The first reaction for most of us to the raw food movement might be utter disbelief. After all, how can human beings not only survive, but thrive, while eating nothing but raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains? (A strict raw food diet does not allow any cooked food, and it is a vegan diet, meaning no meat or dairy products.)
Dave Klein acknowledges that the diet is a major change for most people, but he also notes that even mainstream nutrition is moving toward raw fruits and vegetables, even if they don’t take it to the extremes of raw food proponents. “Even the mainstream sources are telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables,” he explains.
But find a raw food follower, and Klein says it’s also likely that you’ll be looking at someone who is healthy, happy, and full of energy. “Raw fooders are mostly slim, vibrant, and healthy.”
If the call for more energy makes you want to reach for your double-cream latte, consider Klein’s estimate that as many as three quarters of current raw food followers chose the diet as a result of severe health problems, many of which were caused by the typical American diet.
In fact, Klein’s own story is one he aptly describes as being saved “at the 11th hour” by his discovery of raw food eating.
In his late teens, Klein began a ten-year odyssey of increasing illness. He reached a health and personal nadir when, while still in his 20s, doctors gave him a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, then recommended removing his colon or taking fistfuls of experimental, immune-suppressing drugs.
Klein came to realize that his predicament was directly tied to his diet, which was full of a lot of red meat and junk food.
Over the next several years, Klein’s energy returned, his body healed, and he began to incorporate exercise and yoga into his regular routine.
Today, Klein is healthy, happy, and a strong proponent of the raw food diet. He is also the editor and publisher of Living Nutrition(R), an ad-free magazine dedicated to helping others along the raw food path. He also works with individuals who want to change their diets to raw foods, and with others operates raw-passion.com and the annual “Rawstock” festivals. (The next Rawstock occurs in August in Klein’s home base of Sebastopol, making the North Bay city a veritable capital of raw food culture.)
Although dedicated to the raw food cause, Klein is definitely not shrill. “Some people make a gradual change which can take 10 or 20 years, while other people will plunge right into it,” he says. “Some people find the detox too difficult. Some people fall off the path for social reasons.” But Klein focuses more on the progress, not the status. “But if they include more fruits and vegetables, year by year, they improve.” He also acknowledges that some followers allow limited amounts of dairy products, cheese or yogurt, for example, rather than a strictly raw food approach.
But one part of the raw food experience seems to include a reduction in speed. “One of the goals is to enjoy eating without being rushed, without the television on. The goal is to become healthier and more relaxed.”
Klein also encourages people to work with a health coach familiar with the raw food diet, such as himself. At the same time, he discourages a recipe-book approach. “Raw food recipe books tend to be designed to sell, so they include attractive recipes that have too many ingredients or seem too complex, and they put people off,” he explains.
Advisors such as himself, he points out, “teach people simple eating, so everything digests and we don’t eat haphazardly.”