How to stop believing in Ayurveda

If you look at Volker Mehl, you would hardly believe that this tall man with both feet on the ground could have anything to do with Ayurveda. At first glance, one could speak of a piece of the puzzle that just doesn't fit into the picture. But if you hear Volker speak of Ayurveda, everything clears up more and more. His logical approaches, especially as far as Ayurvedic nutrition is concerned, are well thought out and coherent - and suddenly it becomes clear to you that the unsuitable piece of the puzzle is not Volker, but your own thinking about a healing art that is more than 5,000 years old.

Volker Mehl was born in Mannheim in 1976. He grew up in southern Hesse and now lives in Munich. There are many detours to his professional beginnings. He studied theology for a while and tried his hand at training as an insurance salesman until he finally found his personal and professional calling as an Ayurveda health advisor in 2006. He now has his own Ayurveda cooking school, appears in various cooking shows and also advises many competitive athletes, including professionals such as cross-country Olympic champion Evi Sachsenbacher-Stehle. He also advises hotels and restaurants on the implementation and conception of Ayurvedic and vegan dishes. For example, the five-star Boutique Hotel Louis in Munich and the Mediterana in Cologne, Europe's largest sauna and wellness facility.

Everyone who experiences Volker Mehl at work can feel his joy in conveying the topic of Ayurveda. In our interview he reveals what fascinates him about Ayurveda:

worlds of food: How does a native of South Hesse come to be an Ayurveda health advisor?
Volker: Admittedly, South Hesse is not exactly known as an Ayurveda stronghold and in some places some people from my hometown still believe that I organize sales evenings for aloe vera. Incidentally, that was also one of the reasons why I came to Munich, because here you are already much further in this relationship. To your question: I came into contact with holistic healing methods for the first time over 20 years ago. My father had a plasmacytoma, a rare combination of blood and bone cancer. He was also treated with holistic therapies by his family doctor at the time, and very successfully. Because he was discharged from the hospital with the prognosis of a life expectancy of only 6 months and thanks to the alternative procedures it turned out to be 11 years. That impressed me extremely, and from then on it was clear to me that at some point I would also like to work in this area. After various detours, I came across Ayurveda. I was fascinated from the start and in 2006 I trained in Ayurveda. During this training I felt that my main interests were in the field of nutrition and herbal medicine, and since cooking has always been my great passion, it was natural to go in this direction.

worlds of food: What does Ayurveda mean for you personally? How did it affect your life?
Volker Mehl: I get up in the morning with Ayurveda and go to bed with Ayurveda in the evening. Thanks to Ayurveda, I have developed a completely different sensitivity towards myself and my environment. Ayurveda has a lot to do with respect and appreciation for oneself. In Ayurveda, you see each individual as part of a whole, and just because I can use a laptop, I am not outside this system. I am just a grain of sand in the desert and not the king of the desert. For me, this awareness has nothing to do with willless disposition, but with the certainty of being part of a larger whole.

This knowledge is the basis of many Ayurvedic recommendations. Personally, I have become more resolute when it comes to my diet. Specifically, this means that I no longer eat anything thoughtlessly just so that I have something in my stomach. Because food is the elementary essence for our mental and physical well-being. I don't run around my car with a hammer and knock in dents, why should I do it with my body ?!

worlds of food: It is the case that many people in Germany are critical of Ayurveda. What experiences have you had so far and have you been able to prove the critics wrong?
Volker Mehl: In my experience, the main problem is often that many don't really know what Ayurveda actually means and what is behind it. Most people know Ayurveda as an item in the wellness brochure of their holiday hotel. But this is only a minimal excerpt and, by the way, not entirely without risks, because not every therapy is equally suitable for everyone. But when people get involved with Ayurveda, many are amazed at how simple and logical it is. In principle, Ayurveda is not about teaching someone or proving that it is the only way of salvation. Ayurveda is rather an invitation to fall back on this wealth of knowledge that is thousands of years old in order to keep one's physical and mental balance in balance and thus healthy as long as possible.

worlds of food: And how do you teach that to the critical reader?
Volker Mehl: We humans function primarily through our senses, and I am in the fortunate position of being able to appeal to all of the senses while cooking. So I can save myself long explanations, because people have ayurveda on their plate and can find out what Ayurveda is all about. Above all, I want to convey a new perspective on nutrition and cooking. In Ayurveda, cooking itself is a wonderful mixture of mindfulness, self-respect, enjoyment and joie de vivre.

worlds of food: Ayurveda to get to know. What do you have on offer for the reader?
Volker Mehl: In my cooking school you can regularly take Ayurveda cooking courses that are suitable for both beginners and Ayurveda insiders. I also offer individual nutritional advice and cooking workshops. In addition to the courses at the cooking school, I also regularly go to seminars and workshops across Germany. From October also in Munich for joint yoga and Ayurveda workshops in the Jivamukti Yoga Center by Dr. Patrick Broome in Schwabing.

worlds of food: You are doing the cooking series "What does ...?" with us. What do you want to convey to the reader?
Volker Mehl: Above all, the immense potential of Ayurvedic nutrition for competitive athletes. Here in particular, the highly individual approach of Ayurveda offers interesting approaches and concepts.

worlds of food: Thank you, Volker. We are really looking forward to your recipes!
Volker Mehl: With pleasure.