Whilst it is true that man cannot live
without air and water, the thing that nourishes the body is food. Hence
the saying, food is life.
Food can be divided into three categories:
vegetarian, flesh, and mixed. Flesh foods include fowl and fish. Milk is
an animal product and cannot by any means be is an animal product and
cannot by any means be included in a strictly vegetarian diet. It serves
the purpose of meat to a very large extent. In medical language it is
classified as animal food. A layman does not consider milk to be animal
food. On the other hand, eggs are regarded by the layman as a flesh
food. In reality, they are not. Nowadays sterile eggs are also produced.
The hen is not allowed to see the cock and yet it lays eggs. A sterile
egg never develops into a chick. Therefore, he who can take milk should
have no objection to taking sterile eggs.
Medical opinion is mostly in favour of a
mixed diet, although there is a growing school, which is strongly of the
opinion that anatomical and physiological evidence is in favour of man
being a vegetarian. His teeth, his stomach, intestines, etc. seem to
prove that nature has meant man to be a vegetarian.
Vegetarian diet, besides grains, pulses,
edible roots, tubers and leaves, included fruits, both fresh and dry.
Dry fruit includes nuts like almonds, pistachio, walnuts, etc.
I have always been in favour of pure
vegetarian diet. But experience has taught me that in order to keep
perfectly fit, vegetarian diet must include milk and milk products such
as curds, butter, ghee etc. This is a significant departure from my
original idea. I excluded milk from my diet for six years. At that
time, I felt none the worse for the denial. But in the year 1917, As a
result of my own ignorance, I was laid down with severe dysentery. I was
reduced to a skeleton, but I stubbornly refused to take milk or
buttermilk. But I could not build up my body and pick up sufficient
strength to leave the bed. I had taken the vow of not taking milk. A
medical friend suggested that at the time of taking vow. I could have
had in mind only the milk of the cow and buffalo; why should the vow
prevent me from taking goatís milk? My wife supported him and I yielded.
Really speaking, for one who has given up milk, though at the time of
taking the vow only the cow and the buffalo were in mind, milk should be
taboo. All animal milks have practically the same composition, though
the proportion of the components varies in cash case. So I may be said
to have kept merely the letter, not the spirit, of the vow. Be that as
it may, goatís milk produced immediately and I drank it. It seemed to
bring me new life. I picked up rapidly and was soon able to leave the
bed. On account of this several similar experiences, I have been forced
to admit the necessity of adding milk to the strict vegetarian diet. But
I am convinced that in the vast vegetable kingdom there must be some
kind, which, while supplying those necessary substances which we derive
from milk and meat, is free from their drawbacks, ethical and other.
In my opinion there are definite drawbacks
in taking milk or meat. In order to get meat we have to kill. And we are
certainly not entitled to any other milk except the motherís milk in our
infancy. Over and above the moral drawback, there are others, purely
from the point of view of health. Both milk and meat bring with them the
defects of the animal from which they are derived. Domesticated cattle
are hardly ever perfectly healthy. Just like man, cattle suffer from
innumerable diseases. Several of these are overlooked even when the
cattle are subjected to periodical medical examinations. Besides,
medical examination of all the cattle in India seems to be an impossible
feat, at any rate for the present. What applies to the milch cattle
applies to a much greater extent to the animals slaughtered for meat. As
a general rule, man just depends upon luck to escape from such risks. He
does not seem to worry much about his health. He considers himself to be
a quite safe in his medical fortress in the shape of doctors, vaids and
hakims. His main worry and concern is how to get wealth and position in
society. This worry overshadows all the rest. Therefore, so long as some
selfless scientist does not, as a result of patient research work,
discover a vegetable substitute for milk and meat, man will go on taking
meant and milk.
Now let us consider mixed diet. Man
requires food which can supply tissue building substances to provide for
the growth and daily wear and tear of the body. It should also contain
something which can supply energy, fat, certain slats and roughage to
help the excretion of waste matter. Tissue building substances are known
as proteins. They are obtained from milk, meat, eggs, pulses and nuts.
The proteins contained in milk and meat, in other words, the animal
proteins being more easily digestible and assailable, are much more
evaluable than vegetable proteins. Milk is superior to meat. The medicos
tell us that in case where meat cannot be digested, milk is digested
quite easily. For vegetarianís milk, being the only source of animal
proteins is a very important article of diet. The proteins, in raw eggs
are considered to be the most easily digestible of all proteins.
