Vegan Diet in Ayurveda: A hell yes or big No Go?

In ayurveda, nutrition is adapted to your individual constitution. But no matter what your constitution is, plant based food is primarily recommended for every type: vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Depending on the state of health and dosha, ayurveda also accepts meat, fish, yogurt, eggs, milk, honey and clarified butter (ghee) as food in addition to plants. The vegan diet, on the other hand, avoids all animal products. How does that go together?

Actually, pretty well

Based on religion, individual needs and morals, eating meat and other animal products is always a personal choice. Nine years ago I decided to stop eating animal products for the sake of the animals and the environment. I didn’t want to change my plant based diet when I learned about ayurvedic nutrition. And I noticed: I don’t have to. Actually, ayurvedic and vegan diets have a lot in common. In both diets the base is made from fresh and natural ingredients – especially easily digestible foods. Experts recommend eating a lot of grains and legumes on a plant based diet in order to reach the daily protein recommendations. Pretty convenient that ayurveda seems to love legumes like lentils, dhal and chickpeas and recommends using them daily along with grains.

Non-violence in yoga and ayurveda

Another aspect is the philosophical approach to non-violence. Not only vegans are committed to not harming animals: in ayurveda, peace and harmony are a prerequisite for achieving balance between body and mind. Non-violence (ahimsa) is also one of the five rules of conduct in yoga.

But what about milk and ghee?

Milk and ghee are considered particularly valuable and sattvic in ayurveda (in the Indian philosophy and yoga, sattva stands for purity and balance). In times of factory farming, however, I would not consider milk and its products as “natural” anymore if you compare it to how it was produced 5,000 years ago.

Plant-based foods can be combined very well with ayurvedic nutritional principles. It is about what qualities they have and how they affect the doshas. Vegan plant drinks made from nuts, for example, have similar qualities to cow’s milk and can therefore serve as a wonderful substitute.