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Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products

One of the trickiest aspects of vegan (plant-based) cooking is finding substitutes for animal products and this applies to both the novice vegan cook and someone who has been doing it for a while. The good news is that it can be fun (and quite rewarding) to over-turn those long-held traditions when it comes to cooking and baking using cruelty free products and getting results that are just as good tasting and looking and usually healthier than their animal-saturated versions. Here’s a list of some common vegan substitutes that have worked well for me – listed by groups of the animal ingredients they replace:

*1 EGG (To replace more than one, just multiply):

  • 1 Tbsp. of ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp. of water. Very good for baked breads, cakes, cookies and muffins.
  • 1/4 cup tofu. Best to blend the tofu so it is smooth before using it, otherwise you might not be able to break up all the lumps. Tofu works especially well in quiches, pancakes and pastas. With a little turmeric added it is also a great replacement for scrambled egg dishes.
  • 1/2 banana. Only use banana when you want the recipe to be banana-flavored, as in banana cake.
  • 1/4 cup applesauce. Applesauce also makes a baked good really moist, allowing you to cut down on fat in the recipe. It works great in carrot cake.
  • Commercial powder substitutes like EnerG Egg Replacer Read the package instructions for correct measurements.

* MILK (With all the alternatives available, there is really no excuse to use dairy milk):

  • Soymilk
  • Rice Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Hazelnut Milk
  • Cashew Milk

*YOGURT (Yogurt substitutes work great in Indian foods like call for yogurt):

  • 1 cup silken tofu blended with 2 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp salt = 1 cup yogurt, (use more or less lemon juice if you don’t want the yogurt to be too acidic.)
  • Coconut milk yogurt, Almond milk yogurt and Soy milk yogurt are becoming popular commercial yogurts. Commercial soy yogurts are also available in the United States as well as other parts of the world.) Look in the regular refrigerator aisle alongside regular yogurt.

*1 CUP BUTTERMILK (Buttermilk substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for it, including cupcakes, pancakes and “southern-style” biscuits):

  • 1 cup soymilk or almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar (you can use any vinegar on hand, but the best is apple cider. Mix and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.)

*1 TBSP. BUTTER (Butter substitutes, like milk and yogurt substitutes, replace the bad cholesterol with healthy fats that are better for you. But be cautioned, vegan fats also contain the same number of calories as animal fats, so don’t overdo the use of fats of any kind.):

  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine or “butter” (I find Earth Balance is the best)
  • 1 Tbsp. flavorless oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (Crisco is a substitute for lard, and it's vegan; but it is basically 100% transfat).


  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional (good tasting) yeast (aka “nooch” – it’s packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein)
  • 1 tsp. miso. (Use instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso toward the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill its wonderful enzymes).


  • 1 Tbsp. cashew cream (blend cashews with enough water to keep blender blades running)
  • 1 Tbsp. almond cream (blend blanched almonds with enough water to keep blades running)


  • There are commercial brands of vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream (like Tofutti) that taste and act similar to the originals.


  • 1 Tbsp. agar agar flakes or powder.


  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar (Delicious in almost any baked good. Agave nectar also has a low glycemic index and makes a healthy sugar substitute)

Stay tuned…Coming soon “Stocking Your Vegan Kitchen (A Basic List)”

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Your Body’s pH – Is It Acid or Alkaline?

So what exactly is ph? pH stands for “potential hydrogen” which is the measure of hydrogen ion concentration, i.e.; the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In our particular case, that “solution” refers to our body’s fluids and tissues. Everything, from the healthiest cells to malignant cancer cells, from soil quality to fresh and sea water life is affected by pH.

The pH scale is used to determine how acidic or alkaline a substance is and ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is considered neutral. As that scale falls below 7 it becomes increasingly acidic, above 7 increasingly alkaline.

Just as is the case with most health-related barometers, balance is extremely important. Ideal pH levels vary throughout our body for a number of reasons. For instance, our bowels, skin and a woman’s vagina should be slightly acidic, as this helps ward off unfriendly bacteria. Saliva is more alkaline; while our urine is normally more acidic, especially in the morning. Additionally, your body regularly deals with a host of naturally occurring acids that are the by-products of respiration, metabolism, cellular breakdown, and even exercise. So it’s best to resist the temptation to think of acid as “bad” and alkaline “good”. As always, it’s a delicate balance.

By far the most important bodily measurement of pH is you blood. For optimal cellular health, our blood pH must be slightly alkaline, ideally with a pH between 7.365 and 7.4. A general understanding of how our bodies maintain an alkaline blood range is essential for good health. Our body doesn’t automatically “find” the proper pH balance; it works exceedingly hard to create it. Whenever we make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic, chemical laden environment, our bodies will have to work harder to create homeostasis (or the tendency to maintain its pH’s stability).