But everybody cannot afford to drink milk.
And milk is not available in every place. I would like to mention here a
very important fact with regard to milk. Contrary to the popular belief,
skimmed milk is a very valuable article to diet. There are times when it
proves even more useful than whole milk. The chief function of milk is
to supply animal proteins for tissue building and tissue repair.
Skimming, instruments cannot removes the fats, does not affect the
proteins at all. Moreover , the available skimming instruments cannot
remove all the fat from milk. Neither is there any likelihood of such an
instrument being constructed.
The body requires other things besides
milk, whole or skimmed. I give the second place to cereals wheat, rice,
jawar, bajri, etc. These are used as the staple diet. Different cereals
are used as staple in different provinces of India. In many places, more
than one kind of cereals are eaten at the same time, for instance, small
quantities of wheat, bajri and rice are often served together. This
mixture is not necessary for the nourishment of the body. It makes it
difficult to regulate the quantity of food intake, and puts an extra
strain upon digestion. As all these varieties supply starch mainly, it
is better to take one only, at a time. Wheat may well be described as
the king among the cereals. If we glance at the world map, we find that
wheat occupies the first place. From the point of view of health, if we
can get wheat, rice and other cereals become unnecessary. If wheat is
not available and jawar,etc. cannot be taken on account of dislike or
difficulty in digesting them, rice has to be resorted to.
The cereals should be properly cleansed,
ground on a grinding stone, and the resulting flour used as it is.
Sieving of the flour should be avoided. It is likely to remove the
bhushi or the pericarp which is a rich source of salts and vitamins,
both of which is a rich source of salts and vitamins, both of which are
most valuable from the point of view of nutrition. The pericarp also
supplies roughage, which helps the action of the bowels. Rice grain
being very delicate, nature has provided it with an outer covering or
epicarp. This is not edible. In order to remove this inedible portion,
rice has to be pounded not only removes the outer skin, but also
polishes the rice by removes the outer skin of the rice grain. But
machine pounding not only removing its pericarp. The explanation of the
popularity helps preservation. The pericarp is very sweet and unless it
is removed, rice is easily attacked by certain organisms. Polished rice
and wheat without its pericarp, supply us with almost pure starch.
Important constituents of the cereals are lost with the removal of the
pericarp. The pericarp of rice is sold as rice polishing. This and the
pericarp of wheat can be cooked and eaten by themselves. They can be
also made into chapatis or cakes. It is possible that rice chapattis may
be mor easily digestible than whole rice and in this form a lesser
quantity may result in full satisfaction.
We are in the habit of dipping each morsel
of the chapatti in vegetable or dal gravy before eating it. The result
is that most people swallow their food without proper mastication.
Mastication is an important step in the process of digestion, especially
that of starch. Digestion of starch begins on its coming into contact
with saliva in the mouth. Mastication ensures foods should be eaten in
relatively dry form, which results in a greater flow of saliva and also
necessitates their thorough mastication.
After the starch supplying cereals come
the protein supplying pulses beans, lentils, etc. Almost everybody seems
to think that pulses are an essential constitution of diet. Even meat
eaters must have pulses. It is easy to understand that those who have to
do hard manual work and who cannot afford to drink milk, cannot do
without pulses. But I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that
those who follow sedentary occupations as for instance, clerks,
businessmen, lawyers, doctors, teachers and those who are not too poor
to buy milk, do not requires pulses. Pulses are generally considered to
be difficult to digest and are eaten in a much small quantity than
cereals. Out of the varieties of pusses, peas, gram and haricot beans
are considered to be the most and mung and masoor (lentils) the least
difficult to digest.
Vegetable and fruit should come third on
our list. One would expect them to cheap and easily available in India.
But it is not so. They are generally considered to be delicates meant
for the city people. In the village fresh vegetables are a rarity, and
in most places fruit is also not available. This shortage of greens and
fruits is a slur on the administration of India, the villagers can grow
plenty of green vegetables if they wish to. The question of fruit cannot
be solved so easily. The land legislation is bad from the villagerís
stand point. But I Am transgressing.
Among fresh vegetables, a fair amount of
leafy potatoes, sweet potatoes, suran etc. which supply starch mainly,
among vegetables. They should be put down in the same category as starch
supplying cereals. A fair helping of ordinary fresh vegetables is
advisable. Certain varieties such as cucumber, tomatoes, mustard and
cress and other tender leaves need not be cooked. They should be washed
properly and them eaten raw in small quantities.
