Essential Oils and Products for sale. To learn more, please contact her at 306-641-4239, email: email@example.com, www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, or on facebook “Garden Therapy Yorkton.” Also, see the display ad on page 9 of the 22.4 November/December issue of the WHOLifE Journal.