The yogi diet part 1: Why most people who do yoga are vegetarian / vegan

wgy are most people who do yoga vegan vegetarian

That yoga is a lifestyle means it also has instructions about life besides the yoga practice. In one of my previous blogs. I explained all about the eight limbs of yoga and how it gives us guidelines to live a healthy and happy life. Yoga asana, the physical practice and what most of us consider as ‘yoga’ is one part of the eight limbs. The other limbs gives us instructions about how to live our best life off our mats.

Food = life

A big thing in our life is food, food is life, right? So there are also instructions of how and what to eat aka the yogi diet. First things first, the diet is not about losing weight. It is about taking care of your body and listening to what it needs. It also is about getting in tune with what you eat and where your food comes from.

“Non harm is also non harm to yourself. What you eat is your own responsibility. Your Inner yogi knows best!”

Keep it simple

The world we live in is full of countless diets and there are new diets trending almost every week. Some of them are very complicated and/or tremendously restrictive. I have some good news for you: the yogi diet follows some pretty simple rules. It consists of fresh and unprocessed food, without consuming meat and eggs. You can enjoy dairy products in moderation, if they are ahimsa, which I will explain a bit further in a bit.

That’s it guys.

This is the shortest blog I have ever written because this is the essence. Keep it simple, fresh, unprocessed food, no meat and eggs.

For those of you who want a bit more explanation: read on.

The Sattvic diet: a healthy sister

The yogi diet is also called a sattvic diet in Ayurveda. For those of you who don’t know what Ayurveda is: it is the traditional medical system of India. You can say that Yoga and Ayurveda are like two interrelated branches of the same big Vedic tree. In Ayurveda and yoga (they are also called sister sciences), food is considered medicine and the healing properties of food and herbs are used to correct imbalances in our body. Let me explain this a bit further.

According to Ayurveda, sattva is the quality of nature that brings balance, peace, purity and clarity. It is one of the three qualities that exist in all of nature, therefor also in us.

The Gunas: how to balance your energy

Besides sattva, there are 2 other qualities in nature. Together they are called the gunas. These have always existed in the world, in both living and non-living things. Guna is a Sanskrit word which translates as ‘quality, attribute or tendency’. In yoga and Ayurveda, a guna is an element of reality that can affect our psychological, emotional, and energetic state.

The three gunas are:

  • Rajas: active energy.
  • Tamas: inertia or dullness.
  • Sattva: tranquil or subtle energy, purity and harmony.

These qualities are present in all things, only in different amounts, also in our food. All the food we eat has one of these qualities. So there is Rajasic food, tamasic food and sattvic food.

You are what you eat

Our bodies are directly connected to our minds. You probably have heard the saying: ‘you are what you eat’. Well,  this is taken very serious in the yogi diet. Food does not only nourish our body but it also affects our minds and emotions.

Rajasic food

Rajasic food are all the ‘tempting foods’, They are hot, bitter, salty and/or spicy. Consuming these foods stimulate the mind and increase passion and energy in our body.

Examples are:

  • Fresh meat
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Peppers

Excessive consummation of these type of food can have these effects on us:

  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Fear of failure
  • Aggression
  • Bad sleep

Tamasic food

While rajasic food increase energy in the body. Tamasic food does the opposite. Like the properties of the guna I mentioned before: tamasic food decreases energy in our body. It is food that is over-processed and difficult to digest, so it makes sense these types of food make you sluggish.

Examples are:

  • Pickles
  • Chips
  • Preserved meat
  • Hard liquor

Eating too much or eating only these type of food can lead to:

  • Laziness
  • Excessive eating, drinking
  • Greed
  • Irritation
  • Lack of motivation
  • Excessive sleeping

Sattvic food

Sattvic food is the purest food. It is always fresh and natural. There is very little or no processed food. The food is freshly cooked and light on the salt and on seasoning. It is wholesome food which consists of all the good stuff nature can bring us. So it leaves no questions that the yogi diet consists of sattvic foods because that is what we want to be the best version of ourselves.

