This blog is a reponse to a question from one of my past students who has doubts about the Ayurvedic viewpoint that promotes a low-animal-protien (plant-based) way of eating, which is basically true in that Ayurveda in general defines animal meat as the food category that creates the largest amount of Ama or toxins in the body.
We should note however that Ayurveda does not insist on a no-animal produce diet for all people in all circumstances, nor does it force any one diet as being the best. Ayurveda really attempts to make sense of a number of modern human-behaviours (lifestyles and diets) and offer a number of solutions to maintain optimal health, promote longevity, and heal or relieve disease. Here is what I wrote:
“Thanks for your email. However, your doubts about whether is it possible to stay healthy on a plant-based diet would not change the validity of the basic teaching and view point of Ayurveda that you have received. Be aware that the only method to verify optimal human nutritinon is to through rigorous scientific experience. While there are some more recent studies that meet this criterion, there are many that do not. Furthermore, modern science is contaminated with false data, cheating, funding-bias, delusion, poor science, and several other factors that unfortunately render it unworthy as a whole. To add to this, the public-interface to modern science is becoming increasingly unreliable due to poor quality journalism, corruption, internet publishing etc.
The above situation makes it almost impossible for any one individual to determine what optimum human nutrition really is. To add to this dilema, the human condition is itself riddled with inconsistencies and challenges. Without going into detail, we are on the whole deluded or partially deluded as the true nature of life (both objectively and subjectively). This is what Ayurveda teaches as “failure of the intellect” and “tamas”.
Also, the body is extremely complex and multi-dimensional. Even just by studying a narrow asspect of biology such as “gastro-intestinal-micro-flora” the scope is massive. Modern science (despite its constraints) might gradually be converging on a more coherent understanding of human nutrition. However, the degree to which this viewpoint is reliably represented by the general press and medical profession is doutable.
Personal experience does of course count for something, as does annicdoteal evidence. This was clearly the main method through which Ayurveda was codified. Certainly, the age of the Ayurvedic system is a somewhat reassuring support for uncertain minds. I personally do not doubt that the Ayurvedic codex is very reliable. However, I beleive that the way that Ayurveda is interpretted is often faulty or succeptible to error and misinterpretation. Certainly, the best way to verify YOUR understanding of Ayurveda (and of life) is to test in on yourself. But to do so without expert guidance can give variable results.
Knowing the truth behind the mystery of cause and effect lies at the heart of our challenge. Ayurveda probably represents a fairly accurate estimation of that truth. But Ayurveda should not be taken as 100% fact, not at least in its typical presentation.
One thing to keep in mind is that a certain diet or way of living can bring good results in the short term, but fail in the long term. This can be seen in many many different contexts. Another truth is that it is the combinatoral effect of our total-life that dictates our future, not a single isolated variable. The human organism appears to be capable of maintaining a reasonably healthy condition throughout our reproductive years whilst subject to a vast array or different diets and lifestyles.
In the final alaysis, Ayurveda does not promote a fanatical or radically one-sided approach to life and diet. It offers way of improving your chances of optimal health and a long life via an experiential (+ refined over thousands of years) understanding of the human condition.in the context of modern man (i.e. urban living, close proximity society). Recal that the founders of Ayurveda gave birth to the system as the answer to the increasing disease of mankind due to the shift from rural-low-population-density-lifestlye to the modern urban-high-population density-lifestyle. When I say modern, I mean post-totalitarian aggriculture.
Now, our current “modern” lifestyle is probably 100 times more novel compared to that of the founders of Ayurveda. Adaptation and renewed study should, in my view, accompany the continuation of the tradition of Ayurveda.
I hope this helps! Keep an open mind, move forward, be honest to yourself, be willing to try new directions, keep the Ayurvedic codex close to your heart but don’t get too stuck on the “rules and regulations” you have learned. Learn to listen to Dosha, Dhatu, Mala.
Finally, if someone teaches a way of life or a way of nutrition; research their credibility, their following, their range or impact as a provider of healing. Are they part of a clinical program? It can be tricky, but it can help.
I am not personally endowed with a wealth of clinical experience. I teach what I have learned, and experiment on a relatively small range of people. However, despite numerous moments of doubt and confusion along the way, I keep finding myself sticking to the Ayurvedic codex (its core axioms) as it seems so useful in making sense of everything !!!
P.S. excuse any poor English, I rattled this off this morning while I ought to have been working !!!