Raw food philosophy – conversation with Evelina

Once again I am full to the brim of enthusiasm and keen interest! This time the subject matter is raw foodism. After watching the documentary called 100 Days in the Raw, I decided to experiment as well. At first I was determined that I would make it to 100 days no matter what. However, after two weeks of very strict raw foodism, I came to a conclusion that I preferred to allow myself to stay interested, play and experiment without any oaths, labels or promises, just simply by listening to my body and sensing what it needs.

My favourite thing that happened during my two weeks of experimentation (in addition to the fact that I suddenly started waking up early with lots of energy and feeling youthful like a teenager in my body) was that I met Evelina who has been a raw foodist for nearly 10 months. It was lovely to hear her story and to find out more. Our conversation in Lithuanian can be found here but I am sharing the translation below. Here is to great health!

Asta: Good evening, Evelina! Hello, hello, hello! 

Evelina: Hello!

A: Thank you very much for joining me today to chat about something that is very interesting to me. Over the last few weeks, or perhaps months even, I have been very interested in raw foodism. And two weeks ago I started what I like to call an experiment – eating only raw food. So since you are one of the very few raw-foodies that I actually know (even though we met quite recently), I still think I would like to chat with you about all of this and to ask you about your story – how you got into it, how it is going for you, what advice you could offer us. Simply put, I want to know everything you know about this subject. So if I may ask, let’s begin with a brief introduction to the raw food philosophy – as this might be useful for those who haven’t yet looked into it. And also how it all came into your life, how did you get interested in raw food?

E: Yes, so briefly about raw foodism – it is basically eating living foods. And living foods is all food – and many have differing opinions about this – that has not been heated above 42C, some say 45C. So that can be considered raw food. To be honest, I eat living foods that have not been heated at all and are completely fresh. If available, I try to eat food that is as fresh as possible, we grow our own food, so we can eat food picked 10 minutes ago. To me that’s the most amazing food.

Raw foodism came into my life probably in the same way as it does to many people. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone, but many discover it due to health problems. They begin to feel that what they eat and their lifestyle choices do not bring as much health, energy and vitality as they would like, and sometimes even lead to lack of wellness. My story began because I was looking for a solution, when mainstream medicine could not longer help me.

A: And, so. What changes have you noticed? How did you conclude that it was for you? How did you decide that it was working for you?

E: To be honest, we started very slowly with my partner. It wasn’t something that we began overnight where you just wake up one morning and cut off all cooked and fried foods in one go. We started slowly, and for us it happened very organically. We kept wanting to progress and to keep going further and further with it, take out one thing, then another. And then one morning we woke up and decided to take out those remaining 10% of thermically processed food that we had been eating. But this was a conscious decision. Until then – those 80-90% – it’s hard to measure exactly – but it was so obvious, so gradual, that there were no questions about any other way. That was the way it came.

A: And what changes in your health would you say you noticed, changes in your body, physical changes that you felt? Maybe also from the stories of other raw foodists that you know, what are the benefits? And also how long have you been following a raw food diet?

E: I began my journey 1.5 years ago, and I have been eating 100% raw food since New Year, so for 9.5 months. So, really, I am quite a newbie raw foodist. I am still learning and every day new challenges and new information come. I think the vastness of information is immeasurable, how and what to do. And then everyone sees raw foodism differently, which is also interesting. And regarding how it helped me, as I mentioned, I had spent years fighting against – if I could use this phrase although I don’t like it – various health imbalances and raw foodism resolved all of it.

A: And what would you say is the most difficult part of this whole process? I really liked that you just shared that for you it was quite a slow and natural process. But now, 9 months into it, are there any challenges or difficulties – day to day what is the most difficult part of it?

E: Really, it is being a guest at someone’s home or sometimes while travelling, but mostly it is the societal and cultural views about this because food is a part of our lives. And it’s not for nothing that families get together around the table and food is what links everyone. So with many people we don’t have that anymore. It is no longer possible to just simply get together and go out for dinner and have a chat with friends. Because, really, what I eat is not suitable to my friends, it doesn’t taste nice to them, it’s fun to try but they won’t have their dinner this way as it’s not for them.

A: So what about the closest people – how can this issue be resolved? How can it be explained or solved with the family members or closest friends? Or are there situations where this cannot necessarily be resolved and you have to part ways and that’s that?

E: Well, it depends on each person. Some try to understand you and be accommodating. It’s not very complicated for me to bring my own food and I like it, but there are some that continue to insist, “have a bit of meat and eat some potatoes”, and so on. And simply don’t accept after all this time that you live differently, eat differently, have a different lifestyle, and they still attempt to convince you that what you are doing is not right. Because the majority of our society lives differently and you need to do it in the same way as what is acceptable, what is a norm, a conviction.

