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Mention you’re on a plant-based vegan diet to your friends in Singapore and I betcha 90% of the time you get cute lil inquisitive remarks like these:

“Won’t you get cold and weak easily?”

“But a Vegan diet won’t work cos you’d be too Yin. There’s no Yang in your diet!”

Not surprisingly since there are only a handful of vegans anywhere, Singapore too obviously, the examples of poor health and nutrition tend to stand out because they’re, oh say, on a RESTRICTED diet that provides insufficient nutrients, and contains just plants without the valuable energy from meat… 

Let’s set the record straight with the myth of energetic imbalance, right here, right NOW. 

1. Anyone who wants to be more energetically balanced eats a plant-based diet.

Go find a spectrum chart listing all the common foods in our modern diet (or look at the one below) and you will find that all the foods in the mid-range, which aggravate imbalance the least are FROM PLANTS.

Image taken from ''The Self-Healing Cookbook: Whole Foods To Balance Body, Mind and Moods by Kristina Turner (2002)''

Eating from this range technically gives us the most stability and allows us to succumb less to extremes, physically, mentally and emotionally.

What’s that like? For example, notice when people or even you start getting annoyed, grumpy or even angry when their blood sugar levels dip too low? That’s likely because their meals constitute largely of extreme Yin refined foods (white rice, white bread, sugar) and also from the other Yang extreme of animal proteins and salt producing intense mood swings when they become hungry.

Conversely, when people start eating grounding plant-based diets with whole grains and fibre-rich legumes as their staple from the mid ranges, these foods help regulate blood sugar much more effectively resulting in a much more stable mood and a much calmer disposition even during hunger.

Starchy root vegetables that grow in constant contact with the earth also work beautifully for giving us Yang energy, not surprisingly since their soluble fibres help regulate the rate of digestion (remember that animal proteins have got no fibre at all?). Round shaped vegetables that grow above soil like cabbages are more neutral in energy and are also good for stabilising one’s energy.

Try it yourself, incorporate whole grains (brown rice, unrefined whole wheat, spelt, rye, quinoa), legumes (red, green beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney beans etc.) and root veggies (beetroot, carrots, daikon, burdock etc) into your daily meals, especially if you’re already eating 100% plant-based and you will notice these foods actually help keep your feet on the ground, your mind focused and your mood relaxed much better.

To sum up, the benefits of replacing animal protein with regularly eating grounding whole, plant foods are these:

You experience

  • a sense of calmness, feeling relaxed and grateful for what you have
  • feeling more like yourself and seemingly knowing what you are doing rather than being indecisive or at a loss for knowing the decision to make
  • worrying less about things you can’t control
  • being less critical and petty about things or what other people are saying
  • being slow to anger; less impatient
  • better focus at work, play or listening to others
  • feeling less anxious and nervous all the time
  • feeling positive about what the future offers
  • restful sleep without insomnia or lethargy even after sleep
  • less inflammation and symptoms of inflammation like acne (caused by inflammatory animal protein)

So you now know that switching to a stabilising 100% plant-foods diet is actually smarter than yoyo-ing from one extreme to the other as is common in meat containing diets.

What else does the myth wrongly assume? It creates fear over the assumption that plant foods are Yin and will cause us to be too Yin and feel cold all the time. But…

2. Are plant foods always Yin?

Answer: No.

Grounding Plant Foods

Sea vegetables/seaweed like Nori, Hijiki, Arame, Wakame and Konbu are all excellent Yang sources which also have the added benefits of purging toxins from your body. Mushrooms are also a grounding plant food. In fact, the 100% plant-based Japanese Macrobiotic lifestyle, frequently relies on grounding stock bases made from konbu and dried shiitake mushroom as well as a large percentage of whole grains, beans and other vegetables to create a holistic, energetically balanced, nourishing diet and way of living.

While Yang plant foods like iodine rich seaweed add so much benefit to your nutrition and support your healthy lifestyle, animal protein doesn’t do the same, damaging your health in the long run and is therefore a poor choice for incorporating Yang into your lifestyle.

As you’ve already seen, animal protein rich diets actually cause more instablility and throw us off balance much more easily than 100% plant-based diets.

To understand this point better, let’s observe the standard Singaporean diet, which consists disproportionately of say, meat products and refined packaged foods. This type of diet and lifestyle is constantly swinging from one extreme to another. So to balance an extreme Yang imbalance cultivated by extremely Yang animal foods, one craves for foods in the other extreme. Not health-promoting unrefined plant foods but sugary sweets, coffee, spices (or intense flavors), high-fat foods, alcohol and other unwholesome fare.

Have you also noticed the kind of veggies commonly served outside (with meat)? These are commonly the highly Yin leafy greens, to keep at bay the very Yang nature of ubiquitous meat-containing dishes. We rarely see legumes, whole grains or root vegetables because though they are energetically stable foods in themselves, taken with the extreme Yang animal protein would throw a dish into Yang imbalance.

If you intuitively note the eating habits of those on meat-containing diets, you will understand this point better. The only plant foods most meat-eaters seem to appreciate or instinctively gravitate towards in their daily eating patterns are leafy greens and fruit, highly Yin foods that are the crutch of their meat-eating lifestyle. Seldom, do they reach for, desire or appreciate eating whole grains, legumes, root vegetables, nuts and seeds because they simply have no space to accommodate these healthful, nutrient-dense, energetically stable foods that constitute a wholesome, well-balanced and sound diet with relatively less extreme fluctuation between either Yin or Yang.

In short, cut down your animal protein intake and go significantly more plant-based if you would like to be less susceptible to energy imbalances and their symptoms, such as feeling too heaty or cooling either of the time or all of the time.

In other words, choose to live a plant-based lifestyle eating from the wide spectrum of plant foods and you will notice a difference not just physically but in your emotional and mental outlook, succumbing less to stress from extreme eating habits, negative thoughts, cravings, worries over things you can’t control. Plus a strong, resilient mind and body that is less swayed by extreme changes in the weather or even the behaviour of others.

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Hope that clears up some of those pesky, misconceived notions about vegan, 100% plant-based diets!

Now tell me:

Vegans, what other misconceptions that people assume about plant-based diets absolutely annoy you? And non-vegans, what other ideas of a 100% plant-based diet still confuse you?

Stay tuned for more interesting facts about eating plant-based and healthy-eating 🙂