Whenever there’s even the remotest possibility that our body is about to become overly acidic (as a result of poor food and/or lifestyle choices, toxic environmental exposure, etc.) this remarkable body of ours will extract alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from our bones, teeth, and organs to neutralize the acids. It’s a bit like having a supply of inner or internal antacids. This may be okay every now and then, but stressing or depleting our reserves over the long term can lead to osteoporosis and other assorted health challenges.

Think of the average or standard American diet (SAD). Most Americans are flooding their cells with an inflammatory acid bath multiple times every day (tons of sugar, processed foods, factory farmed animal products, etc.). One of the biggest casualties of this type of diet is the toll it takes on the body, especially the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Conditions like inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, constipation, bowel issues, stress (both physical & mental) and chronic disease simple love an acidic diet. Excess acidity also sets the stage for bad bacteria (including yeasts and fungus) and even viruses all of which wreak havoc on our health.

Shifting the pH scale in the alkaline direction is easy with a diet filled with nutritionally dense, mineral-rich plant foods. By eating an alkaline based diet (leafy greens, wheatgrass, spirulina, veggies, sprouts, avocados, green juices and smoothies) as opposed to an acidic diet (high in animal products, processed carbs, refined sugar, energy drinks, etc), we nourish our bodies with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen. Healthy food creates healthy cells, whereas junk food does the opposite.

Check out this handy alkaline/acid food chart, click on: https://www.wakingtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Alkaline-Acid-Foods-Chart.jpeg

Tip: Watch this short video on the “9 Benefits of Warm Water & Lemon in the Morning.” Click on: https://youtu.be/zzagCLz5VZU

Rae Indigo is ERYT 500

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health

Eating like a king!

If you are among those people who are looking for the optimal diet that will make you look and feel younger, lose unwanted pounds, prevent disease and live a happy, healthy and long life, you are not alone. No need for any expensive and exotic supplements either, the answer is quite simple. Adapting a nutritious plant-based diet is not only easier than you think, it’s delicious and will do wonders for your overall health while it trims down your waistline and your wallet.

Research has conclusively shown that people following a plant-based diet weigh less, have fewer chronic diseases and live longer than their animal-product eating counterparts. Multiple scientific studies have found that vegans/vegetarians are still slimmer than meat eaters despite consuming the same amount or more calories every day. An additional benefit of plant-based eating is that plant foods are generally less expensive than animal products. And that’s not counting the costly medical treatments needed for the various chronic diseases caused by the typical American animal-based diet. Everyone can also feel good about adhering to a plant-based eating regime because it is better for the environment and animal welfare.

Fruits and Vegetables are the Kings and Queens of a Plant-based Diet

Regardless of what you eat, fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of your diet. Fruits are a near perfect source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and water. Vegetables contain some of the most potent anti-cancer foods and are extremely nutrient-dense, which means more nutrients and fewer calories. It is nearly impossible to overeat if you’re eating only vegetables. Using broccoli as an example, you’d have to eat 22 cups of raw broccoli florets to get the same amount of calories found an average T-bone steak. And as far as protein goes, most people would think broccoli contains little or no protein. Wrong! Calorie for calorie broccoli contains about 75% as much protein as beef – According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Nutrient Data Laboratory database, 100 calories of broiled beef, top sirloin steak has exactly 11.08 grams of protein and 100 calories of chopped, raw broccoli has exactly 8.29.

Fresh is always best, but frozen or properly prepared canned fruits and veggies are also healthy, as long as they are not covered heavy sauces, syrups or oils. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in unlimited quantities, including a broad range of colors, textures and flavors.

Whole grains, nuts and seeds are also included in a healthy plant-based diet. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, carbohydrate and protein. Products made from 100 percent whole wheat, along with rice, corn, millet, sorghum, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, spelt and are all examples of healthy whole grain foods. Various nuts and seeds are some of nature’s best ways to consume healthy fats. A handful a day will provide all the necessary fat-soluble vitamins; without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal foods.

A note of caution: Eating a plant-based/vegan diet (no animal products) doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy diet, despite what many believe. It is possible to be on a completely plant-based diet and still be eating unhealthy foods. For example, you could eat French fries every day or lots of white bread, rice or pasta and you would not reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. Plus there are tons of “junk,” processed and adulterated foods that are totally plant based. Fried foods are a good example, even though an onion is a healthy cancer-fighting plant food, eating deep fried onion rings do more harm to the body than good. Many potato chips often contain more artery-clogging saturated fat than potato. It’s also important to avoid refined carbohydrate products like cakes, pastries, candies, cookies, which generally contain added sugars. Also avoid all drinks with high sugar content and especially those that contain artificial sweeteners. These types of foods have often been so highly processed that it’s difficult to recognize the original plants or plant foods that they came from. Finally, steer clear of trans-fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils they are unhealthy and are easily stored as fat in the body.