A: And, what did you eat today for example? Tell us all, from breakfast to dinner – what do you eat throughout the day?

E: I have not eaten dinner yet.

A: Ah, OK. Then what will you be preparing for dinner? Tell us!

E: I only eat twice a day. I have looked into this and, for example, our famous (Lithuanian) writer Vydūnas – nobody really talks about it – but in reality he was a fruitarian.

A: A-ha!

E: I read, I think in the 2nd volume of his writings, about food and about how to eat, how to transition to vegetarianism, veganism, then raw foodism and then fruitarianism. It’s all written in the old Lithuanian dialect. So it’s very interesting, and it was there that I discovered that, really, the body needs to rest from food. Because with food it is not only the nutrients that come into the body but also all kinds of pesticides, herbicides, and so on. Especially in our current society when everything is being sprayed and dealt with in a chemical way. So, really, I am trying to give my body a maximum possibility to clean up and, therefore, I eat only twice a day. Looking deeper into it, there are certain energies that thus have enough time to circulate, but that’s another topic.

But today, I only made a very very big smoothie for breakfast with peaches, nectarines, and plums which are in season at the moment. So it was peaches, plums, some dates for sweetness and kale leaves. And for dinner I will be making a cabbage salad with tomatoes and sun-dried tomato dressing.

A: And during the day, while at work?..

E: I drink water.

A: You don’t snack on anything?

E: No. Oh and yes, I sort of have two breakfasts. I drink my smoothie and then later eat a few apples. And that’s that.

A: And any other liquids? Juices? Or not really?

E: No, I only drink water.

A: Tea?

E: Rarely, but I try not to. It’s not living water although there are many different opinions about living water. But then again, this is a whole new topic.

A: And, yes, please tell me again – what will be in your salad this evening?

E: Organic cabbage, a few different varieties of tomatoes, celery, lots of onion, and the dressing will be made from pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, raw tomatoes and some spices.

A: Going back to the beginning, as you were saying, your transition process was quite slow – I think that is the most consistent and probably the most gentle way to do this. Drastic changes are somewhat more challenging because certain cravings may remain for a specific flavour or texture. So, for example, now after 9 months, are there any things that you crave, something that you remember and think to yourself, “that would be so tasty”?

E: To be honest, for me the most challenging part is pastries. And when I am hungry and pass by a bakery, the smell of fresh buns or bread, yeah… In general, I remember since childhood, to me all food with flour in it was quite something, so it probably remains that way as it used to be my favourite food.

A: Another very interesting subject for me in this whole topic about eating – which was especially relevant in my 2 week experiment because I felt this very strongly – is the emotional side of eating. Because as you are saying, there are certain flavours that remain appealing since childhood. Maybe when I was little and hurt myself, someone used to give me a sweet. Or my favourite cake that my mom used to bake that smelled so nicely of vanilla, or something like that. And really, I felt it also, that for me the challenge is not so much about the physical transitioning to eating something different but about seeing myself without having anything to hide behind. Because it’s as if food creates this emotional space to be in – like, “oh I am having a bad day today, I’ll go and eat loads of nice pastries, and somehow everything will be better”. Do you still sometimes feel this need? How did you get over this whole emotional intertwinement with food and this attachment that I think many of us have?

E: Hmm… It’s an interesting question. I didn’t really have an attachment as such, as I was never one of those people that when stressed go for food. For me it was the opposite, when something is not going well, I don’t want to eat at all. So for me, trying to hide certain feelings behind food was never really an issue and it’s a bit difficult to comment.

A: What else do you like besides salads and smoothies? What other options are available to raw foodists?

E: In reality, there are many different levels of raw foodism. There is the gourmet level which is very relevant to people who first begin to transition from being omnivorous or vegetarians. It’s gourmet food where the idea is not to try to eat the real food but to achieve those flavours that the person is used to. For example, attempts are being made to re-create meat or cheese  and so on, and so on. So it really depends on what the person wants and how he or she sees their path. For example, for some eating plain mango will be the greatest pleasure while for others the flavour will not be sufficient. But this also depends on – I don’t want to call it “cleanliness” – but perhaps preparedness of the body to accept the flavours. Also, eating out became more complicated for us when we stopped consuming oil. We try to eat whole foods. And oil – for example from walnuts – is basically fats extracted from the nuts and the fibre is discarded. So we try to avoid these things and eat whole food.

Really, my daily food is as follows, and perhaps to some it will seem really boring, but every morning I start off with water, at least half a litre. And then I have a huge huge huge smoothie, with the fruit that are in season at thar particular time. So that’s my breakfast. And once in a while, on weekends, when I have more time and want something gourmet, but a little less healthy – why less healthy? because digestion becomes more difficult the more ingredients are added – I make what’s known as smoothie-bowls. Which is basically a bowl full of smoothie with banana, fruit added on top of it. So this might be a breakfast one weekend once a month when I want something special.

Many think that if you are a raw foodist that all the sweets and desserts disappear. Asta, you know that there are so many fantastic things that can be made, that I think many omnivores haven’t even tried. The possibilities are vast. So once in a while we treat ourselves to raw desserts. And for dinner we usually have salads. Once in a while we have raw pasta made from zucchini, but rarely, since we grow some of our food ourselves and we try to eat what is in the garden.

A: And in winter? And especially, with cold winters that you have in Lithuania?

E: In winter, to be honest, it’s more difficult. You need to adapt to what you can find in the supermarkets and markets. But I don’t miss warm food in winter.

A: No?

E: No. The only “crime”, if I can call it such, is that I drink tea, but I always drink it at no higher than 50*C. However, technically, that is not raw food as it has been heated. But that is it.

A: And you don’t feel like you have a need for warm food?

E: No.

A: And now tell us about water. You have mentioned multiple times living water. As you’ve said it, there are various levels of theories about every idea, but share about it as a general concept.

E: Well, yes. So first of all, we should start by talking about tap water which is contaminated with various chemicals, chloride, fluoride – I don’t want to list all the rest that I am not sure about. So really, all of this accumulates in the body, and it accumulates in such a way that it impedes the functioning of the body, because it gets deposited in the liver, kidneys, and so on, and the body struggles. We are able to have access to water from a borehole which does not go through the main water pipes, so we are very lucky. But as far as I have researched, there is one more step forward which is practiced by many raw foodists. And that is distilled water. However, that is not living water as distilling is just a way to clean water through collecting the vapour. As it is through vapour, then automatically it is heated water and therefore it is considered “dead”. However, for now I am not sure if that’s the way I will be doing it. Maybe one day but I haven’t come to that point yet.

A: There are many levels to raw foodism, as you’ve said it.

E: Yes, there are many levels. And if we start talking about the next stage which is about what foods go together, what things can be eaten together and what should be avoided, and also the idea that many of the fruits and vegetables that are commonly eaten are hybrids created in laboratories. I am not talking about those where a peach is mixed with a plum but, for example, some say that carrots and beetroot were created in a laboratory, despite them being quite old foods not some new hybrid that just appeared in the stores. For now, all these ideas I have only half-implemented. Some things have been taken out of our diet, others have stayed. How will it be going forward? I’ve only travelled a small part of the raw food journey and the road ahead is still long. So I still have time to take things out.

A: And what inspires you the most? Are there any people, perhaps someone you know, or from the raw foodist community in Lithuania or on Facebook, or on Instagram? In other words, who are the people that have helped you in your discoveries and search for information?

E: I started my search on YouTube and in books. And that led to what was popular in that moment, the most viewed and with the biggest numbers of followers. So for me what really made everything clear was Life Regenerator, who is on YouTube, his name is Dan McDonald. And he has really had an interesting journey. Then there was this Markus, a raw foodist with a German surname that I don’t want to mispronounce [Asta’s note: Markus Rothkranz], also very interesting. And then some books appeared. One of the books that left the strongest impression was a book by Arnold Ehret who was a real eye-opener for me into the world of raw foodism and the idea that perhaps a human doesn’t need so much and such a huge amount of food as we think. And there is that popular theory that if you are a raw foodist or a vegan you don’t eat that many calories so you should stuff yourself to the maximum. But perhaps it is not all necessarily like that. And it’s all just experiments, experiments with yourself and it’s one thing to hear or see something, and quite another to actually experience.

A: I really agree with what you are saying about listening to yourself. And perhaps that not everything is suitable to everyone in the same way. I think you need to discover what is right for you. And also for different stages in life that will mean different things, so I think this is very important. But I also wanted to ask, for example, that whole topic of all those superfoods and super supplements. There are so many available now – starting with cacao nibs, goji berries, bee pollen. In other words, this whole new market of superfoods, supplements, and so on. Some say that vegans and vegetarians, but perhaps vegans and raw foodists especially can be lacking in vitamins, and so on. What is your opinion about all these super supplements?

