The Shaolin Monks are widely considered to be one of the most disciplined people on the planet, their religion is deep and dictates their daily activities and rituals…including their diet. Shaolin Monks are Chinese Buddhists who devote a lifetime to their martial art, Shaolin Kung Fu within their temple. In order for a Monk to meet the intense training regime surrounding Shaolin Kung Fu they have to exercise discipline in every facet of their life. A Monk will be expected to be celibate, practice their skills for several hours a day, and follow a vegetarian diet throughout their lives.
What comprises the ‘Shaolin Temple Diet’…
The Shaolin diet is considered to be one of the healthiest around because of its high fibre, low fat and high protein content. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that a vegetarian diet of this sort lowers your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. A typical Shaolin Monk will have a bean based breakfast known as Eight Treasures, comprising eight different types of beans, grains and nuts. The range of beans etc includes red beans, pine nuts, walnuts, peanuts, rice and hawthorns, Chinese red dates and millet to give it some bulk. It is Shaolin belief that the soup gives them health and longevity…and who’d argue with them when a 70+ year old Monk can stand on one leg for several hours on end!
Other nutritional staples include Tofu, rice and a variety of mixed vegetables. It is against Shaolin law to cook foods with additional flavourings such as garlic, onion, ginger or any type of spice because it is thought that spicy, hot or strong smelling foods excite emotion, which is outside of a Monks calm nature. The majority of their meals are carbohydrate rich, usually consisting of noodles and/ or bread with the most commonly consumed noodles being rice, wheat and starch noodles. Water or any fluid isn’t consumed during eating because it is thought to hinder their digestion, whilst alcohol WILL NOT be consumed and is strictly forbidden (my kind of people).
Some Monks are allowed meat
Another class of Shaolin Monks are allowed to consume meat, these are known as Shaolin warrior monks who train in martial arts but do not take the same vows as a Buddhist Monk meaning they do not have to be vegetarian and assumedly can even consume alcohol. This class of Monk may find their meals a little more filling due to the protein, and can enjoy some of the treats many of us westerners can enjoy. With this said, you could offer a Monk a burger with the promise of no one ever finding out and no doubt it would be thrown right back at your face. Like with any dietary regime, you have to be committed to it 100% embedding it as a lifestyle and not a one off fix. The Shaolin Monks know only this, and want nothing else but this because they are committed and dedicated to it. If the Western world could draw from some of this discipline then the obesity ‘epidemic’ as they call it would no doubt cease to exist, incidence of diabetes and diabetic control would be markedly reduced, and overall quality of life would improve for many…trouble is, too many people just can’t be bothered!
Livestrong.com, (2014). Shaolin Temple Diet. Retrieved 7th August, 2014, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/486492-shaolin-temple-diet/