Monday, June 16, 2008

The Raw Path

Today I'll tell you about one major shift which has been taking place in my life over the past month.

I have been a vegetarian for 17 years. Lately, since about the 17th May 2008, I've been eating 100% raw: vegetables, fruit, (soaked) nuts, seeds, fruit or vegetable juices, blended raw foods, green smoothies, 3 - 4 litres of water a day, etc.

I had attempted raw foodism some years ago out of curiosity but lasted only a few days. This time I woke up and instinctively began ... and maybe the time was right, because I continued easily, without cravings for cooked foods and junk foods. I have lost weight, even though I didn't really 'need' to ... but this is natural. The body detoxes and releases excess (not only physically, but I find also emotionally, mentally, etc.) and then begins to repair and heal itself, building back up and renewing. I feel light, flexible, energised.

Side view of a raw 'lasagne' I made the other day for lunch.
The 'noodles' are raw zucchini strips. Other ingredients include: snow peas, tomatoes, olives, raisins, grated coconut, thyme, tahini sauce, olive oil, hot peppers, chadon beni, chipped soaked almonds.
I love the freshness of eating raw: the colours, the creative process of preparing something to consume, the surprising explosions of natural tastes on taste buds that are daily becoming more sensitive to the distinct tastes of nature. Everything tastes better and eating has become a pleasure. I spend loads more time in the kitchen (compared to almost none) and it's worth it. It is like working on edible art pieces. I say "Mmmmm" for practically every mouthful and know that good things are going into me. I've realised that before, I was eating mainly to fill a space.
Nothing in life should be about 'just filling a space'.
Overhead view of the raw lasagne.
What I've been feeling on this journey so far (because that's what it feels like - the beginning of a journey) is that conscious eating is very closely tied to conscious living and conscious being. It doesn't happen overnight, but shifts must and do occur.

Driving by a fruit and vegetable stall is now a head turner. It's exciting to see fresh produce. Exciting to go to the market most mornings and see things that I never even knew existed because I would not have been looking for that kind of variety in the past. I used to ignore the mangoes on the neighbour's tree. Now I find myself like a bird, swooping to grab up the whole, ripe fallen ones when I go for my walk in the morning. I didn't realise that two of my neighbours had avocado trees until I started craving avocados the other day and (looking out from the verandah) saw many laden (but not yet ripe) avocados below.

My raw ice cream, which followed the lasagne as desert that day: made with frozen banana, pineapple wedges and grated coconut, all blended together.
It's all very alive and enlivening. Like I said, it's only been a month now and it feels great. I would not call it 'a diet' because to me that implies something temporary or a fad, which this is not. It is a way of eating and a lifestyle for many people, all of whom have been experiencing its benefits for years. Of course, as with anything, there are detractors, there are those who may appear to be 'extremists', there are those who will capitalize on it to make money (Buy my book! Buy my special blender!) and those who just eat raw for any number of healthy lifestyle reasons. To each their own.
Green smoothie: patchoi, banana, sweet coconut water, spirulina
I feel that the 100% 'fits' me naturally and it's what I want now. As I continue to read about it, learn more about the nutritional aspects of what I eat, experiment more with my food options and listen to what my body calls for, who knows ... I may decide to stay 100% raw ... or may decide to amend (i.e. be about 80% raw). Only time will tell. But definitely, I know I have successfully made a distinct movement toward a more raw, conscious and healthy way of eating, being and feeling.
Being raw in Trinidad of course has its challenges ... not just the inability to get some items (supplements, certain ingredients, etc), but also the fact that there is not a huge community of people living raw (or 'loving raw' as I've seen people refer to it in my reading). I know of only one person who went 100% raw 6 years ago. Other than that, I have only heard of one or two rawists in TT, but have not met them. There are other little challenges, like going out. This is a largely fast food, meat-eating society. Now I prepare my own little containers of food and take them with me when I go out for the day (packed in a cooler in my car) ... knowing that when I'm hungry I can no longer pop into HiLo for a quick cheese pie, chocolate, Kiss cake or Choconut (milk drink) or stop off for a roti at Curry Masala, vegetarian pastries at Adams or ice cream at Gelatto's. Instead, I dig in my cooler for multi-coloured salads, fruits, juices (my favourite is carrot and beet), nuts, etc. Or I can stop at the coconut vendor, drink a nut and eat the jelly while he's filling up my bottle with more coconut water.

It's a new life adventure. Good things inside = good things outside.

Sprouted mung beans, soaked walnuts, grated beet, grated carrots, stripped lettuce, raisins, olives, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, patchoi strips
Some benefits I have personally experienced thus far since "going raw":
Cleaner, lighter feeling on various levels
Clearer thoughts/mind
Clearer eyes
Clearer, sharper intuition
Clearer, more accurate dreams
Sharper senses in general (sense of taste, smell, touch, etc.).
More sensitive to energy in body (heightened experience during yoga/meditation).
Naturally deeper breathing
Increasing physical flexibility
Smoother , clearer skin
Increased energy (but sometimes sluggish due to detoxing)
Deeper sleeps (... and waking more rested)
Weight loss
The desire to increase physical exercise/activity (muscle toning)
Greater interest in preparing food and eating it
Greater interest in planting my own food (when I return from my trip toward end of July)

... and lots more to look forward to.


Guanaguanare said...

Congratulations! So good to hear this Elspeth. Beautiful presentation, by the way. I haven't moved too far beyond the "wash, chop, chomp" stage so you are inspiring me to do more.

Elspeth said...

You're a rawist? Oh yes, of course - you birds eat raw fruit and insects.

GirlBlue said...

It all looks delicious! Course I live with a couple of carnivores who always look at me askance when I even enquire as to the chance of us becoming pesco vegies. They may go into full fledged coronaries if I mention raw

meadysmusings said...

Wow...your food looks absolutely yummy! Ive been a vegetarian all my life but in the indo/hindu traditon which doesnt translate into eating healthy necessarily. Lots of support cause more or less all of my family and extended family also vege. I definitely like fruits and veges and all your pics look so good...I think if I had the time to try your diet Id as I am now still crave the carbs...but as is not in a place to find the discipline to prepare so much of my own food anyway...but it does look very appetising...i can relate to looking at fruits and fruits and vege stalls though although not a rawist...I cant say the green stuff in the glass jumps out as tasty though!

human being said...

each day i eat a rainbow
and at the end of the rainbow
i find...

Elspeth said...

Mmmmm ... true, HB.

Shereen said...

Mmmm... this is so delicious looking.
I've been thinking about doing this, the photos are food for thought.

Elspeth said...

Try it. It's a whole new world.