Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am Brook, Hear Me RAWr!

Quote of the blog:

Talia: “I’m not sure I could ever date a vegan. Our principles would be so different. Mine being ‘I want steak all the time.’”

Allyson: “And mine being, ‘Feed me more bacon.’”


Earlier this year, my friend Amy, who is a health-conscience vegetarian, (aren’t they all?) challenged a few of her friends to go Raw for one week. She tried Raw for a couple of months, and while she isn’t a life-long Raw food advocate, she says, “there are so many benefits that come from weaning yourself off the SAD (Standard American Diet) to a diet rich in fresh, unprocessed, real food.” I agree and agreed to the challenge. An excerpt from her original email explains what we were to do:

To get wikipedia on you: Raw foodism is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of Raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. (Food is not cooked above 118 degrees in an effort to preserve enzymes.)

For a week, beginning May 9th [the challenge] is to experiment with subsisting entirely on fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouts... nothing cooked or processed.

I wish I had somehow recorded the reactions of my coworkers when I told them I was going Raw for a week. To some extent, we are all foodies and work-talk is interspersed with food-talk of gastronomical proportions. We talk about Iron Chef, the Food Network, recipes, and restaurants. At breakfast time we talk about what we’ll eat for lunch, at lunchtime we talk about what we’ll eat for dinner and sometimes even what we should eat the next day.

Currently, no one in our small office is vegetarian or vegan let alone a Rawist (I may have made that term up). The amount of skepticism they showed made me nervous. I put on a nonchalant front, “Meh, should be fine, it’s only a week.” but was slightly nervous on the inside. I did Raw one week after everyone else because of conflicting non-Raw-friendly plans the week of the challenge. This meant I heard feedback from everyone else who tried it before I did. Amy found that most of her female friends didn't have any issues with going Raw, but most of her male friends found it difficult. But my nonchalance turned to nervousness after our friend Ryan sent us an email about going Raw for a week. I knew it would be a good read when I saw the subject line: “Raw is War Spelled Backwards.” An excerpt from his thorough (and unbelievably amusing) email is below:

By the time Thursday rolled around, I had no appetite whatsoever. I wasn’t craving the food I couldn’t eat, and I certainly wasn’t craving the ones I could. I was just over the whole thing. Tired of thinking about food all day, and tired of being mad at Amy and everyone else around me. I felt no burst of energy as promised and I think I actually gained weight because I over-compensated by eating approximately four times the amount of fruit I usually do. And what’s worse, I felt none of the cool bragging rights I thought I’d feel. Before, oh how I longed to tell people things like, “Oh I’m sorry, I’ll have to pass… I’m on a RAW DIET you see” and then soak in all of their praise and respect. I didn’t care for any of that. I was ashamed and embarrassed about what I was masochistically and unnecessarily doing to myself. I was like a cutter. Who just cut fruit and no cheese. I just wanted to go back to the old Me. If I wasn’t broke, why break me?

I do love my fruit and vegetables and generally eat healthy foods, but as I read Ryan’s email and thought about the upcoming week I wondered if I was self-imposing an early descent into the 3rd level of Hell – the level reserved for the gluttonous (if eating meat and cooked foods is gluttony).

The Friday before the week of Raw I went grocery-shopping with my co-worker Pei. She is the coworker who eats dinners for breakfast (see “Roast Duck” in the post “Come Again?”). We started in the fresh veggies/fruits section of Fairway. I bought broccoli, avocadoes, spinach, onions, dates, apples, bananas. Then we moved on to grains; I bought quinoa, dried chick peas, raw almonds, flax seeds, wheat berries, etc. As we walked around the store Pei pointed out all the things I couldn’t eat. “See those cookies? You won’t be able to eat those!” or, pointing to the meat section, “Or that!”, the hot soups, “or that!” And then she looked at my basket and shook her head, “Zoo food! You are buying food for zoo animals!” Then she laughed.

Oh, by the way, when I first announced that I was going Raw I changed my gchat status to “RAW!” which prompted various inquiries, but my favorite was from a friend, “Raw what? Is this from a song I don't know?”

And the week before I started Raw I announced in my best monster-truck voice, “I’m starting RAAAAAAW on Monday! Monday! Mondaaaaaaaaay!” Unfortunately, that led to a friend asking if I was prepping to watch WWE ( No, but I would have my own personal battle with sprouting wheat berries and the blender.

On Monday, day one of Raw, I was prepared. I started the morning out with blended banana, apple and soaked flax (actually delicious). I had salad for lunch. And ate veggies and quinoa (that I had sprouted) for dinner.

On TuesdayI was eating a salad and my coworker glancing at my meal said, “I’ll be right back, I’m going to go eat something cooked.”

The next few days were pretty similar although I realized I should have planned my dinners better. One night I blended sprouted wheat berries with a banana, blackberries, and strawberries and ate a kind of cold wheat berry sorbet. It was tasty but I wanted something to eat. I wanted something hot and cooked. I ended up slicing and salting a raw potato. Imagine my joy when I found out raw fish was on the relatively short “OK TO EAT” list. The next two days I ordered sashimi for lunch.

I also made almond milk – which I found surprisingly delicious. And, unlike Ryan, I found some self-congratulatory satisfaction in trying Raw for a week and saying, “Oh, what's this? It’s almond milk. I made it.” Although, it’s not as impressive when they’d find out that all you need is a blender, raw almonds, water, agave, and cheesecloth.

Going Raw for a week influenced the way I eat. I’m more aware of what I’m eating and have incorporated more grains (albeit cooked) into my diet. And I love raw almonds and almond milk. All in all, trying Raw, even for such a short amount of time, was a good experience.

Even though my weeklong fling with Raw happened last May it still comes up in the office sometimes. Someone might talk about steak or bacon or a turkey sandwich and then say, “Remember that time Brook went Raw?” The room falls quiet for a brief moment of silence and headshaking.

On the last and final day of Raw, I went to dinner downtown with some friends. I told them about the week’s experiment over a big, juicy, hot, cooked, cheeseburger.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! My bro and sisters all did a cleanse for a week and only drank lemon water flavored with some cayenne and organic maple syrup. When they all got the runs after I was glad I had forgone the pleasure. ha ha No but it's great to try new things!