Adapt a Plant-Based Diet for Optimal Health


In summary: Eat plants and plant-based products exclusively. If you stick to that, you’re likely to be very healthy. And if you’re like most people who are transitioning to a vegan diet there’s probably plenty of things you might feel you just can’t give up. But the truth is you can, just do one food type at a time, try going a week, and after that week you may decide to go two or three weeks and after a month or so your body and appetites will adjust and you may find you won’t miss it at all. This will give your taste bud a chance to change, and given ample time; change they will.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500

Five Ancient Yoga Secrets for the ULTIMATE Beauty Treatment

Everyone wants to look and feel their best and this is only natural. The secret yoga has to offer is…You don’t have to spend a lot of time and/or money or subject yourself to painful cosmetic procedures to radiate your inherent, natural beauty. Here are five well-kept yoga secrets to help you to enjoy optimal health and beauty.

#1. Practice yoga asanas to nourish your body, mind and soul, including every gland and organ in your body, giving you youthful energy and vitality. Yoga asanas are a powerful exercise for making you stronger and more flexible, but also for enhancing your personal beauty and youthful appearance in many ways:

    • – Asana practice balances the delicate hormones that control nearly every function in your body, boosting the health of your skin and hair.
    • – Asana practice rejuvenates tired internal organs by improving blood circulation and increasing lymphatic drainage.
    • – Inverted asanas bring fresh oxygenated blood to your head and face, improving skin and muscle tone.
    • – Asana practice firms and tones your muscles, helping to keep them supple and flexible.
    • – Asana practice improves your coordination and balance, leading to graceful posture and gait.

#2. Meditation and yogic relaxation techniques give you an inner peace that is both attractive and magnetic.

Sweet smiles are always alluring, whether it’s coming from a young person or an old person, a tall person or a short person, it doesn’t matter. But stress is hard to avoid in our society and too much stress makes it difficult to feel relaxed and peaceful. Make it a point to take a time-out every day to meditate so that you may experience the inner peace that helps to transcend the stresses of modern day life. Yogic meditation is a powerful method for inducing a deep sense of inner peace and relaxation.

#3. Following a plant-based (Vegan) diet is a must for any natural beauty program.

The benefits of plant nutrients and their powers are proudly proclaimed on nearly every skin and hair care product, and for good reason. Plants are loaded with wonderful rejuvenating properties that will enhance your natural beauty and longevity. However, instead of just focusing how the power of plants work on the outside, consider the importance of nourishing your whole body from the inside. A plant-based diet keeps you feeling vibrant, young and beautiful for many years to come. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds, provide all the balanced nutrition you need for radiant natural beauty, and they do this without weighing you down. The ancient science of yoga also teaches that a vegetarian/vegan diet is more compassionate (Ahimsa), allowing you to care for other living beings while still caring for yourself.

#4. Drink fresh juices to nourish your body from the inside out, promoting a healthy natural glow.

There is no commercial beauty product can give you the natural radiant glow that comes from nourishing your body down to the cellular level. Freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices are a potent source of quality nutrition for each and every cell in your body, providing them with an ample supply of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you practice juicing regularly, you will notice significant improvement in the texture and quality of your skin and hair. Your energy will rise to new levels and you will begin to crave nourishing, wholesome foods instead of unhealthy ones. Drinking fresh juice is one of the most easiest and most effective ways to jump-start your own personal natural beauty program.

#5. Plain and simple, all-natural (and homemade) beauty products add the final touch, complimenting any natural beauty program.

Imagine spreading something on your face that you can also pack for lunch. There are tons of reasons why making your own homemade beauty recipe is smarter than splurging on a commercial product. But thankfully, even if you’re not into making your own, there are many bath and beauty products available that contain all-natural, cruelty-free (no animal testing) ingredients. These products are not only better for you, they’re better for the environment too. Many common store-bought beauty products contain chemical ingredients that are not good for you (they may even be toxic over the long term) or cause allergic reactions. So make your own or read labels and stick with the brands that emphasize natural purity and safety.

*Of related interest, click on: You Too Can Apply The Ultimate Beauty Treatment

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

Yoga, Ayurveda and Whole-Foods

Both yoga and Ayurveda (the Indian Science of Healing) were inspired and developed by the great sages of ancient India, well over 5000 years ago. They were also both created to keep the body and mind strong, allowing students and practitioners to focus on what they considered their most important function, that of discovering the true Self and finding their true purpose in life. Although both these sciences are very old, neither one can be called “primitive.” Their advice is founded mostly on common sense, and has much to teach us about finding harmony and balance in the busy world we live in today.

