Vegan Food Pyramid

CARBONDALE — Ruplal Choudhary, associate professor of food processing engineering in SIU College of Agriculture, gave a presentation on Food for Health and Wellness to Bhakti Yoga Club on Friday at the SIU Student Center.

After a century of eating processed foods, Choudhary said people are going back to eating natural foods that are organic and not genetically modified. The consumer wants to be able to read and recognize the ingredients on food labels.

“People want something they can recognize — wheat, milk, fruit,” Choudhary said.

His reasons for food research are: To promote local foods, minimal processing, natural preservatives, ecologically friendly packaging and Ayurvedic processing.

Choudhary defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Ayurveda is one system of health. A definition of health according to Ayurveda is: A healthy person has an established self, balanced dosha, properly formed tissues, proper elimination of waste, properly functioning bodily processes, and clarity and bliss saturating the soul, senses and mind.

In Ayurveda, food and activity are classified into modes. Choudhary read quotes from the Bhagavad Gita that said food in the mode of goodness brings strength, health and happiness.

Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, like by people in the mode of passion, cause pain, distress and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance.

So, what should one eat? AC Bhakti Vedena Swami Prabupada called milk the most wonderful of all foods.

Choudhary showed the Vegan Food Pyramid as an example of what to eat. The top and smallest part of the diet is sweets and fats (use sparingly). The next layer is split with fortified dairy substitutes (1 to 2 cups per day) and nuts, beans and seeds (1 to 2 cups beans and seeds, 1 to 2 ounces nuts) the other. The next layer is whole grains (3-5 ½ cups), and the base is vegetables (2 to 4 cups) and fruits (1 ½ to 2 ½ cups).

The vegan pyramid is similar to the new food pyramid, with two exceptions. All of the animal products have been replaced with plants-based foods with similar nutrition, and the base is fruits and vegetables instead of grains.

“If everyone ate a Western diet, we would need two planet Earths to feed us. We only have one, and she’s dying,” Choudhary said.

After the presentation, Choudhary took questions from those attending. He also had a selection of resources available for those who wanted to learn more about Ayurveda.

Choudhary finished his presentation by offering snacks in the mode of goodness, mixed nuts with dried fruit and small tangerines.

Choudhary can be reached at 618-453-6985 or choudhry@siu.edu.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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