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What should we eat?

It is said, "What you eat, is what you think". Then how to wisely choose our diet, to lead a healthy and efficient life?

Our lifestyles are killing us. We have been mostly successful in taming infectious diseases, leading to an increase in lifespans. The problem lies with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancers, and obesity, to name a few household words these days. As if this were not enough, we have created a whole new world of emotional and mental issues for ourselves.

We are doing great harm to our bodies and minds, but the real damage is spiritual. Take, for example, our food habits. Approximately 8% of the world's population identifies itself as vegan or vegetarian. This means, at least 92% of people eat food which involves the killing of animals.

Whether this means butchering poultry, fish, or animals (in some countries, reptiles as well!), it entails killing defenseless creatures that have emotions and feelings. These creatures respond to affection; they show gratitude, care for and protect their young, and exhibit grief. Do you think any good can come from consuming the flesh of such creatures?

Mind you, there are exceptions to this rule. If you are marooned on a small island in the sea, and there is no other food except fish, it okay to eat fish. While killing fish for food is a sin, it is a greater sin to destroy the priceless human body by starving. But these are exceptions; it is unlikely that we will ever find ourselves in such desperate situations.

The problems are not limited to flesh-eating; it is not as if vegetarians are perfect in their food habits. When to eat, how much we eat, and what to eat, we are doing poorly in all these aspects. We will not go into what the Vedas and scriptures advise about this; these days, people demand 'proof.' So, let us see what science has to say.

For once, there is near unanimity in the scientific community about what makes up nutritious food. Scientists have scanned parts of the globe where people live exceptionally long, places like Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa islands in Japan, and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. What do the good folks have in common? They eat a plant-based and predominantly vegetarian diet.

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, le