Yoga happens to be the only science that has placed great emphasis on food, and it has done so for many centuries. There is actually a whole branch of yoga (called “Anna Yoga”) that is devoted to eating those foods that promote health and happiness.

Over these many centuries yoga has continued to develop a concept of a balanced whole-foods diet and an eating philosophy that stays current with changing times. These well established principles of good eating apply powerful techniques which are meant to help in creating and maintaining a strong, healthy body, a stress-free mind and a positive spirituality while living in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Never before has this yogic philosophy of a balanced whole-foods diet been more befitting than today when over 96% of all chronic illnesses and other health disorders can be traced directly to a diet insufficient in nutrition. Studies have shown that Indian civilizations (in the East) suffer less than Westerners from bowel problems, constipation, and indigestion plus a host of other food related disorders such as obesity. And the reason is because the Indian philosophy of cooking and eating draws heavily from the Ayurvedic and yogic philosophy of eating!

Ideally we should choose foods that are:

·         Whole-foods in their most simple form possible,

·         In season and as close to their source as possible,

·         Unprocessed, chemical and additive free,

·         In bulk and not pre-packaged.

Shopping for foods that we know are fresh and unprocessed is easier if we take as much of a hands-on approach in this process as possible.  It’s always preferable to buy from farm stands and farmer’s markets, where we can meet the people that have grown the produce, which is often picked or harvested that same day.

Eating those foods that are both balancing and energizing will greatly aid and support us on the path of practice we have chosen to undertake.  The very best diet for yoga students and practitioners is based on whole-foods, which generally means simple, unadulterated and unprocessed foods.  Yogic cooking does not break-down foods into vitamins, minerals, protein, but rather demonstrates that the true benefits of whole-food ingredients can be had only when they are NOT isolated but are kept as true to their natural form as possible. Thus the key to optimal health and well-being is to have a balanced diet, one that ensures that all the faculties of the digestion process (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work efficiently and effectively.

It’s extremely important for us to realize that all 3 of these aspects (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work very well together, for when they work in harmony it’s very unlikely that we’ll suffer from chronic illnesses and all the many other health disorders (including obesity) that are epidemic in modern society today. “Synthetic” and/or “processed” foods (refined sugars, saturated fats/partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods, etc.) create conditions that disrupt this delicate balance, inevitably leading to numerous physical and psychological problems. Over time, the consequences can be dangerous and/or debilitating.

By being more discriminating and remaining consciously aware of how we feel in regard to the dietary choices we make, we’ll find those choices will start to become extremely supportive in our quest for optimal health, wellness and also a boon to our happiness.

Of related interest, click on the following…

Principles of Health and Natural Healing

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500


The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of this series continues with “Some unexpected benefits of eating a plant-based diet.”


A lot of people who claim to be vegetarian eat more than simple plant-based foods and a little research will show that there are many different types of vegetarian diets and the four most common ones are:

1.    Vegan – Strictly plant based: No animal flesh, no eggs, and no dairy products are allowed.

2.    Lacto-vegetarian – Mostly plant-based: No animal flesh or eggs, but dairy products are OK.

3.    Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – Partly plant-based: No animal flesh but dairy products and eggs are OK.

4.     Pescatarian – Questionably whether vegetarian (The Vegetarian Society, does not recognize pescatarians as true vegetarians): Pescatarians eat no animal flesh except seafood; dairy products and eggs are optional.

The rest of the text in this article (and the preceding two articles) applies to veganism or a strict plant-based diet as opposed to the “vegetarian” types (2, 3, & 4) mentioned above.


In an analysis published in 2009 in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers noted that plant-based diets are associated with:

• Lower levels of triglycerides

• Lower concentrations of inflammatory markers such as C-reative protein (CRP)

• Lower blood pressure

Decreased body weight and body mass index (BMI)

Decreased risk of premature death from any cause, including heart disease

Improved insulin sensitivity

Better blood sugar control in patients with diabetes

The heart benefits of eating more plant foods are well-established by large-scale studies such as the “Nurses’ Health Study” and the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study.” These studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables have a 20% reduced risk of heart disease and a 27% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially stroke.

The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada say that plant-based diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Vegans also have substantially lower rates of the following health problems:

• Heart disease

Blood cholesterol levels

Blood pressure


Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes

Prostate cancer

Colon cancer

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization of doctors and others promoting preventive medicine, recommends a quality plant-based diet for the treatment and prevention of many health conditions.

Some of the world’s populations are known to have extraordinary long, healthy and happy lives. There are areas in the world where disease is virtually unknown, even in the oldest persons. Studies have shown that their exceptional health is largely attributed to low-calorie, plant-based, whole foods diets. Genetics are ruled out as a significant factor because when these same people are exposed to Western-style diets they quickly develop the same diseases common to Westerners.

