First a definition: The terms “live
food” and “raw food” refer to food that has not been
heated to the point at which the enzymes are destroyed. Dr. Edward Howell,
author of Enzyme Nutrition, reports that when a food is heated to 118
degrees for a half hour, all of its enzymes are destroyed.
Here is my story. When I was about 16 years old, I began modifying my
diet. After reading Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore
Lappé, I cut down my red meat consumption and didn’t feel
as sleepy after eating. I later replaced chicken, then fish and then
dairy with nuts, seeds and avocados (in addition to grains, fruits and
vegetables). My motivation in making these changes was initially based
mostly on the environmental and health reasons outlined in Diet for
a Small Planet (and later in Diet for a New America by John Robbins).
I liked the idea of eating in a less resource-intensive fashion and
having better heath at the same time. Over time, eating in a way that
did not involve harm to animals became part of my motivation.
When I was in my early 30s, I started introducing more and more live
foods into my diet—influenced by the work of Gabriel Cousens,
Viktoras Kulvinskas and Ann Wigmore—and experiencing increased
energy. After a fruit smoothie with soaked almonds, I would feel nourished
but not tired. After eating a salad with sunflower sprouts and avocados,
I would feel nourished, light and refreshed. I tried eating 100 percent
live food when I was 36, but at that time there was not as much information
available as there is today, and I found myself losing more weight than
I wanted to, so I went to eating about 50 percent live food.
In January 2001 I got a “cold,” following my pattern of
getting one every six months or so. The symptoms that I would get felt
remarkably similar to what I felt after eating cooked food. For example,
after a meal of fresh vegetable juice followed by brown rice and tofu,
I would get the common reaction of being tired and having a scratchy
throat. This matched up well with the descriptions that I had read of
digestive leukocytosis, the increase of white blood cells reacting to
a foreign substance in the body.
Armed with new information and the support of the larger live food community
we have today, I made the transition to almost 100 percent raw, and
after refining my approach I am happy with the results. Digestion is
easier, breathing is easier as sinuses are clear, and my mental clarity
is perhaps increased.
I have had some problems with my teeth, which I ascribe to eating too
high a percentage of fruit. I have been decreasing fruit, increasing
greens, sea vegetables, vitamin and mineral supplementation. This is
an ongoing process; I am paying attention to how my body feels. I also
make an effort to abide by the other principals of health, including
exercise, rest and perhaps most importantly, maintaining a positive
A Growing Community
One of the advantages of living in New York is that there are strong
communities that support alternative choices; and there is a large and
growing live food community now. In my case, I attended a lecture at
Caravan of Dreams restaurant by Viktoras Kulvinskas. There I learned
about many of the other events going on around the city, including a
live food preparation class at High Vibe. Shortly thereafter I began
attending the Accent on Wellness Raw Food Potluck in Manhattan and the
Brooklyn Raw Food Potluck. Some of the events have a party flavor to
them, so there is plenty of opportunity to socialize, laugh and dance.
There are now at least five restaurants in the New York City area that
offer extensive live food menus, and many more that offer at least some
choices. Caravan of Dreams and Quintessence in Manhattan, and Green
Paradise in Brooklyn are good places to start.
The increased interest in live food has been astonishing. I’m
amazed at the number of live food events and the number of people making
live foods a part of their lifestyle.
I have long believed that it is in our enlightened self-interest to
work toward creating a community that supports our positive growth.
With this in mind, a few years ago I decided to devote some of my energy
to creating a website that offers community-building services, such
as listings of upcoming events; links to sources for alternative news
and issues related to animals, the environment, health, live food, peace
and justice, and political awareness; recipes; a free email listserve;
and a page to locate live food resources by state complete with a link
to a map of the area.
It is useful to read books, attend lectures and talk with other people.
That said, the most important task—and probably the most difficult—is
to get in touch with your own body.
For me the question is, when you eat live food do you feel better? One
of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is to notice how you feel
when you make a particular food. How did you feel when you ate it and
how did you feel afterward? How do you feel in the short term and how
do you feel in the long term?
For me and many other people the answers to the above questions are
positive. I have heard people describe their experience with live food
as helping them feel more connected to the natural world, heal from
health challenge and even to feel more spiritually connected.
I honestly do not know if live food is right for everyone at every point
in their life. That said, because I have felt benefits for myself, I
am with this article and with my website offering an invitation to people
to give live food a try. Hope to meet you at a live food event and until
Tony White is a long-time live foodist and creator
a website intended to help people connect.