As a fruits, our daily diet should include
the available fruits of the season, e.g. mangoes, jambu, guavas, grapes,
papaiyas, limes sweet or sour, oranges, moosambi, etc. should all be
used in their season. The best time for taking fruit is in the early
morning. A breakfast of fruit and milk should give full satisfaction.
Those who take an early lunch may well have a breakfast of fruit only.
Ghee And Oil
A certain amount o f fat is also
necessary. This can be had in the form of ghee of oil. If ghee can be
had oil becomes unnecessary. It is difficult to digest and it not so
nourishing as pure ghee. An ounce and a half of ghee per head per day,
should be considered ample to supply the needs of the body. Whole milk
also is source o f ghee. Those who cannot afford it should take enough
oil to supply the need for fat. Among oils, sweet oil, groundnut oil and
coconut oil should be given preference. Oil must be fresh. If available,
it is better to use hand-pressed oil. Oil and ghee sold in the bazaar
are generally quite useless. It is matter of great sorrow and shame. But
so long as honesty has not become an integral part of business morals,
whether through legislation or through education, the individual will
have to procure the pure article with patience and diligence. One
should never be satisfied to take what one can get, irrespective of its
quality. It is far better to do without ghee and oil altogether than to
eat rancid oil and adulterated ghee. As in the case of fats, a certain
amount of sugar is also necessary. Although sweet fruits supply plenty
of sugar, there is no harm in taking one to one and a half ounces of
sugar, brown or white, in the day. If one cannot get sweet fruits, sugar
may become a necessity. But the undue prominence given to sweet things
nowadays is wrong. City folk eat too much of sweet things. Milk
puddings, milk sweets and sweets of other kind are consumed in large
quantities. They are all unnecessary and are harmful except when taken
in very small quantities. It may be said without any feat of
exaggeration that to partake of sweetmeats and other delicacies, in a
country where the millions do not even get an ordinary full meal, is
equivalent to robbery.
What applies to sweets, applies with equal
force to ghee and oil. There is no need to eat food fried in ghee or
oil. To use up ghee in making puries and laddus is thoughtless
extravagance. Those who are not used to such food cannot eat these
things at all. For instance, Englishmen on their first coming into our
country cannot eat our sweets and fried foodstuffs. Those that do eat
them I have often seen fall ill. Taste is acquired, not born with us.
All the delicacies of the world cannot equal the relish that hunger
gives to food. A hungry man will eat a dry piece of bread with the
greatest relish, whereas one who is not hungry gives to food. A hungry
man will eat a dry piece of bread with the greatest relish, where one
who is not hungry will refuse the best of sweetmeats.
How often and How much to Eat
Now let us consider how much should one
eat. Food should be taken as a matter of duty even as a medicine to
sustain the body, never for the satisfaction of the palate. Thus,
pleasurable feeling comes from satisfaction of real hunger. Therefore,
we can say that relish is dependent upon hunger not outside it. Because
of our wrong habits and artificial way of living, very few people know
what their system requires. Our parents who bring us into this world do
not, as a rule, cultivate self-control. Their habits and their way of
living influence the children to certain extent. The motherís food
during childhood, the mother pampers the child with all sorts of tasty
foods. She gives the child a little bit out of whatever she herself may
be eating and the childís digestive system gets a wrong training from
its infancy. Habits once formed are difficult to shed. They are very
realization comes to man that he is his own bodyguard, and his body has
been dedicated to service, he desires to learn the law of keeping his
body in a fit condition and tries hard to follow them.
We have now reached a point when we can
lay down the amount of various foods required by a man of sedentary
habits, which most men and women who will read these pages are.
(Wheat rice, bajri, in all)
||1 and half oz|
|Gur or white sugar
||1 and half oz|
Fresh fruit according to oneís taste and
purse. In any case it is good to take sour limes a day. The juice should
be squeezed and taken with vegetables or in water, cold and hot.
All these weight are of raw stuff. I have
not put down the amount of salt. It should be added afterwards according
Now, how often should one eat? Many people
take two meals a day. The general rule is to take three meals: breakfast
early in the morning and before going out to work, dinner at midday and
supper in the evening or later. There is no necessity to have more than
three meals. In the cities some people keep on nibbling from time to
time to time. This habit is harmful. The digestive apparatus requires
Key to Health, pp. 13-27, Edn. 1956