Okay, so here are some unexpected benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

You’ll be doing a huge favor for the environment: Most people don’t realize it, but our insatiable appetite for animal protein contributes 50% more greenhouse gases than our planes, trains, trucks, cars and ships? Needless to say, our environment benefits greatly every time someone cuts animal foods out of their diet.

You’ll feel more connected to your higher (or spiritual) self: Not getting nearly enough fiber is one pitfall of eating the standard American diet, and that equates to sluggishness. When provided with the valuable fiber found in a plant-based diet your body is better able to cleanse itself and space is opened up within. Whenever someone upgrades to a plant-based diet, this naturally brings about a desire to connect to our source and our highest self.  When we can be our truest selves then we are in the best position to share our inherent gifts with others.

Compassion naturally arises in someone when they stop eating meat: This isn’t meant to imply that you didn’t care about animals before, but I’ll bet you didn’t know (and probably didn’t want to know) what was actually happening to the cows, pigs, and chickens before they turned up in your supermarket. Two billion animals suffer and then are killed every week just so they can show up on our dinner plates. It’s unconscionable.

You’ll be saving money: By eating an assortment of veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes as the base for your meals is actually quite cost effective. That difference makes up for the slightly higher priced organic produce, you’ll be comfortable knowing it’s an investment in your long-term health and that can mean big savings.

Creativity is enhanced: Cleaning up your diet and switching to plant-based foods will bring about a profound change in your creative expression. Your thinking will be clearer and new and inspiring ideas will come in abundance.

You’ll lose unwanted weight: Nearly all plant-based foods are much less caloric and very dense nutritionally, a sure “win-win” situation for weight loss. You’ll likely never feel deprived when eating this way, and quite possibly you’ll feel satisfied more quickly because your body is telling your brain it’s getting what it needs.

In summary: Contrary to popular myth, vegans have healthy bones and higher blood protein levels than omnivores. Vegans in fact average fewer nutrient deficiencies than average omnivores. But there are a couple important nutritional considerations. There are two vitamins not readily available in plants: vitamins D and B-12…Unless you live in the extreme northern (or southern) hemisphere, you can get ample vitamin D from the sun, and very little sun exposure is needed to provide your body’s needs. A natural source of vitamin B-12 can be found in nutritional yeasts. One brand of nutritional yeast, Red Star, has been tested and shown to contain active vitamin B-12. Those sensitive to other yeasts can also use it. Also recommended for vegans are algae-based long chain omega 3 fatty acids.

*Of related interest, click on: The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

& The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)


The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

Part 2 of this series continues with “Reasons why you should eat plant-based diet.”

Ever since the introduction of documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” (click on – trailer), “Vegucated” (trailer), and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” (full documentary), American’s are being exposed to the ever growing list of benefits of eating a plant-based diet. At first the claims may seem doubtful that a plant-based diet will greatly decrease your chances of Cardiovascular disease (aka heart disease), reduce or eliminate your risk of cancer, help you to shed those unwanted pounds. Additionally, plant-based diet has been shown to be an effective solution for type II diabetics and those with osteoporosis have seen it reversed. Simply stated, a diet high in animal protein is disastrous to our health, while a plant-based (vegan) diet prevents disease and is restorative to our health. And doctors and nutritional scientists say this with peer-reviewed (the gold standard of studies) science to back them up.

People are also finding that going vegan is much more than being selective about what you are eating. When you convert to a plant-based diet you are literally saving hundreds of animals’ lives each year, you’re helping preserve our Earth’s fragile environment and you’re being kind to your body in the process.  You’ll experience a fundamental philosophical shift in your mind, body and spirit, resulting in an overall transformation of yourself. It will change your life.

Now on to the reasons why you should eat plant-based diet…

Eating plant-based foods will be a tremendous aid for you to attain, maintain or regain an optimal state of health. Undeniable medical evidence has now shown conclusively that a whole foods plant-based diet is instrumental in preventing and/or reversing a plethora of diseases and conditions, including inflammation, anxiety, depression, Lupus, MS, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, and the list goes on. The China Study which surveyed over 6,500 people from over 65 countries remains the largest and most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and proves beyond a doubt that a plant-based diet is prolonging lives. After the publication of this book, there’s not much room left for debate.

Cancer prevention. Because Cancers originate from your body’s damaged cells, it is critical to preserve the health of those cells and in today’s world this is both a challenge and your responsibility. “The science base is very strong that fruits and vegetables are protective for all the gastrointestinal cancers and all the smoking-related cancers,” to quote Tim Byers, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Constipation and bowel disorders. What a worthwhile benefit a plant-based diet is for a country that spends millions on pharmaceuticals, supplements, vitamins, herbs and laxatives all so that you can loosen your stool and become regular. This condition can be prevented or reversed simply by changing your diet; when you eat a healthy plant-based diet, regularity is greatly enhanced, resulting in much lower incidence of colon cancer and other diseases of the colon. 

