While browsing the web, I have came across a certain comment over and over again that encouraged me to do some research. A fairly new argument I am seeing more and more, particularly when talking about why vegans shouldn’t be vegans is this comment here….
“Very few can be healthy long-term as vegans. That’s why there has never been a vegan culture”
It seems very true, that people living off of a plant based diet, can not survive and there for, there are no long term cultures with people living off plants…yet in fact, some of the longest lived people in the world, have a diet, solely made up of fruits and vegetables. So can a plant based diet hold together one individual, or let alone a culture, tribe, or religious group, or is it all a just a myth? You decide!
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Jain vegetarianism is the diet of the Jains, the followers of Jainism. It is the most strict form of religiously-motivated diet regulation in the Indian subcontinent. The diet not only excludes meat, fish and eggs, but also does not include potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and other roots and tubers.
Jain objections to the eating of meat and fish are based on the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa, literally “non-injuring”). Every act by which a person directly or indirectly supports killing or injury is seen as violence (himsa), which creates harmful karma. The aim of ahimsa is to prevent the accumulation of such karma.The extent to which this intention is put into effect varies greatly among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Jains consider nonviolence to be the most essential religious duty for everyone (ahinsā paramo dharmaḥ, a statement often inscribed on Jain temples).
It is an indispensable condition for liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, which is the ultimate goal of all Jain activities. Jains share this goal with Hindus and Buddhists, but their approach is particularly rigorous and comprehensive. Their scrupulous and thorough way of applying nonviolence to everyday activities, and especially to food, shapes their entire lives and is the most significant hallmark of Jain identity. A side effect of this strict discipline is the exercise of asceticism, which is strongly encouraged in Jainism for lay people as well as for monks and nuns.
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The first Precept is often interpreted as ‘do not harm,’ and many Buddhists choose to be vegetarian as a result of this precept. One basic tenet of Buddhism is that of reincarnation and the belief that animals can be reincarnated as humans and vice versa. As a result, Buddhists do not kill animals, and many do not eat meat or fish because this is considered to be bad for their karma. Buddhism and Jainism are the main religions who give utmost importance to Ahimsa (non- violence) and so there is a relationship with vegetarian belief in Buddhism.
According to the Buddha’s instructions for the “Five Contemplations While Eating,” one considers if one deserves the food, if one’s own mind is not greedy, if the food is a necessity and a healing agent for the body, and if the food is eaten for the purpose of a part of reaching enlightenment.
In general, will people of this faith eat in a food outlet that serves food or drink that does not conform to their beliefs?
It is best to ask the individual because of the diversity of beliefs and practices in Buddhism.
When and why do people of this faith feast and fast?
In Mahayana Buddhism, the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha are three common festivals in which feasting takes place (dates differ by regional calendar). In Theraveda Buddhism all three days are unified into the single holiday of Vesak.
Buddhist monks fast completely on the days of the new moon and full moon each lunar month; they also avoid eating any solid food after noon. This is done as a means of purification. Theravadin and Tendai Buddhist monks fast as a means of freeing the mind. Some Tibetan Buddhist monks fast to aid yogic feats, like generating inner heat.
The Monks of Mount Athos
The medical world has recently found, through a series of in-depth, comprehensive studies including a 10-year study, that one of the healthiest groups of people on earth eats fresh food, mostly vegetables, fruits, pulses and grains, in moderation, in a stress-free environment, within a close supportive community.
These lucky guys are the monks of Mount Athos, in Greece.
They are vegan for more than half of the year, and predominantly vegetarian the other half.
Despite their average venerable age, the 2,000 monks living in 20 ancient monasteries have virtually no heart disease, no cardiac arrests and no strokes, a zero-incidence of Alzheimer’s disease which astonished the researchers conducting the various studies, and unusually low rates of cancer, which in the case of prostate cancer is 4 times lower than the international average. The latter finding is even more remarkable when you know that the monks in that particular investigation were aged between 50 and 104. Their rates of lung, bowel and bladder cancer are zero.
Mount Athos monasteries, called by the British Guardian newspaper “a land without butter”, follow some simple rules.
Monks never eat meat, and only very sporadically eat fish. The bulk of their diet is rice, pasta, bread, pulses, fruits, vegetables, all entirely seasonal and home-grown in the monastery’s gardens.
More than 200 days of the year, including all Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and some religious periods like Lent and Advent, are called “abstention days” and strictly vegan, with only one meal per day.
The rest are non-fast days, on which dairy products, eggs, fish and home-brewed wine can be had. In moderation.
Each meal lasts 20 minutes, after which a bell rings and the monks have to leave the table.
Some of the monks’ favorite dishes are pasta with tomato sauce (who can blame them), rice with boiled greens and leeks, beans with oil, an aubergine, tomato and potato stew called “briam toulou”, and chickpea patties.
