Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet
Eating with the World in Mind
- PUBLISHED: March 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir, Food, Asian Studies / South Asia, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 264 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 10 b&w illus.
- SERIES: Global South Asia
- ISBN: 9780295744964
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Mahatma Gandhi redefined nutrition as fundamental to building a more just world. What he chose to eat was intimately tied to his beliefs, and his key values of nonviolence, religious tolerance, and rural sustainability developed in tandem with his dietary experiments. His repudiation of sugar, chocolate, and salt expressed his active resistance 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 twenty-first-century food debates and the need to build healthier and more equitable global food systems.
Authors & Contributors
Nico Slate is professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India and editor of Black Power beyond Borders: The Global Dimensions of the Black Power Movement.
[Slate] finds a new angle on one of the most consequential leaders of the last century, and then he fills in that angle with nuts and milk and fruit. You don’t see many portraits like this one, constructed out of all the food that made the man.- Seattle Review of Books
This illustration is so simple, yet so clever. It’s so striking and playful.- Spine Magazine
Brings a new perspective to a familiar figure through an investigation of the archive of diet.- New Books Network
Will be of significant interest to Gandhi scholars and to those with a commitment to exploring the ethics, sociology, and history of food.- Choice
A marvelous and well-written book.- Food Anthropology
[A] deft and careful exploration of the philosophical underpinnings of Gandhi’s dietary views.- Journal of Asian Studies
[D]eep, wise book about the eating life of one of the moral giants of the modern world.- Arab News
Nico Slate’s fascinating account reveals Gandhi as an evidence-based, self-experimenting nutrition guru who tried one diet after another—vegan, raw, calorie restriction—in his quest for physical and spiritual health. Above all, Slate explains Gandhi’s use of fasting as a political means to inspire India to achieve independence.- Marion Nestle, author of Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
A wonderful book that focuses on the issue of Gandhi’s obsessive preoccupation with diet reform and food in general, pointing out how intricately meshed were the Mahatma’s ideas and practices concerning eating, morality, ethics, and political activism.- Joseph Alter, author of Gandhi's Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism
Slate makes many significant contributions to the study of Gandhian embodied ethics as well as to studies of food justice and alimentary politics.- Parama Roy, author of Alimentary Tracts: Appetites, Aversions, and the Postcolonial
Slate’s book is an engaging foray into the details of Gandhi’s dietary obsessions, leaving readers to judge for themselves whether a ‘perfect diet’ is attainable or even desirable.- Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism