Wellness coach and raw vegan Shola Arewa talks about an experience that turned her against meat and her journey to raw living
There is nothing quite like seeing an animal cut in half the ‘wrong way’ to make you reconsider your eating habits. I suppose most of us have seen animals cut in half lengthways, nose to tail, being carried into butchers’ shops. Nasty, but after a few glimpses you become accustomed to this sight and somehow anaesthetised to it. But when I saw an animal that had been cut in two across the transverse plane, through the waist, it came as a profound shock. A head and front legs separated from the back legs. I was in India and I saw clearly for the first time. I haven’t eaten meat since – and that was thirty years ago.
India was a big wake-up call for me. I woke up in many ways – as well as going vegetarian, I became a yoga teacher, a naturopath and a much more conscious human.
Yet despite my horror and refusal to eat anything with foot, fin, face or feather, I happily continued to eat the little dairy I had always consumed, yogurt and cheese. I fought the corner for vegetarians for years. I answered the question, “Well, what do you eat then?” more than a trillion times. I was called a crank. I got offered potatoes – just potatoes – on a flight from Thailand as if it was a vegetarian meal. I heard my doctor refer to my eating habits as ‘a poor diet’. All this for so many years, with no desire whatsoever to become a vegan.
Yoga and a vegetarian diet have served me well. I enjoy very good health, and I’ve always maintained the same weight since I was in my twenties. I’m now in my fifties, but most people think I’m ten or twenty years younger. Thanks! Almost every day someone is trying to work out my age. “If you have been a psychologist, yoga teacher and health professional for thirty years, how old are you?”
As a wellness coach, I see myself as an agent of change, yet I can be very stuck in my ways. I loved cheese and was a big fan of yoghurt, but suddenly I’ve shifted from a traditional vegetarian diet to being a raw food vegan and it feels as if I have woken up yet again.
I learned about raw food in the 1990s through a friend, Leslie Kenton, who was the beauty editor for Harpers and Queen magazine and long time advocate of eating raw. After years of dabbling, I became a serious raw foodie about five years ago. Yet I still wasn’t vegan, and had no intention of giving up cheese or yoghurt. I knew Raw Vegan was widely seen as the most enlightened and conscious way of eating for both personal and planetary health. Raw Vegan is said to be the ‘yoga of food’.
Then quite suddenly and totally organically over the last few months I have become a dedicated Raw Vegan and I am loving it. For most of my life, food has been mainly functional; I ate because you have to. I enjoyed food, but there was never any real excitement. But now I am totally excited about Raw and all the amazing recipes and meals that can be created. I finally know what it feels like to experience going into a great restaurant and ordering your dessert first!
So what do I eat?
I like to keep it simple and aim to eat what I call a rainbow diet. It’s my intention to have all the colours of the rainbow in my diet daily. It’s easy – a variety of phytochemical rich vegetables and fruits provides me with a range of appealing colours and varied textures. The fresh produce I eat is packed full of nutrients and micro-nutrients that can be made into a broad variety of yummy foods, from delicious soups to three course meals, with not one salad in sight.
As a raw vegan I find that I eat much less food. I choose from organic veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds and grains, and some fermented foods for extra gut bacteria and additional immune support. I drink great juices, amazing smoothies and nutritious nut mylks. The quality of raw food tends to be high, therefore less is needed and I feel lighter and more energised. I never feel bloated; raw food digests so much more easily than cooked food. It feels great.
More and more people are choosing conscious eating. It is a choice that has benefits for both your personal health and the planet we live on. I never expected my diet to change in this way but I think I can explain it now:
- I love high energy foods that look and taste great
- Raw food has a high enzyme content that makes the food easier to digest
- Raw and living foods are light and nutrient rich
- They span a scale from simple and quick to prepare right through to gourmet raw
- It goes beyond salad and smoothies, there is fabulous food for every occasion
- Raw vegan food is known to repair tissue damage, reverse chronic illnesses and boost your overall health and vitality
- It creates no harm, and it’s fun and fashionable!
Now that I’ve made this major shift in my life, I get a buzz out of empowering others to make lifestyle changes. Raw food is a big part of the Energy 4 Life Wellness Coach Training I founded and deliver. Through Energy 4 Life I support people to transform their lives and create greater health, happiness and success. I am witnessing the way that Raw Vegan is becoming a popular choice for many people, and I’m here to tell you it’s easy!