Since 1994, scientists have regularly tested the monks for cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, some of the West’s most feared diseases, and found astounding low or even zero rates of them.
The Shaolin Monks of China
The warrior monks of Shaolin have gained a worldwide reputation for their devoted study and impressive displays of traditional kung fu. The feats of athletic prowess and martial arts skill are the result of intense daily study, morning to night. Every aspect of daily life, including diet, conforms to the monastic life, lived in pursuit of Buddhism and the martial arts.
Vegetables common to China include bok choy, sprouts, taro and several varieties of beans. While Chinese cuisine might prepare these foods in numerous ways, Buddhist monks, such as those of the Shaolin Temple, will generally boil or steam them, or merely eat them raw. Fruits such as bananas, apples, and figs, are all common to China. These may be eaten raw or dried for long-term storage.
Because daily kung fu training can be strenuous, it is important for students to properly nourish themselves. Protein intake is thus an important facet of the Shaolin diet, as there are no sources of animal protein. This dietary gap is overcome by including non-animal protein sources into dishes. Soybeans and soy products like tofu are an important part of most meals in the monastery. Nuts such as peanuts and almonds also may be incorporated into some dishes. A vegetarian meat substitute, called seitan, is also used. Seitan can be made from wheat gluten or soy protein in a variety of textures and flavors.
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Mention a meal without salt, meat, shellfish and dairy, and most foodies will run a mile.
But before peace-loving vegan hippies danced naked to Hendrix and extolled the benefits of
a basic diet, Rastafarians in Jamaica were developing a cuisine even Paul McCartney would consider spartan. ‘I-man say don’t make jah body a graveyard for de dead animals,’ said Bob Marley about the diet of the true Rastafarian, known as Ital.
Rastafarians often replace the first letter of words with ‘I’, signifying unity with nature; thus Ital is derived from ‘vital’. Rastafarian dietary laws borrowed from the Old Testament were designed to increase ‘livity’, or life energy force, within the body. Chemicals, salt, flesh, blood and milk (known as white blood) were banned, along with tobacco and alcohol. One thing never excluded from Ital food, however, is flavour. Over the years Rasta chefs have learned a number of ways of imbuing their dishes with complex, rich flavours. ‘It’s the Rastaman way of cooking vegan and we are always looking for alternative ways of creating flavour; it’s about eating healthy and living long,’ says Levi Roots, Jamaican chef, musician and creator of Reggae Reggae Sauce. ‘This way of eating gives you more energy, it is good for the brain and
helps the digestion.’
The People of Hunza Vally
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Hunza Valley is located at 7,999′ in northern Pakistan and is the home of the longest lived people on the planet. The high mountain valley is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains with the mountain in the photo to the left rising to 25,551′. Northern Pakistan is blessed with the greatest mass of high mountains on earth where the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir’s, and Hindukush all meet!
The Hunza have the longest lifespan in the world and this has been traced as related to the water that they drink and their natural diet. Hunza water is an example of perfect natural water. Hunza has people who routinely live to 120-140 years, in good health with virtually no cancer, degenerative disease, dental caries or bone decay. Hunza people remain robust and strong and are also able to bear children even in old age. Research has proven conclusively that the major common denominator of the healthy long-living people is their local water.
What kind of exotic, ill-tasting grub do these Hunza people eat, you are wondering. Strange as it may sound, virtually everything the Hunzakut eat is delectable to the western palate, and is readily available in the United States – at least if your shopping horizons do not begin and end at the supermarket.
Apricots Are Hunza Gold
Of all their organically-grown food, perhaps their favorite, and one of their dietary mainstays, is the apricot. Apricot orchards are seen everywhere in Hunza, and a family’s economic stability is measured by the number of trees they have under cultivation.
They eat their apricots fresh in season, and dry a great deal more in the sun for eating throughout the long cold winter. They puree the dried apricots and mix them with snow to make ice cream. Like their apricot jam, this ice cream needs no sugar because the apricots are so sweet naturally.
But that is only the beginning. The Hunza cut the pits from the fruits, crack them, and remove the almond-like nuts. The women hand grind these kernels with stone mortars, then squeeze the meal between a hand stone and a flat rock to express the oil. The oil is used in cooking, for fuel, as a salad dressing on fresh garden greens, and even as a facial lotion ( Renee Taylor says Hunza women have beautiful complexions).
Besides apricots, the Hunzakut also grow and enjoy apples, pears, peaches, mulberries, black and red cherries, and grapes. From these fruits, the Hunzakut get all the vitamin C they need, as well as the other nutritional richness of fresh fruit, including energy from the fruit sugars. From the grapes, they also make a light red wine that helps make their simple fare into more of a real “meal”.