Compassion for animals. As stated above, each and every individual will be saving hundreds of animals from inhumane treatment and slaughter by going vegan. There is no such thing as a ‘kind slaughter’ as some in the meat industry would have you believe and this even includes those animals that graze exclusively. The documentary “Earthlings” (

Do the Yamas and Niyamas Support Veganism?

The Yamas & Niyamas are ethical guidelines and comprise the first two limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ “Eight-Fold Path”. They are the very foundation of skillful living according to Yogic philosophy.

The Yamas and Niyamas both consist of specific guidelines (presented as precepts) which give detailed explanations to guide you through all aspects of daily life. The Yamas offer universal directives which a community or society can follow to promote harmonious relationships; whereas the Niyamas deal more with what you as an individual can do to live in harmony with nature.

These Yamas and Niyamas reinforce the principles and purpose of a plant-based or Vegan dietary regime and lifestyle, and this article will explain this close association and how the Yamas and Niyamas apply to Veganism.

The Yamas encourage a collective way of living which discourages negative behaviors, and in so doing, embraces Veganism:

  1. 1. Ahimsa – Compassion and non-violence towards all sentient beings, including animals. As a Vegan, you practice ahimsa, believing that animals have right too, so you avoid all cruelty to animals by using only cruelty free, eco-friendly products.
  2. 2. Satya – Truthfulness, expressing your truth in thoughts, words and behavior. It often takes courage to be practicing Vegan, especially if friends and family, work colleagues and others eat meat you may find yourself socially excluded and/or considered a bit of an odd-ball. By sticking to your convictions you are practicing Satya.
  3. 3. Asteya – Non-stealing and by extension, being generous with your feelings, thoughts and actions. Economically, it costs considerably more to raise and feed animals than to cultivate plants. By practicing Asteya you are enabled to support and cooperate with nature and you’re using less of the Earth’s natural resources.
  4. 4. Brahmacharya – Self restraint, generally Brahmacharya refers to restraint of the sexual energy, however in its broadest sense, Brahmacharya means self-discipline and moderation in all areas of life. The yogic diet consists of eating “sattvic” foods, foods which are easy to digest, and eaten as close to their natural state (and source), which is in accord with a Vegan diet. In addition, a conscious Vegan strives to preserve our natural resources and by recycling whenever and wherever possible, and this indicates a willingness towards moderation and conserving energy.
  5. 5. Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness and non-greed. On a practical level, when adopting a compassionate, Vegan lifestyle, we take the first big step toward becoming established in Aparigraha, and with that, we step into a bright, enlightened future for ourselves, for the animals and for this planet.

The typical Western meat diet encourages you to bulk buy, to store frozen foods and meat, to fill your larder with long life provisions. As a vegan, you strive to eat freshly prepared foods, to support your local farmers market and where possible, eat locally sourced foods.

The Niyamas are more personal observations (recommendations) and relate to actions which you, as an individual are encouraged to do.

The Niyamas encourage a personal way of life which encourages positive behaviors which embrace Veganism:

  1. 1. Shauca – Cleanliness, keeping yourself and immediate environment clean and tidy. Veganism with its emphasis on a “green” lifestyle using eco-friendly practices is perfectly aligned with the yoga practice of Shauca.
  2. 2. Samtosha – Contentment, being satisfied, accepting of your immediate situation; the ideal behind Samtosha is to prompt yourself to be happy and appreciate all the blessings and tribulations in your life, yet at the same time to strive towards spiritual evolution. Sattvic foods promote happiness and contentment, while Rajasic and Tamasic foods tend to stimulate and disturb. There is a Native American tale of two wolves: “…a grandfather is talking to his grandson about how inside his mind are two wolves in a constant fight. One is anger, greed, self-pity, revenge; the other is love, kindness, empathy, hope. The child asks which one wins, and the grandfather replies, ‘Whichever one I feed.’” In the same way, we can choose to eat foods that promote contentment.
  3. 3. Tapas – Relates to self-discipline; the ability to stay focused and maybe go without certain possessions in order to grow, develop and care for yourself and others. Tapas can also relate to the way you prepare and/or cook your food, even starting a garden and growing your own takes time and effort compared the more popular and convenient fast food approach of buying ready-made, pre-prepared and processed meals and then using a microwave.
  4. 4. Svadhyaya – Self study and observation of your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Life is a journey and Svadhyaya can also mean the study of your own mind. A decision to stop eating meat and follow a more ethical plant-based lifestyle which causes the least amount of harm to the environment and animals involves considerable personal study, reflection and observation.
  5. 5. Ishvarapranidhana – Refers to devotion to God. To constantly be aware of the sacredness of life and to hold reverence for all being. This is the highest goal of yoga and perfectly in accord with Veganism, which also holds all forms of life as sacred.

