Ayurveda is a traditional form of Hindu medicine that treats patients holistically- using yogic movement/breathing, herbal remedies, and changes in diet. Recently, the practice has been gaining popularity here in the west- especially among those who want to cure their ailments without popping pills.
With the understanding of the human body as a complex, living system, Ayurveda seeks to balance your unique energies for optimal health; and therefore, it is not one-size-fits-all like most diets. Ayurvedic tradition states that everyone favors one of three doshas (or a combination of a few). Experiences of certain symptoms are signs that your dosha is out of balance. Luckily, eating or avoiding different foods serves as a quick fix.
I am crazy-obsessed with the principles of Ayurveda. They just make so much sense to me. I have found that I am primarily vata and pitta. My personality is more pitta but I have the body type of a vata, so the foods I eat must suit that.
When I first came upon Ayurveda, I was experiencing a multitude of vata symptoms: poor circulation, weak digestion, dry skin, you name it. As soon as I increased my intake of warm, cooked foods and healthy fats, these symptoms suddenly vanished. As much as I wanted to devote myself to the low-fat raw diet I was flirting with at the time, I realized that it was not optimal for my constitution.
But as happy as I was, I soon ran into one major problem: an Ayurvedic diet does not generally cater to vegans. Skimming through lists of Ayurvedic “superfoods” such as ghee, raw milk, and eggs left me at a loss. Luckily, with some research I discovered which vegan-friendly foods suit each constitution.
Here are some lists of 100% plant-based foods that will surely pacify any pesky dosha imbalance.
Vata constitutions have excess air and space. They tend to have dry skin/hair and low weight. Foods that are dry (nuts/seeds, dried fruit) or cold (smoothies, salads) can aggravate vatas. Sorry raw foodies!
Here are some foods that will keep your vata in balance:
-Sweet, juicy fruits
-Cooked vegetables (especially root vegetables, which are more grounding)
-Easily digestible grains (eg. rice, oats, wheat products)
-Soft bean products (eg. tofu, mung beans)
-Liberal amounts of oils
-Hot/sweet spices (eg. cayenne, ginger)
Vata recipe: Barbecue Tempeh with Rainbow Jojos
Pitta people are full of heat! The two elements that pitta has a lot of are fire and water. For this reason, pittas should ditch the spicy stuff in favor of more cooling foods. They have a strong digestive fire, which enables them to handle raw foods quite well.
Need to keep your pitta in check? Eat these:
– Sweet fruits (not sour!)
– Raw or lightly cooked vegetables (especially those that are water-rich)
– Soft grains (eg. barley, oats, basmati rice, wheat)
– Beans/non-fermented soy products (think tofu, not tempeh)
– Seeds (like pumpkin and sunflower)
– Oils in moderation
– Sweet/astringent spices (eg. cinnamon/cardamom, dill/turmeric)
– Any natural sweeteners besides honey and molasses
Pitta recipe: Raw Berry Chocolate Oat Cookies
Earth and water are the two elements that make up the kapha constitution. Warm foods and beverages should be favored to combat kaphas’ slow digestion. Kapha body types tend to hold on to weight more easily, so oil/fats, sweets, and salt should be reduced. So where does that leave flavor, you ask?
Eat these yummy foods to balance kapha:
– Low GI fruits (eg. berries, apples, peaches, figs)
– Cooked vegetables (eg. leafy greens, cruciferous veggies)
– Grains (except oats, rice and wheat)- cooked without much water
– Any legumes except soy
– Hot spices
Kapha recipe: Spicy Cool Allergen Free Black Bean Tacos
Ayurvedic diet for vegans doesn’t have to be hard. I like to keep it pretty simple: Determine your dosha, eat your foods, and be well on your way to better health!
(Side note: Joyfulbelly.com is a great site for finding your dosha.)
Related Articles: Why You Should Try Ayurvedic Oil Pulling
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