Macrobiotics is a dietary system created by Sagen Ishizuka and developed into its present form by George Ohsawa (1893-1966). It is based on the belief that physical and psychological health is only possible by eating organically grown whole grains, foods, and seeds (unprocessed). It is not necessarily vegetarian as macrobiotics includes eating fish.
Interestingly enough, similar types of food fads were popular during the time of the Buddha. This movement was called ‘Purification through Food’ (Āhārena Suddhī). People would eat only green vegetables, millet, beans, rice, rice bran or the powder from rice husks. Some taught that one should eat only fruit while others argue that it was ethical to eat only wild fruit that had fallen from the tree (M.I,80). Another version of these notions was that the solution to all human problems was the fruit of the Jujube Tree (Zizyphus jujube). This fruit, called kola, was eaten whole or mashed, its juice was drunk or it was prepared in various other ways. Some enthusiasts would eat only one kola fruit a day (M.I,80). The Buddha mentioned that before his enlightenment he had practised some of these diets but had given them up as they changed his body for the worse without changing his mind for the better (M.I,81). Whatever the nutritional benefits of food fads like macrobiotics, they do not, according to Buddhism, address the essential issue, human happiness and how it can be attained.
- Buddhism A to Z. Ven. Dhammika, 2007.