E: In my time I also jumped on the same bandwagon. Now I have a pantry full of macas, chias, dried physalis, and other similar ones. What else was there? All sorts of herbs, I am trying to remember what else is on my shelves. Mesquite powder, moringa, and so on. I have all of them stored away. But do I use them every day? Absolutely not. It’s always so interesting, you read that so-and-so balances the hormones, so-and-so adds energy, and so on and on. I don’t know but I think that just like everywhere there is no miracle pill that will flip the world upside down and add a super improvement to one’s health. Yes, of course, they help somewhat. But it’s also a question of the quality of those powders. Because it’s very easy to add things to powders, so it’s very important to note where they come from. For example, spirulina and chlorella – many people look at the price and don’t doubt or don’t even look at the label where it says that it’s made in China. We know that the industry is growing rapidly there, and all those pollutants get deposited into the water. Water pollution is a huge problem in China. And all that spirulina and chlorella growing in water absorb and assimilate all of that. So then the question is whether it is perhaps better to eat that Lithuanian apple instead of the spirulina or chlorella from China. So that’s that. But if someone wants high quality then obviously there is a price to pay. Therefore, perhaps it is better to buy less but of better quality where you know – or at least you hope that you know – where it was cultivated and how it was done. Rather than buying lots cheaply and be happy that you are adding to your health.

A: So what’s next in your raw foodism journey? You say the road is still long. Are there any things that you want to do differently?

E: I should really work on learning to combine the different foods. Because in theory, the rules of eating should follow the way that the body digests based on the length of digestion. In reality, you cannot eat food that takes a long time to digest, then add on top food that digests quickly, and then expect that your stomach and all the digestive organs will function well. So yes, that’s something that I need to work on. Because first of all, it is the quick carbohydrates that get digested, so sweet fruit, then dried fruit if I am not mistaken, then the carbohydrates, protein and then fats at the very end. So then there is this whole discussion about when people make smoothies and add hemp seeds that are full of protein, some kind of nuts rich in fats, sweet fruit, sour fruit, and create something with nearly twenty ingredients.

A: Exactly what I do. 

E: It’s tasty. It’s probably tasty but the question is how it all is for the body. Do we want to make its job easier and give it a chance to fight a little less every day whilst trying to break down this messy mixture by the duration of digestion? Or do we perhaps want to let more harmony in? But for me at least for now, it’s still not quite there. Like I said, there is always space for perfecting it, and I don’t hide that.

A: And is there a community in Lithuania, especially for those living in Vilnius? Is it easy to find like-minded people with whom you can meet and eat an apple together?

E: I really don’t know as I haven’t tried to meet face-to-face. But I have always had a wish to find someone who may not necessarily be a raw foodist but lives and thinks similarly, maybe is a vegan. But not quite yet. Of course it is possible to go on Facebook to some of the groups where it really is possible to find like-minded people. However, to try and initiate personal connection or contact, it hasn’t happened yet somehow. Life has worked out in such a way that it hasn’t happened yet.

A: Now to finish this off, for everyone who is thinking try this – I think even if for a few days there is some kind of benefit, even if it is just for one day, or one day per week, or whichever way it may be – so for everyone who wants to try raw foodism, what advice would you offer? What books would you suggest to start with? How would you advise to transition to it?

E: I think that it is best to do it in a way that is easiest to each person. In general, I don’t think it is necessary to start it as an experiment that gets started overnight. One can simply begin by adding to their diet more foods that are not thermically processed. As far as I have read and researched, the body does not recognise thermically processed food and it is like a foreign substance that the body does not know what to do with. And the body attacks it. So really, the more that it it is possible to add raw food, the better. Even if it is 20%. Because some people instead of a salad choose rice, and so on. So even if a person can choose a salad rather than another side dish, that alone is already a big step and help to the body. But I think that what tastes nice is always the easiest. So if someone really likes a banana smoothies with nuts and proteins or protein powder or something like that – just making that step alone will allow seeing for themselves the way they want to go and whether they want to continue on this path. Because continuing on it, the perfecting happens on its own. So small steps. There is no need for a revolution, it is possible to simply let it evolve. Everyone chooses their own. There are people that wake up the next morning and decide they will be raw foodists. So if that suits them, they like it and it works for them, then that’s also something to congratulate. It requires a lot of strength and stubborness and work with oneself, and inner peace to know that what I am doing is right for me. This way they are not scared that they will be lacking something or that will not be able to do it, or that they will start losing hair and will end up going bald. So that’s what it is – looking for your own path. And to not be scared. Try it and if it doesn’t work then it means no. To each their own.

A: Thank you very much. Thanks, Evelina. It was lovely to chat, to find out more about your journey and I hope we’ll chat again. Thank you very much to you this evening. And goodbye.

E: Thank you very much for inviting. It was fun!


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