An Adventure of Raw Veganism

An Adventure of Raw VeganismThose of you who know me well know that I'm a vegan. It's something that is really important for me, for multiple reasons. I was initially dared to go vegetarian, I'm ashamed to say. A friend bet me that I couldn't do it for a year as a New Year's Resolution toward the end of 2003. I took her on, and she was right. I couldn't do it. I cracked before the end of January. A few days later, I was holding my wonderful, beautiful ferret, and as I looked into her eyes I was really ashamed of myself. I loved her, I claimed to love all animals, and yet there I was eating one. So on February 1, 2004, I made the decision to be forever and permanently a vegetarian. I didn't care how difficult it was going to be, I couldn't betray my animals like that.

I went 100% cold turkey.

A few months later, I was introduced to the dairy and egg industry, and I was horrified by what I saw. I remember crying hysterically when I was shown videos of factory farms, and I told myself that I couldn't eat that, either, but it took me several months to build up the courage to cut out animal products entirely. At first I considered going the free-range or local route, but the more I thought about it the more I reasoned that it just wasn't right for me to exploit any animal, even if I was being duped into believing that it was treated fairly. The fact is that in most cases these animals are not treated fairly. My animals were like family to me, and I realized that I would never want to exploit a family member like that, so on February 1, 2005, I made the decision to cut out all animal products entirely. I was determined that I would never again be responsible for harm coming to any animal, so I decided that it was necessary for me to become vegan.

I went 100% cold turkey. Again. I guess you can say I'm a woman of extremes.

Thankfully my family has been more than supportive. My mother told me that she was fine with whatever I chose to eat as long as I wasn't starving myself, but she said that she wasn't going to cook two meals. I became an overnight chef, but otherwise there have been no problems. She's always made the effort to find places where everybody can eat together (so no Red Lobster because they don't have anything vegan at all), and if she finds something interesting that happens to be vegan while she's shopping, she'll bring it home for me. She's become rather adept at determining what is and is not an animal ingredient (whey comes from milk, for example), and when I ask her to pick up fruit at the store she actually brings me home a better selection of fruits than I would have if I'd gone to the store and gotten it myself!

Most people do not realize it, but veganism is so much healthier for the body. It's true that I stopped taking in animal products in the middle of a growth spurt and that because of that I stopped growing (I'm only five foot four), but that's because this is actually the height that women in my family are supposed to be. Animal products tend to be full of growth hormones; when I look at the women in my family who finished growing before the introduction of such things, they're actually around my height. I've never been anemic, I've never had any sort of deficiencies, and I've actually been less sickly, more energetic, and generally healthier since I went vegan. I feel absolutely fantastic.

Lately I've been realizing that while being vegan is great, I have an even better option out there. Ever since the beginning of my journey into veganism, I've heard about those crazy raw-foodists out there. These people believe that cooking food period (not just microwave cooking, for the pretend physicists who read this) damages the nutrients it contains and that the body responds better to food as nature intended it--alive. I always thought they were extremists and tended to view them in much the same way that most of society probably views me. I just sort of smiled and told myself, "Yeah, sure, you do that. I'll sit back and enjoy my Tofurkey and Morningstar Farms."

The first two years of university I was forced into having a cafeteria meal plan; it's just policy here. I basically survived on cereal, pasta, and veggie burgers. Last year I was put into an on-campus apartment with a kitchen, so I got into cooking again and really expanded. Whereas previously I relied heavily on processed vegan foods, two years of a Boca Burger for dinner every night (in addition to having dated into a Desi family) made me want to explore other options. Over that year, I didn't even realize that I was phasing out "fake meat" products. It just happened. I was relying on nuts, beans, grains, tofu, everything I could think of. Occasionally I would use fake meats if I was really jonesing for something, but the more I meditated on it, the more I realized that I stopped eating meat for a reason. I didn't need to pretend to shovel rotting corpses into my mouth at every meal, so ever since the beginning of the current school year I have entirely cut my usage of processed "fake" meat.

