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Why did the Shaolin Monks and Gladiators follow a plant-based diet? | Roshni Sanghvi

Why did the Shaolin Monks and Gladiators follow a plant-based diet?

Time to Read: 8 Minutes

Before we dive into what these super humans ate, let's discuss about who they were.

Who were the Gladiators?

Admired by men and adored by women, gladiators were trained fighters in Ancient Rome. The most famous gladiators had large followings of loyal fans, just like football stars today. Dressed to impress in shining metals, with rippling muscles on show, gladiators fought in the arena of Roman Empire and Hollywood.

Risking their life and limb they fought bravely with different fighting styles, to keep the spectators glued to their seats. Women also fought as gladiators. Successful gladiators could win fight after fight and were richly rewarded with prize money and admiration, but not all fights were to the death.

Gladiators were trained to be fighting machines, in special schools called ludi. Colosseum was the stadium for gladiators, which became the symbol of Rome itself. It was said that “When colosseum falls, Rome will fall, When Rome will fall, world will fall…” but, while Rome fell, Colosseum still stands to be masterpiece of world architecture.

Shaolin Monks – Monks of the Shaolin Temple, Buddhist monastery in China. The monks developed various styles or schools of Chinese Martial Arts.

Is there even a place where one can find peace and at the same time be in the peak of physical fitness? One possibility is ancient and mystical Shaolin temple. Shaolin Temple, a UNESCO world heritage has become a million-dollar industry. Shaolin Warrior Monks have no interest in fame. Its hard to see from the heart of myth and fog of mystery, what Shaolin really is, but surely these monks carry a legendary skill and wisdom of a Shaolin Warrior.

Superhero strength is mostly seen in fiction and mythology. However, humans are actually attempting to gain strength portrayed in Ironman or Wonder women for real life purposes. Shaolin Monks are able to hon in superpower like abilities after years of mediation and practice.

Technically its already being done by the athletes who may be using Shaolin steroids or blood doping to better enhance their strength. But what the shaolin monks possess is different. Shaolin monks living by "When the Buddha is in your heart, meat and wine are nothing."

Gladiators in history and Shaolin monks in the current age have incredible abilities that appear impossible. They have simply developed their minds and bodies in ways that allow them to perform extraordinary feats of mental and physical strength by tapping into their internal energy and through physical conditioning. What gives them these superhuman powers? Is it their years of metal and physical training alone? Does food play any part in this? Let’s walk through one day of each of their lives.

A Day in Life of a Shaolin Monk

A Shaolin monk is up at 5:30 am for chanting. At 6 am they break the fast with Eight Treasures, a soup made of beans. The next five hours are consumed by Kung Fu training and Chanting, with an half hour break in between.

Lunchtime at 11:30 am, consists of five to six different vegetables, tofu and rice. They do not drink tea or liquids with meals to aid in easy digestion. Lunch finishes at approximately 12:30. Chanting and mediation, relaxation or a nap may occupy the next two hours.

Kung Fu Practise sessions begins by approximately 3 pm and wraps up by 5 pm. Noodles are served with black or yellow wheat bread for dinner at 5:30 pm.

At 6:30 pm Heart Sutra chanting, heart is called the centre of the Universe. A quiet time for meditation is allotted at 8 pm; retire for some sleep at 10 pm to do it all over again.

Kung fu practise causes injuries all the time, Shaolin Temple has it’s very own hospital, only western technology is used and not medicines. The monks go every two weeks to monitor the progress in the brain that meditation produces by using EEG testing.

They never seem to get tired even with the demanding training schedule, as their heads don’t have draining and meaningless thoughts running through the day.

‘Do daily acts of kindness. Be nice. Pray a lot. Practice a lot. With practice comes wisdom. Wisdom brings advancement each day. And pain brings growth’ -- that's how they roll.

Eating habits of Monks and their approach to consumption.

Their eating habits are nothing short of fascinating with the strict laws of Buddhism, they have a meek but mighty diet. One of the principles they should abide by is to abstain from killing. Typical staples of a monk’s diet include salads, beans, lentils, noodle soups, and stir-fried or steamed vegetable dishes. Simple and always seasonal, as they believe that which is presently growing on this earth is the exact food we are meant to be eating at this time of year for optimal nourishment.

Their first meal of the day usually consists of porridge, bread, tea, tsampa (roasted barley flour mixed with some liquid).