You can see from this overview how the observance of the Yamas and Niyamas offers Vegans a way to live a wholesome and eco-friendly life. By applying the principles of the Yamas and Niyamas to your daily life you it will become obvious how yoga philosophy encourages you to become a vegan or follow a plant-based diet.

Side note on the question of dairy and dairy products: Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do, to nourish their young; but calves born on dairy farms are taken from their mothers when they are just one day old (and raised for veal – violates Ahimsa) so that humans can have the mother’s milk instead. Furthermore, in the case of bovine baby vs. human baby, cow’s milk is designed to nourish the calf’s relatively rapid bone growth (a calf will gain approximately 40% of its full-grown weight in its first six months [400-600 lbs.], while a human baby is meant to gain only about 10% in the same time [14-16 lbs.]). Additionally, there are now Vegan alternatives to cow’s milk (e.g.; soy, almond, coconut, rice and flax milks are some common examples). For more on the dairy issue, watch the film: “The Perils of Dairy”

The ancient Chandogya Upanishad (D II 26.2) says “When food is pure, the mind is pure, when the mind is pure, concentration is steady, and when concentration is achieved one can loosen all the knots of the heart that bind us.” Veganism is one of the main pillars of the purifying the mind.

*In summary – The American equivalent of a traditional Yogic (Sattvic) diet today consists of organic, whole, natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. A modern Sattvic diet emphasizes foods grown in harmony with nature, preferably by organic farmers, planted in good soils, ripened naturally and then prepared with an attitude of love. Foods treated in such a manner carry the highest prana and consciousness. This modern sattvic diet does not include junk and processed foods, excessively spicy or salty foods, fried foods, white “enriched” flour, refined sugars, and other forms of food that unnaturally stimulate your blood sugar and/or your mind. This modern diet avoids meat, fish and alcohol and eggs as well. It does not include genetically engineered (GMO) foods, irradiated foods, microwave foods, foods that have been cooked more than 24 hours previously or stale foods.

5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 3)

Are you in a rut? Are you feeling like you’re losing your “touch”? Is complacency becoming the norm? Maybe what you need are some basic lifestyle changes. In the coming days we will review five suggestions for the New Year to help improve your health and overall wellbeing – helpful advice that may also initiate a sense of self-renewal and give you more energy, which in turn will give you a whole new outlook on life.

To review part 1, click on: Go on a cleanse or detox diet.

To review part 2, click on: Improve your dietary choices

Here’s part 3…

3. Find a daily activity that insures you’re getting enough exercise.

Studies show that low to moderately intense activities can have some short and long-term benefits. If done daily, they may help lower your risk of heart disease. Activities such as pleasure walking, climbing stairs, gardening, yard work, moderate housework and dancing help, but ask yourself, is that enough? By engaging in more vigorous exercise, you can greatly improve the overall fitness of both the heart and lungs, which provides much more consistent benefits for lowering heart disease risk plus a host of other physical advantages such as better digestion, elimination of toxins, improved liver and kidney function and weight loss, to name a few.

Many people are now discovering (or rediscovering) the awesome benefits of regular, vigorous exercise; activities like swimming, brisk walking (or hiking), running, or working out at a gym or fitness center. These forms of exercise are generally called “aerobic,” meaning the body uses oxygen to produce the energy needed for the activity. An aerobic exercise will elevate your heartbeat (cardiovascular) and makes you sweat, and contrary to popular belief, Yoga IS an aerobic or cardiovascular exercise and can condition your heart and lungs if performed at the proper intensity for at least 20 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Ashtanga Yoga, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga are perfect examples.

So, you don’t have to train like a professional athlete or marathon runner to become more physically fit! Any activity that gets you moving around, gets you heart beating and causes you to break a sweat will work, and even if it’s done for just a few minutes each day it’s better than exercise at all. For sedentary or inactive people, the trick is getting started. Once started, exercising in the company of other like-minded people will keep you on track and motivated.


There are many benefits experienced by people who get regular physical activity, here’s a few…

Exercise helps you feel better because it:


  • gives you more energy
  • helps you cope with stress
  • improves your self esteem and self-image
  • increases your resistance to fatigue
  • counters anxiety and depression
  • enables you to relax and feel less tense
  • improves your ability to sleep more soundly
  • provides an easy way to share an activity and an opportunity to meet new friends


It helps you look better because it:


  • shapes & tones your muscles
  • burns off calories to help lose extra pounds or helps you maintain your desired weight
  • helps control your appetite
  • reduces the appearance of cellulite
  • improves your posture
  • Gives you a healthy glow (from increased circulation)

Additionally, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise fights the onset of age-related disease, lifts your spirits and sense of well-being, increases your lung capacity so you can take in more oxygen, boosts circulation to deliver nutrients to cells and skin, lowers inflammation, and, for many, is said to be the ultimate stress reducer.

