Are we too toxic to enjoy life? Walking through a pub in Brighton on new years day 2011, I felt wonderful; totally comfortable in my body, clear-headed, my emotions like a mountain lake and filled with energy. I knew it was beacuse I was eating mainly raw food and particularly because, that day, I had consumed only a green smoothy of kale and organic oranges. I looked around at the dead and de-natured foodbeing eaten in the pub and was aware of the slumped energy, the glazed look in people’s eyes, the sluggish thinking, the anxious emotions – I know how it feels…I’ve been there most of my life.
As well as the general malaise written clearly on people’s faces as we drag ourselves through each day, the modern world is exepriencing unprecedented levels of illness such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes and sky-rocketing obesity.
Shockingly Britain is the third ‘fattest’ country in the world. Recently the following phrase rang a bell for me: ‘What we are unconscious of becomes our fate’…collectively we seem to be unconscious of what we are putting in our mouths, and of the effect it is having. And we are suffering the fate in the resultant illnesses and a lack of well-being. We are consuming toxic substances, GM foods, de-natured foods that fill our supermarkets, and sticking our heads in the sand. The truth is that what we put in our bodies is causing real suffering for huge numbers of individuals. The good news is that there is a growing awareness and consequently a pervasive search for health in the modern world. Common sense is returning as we realize that what we put into our bodies is not just about what tastes good, but how we feel, and our future health. Raw food author, Leslie Kenton asks: ‘What is the point of having the wealth of opportunities of our modern world without the well-being to enjoy it?’ People are waking up from the slumber that its OK to put anything into our bodies – toxic, de-natured food, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, cigarette smoke, mercury in our teeth and vaccines as well as numerous other toxic substances. Against the current tide of our modern world, a new way of eating is emerging which is being called the ‘quiet revolution’.
Raw Food is Growing!
Currently the little sister of vegetarianism and veganism, raw foodism is on the map. Kate Wood, a British pioneer of the raw foodmovement, has witnessed a ‘huge growth’ in the movement in the last couple of years internationally. It is, she says, ‘an idea whose time has come’. In California, everyone you speak to on the street would know what you mean by raw food and would direct you to one of the numerous raw restaurants.
Reports abound of a kind of magic that happens to people on raw food: excess weight falls off, rejuvenation resulting in looking years younger, clear skin, shining hair, and what is more, you feel great! Kate Wood says that after 10 years of experimenting, she can ‘vouch for this way of eating: that is really works, adding that she ‘feels amazing’ and has ‘limitless energy’.
How often do any of us feel that way, let alone make it our permanent state? Have we become so used to feeling under par, and separate from our environment that we have forgotten there was another way – the way of nature?
The Premise of Raw Food
What might seem to some an extreme way of eating, the raw diet, which consists mainly of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, has a simple premise: human being are supposed to eat their food raw. This is backed by scientific evidence that cooking removes 85% of the vitamins from food and 100% of the enzymes. Viktoras Kulvinskas, author and respected nutritionist suggests that the ‘middle age feeling’ comes from the depletion of enzymes on a cooked food diet.
Some studies also suggest that we are not designed to eat meat. The argument goes that… were we meant to eat meat, we would have the incisors to tear out intestines and the short digestive system common to all other meat-eating creatures. We would have claws instead of fruit-picking digits and side-ways facing eyes, a rasping tongue rather than a smooth one, and a liver that can process the uric acid from digesting meat (Psycho-Physiopathy by Dr De La Torre). Indeed our traits are said to be closest to that of the fruit-eating orangutan, bearing no resemblance to meat-eating creatures. To support this argument, Dr Gabriel Cousens, a writer and the founder of the Tree of Life retreat centre in the US, cites the ‘China Study’ which has found that a plant-based diet is superior. The report found that those who have the highest amount of plant-based food have the lowest level of chronic diseases and those that eat the highest level of animal based foods, have the highest level of chronic diseases.
So we may well have wondered off the path by eating meat, and moreover the book: ‘Nature’s First Law’ suggests that we have also transgressed the ‘first law of nature’, which is to consume our food raw and that breaking this law has led to huge leves of chronic illness in Western socity. Wild animals have nowhere near the levels of disease that we have and they don’t cook their food. ‘Nature’s First Law’ asserts boldly that cooked food is toxic. This seems a radical claim, however research lends support to this argument. The Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, shows that the body recognizes cooked and processed foods as ‘invaders’. They trigger the body’s defence system – sending white blood cells into the intestine, thus suggesting that cooked food might not be the natural food of human beings.
It’s an intriguing argument, not that easy to dismiss and neither are the transformations in those that have taken up this new, yet perhaps most ancient way of eating.
