Published in The Student Life on 12.07.2007
After the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and three kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, going raw for a week doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. It does seem daunting, though. Raw food eating is the most extreme form of the vegan diet: in addition to all animal products, raw eaters say ‘no’ to anything cooked at a temperature above F 180 (C 82). Armed with the support of yogis and environmentalists who enjoy normal body functions without a warm lunch, I embark on this journey towards a cleansing and environment-friendly way of eating. Actually, I am optimistic and quite excited about a week of fresh and dry fruit, veggies, and raw nuts. Frary, have mercy!
Day 1. Driving back from Thanksgiving break. I stock up on apples on my way out of the hotel and hope we can make it back on time for dinner. A paper bag on the seat next to me contains California sushi rolls, smoked salmon, and two boxes of my friend’s grandma’s cookies. I am a good girl and look out of the window.
Day 2. I start the day with an apple, feeling healthy and optimistic. By 1pm I am starving and my condition is not the least changed by lunch at Frary. Where are the cranberries and why are all the nuts roasted? Dinner at Scripps is significantly raw-friendly and the fruit I manage to take out keeps me going until late at night. Meanwhile, my friends are getting worried: after class, I find a cup of raisins on the handle of my door.
Day 3. I realize that good planning is crucial; so is an open mind. My lunch consists of a big salad, raw mushrooms, and pineapple and I actually leave Oldenborg full and content. Cranberries and apples are a good snack in the afternoon but a problem arises when my friends decide to go to In-N-Out around midnight. Fearing that my social life would suffer an immense damage if I let food restrictions keep me home, I join wholeheartedly and order lemonade. Another lesson I learn: keep your awkward eating habits to yourself; not everyone would approve of a diet that excludes “the best hamburgers in the US.”
Day 4. I discover the miracle of fresh mushrooms. A quick Google research makes me regret I have not eaten enough of these tasty almost-vegetables before. Apparently, in addition to being low cal and low fat, mushrooms are full of various vitamins and nutrients. As I get past the middle of my raw food week, I feel healthy and optimistic. My gym schedule is unchanged and my sleepiness can surely be attributed to the post-Thanksgiving workload. I am looking forward to discovering more raw food options.
Day 5. My enthusiasm is dead and, honestly, I am bored. The mushrooms I was so happy about yesterday already make me sick. I feel like I have been eating the same food forever. An interesting realization is that it is not meat and sweets that I miss, but rather cooked vegetables; you know how soothing and comforting they can be. My moods are fickle. Can’t wait for Sunday brunch!
Day 6. For the sake of authenticity I have to admit that I am not feeling well today. I woke up with zero energy and missed all my classes. I am not sure whether the deficiency of cooked food in my system has anything to do with that; it might be a result of my recently hectic schedule featuring loads of reading and almost no sleep. In any case, I feel like going to bed. No dinner.
Day 7. Finally something exciting! Juliano’s RAW, a raw vegan food restaurant in Santa Monica, proves that raw food eating could be bearable, even delicious and fun. The place itself sets you in the mood for something eccentric and back-to-nature: embraced by exotic plants, the bar displays a variety of dried fruit and nuts for sale. The menu is beyond surprising. A Pesto Pizza Deepdish featuring “authentic walnut pesto, tomatoes, Italian herbs, olives, marinated onions & shrooms” on a buckwheat crust promises to be “Best Pizza Ever!” and actually comes quite close; the cheese tastes so cheesy, I could swear it is real. The dish costs $11.09 and is good for a light lunch. Another thing we order, the Lightning Sushi Roll (“sun-dried & fresh tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, mint, onion & nut chez”), is a less satisfying but still interesting pick for $6.47.
I walk out of Juliano’s with the definite conclusion that a healthy raw food diet is possible and even enjoyable, but not in college. One needs a significant amount of time and money in order to go raw without going low on the much-needed academic and social energy. If you are feeling curious and experimental, try it out next summer.