Sattvic Diet

Certain foods cloud one’s consciousness, while other foods clarify the mind and intelligence. Vegetarianism is essential for becoming sensitive to more subtle realms of existence.

If one wants to understand and master the highest spiritual truths, one must have certain qualifications. I mean your average Joe six pack isn’t too likely to start chanting Om and levitating off the couch as he is drinking beer and munching on a bag of greasy potato chips. In other words in order to become a great yogi one must first have a pure body and mind as a foundation for spiritual development.

Among other things, diet plays an important role in one’s ability to understand higher spiritual truths. In eastern spiritual traditions yogis and monks revered certain herbs and fruits for their abilities to rejuvenate the body and mind. The ancient Vedic texts of India in particular go into minute detail about how to eat for optimal health, which can aid one in spiritual realization. For instance certain foods cloud one’s consciousness, while other foods clarify the mind and intelligence.

According to the Vedic texts complete vegetarianism is essential for becoming sensitive to more subtle realms of existence. Eating meat (including fish and eggs) dulls one’s consciousness, and because this “food” is a product of violence, one who eats it also takes on a certain amount of violent mentality. It’s hard to learn to love every living being while living off animal slaughter. And of course there is the simple fact that meat is completely unnecessary in our diet. According to the official “State of the Nation survey” conducted in India in 2006, 31% of population (that’s roughly 400 million people) are vegetarians, and because of their Hindu faith most of these people, like their parents and grandparents before them, have never eaten meat. Even with a third of the population being vegetarian, India seems to produce a whole lot of engineers and computer programmers, and smart people in general (in other words that hamburger isn’t going to help little Timmy to become the next Einstein when he grows up). Finally, what about the horrible living conditions, the terror, and the pain these poor animals go through just to satisfy our taste buds?

Foods that are aged, such as vinegar, depress the consciousness. This is also true for foods that were prepared days ago and have been sitting in the refrigerator, or foods that are starting to go bad. Mushrooms are also in this category. All of these foods create lethargy, ignorance, and depression. It’s very hard for one to have the mental clarity and motivation to strive for self realization on this type of diet.

A diet that is too spicy or salty will tend to impassion the mind. A person who eats like this will often have a lot of energy for performing many tasks, but will not be as likely to stop and think about what they are doing. Garlic and onions are also in this passionate category, although they have been said to have some healing properties. If one eats like this, the mind will be too agitated for calm collected reflection and meditation.

The ideal diet for spiritual living is fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, milk, yogurt, and sugar. All foods should be eaten fresh. Manmade chemicals or foods that have been genetically modified should be avoided. This diet will create peace and clarity in the mind and is an ideal platform for spiritual practice.

If we want to find inner fulfillment then we have to start thinking about what all the meat, fast foods, potato chips, TV dinners, and artificial chemicals are doing to our consciousness. A natural, simple diet (and lifestyle) is what is recommended in the Vedas, specifically the Ayurvedic texts, which go into detail about how diet affects different people according to different body types. The Vedic information on diet is highly scientific and unlike modern medical and nutritional science, the Vedas acknowledge subtle energies and their effects on the body. This diet has proved beneficial for me and I definitely recommend it for anyone on a spiritual path.

(sattva = goodness in Sanskrit)

Learn more about the sattva, the mode of goodness, as well as about the other two modes, the rajas, or passion, and tamas, or ignorance. Go to page 18 and look for the article titled “The Three Modes Of Nature – Goodness, Passion, and Ignorance.”


  • Reply April 1, 2011


    I agree with this, yet modern dairy is also a product of incredible violence to mother cow, and all the calves are killed to bring us today’s milk.

    So is that sattvic? Or more importantly, is it compassionate and Krishna conscious?

    We need to use only milk from protected cows, or go vegan. Either way, avoid completely milk from cows that are tortured and killed as they are for meat – the same suffering or more is there when you learn about it.

    When we approach the sattvic level of consciousness it should be quite clear that can’t buy or consume milk that has caused the suffering of God’s creatures.


    • Reply November 27, 2011


      Actually vegan is not in line with sattvic diet.
      Vegan elements, yes, but not entirely.

      And as for milk, drink the fresh organic stuff, if you can afford it.

      • Reply November 27, 2011

        Mahat Tattva Dasa

        True, according to the Bhagavad-gita quite a few items from the vegan menu are considered “dry” and therefore rajasic.

  • Reply November 27, 2011


    “The ideal diet for spiritual living is fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, milk, yogurt, and sugar.”
    Says who exactly?

    What about legumes – they are supposed to be on the list. Mung beans, lima beans, etc;

    Do we really need extra sugar – beyond what we get from fruits and elsewhere? Indians love their sugar – often the refined white kind – but all kinds. From Chai where you need to ask – would you like some tea with your sugar? To a vast array of deserts. To all manner of recipes with sugar. I think it snuck into the sattvic yogic arena.

    What about really cold climates like northern US / Canada for example? Do our bodies work the same way as a wiry man in Southern India?
    It’s more than doshas – people’s systems are quite different. Sensitivities, intolerances, ability to break down legumes, tofu, sprouts – raw food in general?

    The so-called yogic diet, if taken as a commandment, if made inflexible, ceases to be sattvic – in my opinion. If the result is a body out of balance and harmony.

  • Reply December 27, 2011

    Cat ji

    sattva food is the basis. Then, adjustment can be made to suit different individuals, and according to climate – especially with regard to the proportion of grains and when it should be eaten.

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