4 Indian Raw Vegans Prove How Easy it is to go Raw
What does it mean to be a raw vegan? What do you eat on this diet? Does one not feel hungry? Is it nutritious? Surely, you are bursting with questions as I was before I talked to these amazing Indian raw vegans.
Simply put, a raw vegan diet excludes all food derived from animal products, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 48 °C (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, mushrooms, and fresh juices. Raw foodism is the dietary practice of eating only or mostly, uncooked, unprocessed foods. Often, a raw diet has significantly proven to help people's health. Fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens not only contain sustainable amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat, they are also optimum for human health.
I had the pleasure of talking to some of the raw vegans in our city, and here’s what their lives are like!
Gear up for some pure raw-someness!
1 Dr. Rashmi Menon
"I no longer have to cook for myself. Mother Nature had already cooked my food!" - Dr. Rashmi Menon
Dr. Rashmi Menon went completely vegan in December 2010 and the journey there was a long one of self-exploration. Born to a non-veg family from Kerala, she figured by the age of three that the occasional non-veg feast in her native place resulted in one of her animal friends going missing. Hence she stopped eating meat. This was a struggle while growing up in an increasingly non-veg society. Yet, dairy products and eggs remained.
After Dr. Rashmi's second vipassana course, she stopped eggs, but still consumed dairy products. However, disaster struck in the form of diagnosis of osteomalacia - which that required her to eat more dairy based products. It was a tough choice - the possibility of hip replacement if she gave up dairy VERSUS guilt with each morsel if I continued with dairy. As always - compassion trumped everything else. Firm in her decision, Dr. Rashmi went for a whole food vegan diet that helped her overcome a plethora of bodily diseases like osteomalacia, asthma, endometriosis, obesity etc. She was so thrilled with her results that she then started helping people reverse their lifestyle diseases.
In 2013, for the first time, Dr. Rashmi experimented for a month by going raw and the lazy cook in her discovered the joy of uncooking. Off and on experimenting with raw veganism made her an 80% raw vegan. In was in January 2016 that she was intuitively guided to go completely raw. Now, it's been her second year of being a raw vegan and 90 percent fruitarian.
What She Eats
On a typical day, her morning starts off with a green smoothie, as and when hunger strikes. This may be followed by a fruit plate which also doubles up as brunch. Afternoons are lemon shots, green chutney and seeds. Sometimes vegetable smoothies.
If hungry in the evening, she indulges in a helping of fruits. Once in two or three days, the body craves for salt, those days she makes vegetable salads with innovative dressings.
Snacks are usually a helping of seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon, sesame seeds and occasionally nuts with dry fruits. Being a chocoholic, she happily treats herself to homemade raw cacao chocolate balls, mousse and icecreams too. Occasionally she treats herself to date laddoos and pedas, flapjacks, pies and shrikhand, all raw. We're definitely going to get the recipe for these dishes, so stay tuned.
Vegan First: And how does going raw make you feel?
Rashmi: Life has taken a new meaning. I feel lighter and less bothered about life challenges. More clarity of mind. I experience more and more the state of being in the now, a state of balance which remained elusive all along. Externally, I am thrilled to have my friends and family compliment me on my youthful look. I am able to do more with my body and mind. My running speed has increased, I climb to my tenth-floor apartment with ease. And of course, I enjoy the look of disbelief when I mention my 16 year old child!
VF: What is the most difficult part of being raw?
R: Handling all the compliments, I tell you! Besides that, when the old taste habits strike, the cravings make it difficult to stick to the raw regimen. I generally suppress for as long as I can and then indulge mindfully. Most times I am satisfied with just one bite. The other thing I do is experiment and create the same flavours in raw. So now I can dish up cool donuts, shrikhan, peda, dahi vada, Aviyal, rice, pickles, Thai curry, payasam, all raw! Currently, I am working on cracking the sambhar, fingers crossed! My initial apprehension was that I would not get anything to eat while travelling or eating out. But now since my focus is clarified, I find my food everywhere. Fruits, juices and salads are everywhere! I am also lucky to have friends around who learn these recipes from me and make them for me!"
2. Piyush Shah
“The only thing that stops you from going raw is your own self and your weak cravings.” - Piyush Shah
For a really long time, Piyush was susceptible to a perpetual cold & cough problem and it would erupt all of a sudden especially before a singing performance. About 4 years back, a family homoeopath advised stopping curd and buttermilk along with a host of other stuff. Being a naturally curious person, he researched and stumbled upon the great Gary’s speech - that was the point when he decided to cut out dairy altogether.
Although raw foodism was widely considered a great choice from a health perspective, he knew he wasn't in the best of health, thanks to junk food binging. However, going vegan opened up his mind in many ways but most of all, it gave him an entry into conscious ways of consuming food. Over the last few years, he's been dabbling with vegan food and tried some raw recipes as well. His energy was at an all-time high when he had an only-fruit meal!
