Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet

Nico Slate
Mahatma Gandhi redefined nutrition as a holistic approach to building a more just world. What he chose to eat was intimately tied to his beliefs. His key values of nonviolence, religious tolerance, and rural sustainability developed in coordination with his dietary experiments. His repudiation of sugar, chocolate, and salt expressed his opposition to economies based on slavery, indentured labor, and imperialism. Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet sheds new light on important periods in Gandhi’s life as they relate to his developing food ethic: his student years in London, his politicization as a young lawyer in South Africa, the 1930 Salt March challenging British colonialism, and his fasting as a means of self-purification and social protest during India’s struggle for independence. What became the pillars of Gandhi’s diet—vegetarianism, limiting salt and sweets, avoiding processed food, and fasting—anticipated many of the debates in twenty-first-century food studies, and presaged the necessity of building healthier and more equitable food systems.

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