Substitute for Brandy


Since alcohol is to be avoided while on the spiritual path, is it best to avoid remedies like — the Bach Flower Essences, or cooking ingr. like — vanilla ext. since they do contain alcohol? I once used an equal amt. of brandy for the 1 tsp. of vanilla called for in a recipe, as I was out of vanilla, making sure to cook it well.

(The only other purpose for that brandy is, for flower essence prep.!)

If it is best to avoid the above items, might you know of some alternatives?


—Ron, USA


Dear Ron,

Paramhasa Yogananda recommended to avoid alcohol or any other substances that cause addictions, and prevent us from tuning into God-consciousness and perceiving God.

Brandy is used to preserve certain medicines and foods.

A little bit of brandy/alcohol for medicinal purposes is fine. The Bach flower-essences use very little Brandy.

When using vanilla extract, the brandy does burn off in cooking.

For the flower essences, if a person is allergic or needs to use cautious with the brandy content, the flower essence can be applied topically like perfume (which also has alcohol as well as some hair products, etc.).

A person can also place 2-4 drops of the flower essence in boiling tea so that the brandy steams off, and then drink it.

For someone who is preparing a flower essence, some people use vegetable glycerin but the shelf-life is a great deal shorter without the alcohol preservative.

I hope this is helpful.


Nayaswami Diksha