What is the dietary standard for a YOGI?

The director, Paul Rodney Turner talks about the ancient tradition of prasadam distribution and food yoga and his new book

PaulHead200x200The main purpose of my new book, FOOD YOGA – Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul is to introduce all people (Hindu and non-Hindu) to the concept of eating prasadam or high-vibrational, karma-free food. The word yoga means to unite, so in this sense we are talking about uniting body, mind and spirit, and ultimately connecting with the supreme spirit through the process of offering food and eating. However, much of my book also talks about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle for a budding yogi. For those already comfortable with the idea of sanctifying food, I point out that food yoga begins not at the offering altar, but in the growing and selecting of pure ingredients. In this sense, I  advocate that yogis should eat whole foods and stay away from processed foods and any food that has harmed the life of animals or the planet. My organisation, Food for Life Global stipulates that only such pure food should be served by our affiliates.

I feel that ISKCON, a principle partner, has made a huge mistake in advocating commercial dairy as an acceptable part of their yogi diet in their temples, and it is our aim that their outreach project, Food for Life veers clear of this belief. In pursuance of this ideal, Food for Life Global does not financially support any FFL projects that serve commercial dairy.

I consider myself a “Krishna-dairian,” or someone that will only consume milk from a protected cow who has willingly offered her milk to me with love and who has not been violated or inconvenienced in any way. Commercial milk cannot claim such purity and in my opinion, because of the circumstances surrounding its production, it should not be offered on the altar. The argument that because Swami Prabhupada drank such milk it is an acceptable standard today is very weak, because, for one thing, the standard of commercial milk was very different 40 years ago. There were no growth hormones used back then and neither was milk homogenised and denatured in other ways. More importantly, I am certain Swami Prabhupada was not aware of how commercial dairy cows were being abused through artificial insemination (rape) etc. It is about time that ISKCON improved its diet from 1960 standards and stopped making excuses or hiding behind selected comments of their founder.

The principle of food yoga is understanding the importance of food on the spiritual journey and seeing it as the most fundamental way to cultivate higher awareness. Food is a blessing of Mother Nature — an expression of her unconditional love for us. When we see food in this way, we develop gratitude, and more importantly we begin to become aware of the interconnectedness of all things. We become conscious of our dependence on Nature; our dependence on each other, and how every single one of us, from the whale to the microorganisms are alive with purpose and are constitutionally servants of each other.

As we become more aware of these connections, we begin to honor food for the blessing it is and we begin to honor our body for the blessing it is — a temple for the soul. The result of this awareness is to only eat foods that bless our body. Such food is pure and karma-free because it has been prepared with love and offered with love to God. In the Vedic tradition, such pure food is called prasadam and one who exclusively eats such karma-free food is known as a prasadarian.

Whole plants, fruits, nuts and seeds, etc, are foods in their natural state — and the way the Creator intended them to be consumed. The modern mentality is geared toward cutting, burning, denaturing, and changing things in an obnoxious abuse of our independent powers — and a false belief that we are the Supreme Masters of our world. The cruel reality is much different, and soon enough, at some point in our lives or at the time of death, this reality hits us hard.

My hope is that my book FOOD YOGA can awaken a spirit of respect for all living beings and our planet, and thus lead people on a path  of enlightenment through the universal act of preparing, serving and eating food — food that is nourishing to our body, mind and soul.

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