After 20 years as a vegetarian and then 7 years, 2003 through 2009, as a raw vegan, I am now eating a diet of meat, vegetables, eggs, and raw dairy! So I decided it was time to explain in great detail why I changed my mind.
I loved the raw vegan life, I loved making up delicious recipes, that’s how my company, Aimee’s Livin’ Magic, was born. All of our crackers, breads, snacks, and chocolates are raw and I came up with the recipes (most of them) while I was a practicing raw foodist.
I first tried out raw foods because I thought the diet would enable me to heal type 1 diabetes that I was diagnosed with 40 years ago. I have always wanted to be on the diet that would create the best health, it’s like a quest for truth for me.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16, after being a somewhat sickly child who was treated with a large amount of medical intervention. But after I graduated from college in 1976, I started researching natural healing, studying herbs and vegetarianism, vitamin therapy, etc. I then decided that the human body has the ability to heal and wants to heal if given the right tools, and that these tools were probably not in the hands of allopathic medicine, since I had never heard of it healing any disease. Yes, I had heard of surgery and drugs allowing sick people to extend their lives, but I had never heard of anyone from the American Medical Association actually healing a condition or disease. I vowed right then at 22 years old that I would find a way to heal my body, and that I would continue to believe that this was possible—through diet, herbs, natural therapy or any natural, true treatment that I could find.
I have been on so many diets, I’ve lost count. Fit for Life, Vegetarian, Vegan, The Zone, Eat Right For Your Type, The Color Code, The Perricone Diet, Dr. Richard Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution, and then the Raw Vegan Diet. While I was Raw, I tried The pH Miracle and Gabriel Cousins Diabetic Raw Diet. I’m sure I probably left out a few, but that’s all the diets I can think of right now.
Every time a promising diet book would come out, my hopes of healing the type 1 diabetes would surface, I’d completely change my life, driving my family crazy. I’d stay on the diet for long enough to know if I’d be able to at least reduce my insulin requirements, and then how close I could get to getting off insulin altogether. Some of these diets were very helpful in reducing my insulin, but what they all did was cause me to be very conscious of what I was eating. I always ate a lot of vegetables, and I never ate processed or junk food, which is basically death to a diabetic, type 1 or 2. I gave up processed food as a rebellion against the establishment in my Hippie days, and it became a matter of truth to me that I never had a desire to breach. Sometimes Truth is Truth. I knew in my heart that food with chemicals made in laboratories were poisons to the body.
So, in 2003 I came to the Raw Vegan Diet, like a new religion. Cooked food was poison and Raw Food was going to make me well. I created beautiful, delicious recipes, I fasted, did colonics, fasted on green juice, fasted on raw soups, wrote a raw food book, Live In Magic, and created Aimee’s Livin’ Magic, raw, organic, living snacks and chocolates. I had arrived. I was happy and I was healing, I hoped. I was certainly cleansing, cleansing from all the poison food I ate as a child. Cleansing from all the medicines I took as a child and young adult. I cleansed my liver, my gall bladder, my colon; I was squeaky clean, but my blood sugars were bouncing up and down. I couldn’t balance my blood sugars, they were all over the place, I was gaining weight, I was unhappy And I was still having to take insulin. I had aches and pains all over my body, my hands hurt so bad I thought I wasn’t going to be able to continue working, making the food at Aimee’s Livin’ Magic! This was the end of 2009 and I was losing hope of ever healing.
Then, I watched Food,. Inc and read Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan; I read Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Kieth; and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston A. Price. I could go into how each of these books/movies affected my belief system, but let me just summarize. It became evident: 1), I wasn’t healing; 2), It no longer made sense to ship spinach, tomatoes, and avocados grown in California on a giant mono-crop farm with questionable practices so that I could be a Raw Foodist in Maine in January! My daughter Camille, who had just made a successful change in diet to include local farm raised dairy, and other animal food, asked me to try local food, including animal food, for one month. If I didn’t like it, I could go back to an all raw diet. I had to prove it for myself. So, this “Local” diet included raw grass fed cream, butter, yogurts, cheeses, locally grown vegetables on organic farms practicing diversity. I could actually meet these farmers, look them in the eye and ask them about what their animals eat, how they raised their cabbages, their brussels sprouts. Starting January 1st 2010, I began my month long experiment.
What happened was, I tasted Real Grass-Fed Raw Butter, farm-raised Eggs, from chickens fed seaweed and bugs and worms they pulled out of the soil, and then I tasted lightly cooked red meat, heaven forbid, the first red meat I had eaten in 33 years. And I had never felt that nourished in my entire life. I just kept thinking of Weston A. Price.
.Weston A. Pice was a dentist in the 1930’s, who saw his young patients come in with many more cavities than their parents, and many mouth deformities, as in not having enough room for all their teeth. This was new to him. He decided he and his wife would travel the world studying indigenous people, their diets, their teeth and the diets and teeth of their children who had now been “civilized” by the white man. He found among the parents and people not exposed to white man’s food—before the trading post came to town—strong, happy individuals with wide mouths and faces with plenty of room for all their teeth and almost no cavities. Among the first generation partaking in white man’s food, processed sugar and white flour, he found small mouths, cavities, facial deformities and diseases of civilization.
As far as diet, he was hoping to find a vegetarian, Garden of Eden type of diet among these indigenous tribes. He didn’t. Their diets varied, which is puzzling, so there isn’t a Best Diet for Humankind! What he did find were similarities among all the cultures he studied:
- They ate locally available wild and/or seasonal whole food;
- They ate high fat diets, comprised mostly of saturated animal fat and/or coconut oil;
- They ate organ meats;
- They all had sacred foods for prospective parents, for insuring healthy children, generation after generation;
- They ate some form of fermented foods, such as kerfir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc;
- Only a few groups ate grains of any kind, and they were usually prepared by sprouting or fermenting;
- They ate no processed foods!
Their diets differed greatly in all other ways: percentages of protein to carbs, what type or how much proteins they ate.
I liked this kind of research—Find healthy people, study what they eat, draw conclusions. Works for me!