And indeed it all got quite lively when discussed recently, the ideas of which I took away with me and, after some digestion (sorry), here are my thoughts:
Different types of foods carry different energy and the yogic diet categorises them thus:
Static foods – which can lead to a duller, less refined state of consciousness – such as meat, cheese, onion and mushroom.
Stimulant foods – which can promote restlessness in the mind – such as coffee, dark chocolate, salt and some spices.
Sentient foods – which can assist clarity of mind – such as most fresh fruit and vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds.
If we consume more foods from the sentient foods category and less from the other two our mind is likely to be calmer, our meditations deeper and more meaningful and because of that we will be more likely to become more conscious and therefore more compassionate and happier. (And the reverse is more likely if our diet is heavier in the other direction).
What does it actually matter?
Well, technically it doesn’t if you’re a believer in “what is just is” and accept that everything is perfect exactly as it is, suffering and all. In fact, if that is the case then critical thinking will lead you to the conclusion that, whether we like it or not, rape, torture, murder and consumption of flesh (human or animal in all cases; there’s nothing to distinguish them in critical thinking) is perfect exactly as it is; it’s all happening just as it is supposed to.
But, if what you’re trying to create during your time on Earth is less suffering for yourself and others, then it matters a great deal what you eat as the energy the foods carry affect your mind, which affects your attitudes and behaviours which can and do strongly affect those around you.
What can we do?
We can continue to eat foods that dictate we operate at a lower level of consciousness and therefore continue to perpetuate suffering. Or we can alter our diet to help elevate our level of consciousness and, slowly but surely, perpetuate compassion and joy. But it doesn’t stop there. As we are all a part of and connected to the universe the energy that we perpetuate doesn’t stop at our planet but radiates outward, through space and time…
Hang on! Through space and time? This would mean that what we eat affects everyone and everything that ever existed or will exist in the entire universe!
Gulp! A tough nut to swallow, huh?
For the record, I don’t follow a yogic diet, I’m just using its categories to offer a simple explanation of how food can affect our state of mind but, since having it brought to my attention through the Ananda Marga philosophy, it’s something I’m going to read a little more about and experiment with (within the parameters of veganism) for myself. All the best to you on your own path.