Mahatma Gandhi Was a Vegan.
That was’nt his real name. Mahatma is a title that the poet Tagore gave to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It means “great soul”. He was a lawyer and an activist who worked to bring about Indian Independence from Britain. Historian Nico Slate’s new book “Gandhi’s Search For A Perfect Diet” or “Eating with the World in Mind”
, points this out. Gandhi had an interest in nutrition from a young age. His mother was a devout Hindu. She like 31% of the Indian population was a vegetarian and she was a prolific faster. She fasted for religious reasons. And this according to Professor Slate taught her son to think about the significance of food. Gandhi used fasting for political purposes. His dietary choices had a reason, too. Non-violence was very important to him. So was religious tolerance and rural sustainability. Thus using animals as a food source was anathema. For several years he practised veganism. Vegans eat nothing from an animal source. This includes and milk products. Vegetarians are not so strict and do eat dairy.
Gandhi ran into problems with his diet:
For several years Gandhi shunned all foods from an animal source. That meant he remained true to his principles. Today Veganism is common but over 100 years ago it was unusual.
He found his diet difficult to sustain especially when he was training to be a lawyer in London. The drab damp winters are not conducive to a plant-based diet. He had strong views about raw foods, too. By eating uncooked meals he felt he was emancipating women from the drudgery of the kitchen. “Two tablespoonfuls of wheat, one of peas, one of rice, two of sultanas, about twenty small nuts, two oranges, and a cup of cocoa”. That was his breakfast for Tuesday 22nd August 1893. No animal products there unless his cocoa was made with milk!
But, over time he found his diet difficult to sustain. Several years later he fell ill with severe dysentery. He wasted away and those close to him feared he would die. They pleaded with him to drink some milk. He needed protein. He refused the milk as it came from the cow. Cows are sacred in the Hindu religion. In the end, his friends and family persuaded him to drink goats’ milk. This neatly skirted the issue of sacred cows. Gandhi got his protein and survived. Yet, the experience provided him with a reason to question his eating habits.
Was it Kwashiorkor ?
Kwashiorkor disease results from protein lack. It causes extreme swelling of the gut. The fluid retention shows up as a big belly. The releasing of this results in severe diarrhea which is like dysentery. Anyway, “Mohandas” began to include dairy products in his eating plan. This meant he moved from vegan to vegetarian. Today vegans study their protein requirements. They make sure they include a mix of grains, beans and seeds to give themselves enough. Vegetarians are less fastidious. This can lead to protein deficiencies. There is another problem, here. The issue is vitamin B or more particularly B12.
?B12 or Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body. B12 is a form of bacteria that develops around the grasses that cows, sheep and pigs eat. Another form is “cyanobacteria”. This translates as “ancient bacteria”. You find this in blue-green algae.
There is a lot of controversy around whether spirulina produces adequate amounts of Vitamin B12. The Germans have ruled it does not. A better and far less controversial source is Chlorella. If, you are a vegetarian or a vegan you need to supplement with the B vitamins, particularly B12. Why? Because plant-based diets lack these vitamins. Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic B12 Molecule while Methylcobalamin is from a natural source. Natural is always better than synthetic.
Does Fasting Help?
Yes, Gandhi fasted. He was on a hunger strike at the time of his assassination in January 1948. Fasting does not produce Vitamin B. It does not produce a solution to that problem. Fasters also need to supplement with the B vitamins. Do vegans and vegetarians fast? Yes, but then so do a lot of people. As they are more health conscious than most, they probably fast more than most. Gandhi’s fasting singled him out as “unusual” during his lifetime “, but then he died 72 years ago. Today fasting has become a popular health trend. Professor Valter Longo of the UCLA “Longevity Institute“, points out the connection between fasting and increased lifespan. He says the link is Insulin Growth Factor 1. To illustrate his claim he mentions the genetically modified Laron Mouse.
Unlike ordinary mice, this variety lives not for 2 years but for 5. The animals are immune to cancer and heart disease because they no longer produce IGF-1. When people start fasting IGF-1 switches off and the body moves from growth to repair. Dr. Arcady Economo is a Russian born “Water Fasting Expert“. He tells how free radical damage or inflammation vanishes when people start on his programs. High blood pressure drops and blood sugar levels normalise. This happens all thanks to fasting. Gandhi was a vegetarian and a faster. He was 78 years old at the time of his assassination. He did not die of illness or old age but by the assassin’s bullet!
The Amazing Fauja Singh:
Fauja Singh completed the 2012 London Marathon in 7 hours and 49 minutes. No, this was not a winning time, but he was 101 years old.
He attributed his long and healthy life to his strict vegetarian diet. Like most Punjabis he ate lentils vegetables, brown bread and natural yogurt. The secret is not so much what you eat but how much. Fauja Singh eats small if not child-sized portions. His low-calorie diet is reflected in his weight. He is 173 centimetres tall but weighs only 53 kilos. This gives him a BMI of 17.7. A healthy BMI spans from 18.5 to 24.9. He is under that. Some would say that is not healthy. But is it healthy to be able to complete a Marathon Run at 101 years old? The answer must be a resounding “yes”. He was able to do that thanks to his vegetarian diet. He is not a vegan because he eats dairy products. Natural yogurt is a protein source that contains B vitamins including B12. Vegans do not have the luxury of this. They need to be on the look-out for B12 deficiency.
How do you know if you are Vitamin B12 deficient?
“The New England Journal of Medicine”
claims vegetarians, vegans and the elderly can lack Vitamin B12. This often leads to megaloblastic anemia; a serious complaint. How do you know if you are deficient? Dr. Patrick Skerret says symptoms include “pins and needles” in the hands. You can have trouble walking with a tendency to lose balance. This comes with joint pain and shortness of breath. You are also likely to feel tired and become easily fatigued. These early symptoms disappear when you take vitamin B. A good quality Vitamin B supplement containing methylcobalamin will generally do the trick! If the symptoms persist be sure to see a health care professional. More severe deficiency symptoms can lead to deep depression, paranoia, delusion, memory loss, incontinence and absence of taste. If these symptoms present themselves you need to see a doctor. Taking pills is not going to be enough! The average adult needs 2.4 micrograms of B12 daily. Blood tests will show up a lack. If, you are worried do something about it. This is particularly true if you are a vegan, a vegetarian or have absorption issues like Crohn’s Disease or are simply getting on in years.
Karamchand Gandhi was an avid follower of healthy eating. He realised that his diet lacked protein. So he changed it. He added goats’ milk which is rich in the B vitamins and he regained his health Not everybody is suitable for vegan type eating. Peter D’Adamo made a strong case for eating according to your blood type. Vegans particularly and vegetarians probably can lack protein. As a safeguard, they need to supplement with the B vitamins and B12, especially on a regular basis. A plant-based diet does not provide you with sufficient vitamin B12. This can lead to pernicious anemia. I suggest you add a good source of blue-green algae to your diet. There is doubt in some circles that spirulina is enough. It seems Chlorella produces better results. But to be on the safe side a good quality Vitamin B supplement is the answer, Try one and see if there is a change? In your energy levels. Yes you can get a vegan formula