They are served with fresh veg for most meals including cauliflower, bitter melon, spinach, tomatoes an daikon. Solid foods are usually prohibited after evening. The process of digestion requires energy from the body, the monks are careful not to feed themselves late in the day. Sneaking food between meals when one is alone is simply not mindful and therefore not done.

The monks often spend chunks of time eating just one type of food as a type of cleansing practice. This utterly simple approach to feeding oneself is found to be easier on the stomach because it ensures there is no clash in terms of digestion. The more work our teeth do, the less your stomach has to. So for less bloat, chew, chew.

Oodles of noodles, are enjoyed regularly with veggies. And it probably comes as no surprise that monks don’t drink alcohol. It’s a clear case of further abstinence.

Tea Daily

There are 287,654 different plant species on the planet that we know of, and billion on the planet have hooked on to one plant for a beverage, Tea. Even Monks Consume it. When plugging in to an EEG testing, it’s essentially seen that humans have 4 brain waves. Two of them are sleeping and two while awake, out of which Alpha wave is where we want to be, awake and relaxed. This stage is easily reached by religious meditators in about 90 minutes and possibly be sustained for longer. For common man, one can either meditate everyday or just drink some tea to reach there. L- theanine that enters your brain after you drink about two cups of tea is sufficient for brain wave activity to reach Alpha state.

The side effects to so dramatically altering your brain daily by drinking tea from tea plant, lower cholesterol level and living a significantly longer life.

What kept the Gladiators fighting fit?

Gladiators also owed their condition to the Glad school’s kitchen, the smell of dinner simmering in fire would signal a welcome break for the hungry gladiators fighting in arena. Their gruelling schedule was lived with exclusively plant based diet. Its estimated that there’s one in nine chance of being killed each time they fought, in order to survive it was vital for them to be incredibly strong and powerful.

Gladiators also called “hordearii” or ‘barley man’

Unlike the monks, it is impossible to exactly live a day in the life of a gladiators because they existed centuries back. However, recently, the remains of gladiators were used to reconstruct their diet filled with barley and beans and did not reflect any intake of animal protein. The best athletes of the ancient world ate largely plant based diet. They believed to have eaten mostly barley, wheat, beans, oatmeal, dried fruit.

Why did theory choose this diet? Did it help them get stronger?

Diets rich in vegetables contained high amount of strontium might actually be the secret to their strength. Researches have shown that administrating strontium instead of calcium in bones, will actually build strong bones. Recovery takes place faster and bones become more stable with strontium. Therefore, gladiators are less likely to receive crippling injuries and wounds.

The examination of gladiator bones also found evidence they drank a drink made from plant ashes. This ash drink was a form of health-boosting tonic to help gladiators recover after fighting and training.

Probably not since the day of the ancient Spartans has a person achieved such high physical conditioning, and what did they eat? Plant based foods, the same kind of 75% to 80% starch diet based on beans, corn and squash.

There is little science saying that a meat based is superior for athletes or contributes to exceptional strength. If you put it to the test actually, plant- based athletes compared to their omnivorous counterparts demonstrate higher cardio vascular fitness. Check out this article to read more.

Yale in fact tested meat eating and non meat eating athletes with a test group (sedentary non meat eating non athletes). The sedentary non meat eating athletes proved to have better endurance than the meat eating athletes.. WHATT! Click here to read more.

If we are to learn from our past and ancestors, a plant- based diet works exceptionally well (if not better) to help athletes achieve superhuman strength; On a long- term, a plant based diet can be conducive to far greater endurance, performance and health. Athletes are constantly concerned with performance, well adherence to plant-based diet reduces risk of chronic diseases.

We have tremendous power over our health, destiny and longevity, that’s been proven by Shaolin Monks and their legacy. Gladiators were predominantly vegan whilst harnessing exclusive powers.

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Roshini H S - December 3, 2020

Fruits are great to have any time of the day. A plant- based diet is actually proven very beneficial to help manage symptoms of and even reverse asthama. The anti- oxidants and anti- inflammatory effects of a plant- based diet are also well knowns to boost immunity. Do reach out if you need further help!

Take care.

Tema - December 3, 2020

Is eating fruit as the last meal of the day good for enhancing one’s physical fitness and also good for one’s health? (I suffer from asthma, anemia and other low immunity related illnesses so I am curious about the plant -based wellness regime, with regards to adopting it by the next day, for my health and wellbeing) If fruits are a good idea, which fruits would you recommend as the best and which should be avoided as many articles I have read ate opposed to the consumption of exotic fruits like mangoes and bananas in the early evening for example.

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About Roshni Sanghvi

Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.