This is a guest post by Liz Longacre.
My husband and I, and a few courageous friends, have spent the month of January on a raw food ‘live-it’. My husband suggested it and it fit perfectly in line with the current evolution of my relationship with food. So with a big fat “I love you”, I quickly agreed. I love a man who can challenge me!
I’ve been on what you could call a spiritual food journey. I’ve been exploring the relationship between eating in a way that’s right for animals, the environment and my own health. More and more I’ve been taking things back to wise old Mama Nature. Our food production system just seems to have strayed so far from what nature intended. The health and environmental consequences being inflicted upon us as a result are clearly screaming “go back”!! In this case, going backward may really be the best way to go forward.
“Nature” has many definitions. The simplest being “the world of living things”. Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated with this world, drawn to it, captivated and comforted by it. Perhaps growing up in New York City helped me to appreciate the times I would get to fully immerse myself in all of nature’s wonders. Walking through the woods by a lake with my dog on family vacations was always my simple version of Utopia.
My fascination with nature first and foremost always included a love of animals. To me, animals are magical. They are the essence of nature, it’s most instinctual creatures, so full of emotion and sixth sense wisdom, so beautiful and so strong, yet so vulnerable…
It’s this love for animals that led me to start a travel business completely dedicated to their welfare. It’s also what led me to be a vegetarian for 12 years and, once I educated myself on our factory farming system, a vegan for the past year. Once I began my vegan journey, I knew I had to be healthy to maintain it properly.
As a woman who spent most of her life, (a) using her stove solely to brew tea, (b) acting like sticking a frozen meal into the microwave was a balanced dinner, (c) pretending that ketchup was a food group, and (d) thinking it’s okay to substitute any meal for desert because the calories would even out and I NEEDED sugar to survive I knew I had some work to do… I needed to respect my own body as much as I respected the animals I hoped to spare.
So I started exploring what it means to eat healthy. The more I learned, the more I realized, our food production system has become about endless chemicals and misleading labeling and we’re programmed to devour each bite with every ad that flashes our way. Companies providing our food care only about profits, not health. As a result we have an obesity epidemic like never seen before, increasing health problems (it’s been said that this will be the first time in history that our children’s generation will not live longer than their parent’s generation) and devastating environmental consequences. Our food is becoming a cancer all on its own.
Instead of eating what was given to us by Mother Nature, we’re eating mass produced low quality chemically filled cheap processed foods that are ironically often labeled as “vitamin enriched”. Manufacturers are certainly creative. Perhaps in this instance, creativity has betrayed us.
Our RAW-Donkulous Month!
So, to start off the New Year being the healthiest we can be, off we went into our raw food month. Back to living foods full of healthy enzymes that will keep us younger longer. Back to fruits, vegetables and nuts, straight from the earth. I knew one thing, it was our turn to get creative.
To avoid eating the same old salad everyday, my husband and I have been raw “cooking” up a storm! It’s been new and exciting, and admittedly challenging at times. But I’ve been following Raw Foods Witch ever since I met Nathalie at a conference, so I knew I’d be armed with great information
My favorite part of this experience has been juicing and drinking green smoothies every morning – AMAZING. It’s like kick-starting your day with a green jolt of nutrient filled power fuel! For once, I don’t miss my cafe con soya!
But it hasn’t been all peaches and almond cream and we’ve had a few bumps along our zucchini-bricked road (which admittedly led to a bit of cheating…).
Some of the lessons we’ve learned:
1. Gradual Changes are Easier
Some friends participating in our raw food month went straight from full on meat and/or dairy eating, junk food downing, smoking and/or hardly exercising (I myself needed improvement in the junk food and exercising categories), to nothing but raw foods – not easy. Starting as a vegan made the transition a little less drastic for me. To make a raw food ‘live-it’ work as smoothly as possible, a gradual change might be easier for both your body and your brain to process.
2. Prepare Ahead
Sticking to raw foods at home was easiest because we emptied our fridge of all temptations. When you’re out and about in the world, things get tricky. Plan ahead! Bring snacks and leftovers and find restaurants with raw food options so you’re never wandering around hungry and aimless!
3. Avoid Alcohol
I admit, this was not a no alcohol month. Not surprisingly, the times I struggled the most were the times I went out to dinner with friends and had drinks. My booze tolerance is next to nothing. After two glasses of wine I approach full on deep-fried carb-packed cravings. After 2 dinners like this, I realized that alcohol was not going to be a friend of my raw food challenge. Shocking.
4. Have a Support System
Doing this month with my husband and friends made all the difference. My hubby and I often spent Saturday nights in the aisles of Whole Foods with our recipes in hand. It was fun and even kind of romantic :)
5. Watch Your Ecology
Being healthy and feeling great isn’t just about the foods you eat. It’s also about how much you exercise, your lifestyle and your emotions. To feel good you have to check all your systems and fine tune them. One thing cannot carry all the rest by itself!
6. Get Creative
As mentioned earlier, you simply cannot eat the same thing everyday. A lazy raw food diet could mean salad, a handful of nuts and some fruit, every-single-day; here enters food boredom and stir-crazy cravings. To prevent this, we got creative and constantly tried new things.
We’ve made everything from raw chili, to raw mushroom “calamari”, to raw veggie burgers, to raw spaghetti and tomato sauce, to raw jicama fries, to Nathalie’s raw strawberry shortcake and key lime pie! Not to mention the endless amount of smoothies and juices we’ve concocted. Have fun with it, get good recipe books/websites and get your creative green juices flowing!
Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Whether you want to volunteer abroad with animal welfare projects, go on safari adventures, enjoy vegan resorts, or travel with your own adorable pets, her company can get you there! You can keep up with Liz at her blog Yourtimetravels.com/blog and website www.YourTimeTravels.com.