Examples are:

  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables

The effects of sattvic food:

  • Compassion
  • Control over emotions
  • Wisdom and joy
  • Better sleep
  • Overall health
  • Look fresh, alert and aware

The Guna’s inside of us

Just like everything in nature, we also have the three guna’s inside of us, each guna in different proportions. Every person has different proportions as well. We need all three of the gunas to be a healthy and balanced human. How we respond to life very much depends on the dominant quality that is in us. The food we eat influences the guna’s inside us. But sometimes the guna’s can get out of balance and one can be too dominant so it disturbs the natural balance.

The perfect balance would look like this:

Mostly sattva in our body –> calm and joyful.

Small amounts of Rajas in our body –> active and passionate.

Tamas in moderation in our body –> grounding and gives stability.

Keep the guna’s balanced

This is why the base of our diet should always be Sattvic. We need small amounts of Rajasic food to stimulate creativity for example. Tamasic food can help to bring balance back when Rajas is to dominant. An example of this is when you’re very hyper, you can eat something with the Tamasic quality to balance it out and to get more stability. If you live an very active and demanding lifestyle a combination of Sattvic and Rajasic food would be good for you.

In the beginning this can all sound a bit weird but your body will naturally start craving sattvic food over time. I can assure you, it is true. The more fresh and uncomplicated food you consume, the more your body will start to crave it.

ahimsa yoga vegan vegetarian
ahimsa: Friends not Food


In a yogi diet meat is considered a big no. Not only because of the tamasic quality of meat but also because it goes against the concept of Ahimsa, which is part of the 8 limbs of yoga. Ahimsa is one of the yama’s. The Yama’s are the first limb of the eight limbs and consists of rules about how we need to respond to our environment. They are codes of conduct, so to speak. Ahimsa means non-violence. It means respecting your own body and its limitations and also respecting all other living beings and the rest of the environment. Live and let live.

Your inner yogi knows best

To eat meat or to not eat meat is a very loaded question and I’ve found people can be very opinionated about it. I am mostly plant based and make sure when I consume diary it is Ahimsa, which is not wasy to find so I almost never eat dairy products. Check out this place though if you are in Australia. I don’t force my opinion on others. I know the world is not black and white. A few years ago I met a really amazing woman who, in my eyes, is a perfect yogi. She told me her story that after years of being vegan and struggling with her health, she started incorporating meat again in her diet. She noticed the difference in her health right away.

The concept of Ahimsa counts here too. Non harm is also non harm to yourself. What you eat is your own responsibility. Your body is a temple so you should take care of it in the best way possible in harmony with the world and all that is living in it around you. Your inner yogi knows best!

‘The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in’. – B.K.S. Iyengar

Ayurveda is not only vegetarian

It is also a misconception that Ayurveda is vegetarian or vegan. It might be because we link Ayurveda and the sattvic diet together. You can read more about it here.

Only on doctor’s advice

Eating meat is always a personal decision based on your morals, individual needs and health. Ayurveda is a big fan of eating predominantly vegetarian food because it is much lighter and easier to digest. And off course because of the sattvic quality, meaning it promotes calmness, peace and clarity in the mind. While meat is tamasic, creating heaviness and dullness in the mind, meat can be prescribed by an Ayurveda doctor to balance out the guna’s. But the way meat is prescribed isn’t anywhere near the mass consumption of meat that many in the Western world are used to.

Keep it simple and listen to your body

As with any lifestyle change, make sure you do it for you. Read about it, learn about it, ask other people, but the most important thing is: Listen to your body! Keep in mind that the type of food your body needs can be different from what someone else needs. What your body needs can also change over time. What you need in this moment in life may be very different from what you needed five years ago or what you will need five years from now. Just like when doing yoga asana you need to learn how to listen to your body on the mat. You also need to learn how to listen to your body when it comes to food. Take your time to explore what your body needs and keep one rule in mind. Keep it simple. If it comes from a package it is probably not the best choice. Go for fresh veggies and fruit, grains and legumes.

This is it for know! hopefully see you again for part two of the yogi diet. Where I will talk about the importance of eating habits and I I’ll also share a recipe. If you have and questions or comments, feel free to share them in the comment section. Namaste beautiful people!

The best food in the world: Indian Food!

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