Vegan in the Raw

One women's newfound love for living foods
By Vicki Confrey

After decades of suffering from lactose intolerance and sensitivity to basically anything with taste, I decided to change my diet. But my fledgling gastronomic experience as a vegan did nothing to prepare me for my first raw-food meal. After all, it's not terribly hard to be a vegan—or just a vegetarian—the challenge lies in being a healthy one. Let’s face it: French fries are fair vegan fare, yet they hardly rank very high on the nutrition ladder. As I entered my sixth month of veganhood, I began to realize that the whole point of veganism was not just to eat meatlessly and cheeselessly, but more healthfully as well. Luckily for me, the first organic, raw-food restaurant opened in my neighborhood at about the same time. Its grand-opening banner touted, “Living Cuisine.” Intrigued, I wondered: What could that mean?

The menu described imitation cream cheese and ricotta pastes made from strange mixtures of mashed nuts and seeds laced with minced chives. Long strips of succulent zucchini replaced pasta. Collard greens served as tortilla substitutes for the most deliciously fresh veggie wraps I have ever tasted. All the beverages were juiced from whole fruits and vegetables, and concocted into bursting flavors of carrot, apple, lime, and ginger.

Yes, the chef made raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds taste exquisite. And these gourmet delights not only tasted fantastic, they were seemingly prepared with my stomach's welfare in mind. Actually, living cuisine improves everyone's digestion because of one simple fact: Generally, when you boil, bake, barbecue, and otherwise cook food at temperatures above 114 degrees, the heat destroys the enzymes that help you metabolize food, absorb nutrients, and obtain the most energy from what you consume.

Raw foodists say that eating live foods actually makes you feel better and gives you more energy because they vibrate at a higher frequency. As for me? I wouldn’t know high frequency from low fat—but I can truly attest to the energy and warmth I felt flowing through the pathways of my body after eating my first raw meal. My tumultuous tummy finally felt at peace with digestion.