Wading into the raw vegan lifestyle
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on June 30, 2015
How trendy is raw veganism?
There are surveys indicating that about 5% of Americans identify as vegetarian with about half of those being vegan, people who eat no animal products whatsoever. But it’s hard to find published studies of the numbers of health-minded — albeit picky — eaters who eschew cooking their food above 118 degrees.
Some call this living foodism.
It’s about love consciousness. It’s about body ecology. It’s far out. But eating food in its most natural state is also about health for the spiritual and physical bodies.
Ask Viktoras Kulvinskas, a co-founder of West Palm Beach’s Hippocrates Health Institute and author of “Survival in the 21st Century.”
Kulvinskas, born in Lithuania, survived the World War II experience replete with violence and abuse. To cope with the trauma that surfaced later in his life, he would consume huge volumes of food, and his only relief was to purge. He was bulimic for ten years.
“I know from personal experience why people reach for high-fat and high-sugar comfort foods,” he said in a telephone interview. “They sedate you. They make you unconscious.”
But eating should be about living and vitality not self-harm. In the last 40 years, Kulvinskas has researched and embraced holistic nutritional lifestyles, particularly the raw veganism advocated by Hippocrates Health Institute.
The premise is that the more alive and pure your food, the more alive and pure you will be.
“You’ll live in a happier, healthier and holier state,” Kulvinskas said.
What exactly do raw vegans eat? They consume all vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and sea vegetables. They also get creative with food dehydrators and blenders.
Of course, diet is not one size fits all. There is scientific debate as to the merit of eating a raw vegan diet exclusively and labeling all cooking as without value. Yet there is little disagreement on the benefits of incorporating more whole, natural foods while reducing, if not avoiding, all processed foods, animal products, refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol.
If you do choose to explore raw veganism, even Kulvinskas recommends easing into it slowly as the detoxification process can be intense – headaches, skin breakouts, cravings, irritability, fatigue, congestion and even nightmares.
“You’re unleashing the hell living in your own body,” Kulvinskas said.
Here’s how to begin:
Go slow. Peel away the layers and first attempt a complete vegetarian day, and then add a second or a third. Once you’re comfortable, move into incorporating organic foods and then add raw meals. Bigger changes will come when and if you choose.
Eat salad for breakfast. This is food in its healthiest form, unaltered and unprocessed. Loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and protein, a breakfast salad invites the rainbow and fills the senses first thing in the morning. Take fennel, carrots, orange and red peppers, leeks or green onions all chopped into bite-sized pieces and combine with a can of rinsed beans (garbanzo, kidney, pinto or white) and cherry tomatoes. Toss with your favorite torn greens (arugula, kale, spinach) and add a few blueberries (if you aren’t concerned about food combining), chopped nuts and seeds. The dressing is your choice.
Grow your own sprouts. Sprouts are a complete protein and a food that’s living at the time of consumption. Invest in a simple Easy Sprout container. Soak and sprout mung, peas, lentils, garbanzos, alfalfa and broccoli. Toss them onto your salad or vegetable sandwich, or just eat them by the handful.
Stop frying food. If you must heat your food, steaming and baking are best.
Zucchini “pasta” is good. Buy a spiralizer and spin some zucchini spaghetti. Toss it raw with spicy olives and cheese-free pesto. If you want to make the pesto yourself, just throw a bunch of basil in the food processor with a squeeze of lemon, a small handful of pine nuts, garlic, a jalapeno, salt and pepper. When the processor runs, drizzle in the olive oil until you get the consistency you want.
Love avocados for lunch. Slice a very ripe avocado (loaded with friendly fats) in half and remove the pit. Fill the hole with your favorite salsa and top with a plume of sprouts. Eat it with a spoon.
Follow the 80/20 rule. A healthy body is an alkaline body so 80% of the food you consume should be alkaline forming. Load up on sprouts, leafy vegetables and green juices. Try to minimize or avoid altogether high-sugar fruits, refined sugar products, salt, coffee and alcohol as they produce acid in the body.
Keep your meals small. Overeating is the hardest work your body does. Your meal should fit in a small bowl or in the cup of your hands. Chew each bite 30 times.
Embrace a liquid diet one day per week. Give your digestive system a rest. Drink freshly squeezed juices, herbal teas and warm water with lemon and cayenne.
Learn. Netflix “Supersize Me,” “Veducated,” “Forks over Knives,” “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Food, Inc.”
Visit Meetup.com. Become part of a community. Join pot-lucks and Facebook pages. Gather recipes and learn from likeminded people. Seek fellowship as you break the addiction to unhealthy food.
If you want to learn even more: Viktoras Kulvinskas will be hosting a raw vegan retreat on Sanibel Island from July 8-12. For more information, call 312. 399.0288.