27. The experiment with nutrition
Gandhiji loved to experiment with nutrition since his childhood. He did a lot of experiments on himself during his lifetime and had risked his life doing so.
The biggest of his experiments was about milk. He considered using animal milk as unreligious and violent. He thought that God has provided that milk for their little ones, which we take forcibly. This should be considered the biggest sin of all. He thought that it was a non-vegetarian nutrition. When this thought became firm in his mind he decided to give up using milk. He did not take milk for so many years. Once he became seriously ill and the doctors said that he had no choice but to take milk if he had to get better. At last, at Ba's insistence he started taking goat's milk.
After this self-experience Gandhiji accepted the fact that human beings cannot do without animal milk. He wished that someday a scientist would try hard to evolve some nutritious thing from plants which would be as good as milk. It would be a boon to the humankind.
He did the same experiment with salt too. Later he came to realise that it was a necessary element in our meals. He then started using it.
Gandhiji believed that vegetables and fruits are meant to be the real nutrition for human beings. The structure of the human body, the shape of hands and feet, the teeth and the stomach, all are made for vegetarian food only. The monkeys are nearest animals to the human beings. Their eating habits also emphasise this belief.
But how could the poor countrymen get fruits in those critical days? So Gandhiji tried to find the cheapest substitutes for fruits and they were peanuts, dates and bananas. Then for many years he used them mainly in his meals.
Gandhiji even disapproved the traditional methods of cooking. He thought that there was no need to cook food on fire. He believed that the Sun ripens the fruits and cooking them on fire was like destroying them.
At this stage he realised that if the grains were soaked in water it would be easy for the womenfolk to cook them. It wood save the cost and time both. The raw water-soaked grains have to be chewed properly and can be consumed in less quantity than the cooked food. It could save a lot for this poor country.
People polish the rice to make it white and become happy. They also remove the husk from the wheat to make fine flour. Actually, the bran and the husk are most nutritious. Throwing it away is like throwing mango pulp and eating itsseed. Gandhiji started using coarse flour when he realised it.
As the time passed by Gandhiji's body became very thin and delicate but he did not give up his experiments with the meals. He kept on doing small experiment.