The VegNews Guide to Macrobiotics
Interested in the much-touted benefits of macrobiotic living, but not sure where to start? Here's a crash course on this healthy approach to a vegan diet.
Although macrobiotic diets are popular among celebrities, new-age gurus, and healthy-living experts, they have yet to be fully understood by the mainstream. This food regimen has inspired rave reviews from many people, claiming that it has the ability to prevent and cure a variety of diseases including cancer, as well as improve overall spiritual and physical well-being. Based on the ancient Asian principle of balancing yin and yang, macrobiotics emphasizes simplicity, the elimination of dietary toxins, and the restriction of processed foods. Here are the basics on seeking wellness and longevity through living macro.
The basis of macrobiotics is the overarching concept of achieving harmony and self-healing through pure foods, synthesizing ideas of Japanese Zen Buddhism, Greek philosophy, and Western vegetarian diets. The forefather of modern macrobiotics is George Ohsawa—he and his disciple Michio Kushi introduced the principle to the US in the 1950s, founded the world-renowned Kushi Institute, and established guidelines for the contemporary diet. Key goals of macrobiotics include longevity, abolition of disease, and optimal health through the balance of yin and yang—yin foods being cold, sweet, and passive, with their yang counterparts tasting salty, hot, and intense.
Kushi devised a “Great Life Pyramid,” demonstrating the proportions of each type of food that the macrobiotic diet advocates. Followers of the diet are advised to consume 40 to 60 percent whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, millet, and barley; 20 to 30 percent vegetables, a mix of cooked and raw green leafy, round, and root veggies; 5 to 10 percent beans and legumes, including lentils, adukis, chickpeas, tofu, miso, and tempeh; and the remainder in pickles, sea vegetables, Asian condiments, and vegetable oils. Certain vegetables—such as potatoes, zucchini, avocado, tomato, eggplant, peppers, beets, and asparagus—are excluded. Occasionally, locally grown fruits, seeds, nuts, tea, and natural sweets may be enjoyed as well, but coffee, stimulant herbs, and sugary, fatty, and processed foods are ousted. Try these recipes to get in the macrobiotic mood:
Macrobiotic Rice Balls
Kuzu Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing
Kale with Peanut-Mustard Dressing
Principles of Purity
In addition to being specific about food sources and proportions, the guidelines of macrobiotics include lifestyle components as well. Chewing food slowly and thoroughly to aid digestion and absorption of nutrients is strongly encouraged, as well as limiting meals to two to three times per day. Followers are also advised not to eat within three hours of going to bed, and to adhere to cosmetic and household products free of harsh chemicals. Even clothing is a part of the lifestyle, as metallic jewelry, synthetic fabrics, and excessive accessories are avoided, and all-cotton clothing is considered ideal. Cooking with microwaves and consuming vitamin supplements are also shunned, and the preferred materials for pots, pans, and utensils are wood, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and enamel. And, in line with the overarching importance of purity and spirituality, food preparation and meals are to be consumed in a peaceful environment and with a relaxed, grateful state of mind. The Kushi Institute also suggests eating until you feel satisfied but not “full” in the commonly used sense, and to drink liquids only when thirst strikes.
Lessons for Living
In addition to food and clothing, macrobiotic principles extend into other areas of its followers’ lives. The Kushi Institute has a number of suggestions for achieving optimum personal wellbeing, including avoiding long, hot showers (which are believed to strip minerals from the body) and spending a generous amount of time outdoors if possible. Regular exercise is also encouraged, including walking, yoga, martial arts, and dance. To improve air quality in homes, indoor plants are bountifully used. Overall cleanliness and simplicity of décor is appreciated as well. Finally, cutting down as much as possible on computer and television usage is often promoted, due to possible harm from electromagnetic fields.
Proponents of macrobiotics list a host of positive results that can be achieved through this harmonious way of living and eating, including claims of preventing and curing cancer, extending life expectancy, and enhancing overall spiritual and physical health. According to the American Cancer Society, scientific evidence has not yet proven these claims. However, the organization does state that “A diet consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is associated with general health benefits and lower risk for several diseases, and a macrobiotic diet, by virtue of its main components, can also achieve these benefits.” When considering adopting a macrobiotic lifestyle, it’s crucial to plan one’s diet to include all required nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, or risk deficiency of important nutritional components. The key, after all, is balance.
How to Veganize Syrian Cuisine
Honor Syria by indulging in flavors that celebrate an ancient civilization—sans the meat and dairy.
Read More »
7 Vegan Ice Creams We Love That Arent Ben & Jerrys
Celebrate the vegan ice cream makers whove been doing dairy-free ice cream long before the Vermont brand entered the scene.
Read More »
6 Ways to Make Your Quinoa Taste Even Better
Its time to start incorporating quinoa into your diet in new, fun ways.
Read More »
Vegan Red Velvet Beet Shake
Vibrant, sweet, and super-smooth, this better-for-you shake will make any lovers heart skip a beet.
Read More »
5 Rules for Making Vegan Chocolates at Home
A rich, smooth chocolate confection is a joyous thing. Follow these essential tips to create your own DIY Valentine's gift.
Read More »
- 4 Vegan Tasting Menus to Celebrate Valentines Day
- A Vegan Valentines Day You Cant Beet
- 5 Workout Ideas for the Vegan Couple
- 6 Ways to Raise a Vegan Child in a Non-Vegan World
- 10 Vegan Game Day Cocktails
- 4 Best Vegan-Friendly Chain Restaurants to Watch the Super Bowl
- 10 Best Vegan Super Bowl Recipes on Instagram
- 7 Vegan Super Bowl Recipes That Rule
- 4 Reasons Americans are Addicted to Food
- 5 Hot Food Trends for 2017 that Just Happen to Be Vegan
- Mini Mexican Chocolate Soufflés
- The VegNews Guide to Vegan Girl Scout Cookies
- 7 Tips to Prevent Injury for Vegan Athletes
- Vegan Double-Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream
- National Peanut Butter Day, Vegans, & Bachelors
- Vegan Super Bowl Eats That are a Culinary Touchdown
- Vegan Chai Breakfast Pudding
- 4 Mouthwatering Vegan Super Bowl Recipes
- 6 Reasons You'll Never Need Dairy Again
- How to Veganize a Traditional English Breakfast