Nonviolence aims to stop the war within ourselves and that refers both to physical and mental health. This plant-based nutrition approach helps to achieve better health by means of nonviolence, which means no killing, treating your own body better, cooking for your loved ones, sharing and enjoying a meal together.
Why Plant-Based Nutrition?
The main theme of this plant-based nutritional approach is to avoid processed, refined and industrially modified products, especially sugar. Another concern here is that many studies indicated that sugar can be one of the major causes of violent behaviour. Research also has determined that poor nutrition early in life predisposes people to antisocial and criminal behaviours and lowers intelligence.*
The Guardian has also reported back in 2006 that poverty, violence and social injustice due to effects of a poor diet influence the behaviour in the article by Lawrence F. “Omega-3, junk food and the link between violence and what we eat”.
Even more recent research has confirmed that eating salt, sugar, cheap fat triggers the same addictive neurological pathways as heroin consumption and withdrawal.**
It is not just our physical health that is being affected by nutrition – laboratory studies suggest that a range of major emotions, such as anxiety, are affected by the balance of our gut flora.***
Depression is a common symptom of eating disorders, that was confirmed by scientists Thompson and Trattner-Sherman back in 1993.
We’ve known about benefits of plant-based nutrition for a long time!
Ancient philosophers and scientists like Hippocrates and Epicurus, but also other prominent figures like Darwin, agreed that inner peace benefits digestion, so there is a joint link between our mind, emotions, nutrition and well-being.
Albert Einstein agreed with them saying that “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”.
Dr Michael Greger, in his book “How not to die” added that “we eat as if the future doesn’t matter”. He connected our nutritional choices not just to our health but also to the state of our environment. Animal flesh is not only wasteful environmentally, but also morally and even more so to our own body.
‘Progress is the realisation of utopias’, said by Oscar Wilde.
Is plant-based lifestyle some kind of utopia?
Some people think about vegetarian diets as either too limiting or refer to them as utopias. It is neither as it is all in our hands. People agreed with this since the times of Pythagoras, who said “As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love”. He was spot on how interconnected it all it. Our actions have direct consequences to our health, physical, mental and emotional.
Further on, Henry David Thoreau said: “I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as savage tribes have left off eating each other when they come in contact with the more civilised”.
It is really beneficial to watch some documentaries that depict this all very well, we’d recommend “Cowspiracy” or “What The Health”, both available on Netflix. There are a few more on Youtube.
It is therefore quite complex. We are a complex system. Dr Valter Longo in his book “Longevity Diet” compared a human body and a car. He made the following analogies with our nutritional needs: protein or repair needs increase with age; low fluid level accelerate ageing; low levels of oils are needed not to get breaks or engine to fail. This somewhat simplifies the complexity of human biochemistry.
Yet as we have seen already, it is not just physical health that we look for in our quest for well-being. Our complex system should also include meditation that will strengthen the mind, giving us many physical and emotional benefits too; it is also about our meaningful engagement in society and of course our diet or nutrition, however you may call it.
Nonviolence diet recommendations as for plant-based nutrition:
- Employ a holistic approach to your lifestyle: cultivate a connection to mind, virtue and values; cure past trauma, achieve emotional stability, reduce stress.
This is an evolutionary approach to human nutrition: we have evolved, our progress should be our tool and not a demise (new evolutionary values to extend our circles of compassion to all living beings).
We are embracing spirituality and complexity of human life: mind – body – emotions.
- Use your common sense
Is your diet, lifestyle or nutrition pattern passes a common sense test? Can what you’re eating be classed as a plant-based and whole food?
Mindset shift from “what’s for dinner?” – “chicken” to “salad with organic heirloom tomatoes” Buddha: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who said it, no matter if I have said it unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense”.
- Train your mind and you can further improve your diet. Use meditation techniques of mindful eating of a raisin and listen to yourself by performing a relaxing and attentive body scan.
- Don’t fall into the current healthcare trap of thinking first about effects, pay attention to causes. When thinking about a particular lifestyle disease and the prevention methods, think holistically too. What is there that cause it? Treating a cause by preventive nutrition can safeguard you from a myriad of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more.
Therefore also do not go overboard with supplements (vitamin D in winter, B12 for a strict vegan diet, potentially iron or zinc and some digestive enzymes are possible, but a test will show if required at all. These supplements can look like a quick and easy tool to ensure good health and nutrition. Though they are attachments and your body can develop over-reliance to them.
- Re-kindle your connection with nature through cooking from scratch, preferably using organic and local produce. As we vote by our money, try to source from ethical, green, organic retailers and farms.
- Consume only essential fats. Use coconut oil for cooking (mostly saturated fat but with healthier medium-chain fatty acids that metabolise into energy) and extra virgin olive oil (unrefined monounsaturated fat) for salad dressings and dips.
Strictly avoid polyunsaturated fats and trans fats.
Eat 1 tbsp seeds a day for a natural source of fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Good examples are flax seeds and also walnuts.
- Strictly avoid refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. Your sweet tooth can be totally satisfied by fruit and, if required, by less refined sugars. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup and other industrial sugars and strictly avoid it.
- Strictly avoid products made using refined white flour. Unfortunately, it will mean to avoid most of the supermarket cakes, cookies and confectionery.
