I was listening to a lecture by Dr John McDougall tonight for my eCornell course in Plant based nutrition and was reminded about a passage from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Dr. McDougall was talking about how one of his first exposures to lifestyle medicine was reading about how Daniel asked the guard who was appointed to oversee him and Ananaiah, Mishael, and Azariah to “test your servants for 10 days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see. So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.” – Daniel 1:12-16.
By way of explanation, Daniel had been taken captive by the King of Babylon who asked for his officials to bring in young Israelites from the royal family and nobility, “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve in the king’s palace He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for 3 years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.”
In this passage, it says that Daniel chose not to defile himself with the royal food and wine and the official was afraid the king would be upset if he saw Daniel looking worse than the other young men and the king would have his head. The notes in one of my study bibles says that the king’s food would have defiled Daniel as it had probably been offered to idols and had not been prepared with attention to the Jewish dietary laws, and would therefore have been unclean. It also may have included meats forbidden by Jewish law. However, since there were no unclean vegetables, this may have been why the men switched to a vegetarian diet.
Regardless of why the men switched to a vegetarian diet, I still think it’s cool that at the end of 10 days, the young men who ate veggies and drank water looked healthier and better nourished than any of the men who ate the royal food. Not a scientific study, but nonetheless, many people report dramatic health benefits after short periods of time on a plant based diet. In our first 28 day challenge group in February, three people in our group came back after a week on plant based foods talking about how they had lost aches and pains, felt great, enjoyed the food, and were hooked for life. So I say, great job to Daniel back around 600 B.C. for his 10 day plant based challenge!
Breakfast – Oatmeal with blueberries, raisins, banana, shredded wheat, grape nuts, and almond milk
Lunch- Leftover rice and beans
Supper- Salad, a piece of whole wheat bread, whole wheat penne pasta and sauce at a local Italian restaurant.
This is interesting, just found this link to the “Daniel fast diet” Guess what foods it includes?– Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, seeds. Sound familiar? It is an interesting spin that they call this way of eating fasting. I call it feasting! There are books that recommend it as a way of fasting for spiritual growth. Many of us have found this way of eating to promote better mental and spiritual health. Any thoughts?