What He Eats
His first meal is almost always fruit - either a single type of fruit or a smoothie. Mid-morning brunch consists of seeds and dates. For lunch - either more fruits like a fruit salad or a green sprout salad. A refreshing juice paired with dry fruits take care of the evening hunger pangs. Before hitting the sack, his dinner is full of fruit or mix sprouts salads with lots of greens, seeds & dates.
"In May of this year, I decided to go fully raw with over 90% fresh fruits and I can proudly say I have never looked back. I cannot even begin to explain how my life has literally transformed in past months. Quite honestly, I didn’t quite know how things really changed until I found people around me noticing in amazement. Although I must admit, I felt I was able to do much more of everything I did and felt a surge of energy as if I was on steroids. I commute 40 km daily on my cycle, go to the gym thrice a week among other activities. If I were to quantify the incidental benefits, I lost about 11 kgs (78 to 67) and about 5 inches on the waist (34-29) with my overall personality becoming more of a magnet (quite literally ). I have discovered a new me!"
VF: Are there any drawbacks of being a raw vegan, I inquired.
P: I’d say, nothing! Quite the contrary, being a raw vegan is the easiest way to be vegan regardless of where you are. The only thing that stops you from going raw is your own self and your weak cravings. The best part is you don’t have to go full raw right away to see the benefits. Just easing into it one meal at a time can get you remarkable results. It’s a mind game really and you can play it the way you want! Just equip yourself with useful information and keep experimenting on your body!
3. Nikita Solanki
“It feels very light to be raw” - Nikita Solanki
Nikita was hugely inspired by her friend, Brinda Poojary, who spoke to her at great lengths about animal abuse. She then decided to experiment in the kitchen and figure out how to make her favourite dishes without dairy. It took her a while to get convinced, but with her own research about how harmful meat and dairy is, she switched to a 100% plant-based diet. Today, she is a proud and healthy ethical vegan.
What She Eats
She's a new raw vegan - it's only been a few months since she turned to this diet. She kick-starts her mornings with a fresh smoothie, followed by fruits or yet another smoothie. Brunch is a tall glass of coconut water mixed with coconut malai. Lunch is a big bowl of salad which is a balanced nutritious bowl with carbs, protein and fat. She satiates her evening hunger with nuts or seeds/raw chaat/raw granola bars/banana nice creams or just fruits. Dinner is a light meal of fruits or smoothies.
VF: How does this make you feel, Nikita?
Nikita: I feel cleaner, even my bowel movements don't smell anymore. FYI: I don't even brush my teeth. It's only once in a while I brush or do oil pulling with cold pressed coconut oil. It feels very light to be raw. The days I cheat, it goes haywire. My body/mind doesn't feel too healthy. I feel bloated. Since the onset of monsoon, I am having steamed veggies for lunch. And rest of the day I am raw. I have gone 80-100% raw vegan, I feel much lighter, more energetic and motions are easy. It's like I have a command over my body and my body feels in sync with my mind.
VF: What do you find difficult?
N: The most difficult part of being raw is that times during social gatherings. In this time and age, everything you do revolves around food. So, that's a bit challenging. Otherwise being raw vegan is easier than being vegan. Also, it's not socially acceptable as yet. People tend to advise me against this diet when I am not performing well in my runs or cycle rides. That can be hard.
4. Pradeep Shah
“Disease is punishment for breaking the laws of nature.” - Pradeep Shah
59 year old, Pradeep Shah belongs to a family that has gone totally vegan. In fact, for his younger son's wedding, they had a beautiful one-of-a-kind function with all 35 varieties of food, completely raw!
About 8 years ago, Pradeep went almost-vegan. He was only consuming ghee with roti, no other dairy products. What made him go vegan? While travelling back to Mumbai by car, he halted at a famous dairy farm adjacent to the highway. He saw the cow roped and stacked in line, with no space to move, their horns were dashing each other. He saw the look of innocence in their eyes. He realized the gross injustice to poor cows and decided to give up dairy.
What He Eats
He is up at 5 am and fasts without even water, till about 11 am. At 1.30 pm is lunch consisting of salads, fruit salads, green chutney and coconut buttermilk. At 4 pm, he has a green salad or fruits. Followed by a fruit juice at 5 pm. Around 8 pm includes fruits and juices in adequate quantity followed by a small quantity of fire cooked food. He hits the sack at 11 pm.
He was suffering from Diabetes, BP, cholesterol, headache, acute cold, body pain, low energy, mild sciatica, spondylitis and weight issues. He started following a program called NEW DIET SYSTEM as per guidelines of Shri B. V. Chauhan. Putting confidence in the system, he gave up all medicines for diabetes, blood pressure and blood thinning tablets, but was regularly monitoring them - he saw excellent results. He then decided to spread this message, by way of conducting seminars, making people tasting various recipes. His birthday in 2015 was celebrated with 100% Raw (Naturally Cooked) vegan Diet!
Feeling inspired as yet? We suggest turning one meal a day, into a completely raw vegan meal and seeing how easy it is. Tell us how it goes and let us know in the comments below what you think about these amazing raw vegans!
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