A healthy vegan macrobiotic diet is one of the best diets on the planet, but it can pose some challenges.. Going vegan alone is hard enough for most, but a vegan macrobiotic diet includes a range of lifestyle changes that many find difficult to adapt to overnight.
Sounds overwhelming? Rest assured, that’s a pretty normal reaction. That’s why we recommend starting slowly and adding little by little. Our guide below is presented in easy to follow steps that you can take at your own pace to achieve your ultimate goal of transitioning to a healthy vegan macrobiotic diet.
What is Macrobiotics?
Macrobiotics was developed by Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa, and is really more of a philosophy and lifestyle than a diet. It’s about fostering a healthy relationship between yourself, food, and nature. To do this, one should choose seasonal, plant-based foods.
In terms of the actual food breakdown, macrobiotics proposes the following split as a guide:
- 25% whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, polenta, barley, pasta or buckwheat.
- 25% vegetables (well-cooked, lightly-cooked and raw salad)
- 25% bean and soy products
- 25% fruits, nuts and seeds
Other foods include sea vegetables, soups, fermented foods, mild beverages and sweets.
As you can see, the food recommendations are fairly broad. The diet is not meant to be restrictive; instead it’s supposed to encourage people to find different foods within those categories. The desire is to have a more enjoyable eating experience, not less.
Benefits of Macrobiotics
It’s no longer a secret that excess consumption of meat, processed foods, diary, etc. are some of the leading causes of degenerative issues such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Removing these foods from one’s diet has the dual benefit of not only significantly decreasing your risk, but also allowing your body to heal itself. When the body is no longer being overwhelmed trying to digest animal and heavily processed foods, it can create more energy and oxygen, and remove toxins.
Other reasons to minimize animal and dairy foods:
- Red meat and processed animal foods can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases.
- Meat and dairy increases the risk of osteoporosis
- Dairy and animal foods are acidifying and cause stagnation
- Dairy and animal products have high toxicity
- Commercial livestock is bad for the environment and planet
In addition, macrobiotic diets are eco-friendly because they reduce impact of factory farming and place heavy emphasis on locally grown, seasonal produce. Local foods means less fuel emissions as produce doesn’t have to travel as far, and less electricity and fossil fuels used to create artificial environments for off-season produce.
The Macrobiotic Diet
As we said at the beginning, go at your own pace. Start with one healthy meal a day — or even one a week. If you stress yourself out by trying to make a complete transition immediately, you’re unlikely to ever achieve your goals. You’ll burn out and be back to old habits — or worse — in no time.
Here is an easy guideline to help get started:
- Plan meals around grain and grain products. Rice bowls are an easy place to start.
- Learn about more than just rice and oats! There are a wealth of grains available that you may have never heard of or tried.
- Eat vegetables with every meal.
- Mix up your veggies — try new ones, or revisit old ones you gave up on years ago.
- Learn different vegetable combinations and different cooking styles.
- Eat one small bowl of soup a day.
- Eat naturally pickled and fermented foods.
- Meat, fish and poultry are not essential to complete nutrition.
- Choose grain, bean and vegetable based meals at Italian, Mexican or Middle-Eastern restaurants
If you can’t remove meat or dairy quickly, you can still start to transition to a more ethical and environmentally friendly form such as organic or locally sourced. It is always better to stress adding over taking away and improving the quality of food.
Why is Eating a Variety of Vegetables and Grains so Important
Eating a wide variety of vegetables and grains:
- Gives you complete nutrition
- Helps you lose or gain weight
- Makes you feel more satisfied.
- Keeps the gut healthy
- Improves immune system
Macrobiotic Eating Practices
Macrobiotics is not just about the diet, but also creating healthy habits. So, what are the healthy eating practices that come with macrobiotics?
- Make time for your meals. Allow 20-30 minutes for each meal so you don’t rush the food. Take the time to savor the flavors and enjoy it! This will leave you more satisfied.
- Eat without distractions. No TV, no reading, no phone, no working — simply be present and eat.
- Eat at regular times. This can obviously be tricky with busy schedules, but is one of the key aspects of healthy eating. Lunch is the most important meal.
Here are some tips to help eat at regular times:
- Prepare food beforehand – Extra grains, beans, bread or hearty soups can be frozen for later use. Or cut vegetables and other foods the day before to be ready to cook when arriving home.
- Keep meals simple – No need to go overboard with spices or complicated recipes.
- Create a macrobiotic diet plan – A diet plan makes grocery shopping manageable by having all meals outlined during the week.
These recommendations aren’t even exclusive to a healthy vegan macrobiotic diet — it’s the same advice given by psychologists and food specialists the world over. Distracted, rushed eating can easily lead to overeating, snacking, and unhealthy diet choices.
Healthy Lifestyle Practices
Beyond healthy food and healthy eating practices, macrobiotics proposes general lifestyle practices for improved health. These include:
- Learning how to cook. Even if you have a good basic grasp of cooking, learn some new skills. Find new ways to prepare food – new cutting techniques, cooking techniques, new recipes.
- Be active. A thirty minute walk every day is the best way to improve your activity.
- Try a gentle form of yoga.
- Decrease time spent on your phone and social media.
- Be positive and surround yourself with supportive people.
- Be determined.
Keep in mind, lifestyle changes are just as important as improving the diet.
SHI Macrobiotics Courses and Webinars
If you’re interested in learning more about health vegan macrobiotic diets, we have courses and webinars that can teach you the ins and outs. You’ll get great, practical advice and guidance as you transition to a new world of improved health and wellbeing.
Other Great Resources:
- The Ultimate Guide to Eating for Longevity – a practical handbook for lasting health with recipes and menu plans. – Available on Amazon.
- Denny Waxman’s macrobiotic blog
- Personal counseling with Denny Waxman – Denny is a renowned macrobiotic counselor with over four decades of experience. He works with each individual to come up with a unique personal diet and lifestyle regimen. Contact Denny Waxman today to achieve your best health.