- Plant-based whole foods provide enough protein for your balanced nutrition. Animal protein is not only unhealthy but also wasteful and immoral; it is completely avoided on a nonviolence nutrition plan. Industrial livestock farms are generating an enormous amount of pollution for every one of us on this planet and are the major source of suffering of billions of innocent animals. Please say no to slaughter.
- Consume a healthy amount of complex carbohydrates. You should aim for slow sugar releasing ones with lower GI/GL and higher in fibre. You can get enough fibre from whole grains, oats, pseudo grains like buckwheat and quinoa.
- Avoid dairy. You will get healthy protein and enough calcium from plants. Factory farms with inhumane violent attitude to animals should be boycotted.
- Do not obsess with calorie counting but be aware of your own calorie requirements. Sedentary or active lifestyles and different age groups will all require adjustments.
Ahimsa Nutritional Framework:
If you will incorporate the above suggestions, it is clear that the approximate split between macronutrients namely carbohydrates, fat and protein should be 75/15/10.
Please do not be alarmed by high carbohydrate contents, it is recommended to cut all refined and processed types of them and replace with whole foods like beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit. The latter will also give enough natural sugars.
Whilst there is still a debate on fat consumption, there is no argument that there are some essential fatty acids that help us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, it is as simple as this. Therefore the above requirement to cut all trans fats and polyunsaturated fats (like canola and other heavily processed oils) and replace them with moderate amounts of extra virgin olive oil for dressings and coconut oil for sautéing and stir-frying.
Some of you might be also surprised of such a low recommendation for protein intake, yet consuming only high quality plant-based whole foods will provide all required amounts of protein you need, make sure it is around 0.7 – 0.8 g per kg of your weight. My own figure of 64 grams is very easy knowing that I love hummus (chickpeas), tofu and other pseudo-grains like quinoa and buckwheat. Red kidney beans are not just very rich in iron but contain up to 30% of protein per weight. The only exception to this would be for teens and very elderly, there is some evidence, that this requirement should be increased slightly to enable a better repair and growth for them.
Implementation of Ahimsa Nutritional Framework: easy plant-based nutrition
Fat: 1 tbsp ground seeds or cold-pressed seed oil
Protein: 3 servings of beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu or ‘seed’ vegetables
Complex carbs: 4 servings of whole grains: brown rice, millet, rye, oats, corn, quinoa, whole wheat bread or pasta
Fruits and vegetables: 6 servings of citrus, apples, pears, berries and melons. The best are dark green leafy vegetables.
Additionally, drink at least 6 glasses of water, herbal or fruit teas. You need to avoid fried, burnt, browned food. Avoid preservatives and chemical additives. Minimise your alcohol, tea and coffee intake to 2-3 drinks a day.
Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Leo Tolstoy: “While our bodies are the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on earth?”
More Plant-Based Nutrition Tips or Get Help with Nutrition of Nonviolence:
- Intermittent fasting is a healthy way how to improve your digestive system: examples of 5×2 diet, 16h eating window, 2 days on a restricted calorie plan. Ahimsa fast – get healthier and donate the saved money to charity.
- Stay away from refined and industrially processed foods. Yet some processing in form of sprouting, pickling, fermenting or blending can be beneficial. Think of boosting digestive juices with lemon or vinegar water, hydrochloric acid or probiotics.
- You may have heard that some plants contain lectins which are their own protective mechanisms, but they unfortunately not that great for humans. Use a pressure cooker to remove lectins from beans, grains, pseudo grains and legumes.
- Take advantage of light-activated chlorophyll: eat greens and get outside.
- Introduce food testing. Do not simply avoid gluten because many people do so. Do a test.
Similarly, with your blood sugar spikes, test your response to starchy carbohydrates and see which foods are better to be avoided based on your own body response.
- Protect your liver (oatmeal, cranberries, cruciferous vegetables).
- Help your blood pressure by drinking hibiscus tea, lowering your sodium intake, and consuming nitrate-rich vegetables. Unrefined oats and other fibre rich products help too.
- Have a garlic clove every day.
- Don’t fall into a trap of ‘reduced’ foods – there is no point in buying products made by Big Food first made unhealthy and then something has been ‘reduced’ for you.
- Cooking from scratch not only re-connects you with nature but also gives you the opportunity to employ healthier cooking methods like steaming, and use less oil, sugar and salt in your food.
Make plant-based nutrition fun. Employ a motto – “Curiosity for life. Now”
We are looking forward to hearing your feedback about plant-based nutrition and how easy it is to adopt it.
Here are just a few most important scientific studies linking violent behaviour with poor nutrition, excessive sugar consumption and stress factors:
* Moore SC, Carter LM et al. Confectionery consumption in childhood and adult violence. Br J Psychiatry 2009; 195. &
Gesch CB. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the anti-social behaviours of young adult prisoners in a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Brit J Phych 2002. &
Golomb B.A. et al. Trans fats consumption and aggression. PLoS one 2012. &
Yau PL, Castro MG et al. Obesity and metabolic syndrome and functional brain impairments in adolescence. Pediatrics 2010. &
Virkkunen M, Huttenen MO. Evidence for abnormal glucose tolerance test among violent offenders. Neuropsychobiology 1982:8.
** Liedtke W et al., 2011Burger K. & Strice E. 2012; Johnson P.M. & Kenny P.J. 2012 “Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats” in Nature Neuroscience 23.
*** Bravo et al., “Ingestion of lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behaviour and central receptor expression” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. August 29, 2011.