When viewed from a materialistic standpoint it would seem that substance is our first need in the form of food. Viewed from the spiritual, the first requisites would be the subtler forms of nourishment gained by breathing fresh air, bathing in sunshine, and drinking pure water. The priorities alter with one’s perception but certainly the argument that food is top priority is flawed when we can exist in good health for weeks without food, only days without water, only minutes without air. However, although it may reasonably lose its place as top priority, nourishment through food is certainly top of the list for many of us and assumes a very important part of daily life and often daily indulgences.
The yogi chooses food which is fresh and natural as he sees the natural product is his measure of quality. He judges for himself the degree of prana which foods contain, calling the most vital of them the sattwic, or highest grade food. Consequently he is vegetarian in his eating habits. Manufactured commercial foods are avoided as much as possible as most of them contain little life or prana – and seen as dead food by comparison with vital fresh foods. In addition, commercial foods often contain chemical additives and stimulants and this classes them as tamasic or rajasic foods. Commercial and carbonated soft drinks, coca cola and others, along with alcoholic drinks are either avoided altogether, as in the diet of children, or very limited in their consumption.