Health & Wellbeing
How to become an Ayurvedic vegan
So, what is this Ayurveda thing anyway?
Ayurveda is a holistic health practice that has developed and partially changed over the years, but essentially remains based around the thousands and thousands of years old science. The literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is the ‘science of life’. Following Ayurvedic practices may help maintain a balance between physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. The balance is usually determined by one’s dosha or body type which is split into three categories: Kapha, Pitta and Vata, which are based around the five main elements of Fire (transformation), Water (fluidity), Earth (mass), Air (movement) and Ether (space).
Research for your Ayurvedic veganism
The very first step to becoming an Ayurvedic vegan is research. Learn about your dosha in-depth, the internet can be great for that, but to truly immerse yourself, books such as The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen and Ayurveda Beginner’s Guide are fantastic resources. Ayurveda is not just about diet, but also about routine, exercise, rest, and self-care. It’s a new way of living.
To discover your dosha, you can take a test such as the Pukka Herbs Dosha Quiz (it is possible to be more than one dosha. So, if you get two results, relax. It’s totally normal!)
The 3 doshas: nutrition & diet
Vata mind and body types (Air & Ether elements) tend to be slender in size and prefer warm, soothing, easily digestible foods and meals that have flavours that slightly contrast enough to balance each other out, like tomato soup or stews, rice, potatoes, porridges, and bread. Vata body types also prefer easy-flowing, simple exercises that allow space and airflow (breath work) yoga, acrobatics, bike-riding, ice skating, or hiking, often building it up into a gradual work out that can improve muscle mass.
Pitta mind and body types (Fire & Water elements) are usually medium-sized and handle dry, warm foods better, such as vegetables, bread, grains, and fruit. That’s not to say Pitta can’t enjoy wet foods like ice cream, pasta, and pizza, however, Pitta types should be aware of their intake of heavy and oily foods. Pitta types should also partake in exercises such as swimming and outdoor activities like running, cycling, or even skateboarding, as long as Pitta is absorbing the wild!
Kapha mind and body types (Earth & Water elements) tend to have a wider build than Vata and Pitta types, they pair great with foods that include a lot of spices, regular light warm meals that include grains like rice with vegetables and pulses are necessary to keeping a healthy body. It is important for Kapha to engage in exercises that have a lot of elements such as speed, movement, and group activity, which could be dancing or sports that encourage a little competition.
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The Ayurvedic vegan diet
The Ayurvedic diet can include dairy, however, for all the dosha’s the amount is so little, that it may as well not be included at all, there are many vegan substitutes that can act as a replacement for the nutrients you get from dairy: Eat Feel Fresh is a particularly useful book for how to become an Ayurvedic vegan. In fact, there are tonnes of plant-based Ayurvedic practices for vegans that take a more holistic approach.
Look into the meals, diets, and ways to prepare for your dosha, this can easily be done by familiarizing yourself with these through your everyday meals, maybe add more grains to your meal and add one more vegetable than you normally would. It’s about compromise and finding the right quantities and/or substitutes.
According to the book Practical Ayurveda here are the percentages of foods for each Dosha:
The Vata Type Diet should contain 55% grains, 20% vegetables, 15% fats, nuts, and seeds and 10% pulses. This includes having simple, easily digestible meals throughout the day, preferably a warm porridge, stew, or soup. Add aromatic spices and herbs for flavour but avoid pepper or anything with a high spice level (a.k.a. chilli, scotch bonnet, habanero peppers). Vata types should also aim to have regular bowel movements.
The Pitta Type Diet should contain 50% grains, 25% vegetables, 15% pulses and 10% fats, nuts, and seeds. Pitta should often try to adapt their eating habits to having fresh fruit or vegetables as a snack throughout the day, preferably late afternoon, and reduce/avoid the intake of alcoholic drinks, fried foods and skipping meals. Pitta types should also aim to have regular meals.
The Kapha diet should contain 45% grains, 30% vegetables, 15% pulses and 10% fats, nuts, and seeds. Kapha types should aim to skip either breakfast or dinner (do not skip lunch) and can opt for having regular small, warm meals throughout the day. Kapha types are also encouraged to drink warm beverages (1.5 litres per day max). They should aim to avoid heavy/oily foods, cold foods, overeating, eating late and over-snacking.
Take your Ayurvedic vegan journey easy
You have to take it slow; the information you’ve read here are only singular brush strokes on a massive canvas, there are thousands of things to learn and much more you can incorporate, this is a life-long process and not something that can be done overnight.
If you are interested in harnessing ancient wisdom to improve your health you may like to read our articles about some of the health benefits of yoga and mushrooms.
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice - please check any changes/suggestions are suitable for you before enacting them.