A few weeks ago I went for lunch with a friend to a raw vegan restaurant in Santa Monica called Euphoria Loves Rawvolution. The Rawvolution logo is a drawing of a naked hippy couple kissing. They offer hemp seed tabouli and there is a kelp noodle section on the menu. This would usually be more than enough to have me run screaming to the nearest In N Out, but instead I paused and noticed something about the folks in this place. They all looked amazing. They were healthy with great skin and clear eyes. I don't think it was just because I was on the west side. I wanted what they had.
Digestive problems have been my normal for many years. I have tried cutting out gluten, limiting lactose, eliminating food coloring and additives. I have juice cleansed and Master Cleansed, all in search of a day free of stomachaches and other “issues.” Ahem. I just wanted to feel better.
The next day I committed to one week of raw vegan eating, but first I had to figure out what that meant.
According to Wikipedia, Raw Veganism excludes all food and products of animal origin, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 118 °F). A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, and fresh juices. There are many different versions of the diet, including fruitarianism, juicearianism, and sproutarianism. The definition of a raw vegan diet can be loosened to include vegan diets with at least 75–80% raw foods. I went to the nearest Whole Foods and wandered around.
When Eleanor Roosevelt said,” You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” I believe she was referring to eating “cashew cheese.” There are a lot of raw vegan recipes on the internet that are quite involved and sound sort of terrible. I decided to go slow. The first few days I was eating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables and throwing in some kimchee and gallons of guacamole. I was trying to find my way. I was feeling pretty good, never hungry, and drinking less coffee. (Oh yeah, I decided to keep my non-raw coffee habit because coffee is my co-pilot.) I had shed a few pounds and even when eating in a restaurant I was able to find something that wasn’t off limits.
I committed to another week.
The first few days of week two, I got the stomach flu. At first I thought it might be a reaction to my new “lifestyle,” but poor Bob had it too and he was eating his usual fare. I ate a lot of bananas. I ate coconut oil. I made it through.
At an LA vegan place, Café Gratitude, I ordered a raw wrap called, “I Am Happy.” I was self-conscious when I ordered so I just asked for “The Happy,” like that somehow made it okay. When my to-go order was ready I was asked the question of the day, “What are you exploring?” I was exploring why I couldn’t order food at this place that didn’t sound like a bumper sticker on the back of a VW van. The wrap was good though, probably because I hadn’t eaten anything that resembled a real sandwich in a few weeks.
I am now in my third week of raw. My digestive issues are gone. I feel pretty good. I am learning how to do this without handing over my wallet at Whole Foods. I do think this way of eating would be more palatable to the masses without the 1969 zen-style theme running through everything. But what do I know? It’s working for me. So far.
Namaste. (Just kidding. Sort of.)