About five years ago, I met a Ukrainian man in Cambodia who was cycling through the country drinking coconuts and eating fruit only. I had heard about raw vegan movement before, but that man was my first real encounter of this phenomenon. My friend Anna and I were really inspired by him, and we decided to try what it felt like. Our experiment lasted for a month.
It was back in 2012 and I lived in Kunming, which is known as the city of spring. In Kunming, you can buy any kind of vegetable of fruit in beautiful messy street markets. They say Kunming people do not even know all the names of the vegetables they grow. It was a perfect place for eating raw.
What do raw vegans eat?
They eat everything that is not cooked and is of plant origin (vegetables, fruit, nuts) and honey. They do not drink tea, coffee and other drinks that overstimulate the mind. The main idea is to eat everything natural that is good for your body and not to hurt other living beings.
What did I eat during my raw vegan month?
As you may be guessing, newly converted raw vegans eat a lot of bananas, nuts and honey. This was my dessert every day, but what about the meals?
For breakfast I usually had fruit, including bananas of course. Then I would go to classes and get very very hungry for lunch. My lunch consisted of a huge salad – I had this salad bowl at home that could be a salad for 4, but I ate it all by myself for my raw vegan lunch. I usually experimented every day to make something new and unique, to add a new kind of veggie, or a new dressing. I have tasted raw potatoes (not that good), raw zucchini, broccoli, everything you can eat raw and not get sick. I loved green smoothies, and they were a must every day.
One of the findings of my diet and experiments was raw popcorn that I invented – cauliflower bites with dried oregano and rosemary and olive oil. It is incredibly delicious and I still prefer this to the usual popcorn. One more thing I liked a lot was fresh mulberries, soy bean sprouts and peanut butter mixed together. This is to be eaten carefully as I once overate, and don’t enjoy the combination anymore. My favourite dessert was raisins, cashew nuts, almonds and honey. Yum!
What are my discoveries?
If you eat raw, your body saves a lot of energy from digesting heavy greasy meals, and you feel light and energetic almost all the time. I was getting around Kunming by bicycle and normally could not move my ass up and down the hills after a lunch of Chinese food, but eating raw I was eager to jump on the bike and ride for kilometres.
For a beginner raw vegan it is very important to carry snacks everywhere. As we are used to heavy food, our stomach may digest very quickly and we can become hungry soon, but they do not sell raw snacks everywhere. I would cut carrots and cucumbers and yummy papayas and carry them in a box in my bag.
I was always sleepy early in the evening. I kept on drinking tea, but no coffee at all for a month and this could have been the reason. I wanted to sleep at 9 PM, it was like reconnecting with the rhythm of the sunlight and getting more in touch with the earth.
The social part of the experiment was the most awkward. Thankfully, I had a boyfriend, who was still eating cooked food, and we were still both invited for dinners and lunches. I was humbly sitting their with my bananas and cashews while everyone around me was eating Korean barbecue. If I had stayed raw vegan and hadn’t had a boyfriend, I felt people would have stopped socialising with me because I did not eat what they ate.
Food cravings. These happened a lot and often. It was easy to calm myself down explaining to myself that I was only doing it for one month. Had it been a lifetime change, it would have probably been as hard as coming out of a heroine addition.
Ego problems. Since I was eating so raw and clean, I started judging the people who were running somewhere and eating hotdogs or street food. “This is so not raw and so not clean, I would think, how can they do this to themselves?” I was aware of these thoughts, and did not like the fact that I was seeing myself better than them.
Raw to cooked transition. When I finished my experiment and started introducing cooked vegetables into my diet, stomach problems came one after another, as if my body was detoxing from the newly consumed cooked food.
What can I say? I am a foodie and not yet ready to sacrifice this yummy world of delicious meals. I do agree that raw food made me much healthier, but happier? Not sure.