People ask me all the time: "How do you eat raw vegan? It seems way too hard!" But you know what I think is really hard? NOT eating raw vegan! Today alone, I 1) listened to NPR’s story on palm oil, and how that’s causing environmental destruction, 2) signed a petition against the use of BPAs in Progresso’s soup cans, and 3) yapped with a friend about GMOs. And that’s only the tip of the (rapidly melting) iceberg! What about all the uproar around high fructose corn syrup, "bad fats," antibiotic use in farm animals, leaching of toxic chemicals into foods and beverages, diseases of the fork (diabetes, heart disease etc.), fish-farming nightmares (I call them "fissues"–badaboom) and factory farming horrors, just to name a few? We didn’t ask for all this, but these problems are just part of our lives now–everywhere we turn it seems there is yet another food danger! How can anyone keep up!? Impossible. Makes you want to give up and open another bag of Double Stuffs, right? But what if you could easily avoid it all and spend ZERO TIME reading food labels or attempting to keep up on the latest toxic substance? Wouldn’t you like to quit frying your brain trying to remember which additives are in what foods, and, for the truly obsessed, stop memorizing lists of technical terms for substances that may have you consuming them unawares (e.g., MSG–a neurotoxin, btw–has at least 23 pseudonyms)? Well guess what?
YOU CAN. Here’s a healthy and profoundly simple solution: Eat Raw Organic Vegan Foods.
I realize not everyone wants to commit to the unique adjustments necessary to eat this way, but imagine not ever again worrying about the health factor of what you eat. What if EVERYTHING you consumed was good for you? Seriously! That’s my life! Sure, I’ve got to make sure I’m eating a variety and a good balance of foods, and true, sometimes I indulge in too much sugar (you would not BELIEVE the raw vegan cheesecakes!), but my body can handle this. My body, and yours, knows what to do with Real Food; eating this way eliminates any illness-inducing body-system-confusion about how to process or store what we eat. Not true with trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup, or genetically modified anything. The food I eat is what my body LOVES, 100%. I know this not only because of the research, but also because I’m super healthy and I FEEL amazing! After taking prescription medications for over 20 years for a variety of health woes, I’m now med-free! My doctor even refuses to test my cholesterol and sugar levels anymore, unless, she says, I change my diet significantly. Fat chance!
Somewhere along the way we were distracted and re-routed from eating what our bodies need, to eating what companies wanted to sell us. But now, particularly with the increasing availability of organic, non-GMO, unprocessed foods in Sacramento and surrounding communities (local farmer’s markets are a windfall, and you can’t go wrong at the Co op!), we can make healthier choices without much hassle. Oh yeah, and if you’re eating raw organic vegan, not only is shopping WAY easier (just shop the store perimeter), but you’re also relieving the planet of tons of landfull-bound packaging, keeping pesticides out of our air and water, saving the lives of more than 100 animals per year and generally benefitting the environment in other countless and significant ways.
But why is eating raw vegan often percieved as, well, "weird?" A few reasons come to mind: a) all our lives we’ve been indoctrinated with the belief that we need meat and milk to be healthy (we don’t), b) we’ve grown up thinking that real food comes in cans and bags and boxes and has to be cooked–just eating plants seems "unnatural" (aaaaaand that’s how far out of whack we are, people), c) from this perspective, it can be difficult to imagine raw food tasting good (it does!) and d) processed food is just SO darned readily available.
I’m not saying there aren’t challenges to eating raw vegan; there are–and, after several years of eating this way myself, I believe I’ve dealt with most of them. I always say that finding raw vegan food at a typical restaurant is like finding a bolt of fabric at Macy’s: everthing’s made from it, but finding the thing itself can sometimes be next to impossible. I do get tired of ordering salads, which is why I created the More Than Just Leaves Coalition to encourage local restaurants to offer more raw vegan menu options. But I don’t eat out all that often, and if I do, I can always find SOMETHING on the menu to munch on, as eating out is more of a social thing for me than anything else. Think about this: most likely, you ALREADY eat a lot of raw vegan foods (guacamole, fruits etc.), and you could just add more of them. You don’t have to eat completely raw vegan diet (after all, it’s not a contest, it’s just about eating healthier and helping the planet), and the more raw vegan food you eat, the better. Every little bit counts!
All that said, everyone has their own path to tread, and not any one path is right for everyone. But if what you’re looking for is health and freedom in the food department and you’re willing to let go of some preconceived notions and make a few adjustments, eating raw organic vegan is a bit of a panacea. Plus, eating fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds is food is to live for. Yum!