5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 2)

Are you in a rut? Are you feeling like you’re losing your “touch”? Is complacency becoming the norm? Maybe what you need are some basic lifestyle changes. In the coming days we will review five suggestions for the New Year to help improve your health and overall wellbeing – helpful advice that may also initiate a sense of self-renewal and give you more energy, which in turn will give you a whole new outlook on life. To review part 1, click on:  Go on a cleanse or detox diet.

Here’s part 2…

2. Improve your dietary choices

Everyone who knows Rae Indigo knows quite well she practices and promotes a plant-based (vegan) diet, and ultimately recommends that for all her students. Rae leads retreats worldwide, including diet & nutrition programs that provide students with the knowledge, experience and skills to use proper food choices to transform their lives from the inside out, deliciously, enjoyably and with purpose.

Knowing that it is very hard to instantly (and completely) switch over to a plant-based diet, this article will share some simple ways that anyone can use to improve their diet. Anyone who practices these habits and incorporates them into their daily lives will vouch for their benefits. Here are 7 ways to get you started and headed in the right direction…

1. Eat a colorful diet. And this doesn’t mean different colors of candy. Make it a habit to include at least five different colored foods (preferably fruits and veggies) a day into your diet. Some suggestions…Instead of the standard American breakfast of eggs, home fries and bacon, make a smoothie in your blender with a banana, some blueberries, strawberries, OJ and almond milk. For lunch, toss some salad greens with grated carrot, tomato and bell pepper strips. For a mid day snack, have an orange or an apple. For dinner, baked butternut squash filled with blanched peas and carrots and some brown rice on the side.

2. Exchange or eliminate refined sugars and sweets. Candy and most sweets are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other additives that are bad for your health. So when your sweet tooth is calling, satisfy that craving with items that are naturally sweet. Stock your kitchen with dried fruits, homemade trail mix or cacao bits. Make sure you have plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit in your fridge (like peaches, apricots, grapes, berries or cherries). Melon kabobs are a quick and easy sweet snack for the whole family. Without sacrificing your health, you can still indulge your sweet cravings by snacking sensibly.

3. Prepare more meals at home. Preparing raw dishes or cooking at home not only saves you money but it also keeps you in complete control of what you are putting into your body. You are certain of all the ingredients that go into the dishes that you make. If you learn to plan ahead, the task of cooking at home becomes a joy, and it doesn’t need to be time consuming either. By using recipes that give you several days’ worth of meals you won’t have to slave over the stove for hours every day.

4. Buy locally and eat seasonal foods, selecting organic fruits and veggies whenever possible and/or practical. By shopping wisely you’ll find there are a variety of different fruits, vegetables and grains that are available at different times throughout the year. Whenever seasonal produce is available, you not only save money (since items aren’t overpriced due to importing costs), but you also get more flavor. This practice keeps you from getting bored and sustains your motivation to eat well, allowing you to consume a variety of different and beneficial nutrients.

5. Start a small indoor container garden. Growing your own food is a great way to add variety and flavor to your meals during the off season when your outdoor garden is asleep. Going outside to pick a few fresh things to add to your meal is very rewarding, but for many this is not possible all year ‘round. Depending on the amount of room you have (and window space), you can grow anything from tomatoes and peppers, radishes and lettuce, chives, parsley and herbs, and even if you have limited space, sprouts are always a nice addition. Not only do the things you grow taste amazing, they’re practically free.

6. Buy things like grains, beans, lentils, and seeds in bulk. Perhaps start a coop with like minded friends. In most cases this will help you save money, reduce waste, and keep your pantry well stocked. Having these items on hand you can quickly put a healthy meal together, helping you to resist the temptation to get take out.  They key is to remember what you have and occasionally rotate your supplies so they don’t go to waste.

7. Rather than one or two large meals a day, eat smaller meals multiple times a day. By eating small amounts of food throughout the day you’ll keep your blood sugar levels normal, preventing you from allowing your blood sugar get too low, which makes you feel like you’re starving, often leading to binge eating. This also helps you control your portion sizes keeping your stomach from being stretched. Most importantly perhaps, by eating regularly throughout the day you’ll keep your metabolism fired-up. In order for metabolism to continually burn calories it needs fuel.

Improving your dietary choices really isn’t all that difficult. As you can see, these seven small changes will improve your overall fitness, motivating and prompting you to continue to look for ways to further achieve your goal of an optimal state of health and wellbeing.

Stay tuned for part 3. – Find a daily activity that insures you’re getting enough exercise.