I didn’t know it was possible to feel this good.
I woke up not long ago thinking, “This is the craziest thing: I’m a hair shy of those senior-citizen discounts and I feel sensational.” I knew it was what health advocate, Arnold Ehret, one hundred years ago called “Paradise Health.” I had it: physically and emotionally.
I’ve been on a pretty good path for a long time. Although I spent the first thirty years of my life bingeing and dieting — always gaining or losing weight, and conversely losing and gaining my flimsy self-esteem — I finally gave up the fight and was open to recovery from the inside out.
Once I wasn’t eating for a fix anymore, I was able to move toward a plant-based diet, ending up at profound, committed veganism. Even though I did it, as Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “for the health of the chickens,” it was good for my health, too. It was easy to stay trim and avoid the heart disease and diabetes that plague both sides of my family of origin.
But half a dozen years ago, I felt the nudge to go a bit greener, a bit cleaner, with my diet: more fresh juices, and superfood smoothies, and great big salads that look like Christmas: mostly green, with splashes of other bright colors.
I have some treats: dried fruit, raw desserts, “bread” and crackers and kale chips made in a dehydrator, but mostly lots and lots (and lots) of greens: green juices, green salads, green smoothies, steamed greens, sautéed greens. I use nuts and seeds in recipes and salad dressing with flax or hemp or olive oil in it. I feel balanced and nourished and never have that stuffed, too-much-fat feeling.
I also don’t worry about sugar. I eat fresh fruit, and put bananas in smoothies, and make desserts with dates and a touch here and there of maple syrup. I know I’m not getting too much of that either.
Hot soup and creamy tea (nondairy creamy, of course) are definitely in my life in the winter, but for days at a time in summer, I’m all raw, and on the days that I have something cooked, it’s usually just that: something, one thing—a steamed yam, garbanzos in a salad.
The first thing I noticed after making the switch was how happy I felt. My default for contentment had gone up a few notches. People used to say, “How are you?” and I’d say, “Okay.” That was accurate. I was perfectly okay. Now I’m more apt to say “Fabulous!” and mean that. A fog has lifted. Happiness came even before energy and strength and clarity, but those have come, too.
Someone told me when I was first recovering from binge-eating: “You can’t do this with fear.” I feel the same way about upgrading my food choices. It needs to be a joy and an adventure.
And there are perks: energy. The end of cravings. Sensational tastes from simple foods. Beautiful skin. That uncanny “glow.” If this sounds good to you, here are tips that helped me:
• Don’t lose too much weight. I realize this can sound like a luxury problem, but on a high-raw diet, you have to eat enough.
• Learn to love those nutrient-packed greens. Eat embarrassingly large salads. Make green lemonade in a —celery or romaine, kale, apple, lemon—in your juicer. Whiz up green smoothies; put your fruity ingredients in the blender and then fill it with mild greens—romaine, leaf lettuce, spianch, kale—they’ll change the color but not the taste of your shake, and if you put in enough blueberries, your “green smoothie” will be temptingly purple.
• Get a user-friendly recipe book that doesn’t intimidate you with exotic ingredients and unfamiliar appliances. I use Jennifer Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People more than any other cook(less) book.
• Take vitamin B12 regularly. All vegans need to do this. Taking B12 is the price of getting to be vegan, the way wearing a helmet is the price of getting to ride a motorcycle. It’s so easy to take a sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablet three or four times a week; you don’t even have to swallow a pill.
• Consider taking vitamin D, especially if you avoid the sun (your doctor can check your levels), and perhaps an algae-based Omega 3 supplement (I use one called V-Pure; it doesn’t have an oceanic aftertaste).
• Eat pumpkins seeds for zinc, Brazil nuts for selennium, seaweed for iodine.
• Brush your teeth after eating, especially if you’ve been enjoying sweet or acidic fruits.
• Have a glorious and adventurous life. You don’t want to get so involved in what you eat that you forget to live your life: have fun, check off your bucket list entries, engage in activism for causes you believe in.
And then you can simply live and let live. There’s no need to preach or proselytize when your vitality is doing it for you.
Victoria Moran is the author of bestselling books including Creating a Charmed Life, Younger by the Day, The Love-Powered Diet, and her latest, Main Street Vegan, written with the help of her lifelong-vegan daughter, Adair. Victoria has appeared on Oprah, hosts the weekly Main Street Vegan podcast, and is founder and director of Main Street Vegan Academy, a weeklong in-person program in New York City to train and certify Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators.