A well-balanced vegetarian diet
A well-balanced vegetarian diet is not only possible, it is also self-sufficient. It will also make you feel good that you are eating healthy.
India is one of the oldest cultures and civilizations in the world, more than 5,000 years or so. In India, people used to be mostly vegetarian. It was rare that one was not. For generations people have been using well-balanced vegetarian diets. Sometimes, certain foods were prescribed for certain days. Sometimes, certain diets and specific food items were prescribed based on religious rules such as full moon, half moon etc. Later, when the so called modernization came up, people were laughing at such customs that involved specific foods at specific times. Partly because they were not explained but just followed as regulations to maintain order and discipline in a society.
Now when I think about it, I find those rules for specific items on certain days, eating more nutritious and richer foods during the day and light at night, using religious reasons for fasting sometimes etc. are all for having a well-balanced diet. It is not easy to keep explaining everything especially to children, in a busy life, so the society makes up rules to follow for the good health of the people. This way, it becomes a way of life for everyone. But times change, so customs change. However, eating healthy does not have to change. Even the medical world is prescribing a vegetarian diet for Diabetes and other illnesses.
One more interesting thing that makes vegetarian diets attractive in India is that we have innumerable vegetarian recipes for sweet and savory items. And there are 14 official and hundreds of unofficial mini cultures within the one Indian culture which is the substratum for all these mini cultures. Wheat, rice, corn, millet, you name it, you got it; all these grains and a variety of beans are used. Many kinds of oils are used. Also more importantly, there are at least four major types of lentils in India that have a lot of protein and other nutrients.
Lentils are one source of protein. Another major source is Dairy products. In India, milk and related products are not ruled out. Because the cow is relieved to be free from the burden. (Talks with Ramana Maharshi – Item 24. “M.: The domesticated cows yield more milk than necessary for their calves and they find it a pleasure to be relieved of the milk.” Even if Dairy products are not used for various reasons, there are still many other options for a nutritious vegetarian diet.
The plethora of vegetables that are available in India, I think, must be one reason to make vegetarianism easier to handle in India. Each vegetable has its own texture, flavor and quality that facilitates preparing diverse recipes. Meals become interesting and fun instead of monotonous and boring.
When you talk about India, you cannot forget Herbs and Spices. Just like the Indian culture is colorful and varied, the vegetarian diet includes herbs and spices, each with its own color, flavor, taste and medicinal properties. You can rarely find a savory food item in India that does not have some spice or combination of herbs, spices and salt. And that definitely makes a vegetarian diet interesting and attractive, not some leaf of lettuce or a piece of raw broccoli or a bunch of raw carrots.
It is very important and it will be more successful and effective, if vegetarian food items are introduced at childhood. Every eating habit is typically formed at childhood. If parents keep eating hamburgers, hotdogs and meat all the time and not using any spices, how are the children going to develop a liking for vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices? Even if you are not a vegetarian, you can gradually introduce some vegetarian items in your diet. With the help of Indian Cuisine Recipes along with the wonderful International Cuisine Recipes, you can gradually incorporate vegetarian food items in you diet, if not full meals.
The point I am trying to make is that vegetarian food is not dull or boring, it does not lack nutrition. You can get a lot of food items for protein, vitamins etc. You just have to get used to it and make it part of your way of life. I am a happy vegetarian and my family is too. I hope more people will realize and understand the benefits of eating vegetarian food. Long Live Vegetarians!