Food is the most essential to survival, and is important for health. It’s also more difficult to make a spiritual effort if you are starving, unhealthy, or poor. And if you die from starvation, you can’t make a spiritual effort unless you’re already spiritually advanced enough not to be dependent on body-consciousness and food in order to be conscious.
I am a vegan and gluten-free for several reasons:
- Generally, it’s best for all round development (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and social). Sri Yukteswar said in his “The Holy Science” to find a diet that suits one’s constitution, but advised and gave a thorough explanation of why fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables are most suited for humans, also giving reasons for why meat isn’t suitable.
- I don’t really know if I’m even gluten sensitive, but when I have wheat, oats, etc., before it has seemed to have an adverse effect. (I have health problems with involuntary tic-like movements, and often get sinusitis. Eating gluten-containing foods seems to exacerbate this effect.) Generally I test whether foods have a short-term effect (as well as a long-term effect) by eliminating them for at least a few weeks (a few months is better), and reintroducing each type of food one at a time, and taking notes of effects over time in a spreadsheet.
- Sustainability: a vegan diet has a much lower footprint on the planet, e.g. in terms of resource consumption, land use, effects on the environment (e.g. less chance of salinization, erosion, nutrient depletion, carbon intake from plants rather than methane and CO2 emissions from animals), etc.
- Ethics: see e.g. here.
As of Nov 2018 I am going to try using a pressure cooker, after reading about its potential health benefits, rather than a slow cooker for legumes and a rice cooker, which I have been using. I also use a 5 L water-sealed crock pot for fermentation to get my probiotics (I’m a vegan, so yoghurt is a no-go, and I actually get more diverse probiotics this way).
Consider getting discarded food
Nov 2018 update: I don’t do this any more as I have limited space to carry stuff (backpack and maybe a few recycled, recyclable and biodegradable carry bags) when I go shopping, and the food can tend to go bad quickly so it may have to be thrown out before I salvage it and eat it.
Consider seeking discarded food, either by going to stores at the end of the day and asking if they have any food that they are going to throw out that you could have, or by collecting it if they put it outside at the end of the day (e.g. in boxes, bags, pallets, bins or dumpsters). If you are not comfortable doing either of these things, consider shopping at local markets, which are generally much cheaper.
Of course, I acknowledge that it is sometimes more convenient to go to the nearest food provider, where you don’t have to rummage through a disorganized dumpster to get what you want. This is particularly true if you are time-poor. In my case, I have rarely dumpster dived since I started working three jobs, plus learning things online, and having other commitments, at least at a full-time work load, usually more. When I was getting government assistance while studying, and until I started getting enough income and work to not get government assistance (February 2016), couple with during these times access to dumpsters was about as convenient as shopping, there was more of a motivation to dumpster dive. Living on Cleveland St as of April 2016, dumpster diving is less convenient. For me, convenience is one of the most important factors, perhaps the most important factor, with procuring food.
Sydney has Paddy’s Markets in Haymarket and Flemington. Paddy’s Markets also throws out plenty of tasty and edible food in their bins. You don’t get any receipts for fresh food so if you don’t like what you buy you can’t take it back. However, what I have bought so far has been of good quality and I have no complaints. There is usually a lot of congestion and noisiness from sellers hawking their goods.
The best time to dumpster dive at Paddy’s Markets is just before closing time. The markets aren’t accessible after closing time, so you have to go before. At most other places, the best time is as soon as feasible after closing time. As soon as feasible means when there are no security guards or workers who’ll get annoyed. Check the dumpster near the nuts store before closing time, as nuts have been thrown out before. You can also buy things that you can’t find in dumpsters.
Consider growing your own food, check out this page for some ideas.
Other food-related money saving ideas are to make your own yoghurt, make your own nut butters (you can buy nuts and then grind them up) or eat a diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and perhaps some dairy, carbohydrates or eggs if such foods suit your constitution. I do not advise eating meat, fish or fowl, but chicken and fish are better (healthier and more sustainable) than red meat.
There are plenty of inexpensive nut grinders selling online, starting from about $25 including postage on eBay. I bought one on 16/10/2014 and it works great. Some people have made complaints online that it is too small but I eat lots of nuts and it’s fine for me. You have to put in nuts in batches of about 50-100 g to make nut butter. More can be put in in one batch than that, however the nut butter accumulates at the bottom and stops the blades from cutting more nuts. So it’s best to put in just enough to churn up nut butter at the bottom and no more, then take it out. The grinder has good safety features such as having a cover for the grinder cup which you have to press down to turn the grinder on. The cover actually presses down three little switches on the grinder. So you can also start the grinder by pressing the three switches at the same time, which is impossible to do with one hand, and difficult with two. It is possible to hold two switches down with one hand, and one switch down with one finger and stick another finger or thumb in the blades, but this wouldn’t happen accidentally, so it’s pretty safe.