It’s Friday night, you are out with your friends celebrating the end of the week, and determined to stay vegan.
They are eating pizza. When it arrives, it steams gently on the serving plate and they all tuck in. Your mouth is watering.
It is getting harder and harder to resist reaching for a slice of the salty, chewy food despite your best intentions. It is getting harder to ignore your cravings.
One of the toughest challenges we face on adopting a plant-based diet is stopping ourselves from hankering after the favourite foods that we have given up. Finding an alternative fare to chow down that is as satisfying as that desired food can solve this conundrum.
However, there is another way that will help you cut out those yearnings for good.
Sometimes we have cravings simply because of how we felt when we last ate the food.
It could be a food we eat when we chill out or celebrate (check butter toffee popcorn at the cinema, cheesy pizza because it’s Friday night). At other times, amazingly, we desire foods simply because we have overeaten on others.
The ancient healing practice, Ayurveda, which has its roots in India, teaches us the importance of living in tune with our bodies. Food is ,effectively, a medicine.
Simply put, if we eat the right foods, then we could eventually avoid illness itself.
According to Ayurveda, we all have six possible tastes on our flavor palette: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. When we select our foods, it is essential to balance these tastes.
There is obviously much more to this age old wisdom than just this advice, but the crux of the matter is that in the West we tend to overindulge on salty, sour, and sweet tastes.
What happens when we eat too much of these flavors? We crave them even more… this is when giving up the salty flavor of cheese pizza, halloumi, or smoked meats becomes harder.
In a Western diet, the flavors that are often forgotten are pungent, bitter, and astringent. These can be found in the following food sources: (There are others!)
Astringent: green apples, quinoa, pomegranate, tofu, lentils, legumes, sprouts, beans
Bitter: arugula, coffee, artichokes, kale, saffron, gourds, bitter melons, eggplant, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, barley, leafy greens, nettles, jicama, aloe vera
Pungent: onions, chilies, mustard, raw spinach, leeks, black pepper, hot peppers
I found that becoming vegan helped open doors to these new flavors.
For example, I didn’t use to rely on tofu, lentils and legumes for sources of minerals and protein. Now I do, and that means my diet has many more astringent flavors.
The more varied flavors in these foods helped me cut down on cravings for saltier non-vegan counterparts. It helps me stay vegan at parties and restaurants, because it feels easier to say no to the non-vegan foods I am offered.
Going vegan is life-changing. And it can be, by its very nature, super healthy.
You are giving yourself the chance to explore fresh flavors. Why not build on this by looking into to satisfying your whole taste palette? The result could be real satisfaction.