At age 22, some men are preoccupied with partying, but Prem chose a spiritual path — preparing vegetarian meals at a men’s ashram where he remains today, eight years later. As the head chef at The Self-Realization Fellowship’s Hidden Valley Ashram in North San Diego County, Prem cooks breakfast and lunch for anywhere from 30-150 men daily.
While the monastics reside permanently, residents and retreatants stay at the ashram for shorter periods. Self-Realization Fellowship shares the meditation technique of Kriya yoga, which can be practiced by followers of any or no religion. They eat a vegetarian diet because according to guru Sri Yukteswar in his book The Holy Science, human intestines are too long to digest meat without it rotting and creating diseases, and humans don’t have incisors for cutting meat, which suggests our body is not designed to eat meat. Also, if someone smelled raw meat, their first biological response would be repulsion, suggesting meat is not something humans should naturally be consuming.
Keeping these vegetarian nutrition principles in mind, Prem whips up meals like brown rice, dahl, and steamed veggies, or Pad Thai and coconut soup. His specialty is featuring the best recipes from different regions of the world. Next year, he’ll publish Top 5, a cookbook with the leading five vegetarian recipes of every major country in the world.
Calling himself “philosophically vegetarian,” Prem has not eaten beef or pork for 9 years and wants to remove chicken and fish from his diet, becoming mostly raw vegan. Prem was influenced by what he read about vegetarian nutrition in the book The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The book states that according to research with the Chinese population, people who are healthier avoid all animal products, and those eating animal products, including dairy, experience more significant health problems.
When away from his studies and out on the town, Prem likes to dine in Encinitas at veg-friendly Lotus Cafe or Swami’s, or in San Diego, he’ll visit Evolution Fast Food (formerly Nature’s Express). He’s also an innovative musician, so keep your eye out for this one-of-a-kind man!