For an individual of faith there are often certain dietary restrictions to follow in order to represent various ideals and beliefs of his or her respective religion. These restrictions can include fasting during certain times of the year, not eating meat on specific days, strictly kosher meals, or the avoidance of particular food items all the time. Personally, I am not a person of faith and have never practiced a religion-regulated diet. I am, however, a vegetarian (pescatarian) but that decision is based strictly on my own personal health ideals. In the past I have experimented with various dietary changes in order to see how different aspects of my life are affected. For this action project I decided to follow a dietary plan based on the principles of Buddhist monks to see if I could successfully detach myself from one of the most basic material desires: food.
It is widely known that Buddhist monks practice limitation or restrictions of worldly desires. There are several types and variations of monks; all of which practice unique eating habits. Some groups practice strict vegetarianism or veganism, while others eat meat regularly. A common practice for most monks in relation to eating is moderation. As seen in an article by Richard Barrow, Thai Buddhist monks go on morning alms rounds where food is given to them by people in the surrounding community. The food they collect must not be cooked specifically for them; it is usually leftovers from the previous evening. The monks eat 1-2 meals of the solid food they collected in the morning, but must finish their last meal by midday. After noon, depending of what the group mandates, the monks are only allotted certain items to be consumed; these items usually consist of coconut water, tea, etc. The goal of a Buddhist diet is to eliminate the constant craving to be full and allow the individual to focus on meditation and other meaningful activities.
In order to create a diet similar to the monks, yet feasible for a college student, I created a modified regimen. I followed the same meal period, dawn to noon, in which I was allowed to eat one to two meals of solid food. I felt going around to different students asking for leftovers in the morning would not work as well as the monks going on alms rounds, so I ate whatever I had in my townhouse. After my meal period was over I restricted myself to water, tea, and pure juice (100% orange juice, apple juice, vegetable juice, etc.) I ate like this for 4 full days and would have liked to continue longer, but could not for several reasons. I felt hungry the first two days, but then my body became used to the new eating routine.
Mentally, not eating did not pose a problem; I knew that I could not eat solid food after noon and I simply did not think about wanting to eat. When I got hungry I had juice, tea, or water and it seemed to suffice. For the 4 days that I followed this modified Buddhist monk diet, I actually did feel a sense of becoming detached to the constant craving to be full. I am really happy I did this action project and I plan to do it for a longer period of time in the future since I also found it to be a good mini-detox (no alcohol, excessive eating, etc.) Overall, I was surprised to have found a religious affiliated diet that I enjoyed following and found to be physically and mentally beneficial.
Thai Buddhist. Electronic Document, http://www.thaibuddhist.com/monks_food.html, accessed
April 1, 2011.
Modified Buddhist Monk Diet
-Eating period: Dawn to Noon
-One to two meals during this period
-traditional monks make alms rounds where they are given food
-during alms rounds, if monks are given meat/fish they can eat it, but as I am already a vegetarian, I am going to stick to no meat
-After noon may consume as much nonsolid food items consisting of:
-juice, pure (fruit, vegetable, etc)
-ghee, oil, butter/cheese, honey and sugar are allowed when doing a lot of activity or feel sick
-2 bowls of Cinnamon Burst Cheerios with skim milk
-Odwalla Strawberry/Orange smoothie drink (97% juice)
[Not pure juice and also I didn’t particularly like it]
-Egg white egg beaters on flat bread with salsa and a cup of coffee
-Kashi TLC granola bar
-2x Odwalla 100% orange juice
-Cheerios with skim milk
-6 oz blueberry yogurt
-handful of chocolate
-Protein shake à whey protein, skim milk, 6 oz yogurt
-V8 fusion juice
-Organic Apple Juice