International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


EDIBLE GREENS
N. Ramaswami Pillai

Truth exists always. It will never change. Ever and everywhere sattvic leaves are the only supreme food and medicine, so far as vegetable food is concerned. There is nothing to equal them and they are only equal to themselves, It is no mere exaggeration to say that these sattvic leaves are the priceless nectar for the human race. They are the unique source of all goodness for man. No other food or medicine contains such essential, important, and valuable substance in such large amounts. Our modern scientists have found a few of the essential health factors called "vitamins" and "mineral salts," but there are many more such substances which cannot be discovered by western experimental methods, because they are abundant sources of Divine Power - subtle, immortal, marvellous, and unknown. They are the first creation of vital source and give the very lease of life. They are, therefore, the first protective and primary food and medicine. They supply all substances that are deficient in our bodily system. They are always doing good. Even if a dose is excessive, to a certain extent, it never does positive harm. Its curative power is marvellous. These greens help very much the growth and development of the body. They never do mere surface work. They remove radically and completely the real cause of disease, so their effects are deep, penetrating. and everlasting. They give protection to the body by offering more effective power to resist disease, that is, to maintain a higher level of health. thus rejuvenating man. Thus they are bestowed and sent by the Lord & Almighty for the sake of man, to liberate him from disease, that he may obtain all prosperity through health a,nd happiness.

Leaves are Innumerable

All leaves are not edible and not useful for man. Sattvic herbs and greens for food and medicine are especially created and bestowed with blessings upon humanity by Mother Nature, in order to protect man from disease and to uplift the human race.

The Hindu religion describes the qualities of Sattva. Rajas, and Tamas and their effects. The unique Bhagavad Gita says emphatically that man should eliminate the Rajasic and Tamasic foods, if he would be healthy, holy, and happy Therefore, man can find his own food with the help of Nature - food of a sattvic character. One can find in the teachings of Stanza 9 of the 17th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita that foods having an excess of any one of the six tastes or flavours are rajasic and disease producing also. Thus we can infer that bland or mild-tasting foods are sattvic and health-giving also. In applying this rule to edible leaves, the mild tasting leaves are considered as sattvic. But one cannot place a food by mere taste. It should also be identified by qualities and effects upon the user. So sattvic leaves denote only those herbs and greens which are completely harmless and health-giving. The non-sattvic leaves are not good for man, they may be suitable foods for other living beings.

Research work over a period of some fifteen years has taught me that there are in India. about one hundred plants, including herbs and greens, that are suitable to be taken as food and medicine. These were identified by qualities and actions when continuously eaten. The sattvic leaves can be divided into two groups : those that are comparatively tasteless and those which have a mild flavour. The first group leaves superior in sattvic quality and even the second group are completely harmless and moreover rich in medicinal qualities.

Herein are given the names of the edible sattvic greens, those most familiar and common to our peopIe. They are also available and sold in the markets of such cities as Bangalore, Mysore, Madras, Madurai, Trichy, Vellore, Tangore, etc. The word "greens'' means plant leaves which are cooked and eaten for food - they are eaten in larger quantity than herbs. Though herbs are not usually cooked as greens, and are taken in lesser quantities, from them many preparations such as raw juice, powder, confections, and decoctions, are being made. Our ancestors used many more varieties of greens for food and medicine than we do. They ate not only the common greens of the Amaranth race but also sattvic greens of wild varieties. Even now we see, only too rarely, the good habit of collecting and eating all kinds of edible greens which grow wild in abundance around us.

Robust health vigour, and long life are possible only by the eating of liberal quantities of protective foods only. World famous authorities on and nutritional research, like McCarrison, McCollum, Sherman, Kellogg, and a host of others also have come to this very same conclusion.

"Some food stuffs such as green leafy vegetables, tubers,, and root vegetables and are rich in alkali-producing elements and poor in acid-producing ones, while others, such as meat, dhals, pulses, nuts and cereal grains are rich in acid-producing ones, and poor in alkali-producing ones. The green leaves of plants are always rich in just those minerals salts in which the seeds such grains and nuts are poor. So it is necessary when our food consists largely of such cereal grains as wheat, rice, cholam, cambu, ratgi, maize or barley, or when we eat flesh or meat, that we should also eat plentifully of the green leaves of plants.'"
- McCarrison

Vitamins are very essential food factors which are present in a, very small quantity in all natural food stuffs of men and animals. They are certain organic and life-giving substances the presence of which is very necessary for the maintenance of health and growth. Their absence or deficiency in food prevents growth of body and gives rise to disease and causes death ultimately. Dr. McCarrison shows us that we need not eat vitamins separately, because mineral and vitamins always appear in a combined state when they are in their natural condition: "A good rule to remember is that when the grains we eat contain vitamins, they will also contain some of the building-materials (mineral salts and proteins) needed by our bodies; and that when vitamins are lacking in foods made from these grains, mineral salts or proteins will be lacking too, unless our food contains other materials which provide them."

