J & J Catering is proud to feature Macrobiotic, Vegan & Vegetarian Cooking.  

A macrobiotic diet (or macrobiotics), from the Greek "macro" (large, long) and "bios" (life), is a dietary regimen that involves eating grains as a staple food supplemented with other foodstuffs such as vegetables and beans, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods. Macrobiotics also addresses the manner of eating by recommending against overeating and requiring that food be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.

Philosophy

Followers of the macrobiotic approach believe that food and food quality powerfully affect health, well-being, and happiness, and that a macrobiotic diet has more beneficial effects than others. The macrobiotic approach suggests choosing food that is less processed.

One goal of macrobiotics is to become sensitive to the actual effects of foods on health and well-being, rather than to follow dietary rules and regulations. Dietary guidelines, however, help in developing sensitivity and an intuitive sense for what sustains health and well-being.

Macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, pulses (legumes), vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy products and fruit, combined into meals according to the principle of balance (known as yin and yang). Whole grains and whole-grain products such as brown rice and buckwheat pasta (soba), a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, beans and bean products, mild natural seasonings, fish, nuts and seeds, mild (non-stimulating) beverages such as bancha twig tea and fruit are recommended.

Important macrobiotic theorists, including George Ohsawa and Michio Kushi, stress the fact that yin and yang are relative qualities that can only be determined in a comparison. Every single thing in the universe has both yin and yang factors, but one will always be dominant over the other. Yin and yang are considered properties of energy and they bring about, cause, or enhance certain movements or conditions. For example, in macrobiotics as discussed here, some yang qualities are considered compact, dense, heavy, hot, whereas yin qualities are considered expansive, light, cold, and dark. For instance, take a carrot. It is neither yin nor yang by itself. The orange, dense, hard part of the carrot is yang in comparison to the leafy, expansive, light-seeking, green tops, which would be considered more yin. But that same "yang" orange carrot would be considered more yin in relation to another object that was even more yang than the orange carrot, say a ginger root, which is even more dense and hard and heating than a carrot. The carrot's sweetness compared to ginger's lack of sweetness makes it more yin compared to ginger. So it is impossible in macrobiotics to say that a food or a person or any one thing "is yin" or "is yang."

And yet, macrobiotic people use terms like yin and yang all the time to characterize food, and the important question to ask is: "yang in comparison to what" or "yin in comparison to what"? The unspoken gold standard of this kind of easy qualification of a food as yin or yang is brown rice. Brown rice and other whole grains such as barley, millet, oats, quinoa, spelt, rye, and teff are considered by macrobiotics to be the foods in which yin and yang are closest to being in perfect balance. Therefore, lists of macrobiotic foods that determine a food as yin or yang are really saying that food is yin or yang in comparison to a whole grain.

Nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant; also spinach, beets and avocados are not recommended, or used sparingly at most, in macrobiotic cooking, as they are considered extremely yin. Some macrobiotic practitioners also discourage the use of nightshades because of the alkaloid solanine, thought to affect calcium balance.

Macrobiotics is considered an approach to life rather than a diet. Some general guidelines for the diet are the following (it is also said that a macrobiotic diet varies greatly, depending on geographical and life circumstances):
  • Well chewed whole cereal grains, especially brown rice: 40–60%
  • Vegetables: 25–30%
  • Beans and legumes: 5–10%
  • Miso soup: 5%
  • Sea vegetables: 5%
  • Traditionally or naturally processed foods: 5–10%

Fish and seafood, seeds and nuts, seed and nut butters, seasonings, sweeteners, fruits, and beverages may be enjoyed occasionally, 2-3 times per week. Other naturally raised animal products may be included if needed during dietary transition or according to individual needs.

Macrobiotics vs. Veganism

A macrobiotic diet includes many of the same foods as vegan diets, but in macrobiotics some types of fish are accepted for occasional use. The two dietary styles share enough similarities that a vegan version of macrobiotics is not uncommon.

Macrobiotics is based on traditional ways of eating . While there are no completely vegan cultures among them, the longest-lived cultures around the world consume between 70% and 99% whole plant foods, according to John Robbins, a well-known vegan advocate, in Healthy at 100. The American Dietetic Association approves of carefully planned vegan diets. In the words of the Association, "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.... It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases." However, as part of their dietary guidelines, the association did not opine against meat consumption, recommending that healthy adults eat lean meat, poultry, fish or beans each day, as lean meat has many essential nutrients without excess fat or cholesterol.

On the other hand, according to the USDA's discussion of its current food pyramid, "Dry beans and peas are part of this [meat and beans] group as well as the vegetable group. ... Fish, nuts, and seeds contain healthy oils, so choose these foods frequently instead of meat or poultry." Under the heading "Why is it important to include fish, nuts, and seeds?" they say, "Many people do not make varied choices from this food group, selecting meat or poultry everyday as their main dishes."

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