Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you’ve probably heard of the term mindfulness. Along with meditation, it’s a Buddhist concept that focuses on being in the present moment. Mindfulness is about being consciously aware of what’s happening around you at a certain moment, without worrying about the past or the future. In ‘4 ways Mindfulness Can Help Boost Your Results at the Gym’ we looked at how the practice can help with physical activities. Yet, it can also help with diet too and we’ll be looking at how mindfulness can help in following a vegan diet. Moreover, we’ll explore why the two actually go hand in hand.
Veganism is inherently mindful
Doris Lin debunks the notion that veganism is a fad diet and refers to it as a philosophy that excludes exploitation and cruelty in all forms. Vegans eliminate all animal-based foods and food products in their diet. Vegans also ensure that their clothing, household products, and energy are also ethically and sustainably sourced. More than a diet, it's a way of life. While people may opt for a vegan diet for different reasons, the core of veganism is rooted in compassion towards animals and others. Similarly, mindful eating is defined as being grateful for every bite you eat, and being aware of the process of how the food got to your plate. Moreover, mindfulness takes compassion further by focusing it towards oneself. Living mindfully means being not being judgmental in how we see ourselves and our relationship with food. These definitions are already telling of how mindfulness and veganism intersect in terms of creed.
Eating deliberately and purposefully
Eating mindfully means cancelling out distractions when having a meal. Many who practice mindful eating refrain from eating in front of the TV or while on their phones. This allows for a deeper relationship with the food, looking at it beyond a source of nourishment. Similarly, veganism also adopts that same ethos. It sees eating as more than just sustenance but an expression of values and beliefs. VegNews explains how mindfulness teaches us to be sensitive to whether our actions, values and thoughts are aligned. For example, we may be against animal cruelty and exploitation but we choose to eat highly processed meat products. This misalignment with our beliefs and actions is something that mindfulness helps us pinpoint and process. Thus, we become more deliberate with our actions, eating more purposefully in relation to our values.
Increased awareness of food production
Mindfulness also helps increase a person’s attentiveness. A post by Lottoland on the ‘Principal Benefits of Mindfulness’ details that it improves attention and awareness. The article points to a study that found that focus and attention can improve by 14% with mindfulness. This increased awareness translates to becoming more conscious of what’s on our plate and how it got there. Only recently have people started becoming more attentive to how their food was produced and what exactly they’re fueling their bodies with. This dilemma is exactly what veganism hopes to solve. Vegans are inherently mindful of their food, looking at everything from how it's produced to where it's sourced from. Ultimately, vegans consider how it affects both their body and the planet.
Nourishing your body with real food
Nutrition expert Carrie Forrest states that mindfulness helps in promoting a diet consisting of whole, real food. When you’re practicing mindfulness with food, you’re more likely to reach for a healthy plant-based snack than something convenient and processed. This goes to show how mindful eaters are intentionally choosing vegan food, albeit perhaps for different reasons. This is because mindful eaters notice how food makes them feel, and it undoubtedly feels better to nourish themselves with real food rather than with ultra-processed food. That being said, vegans will benefit from being mindful because it gives them a more holistic view of why they’re eating what they eat. Beyond our beliefs and values, mindfulness teaches us that becoming a vegan is also beneficial because it makes us feel better and more in tune with our bodies.
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