Plants are the very basis of all vitamins, including carotene and ergosterol. All vitamins are found in leaves when they are in the fresh and raw state. The following quotations are informative:

"Vitamin A is made by the action of sunlight on the green leaves of plants. Animals do not seem to be able to make it for themselves: they can only get it by eating plants or the fats and organs of plant-eating animals. The young leaves and shoots of growing plants contain more of it." - Robert McCarrison

"It is in greens Vitamin A is found and it contains higher concentration than is contained in any part of the plant. From leaves Vitamin A passes on to seeds embryo and tips of growing shoots and tubers. High colouring matter of greens and yellow is accompanied by Vitamin A. The thinner and greener the leaf, the richer it is apt to be in Vitamin A." - Sherman

"It (Vitamin B) occurs chiefly in the seed or fruit of the plants, though it is also present in their green leaves." - McCarrison

"Vitamin C occurs plentifully in all fresh green vegetables, in edible green leaves, and in most fruits, though some contain more of it than others." - McCarrison

It is also said that leaves develop Vitamin D under sunlight.

Constipation is a primary disease in itself and is one of the imp[ortant causes in all diseases. But cellulose and roughage in vegetables help to some extent to prevent and remove constipation.

The Laboratory of Nature

So we see the importance and efficiency of leaves. They are superior to other parts of a tree such as the roots, bark, seeds and fruits. Without leaves a plant cannot live. Plants from which the leaves are often plucked do not grow vigorously nor yield good results, and sometimes even die. The surface of all other parts of it. Leaves alone are directly exposed to sunlight. Plants extract all essential substances from earth, air, water, and sunlight, in an inorganic state. These essential substances go to the leaves directly wherein is the mysterious laboratory of Nature. There with the help of the sun-rays and the substance chlorophyll found in great quantity in the leaves, inorganic substances are converted into organic matter which is then distributed to all parts of the plant. The work of digestion takes place only in the leaves.

In "The Newer Knowledge of Nutrition," Dr. E. V. McCollum says: "The leaves of all plants appear to be complete from the nutritive standpoint. It is quite otherwise with seed products, tubers, and fruits . . . the leaf of the plant is a complete food whereas none of the storage organs of plant seeds, tubers, roots, or fruits enjoy this distinction....

"The leaf is the site of the synthesis of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and is rich in actively functioning cells. The cells contain everything which is necessary for the metabolic processes and they supply all the nutrients which an animal requires....

"Since the edible leaves are not only complete, nutritionally, in themselves but also have supplemental values not possessed by other products of vegetable origin, Dr. McCollum recommends making suitable combinations in which, irrespective of the other foods used, a liberal quota of leafy vegetables is included."

Dr. Kellogg says: "For a complete dietary it would be necessary to add to fruits and nuts a liberal supply of green leaves in the form of greens; on such a diet carefully selected, life might be sustained for an indefinite length of time."

The final report of the League of Nations on the relation of Nutrition to Health, Agriculture, and Economic Policy states:

"The abundance of minerals and vitamins in green vegetables and the special character of protein, although present in small quantities, makes them of great value, specially as supplementary to a diet containing cereals. Just as in pastoral communities, the defects of a cereal diet may be corrected with milk and other dairy products, so under the circumstances correction may be obtained by green vegetables."

So we see all the unique substances are found in excess only in leaves. As without leaves a plant cannot live, so we cannot live hale and healthy for a long time without eating leaves. Thus everyone needs not only sattvic food, but also foods rich in organic alkaline salts, vitamins, and cellulose to eliminate disease and to improve, protect, and restore a long-lived health. Such needed food factors in sufficient quantity we can find in leafy vegetables or the leaves of herbs and greens of a sattvic type. For this reason daily we must take more leaves than all the other food-stuffs. Hence using sattvic and greens is scientific and rational.

SATTVIC GREENS

Amaranth Family (1-6)

  1. Amaranthus Gangeticus
  2. Amaranthus Tristis (Cultivated)
  3. Amaranthus Tristis (Wild)
  4. Amaranthus Campestris (Cultivated)
  5. Amaranthus Campestris (Wild)
  6. Kuppai keerai [a wild Aramanth]
  7. Chicoria Endivia
  8. Veronie Civerea
  9. Alternanthera sessiles (cultivated)
  10. Alternanthera sessiles (wild)
  11. Corander leaf
  12. Cabbage
  13. Chenopodium
  14. Chunnambu keerai
  15. Chandi Keerai
  16. Indian Spinach
  17. Celosia Albida
  18. Common India Parselane
  19. Brown Indian Hemp
  20. Marsh Mint
  21. Vurry Leaf
  22. Eclipta Erecta
  23. Indian Sorrel
  24. Solanum Nigrum
  25. Drumstick leaves
  26. Radish garden leaves
  27. Indian pennywort
  28. Convolvulus Repens
  29. Fenugreek
  30. Caravella Plant Leaf
  31. Melochia Corchorifolie