Ultra-health and Beauty
One remarkable transformation of a whole family is told in the book ‘Raw Family’ by Victoria Boutenko. Victoria and her family developed some serious illnesses upon moving to America and adopting the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). But it was not until her ten year old son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and doctors told her that he may well end up going blind and losing the use of his legs, that she started to search in earnest for a solution to her families health problems. Her search led to raw food and within six months she reports that their new diet had transformed the whole family: Victoria herself overcame obesity, arthrtitis and heart problems, her son rid himself of diabetes, whilst her husband overcame a hyperactive thyroid. They then proceeded, as a family, to walk 2000 miles accross America. What an expression of their remarkable new level of health! And not just health as in the absence of sickness, but more like the ‘ultra-health’ that Leslie Kenton describes as the potential of a raw diet.
An American raw food pioneer, David Wolfe, writes of his transformation: ‘words alone cannot express the state of perfect health I have been priveleged to attain by eating 100% raw plant foods’. Andrew Davis from Brighton in the UK tells of healing himself of obesity, depression and obesity-related illnesses in just 8 weeks of eating fruits, picked fresh from trees during his stay in Malta.
The physical transformation of people on the raw diet is now widely reported. David Wolfe describes every mouthful of raw food as a mouthful of beauty. Bodies tend to find their natural and most beautiful form and weight on the raw diet.
The Spiritual Power of Raw Food
But does the magic of raw food reach deeper even than looking and feeling fantastic? There appears to be a ‘fifth element’. David Wolfe calls raw food ‘powerful information’. He talks about it changing your destiny or destination, and about a greater receptivity to inner guidance, saying it also connects you to instant manifestation. I have also found this to be true, the more clear you are, the greater your interaction with the unified quantum field which is uniquely reponsive to our thoughts, when we become subtle and clear enough to notice. Andrew Davis from Brighton calls it a spiritual gateway. Whilst we can pretend that diet isn’t important, Raman Maharishi, a great 20th century mystic, said that one of the key things for the spiritual path apart from meditation, is diet.
What to Eat
Kate Wood feels that the best way of approaching the raw diet is to have a balance between the three foods: greens/veg, fruit and raw fats (such as advocados and olives). In her own diet she also includes seaweed, which can be added to salad, to delicious effect. Kate Wood also suggests a good way of transitioning to raw food is to add increasing levels of raw food to what you already eat and, as you become more nourished and start to enjoy raw food, your desire for raw food will increase, eventually preferring it over cooked food.
Amazing Raw Dishes
Raw food is not a bland and joyless experience and has been described as ‘a party in your mouth’. Any cooked dish you can imagine has been replicated into a raw version by talented raw chefs. Surprisingly, the raw version is often more delicious than the cooked version. Dishes such as pasta made from marinated courgette, cheese made from nuts, raw lasagna, kelp noodles, raw chocolate cakes, chocolate mousse, cheescake, soups. Currently there is a huge proliferation of online recipes and information; making transitioning to raw food much easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago. One great website that has helped and inspired my own raw journey with hundreds of wonderful rawrecipies and photos is the sunny raw website. Please see the following link: http://thesunnyrawkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/this-blogs-recipe-index.html. Raw ‘potlucks’ are gathering force where you can bring a dish to share and enjoy feasts of amazing raw food with lovely, positive people. Just go onto ‘Meet-ups’ websites in your local area to hunt out raw meet-ups.
Equipment for a Raw Kitchen
The equipment you need for a raw kitchen are as follows: a high-power blender, a food processor, and a dehydrator. The dehydrator acts as a raw foodists ‘oven’ and changes the texture of the foods with warm air so you can make burgers and breads, dry fruit, and a plethora of other dishes, whilst also gently warming your food if desired. The cylindrical dehydrators can be picked up for as little as thirty or forty pounds online. The temperature of raw food should be kept under 42 degrees, which is the temperature beneath which enzymes and vitamins are preserved.
As you walk the raw path, everything gets better: how you feel, how you function, your connection to yourself, to others, to nature and to the spiritual. I think raw food holds a seed to a better future for the individual and collectively. I see a future where, one day, we may let go of the slaughter of literally billions of animals each day in the worldwide meat industry. We are out of touch with our apparent natural diet provided to us by mother earth – uncooked raw plant food. This ‘wrong’ path is reflected in huge global imbalances: the World Watch Institute reported in 2000 that the number of people who are overfed but poorly nourished (a staggering 1.2 billion people) now equals the numbers of those starving from lack of food. The distortion seems to be reflected in the soul-less, destructive systems and mass wars that we have created. The earth is a green planet and is filled with enough raw plant food to feed even the worlds burgeoning population many times over, bringing with it the reconnection to ourselves, each other, the natural world and an inner state of peace, joy and true well-being. It’s time for a change, and raw food is an important key to a return to Eden, both within us and without, as we learn to live in peaceful co-existence with mother nature, each other and all our animal relations.