Last Saturday some Danish friends who are opening a raw food restaurant in Cape Town invited us around for dinner to sample some of the dishes they’ll be featuring on their menu. Loving all things food, especially veggies and salad, I was excited to try a totally new genre of eating. The food was tasty, filling and more varied than I’d expected with lots of dishes to choose from including things like kale crisps, guacamole, raw variations of spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, Caesar salad with nut ‘cheese,’ and a range of unusual and interestingly flavoured salads.
Our host, Beatrice, began following a raw food diet when she noticed the start of early onset arthritis, and began to understand that her body wasn’t responding well to the things she was putting in it. She has been 100% raw for nine months now, and all her ailments have disappeared, her eyesight has improved and her skin looks beautiful. While endless studies indicate that a diet rich in plant matter has significant cancer-beating properties, that particular dinner party took two full days of preparation, a factor which is discouraging for people who can barely find the time to fry a steak, never mind make nut milk.
Still – it’s weird that we human beings will wait till we contract some sort of disease before we start eating properly and being gentle with these bodies we demand so much of. While we know, on some vague level, that food is medicine, actually putting that idea into practice takes more effort than we care to spend. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t tolerate wheat well, but does it stop me eating pizza and pasta and marmite toast? No, sirree. I was inspired, though, by how delicious Beatrice’s food was, and I determined, from the very next day, to start incorporating more raw food into our diets.
So, off to Fruit and Veg City I went, and I bought a ton of salad-y things and greens, and then I went and bought almond flour and made a batch of crisp-bread (see ‘Stine’s Incredible Crisp Bread’), and I discovered that if you use pre-grated carrot and keep your dressing simple (I like to mix hummus with olive oil, salt and pepper and chilli flakes), a big lunch-time salad actually takes no more time than it does to make a sandwich.
And, other than not feeling that post-meal, often meat- and wheat-related bleh, something else interesting happened: I stopped fighting with myself. There was no internal audit or value judgement ascribed to the meal (‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘medium – do better tomorrow’); no conversation with myself about whether I’d eaten too much and felt stuffed and needed to have something light for supper or promising myself to go for a run later or eat only chicken breasts the following day (yes, it’s a madness. A lot of us suffer from it but don’t talk about it). I didn’t give my plate of food a second thought. I enjoyed my lunch, felt full and got on with my day.
I don’t know if this is because I felt lighter and even after two days could feel my jeans loosening or if, on some deeper level, I understood that I had just given myself a massive dose of goodness and there was no need to discuss it. Maybe this is the answer to our food/body madness – just make sure most of the stuff you put in your mouth are things your body can work with and you’ll make friends with it once and for all.
While I’m sure there are sound reasons why some start eating exclusively raw food, I think life is about balance. We human beings tend to be extreme, either eating only fruit or only meat; drinking too much or not at all; eating loads of sugar and then swearing off it forever. I suspect it has something to do with the allure of simple solutions and the false sense of control these eating plans give us. Amazingly, we find it easier eliminating entire food-groups rather than simply eating less of the bad stuff and more of the good.
And, doing some research into rawism, is does get a little silly with people eating raw eggs and raw meat because god forbid anything should be heated, ever. Personally I can’t see the harm in cooking a tomato or making a lentil curry. But maybe people need to be a little extreme to get the rest of us thinking. And kudos to the ones who care enough to spend two days making ‘parmesan cheese’ out of nuts. I look forward to Beatrice’s beautiful, healthful restaurant opening, and will support them without a doubt.