I want to make it clear that I don't look down on anyone for eating these fake meats. Everyone has their own reason for leaving animal products behind, and fake meats can be a great transitioning tool for those who are still learning how to cook. But for me personally, I don't eat chickens because I can't bear animal suffering, so if I eat fake chicken, I feel like I'm betraying my commitment. These foods are also very heavily processed and often contain blinding levels of sodium, sugar, and preservatives. Top Ramen brand Oriental flavor ramen noodles are technically vegan, but as unhealthy as they are, they might as well not be. Fake meats just aren't for me.

At the end of last semester I heard two of my Facebook friends, Mimi Kirk and John Sakars, talk about something called a green smoothie. It's not that far off from a traditional smoothie. The only difference is that, obviously, it's green. The color comes from the addition of dark green vegetables and leafy plants, namely spinach, broccoli, kale, and the like. I thought I just HAD to try it because Mimi was astonishingly beautiful (despite the fact that she could have been my grandmother) and John seemed to be extremely knowledgeable about vegan food. If they both liked these things, I thought they just had to be good. My first green smoothie was tasty, but it wasn't exactly delicious. Still, I was determined that I was going to succeed in making a smoothie that I could rave about as much as they raved about theirs. Since about April I have been experimenting with various recipes, drinking a green smoothie for lunch almost every day, and I think I've finally perfected my recipe. I blend five ounces of spinach, two cups of mixed fruit (mango, peach, pineapple, and strawberry), a tablespoon of flax seed, and a cup of soy milk... OH MY GOD, it's fantastic! Thanks, guys!

For some reason this green smoothie got me to thinking about raw foodism again. As it is, I don't currently eat anything processed. I make everything from scratch, I buy it unprocessed, or I eat it raw in the first place. Raw foodism is looking really good. Mimi, you see, is a raw foodist, and with the exception of the soy milk (which I sometimes don't even use) the green smoothie is entirely raw. I could easily make my own raw soy milk if I wanted to. I've been looking into it and the more that I do, the better raw foodism is looking. I'm guessing that you can see where I'm going with this...

I've decided that I want to venture into raw foodism. I don't think I will become entirely raw. Very rarely, I go out with friends to places that don't exactly have raw options (but still vegan), or I might be in a situation that just isn't conducive to raw foodism (I live in an area that isn't very vegan-friendly in the first place), but I want to transition into raw foodism as much as is possible. If my family wants to go out to eat, I'll go with them. Veganism is important for me from a moral and religious standpoint, and there is no backing down from that in my opinion; raw foodism is healthier than cooked veganism, but the way I see it occasionally indulging in something cooked is the equivalent of occasionally indulging in junk food. That's what cooked food is: junk. I'm selling one of my Utsav sarees that doesn't fit any more on ebay (Utsav is a designer brand from India that's the equivalent for them of having a custom-made Chanel or Versace piece in the United States) so that I can invest in a quality dehydrator and a better blender than the one I already have. I'm already salivating over some strawberry-almond breakfast bars and zucchini pasta!

The carnists in my life are definitely not going to understand this one, but I'm okay with that. As it is, my family already looks at me in total wonderment for my new-found obsession with green smoothies. They'll eat and enjoy just about anything else that I cook, even though they're carnists, but they're still afraid of a green smoothie. To those who have influenced me in this decision, I thank you very much. I sort of did veganism on my own, but to the girl who bet me that I couldn't be vegetarian, I think you know where you stand now on that bet, lol! To everyone else... You don't know what you're missing out on!

What does that mean for the recipes I've been posting to benefit my fellow vegans who must cook in a dormitory setting? I'll still do that, I promise. I don't think there are very many raw vegans of university age, so if you've been thinking of venturing into that area, then certainly you should see if my experiences and cooking interest you.

The Albino Desi strikes again!

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