I first came across the idea of eating raw food about 7 years ago when I embarked on what was to become a long and fascinating journey back towards vibrant health.
My friend, Matt Campbell, had undertaken an extraordinary transformation after he had been on a week-long fast at Sura Detox in Devon. He’d gone from being an IBS-suffering, 16 stone, beer swilling mess (when we were at school together, we was a very high level badminton player) to a 12-stone marathon runner glowing with health in what seemed like just a few short months. His secret, he told me, was eating raw food.
Inspired, I immediately booked on the same retreat and duly drove down to Devon leaving wife and kids behind for a week of zero food.
At the time, I was nearly 18 stone and very fond of me bacon and egg in the morning, fish and chips at lunch, large meal and copious amounts of wine in the evening. Topped off with plenty of fags for good measure.
No wonder my wife said I was a “heart attack waiting to happen”.
I couldn’t even walk to the local shop without getting shin splints. I paid £200 for specialist insoles to solve the problem (which they never did), when the woman treating me could have been useful by saying “Just lose some weight you fat bastard”.
That’s the problem when you get fat. Most people are too polite to tell you, and you’re usually too self delusional to realise it.
I remember arriving at the farm in Devon where I was to spend the next 7 days not eating and being sat there in the car thinking “I could just drive back now. There’s no shame in it. (Pause. Panic rising) How the fuck am I not going to eat for a week?”
But I stayed. And what a revelation that week was. We had daily colonics to administer ourselves, some psyllium husks (which expand in the stomach to stave off the hunger, but have the added effect of making most people reach when they swallowed them), some watered-down carrot juice every “meal” time and a daily talk from the guy that ran the retreat, Dao Earl.
Dao’s words still ring in my ears today. He explained the fact that the human digestion system simply is not designed for cooked food, or too much meat. That our modern diet is poisoning us and that means the body is so busy dealing with this that it cannot do what it is designed to do, which eventually leads to dis-ease.
It was life-changing stuff, which I’ll expand on another time.
As usual, I took the whole thing too far and nearly got divorced because every time Katy got the bread out I would point at it and shout “Poison! Witch! Behind the Bread-Bin Satan!”.
There’s really only so long a spouse can put up with that sort of behaviour.
So the bread, and the potatoes (more poison), and the rice and the cooked food, all started slipping back into my diet, and the weight started piling on again, just like it does after any kind of diet.
But there was one Sunday morning in spring that sticks in my head. I stood there in the kitchen with the sunshine beaming through the latticed window staring at a raw broccoli floret. Just holding it up before me, Hamlet and skull style.
“Is this a floret I see before me, it’s stalk before my hand…?”
I was about to eat some raw broccoli for the first time in my life. And I was scared of it. This incredible, nutrient-rich gift from the heavens. A plant so wonderful it can fight off cancer. And I was scared to eat it because…it wasn’t cooked.
How’s that for conditioning?
Well, I’m glad to say those days are behind me. I now eat raw vegetables with every single meal, unless I’m in a motorway service station unprepared, where you might as well hang yourself rather than digest the overpriced crap they sell in there.
So, with that little introduction over with, I present a dish that you simply must try. It’s a raw broccoli salad that is mind-blowingly good.
Broccoli (no shit) – chopped into little bits
Cold-pressed oil (I used olive oil, but hemp would be cool too)
Fresh juice of one organic lemon
Sea salt (or my favourite, pink himalayan salt)
A twist of freshly milled black pepper
Whole cumin (a pinch or two)
Finely chopped garlic
Freshly chopped coriander
Finely chopped red onion and red chilli
Just throw it all into a non-reactive bowl, stick it into the fridge for an hour or so and then tuck in.
I’m not completely raw yet, or completely vegan, although I have massively reduced the meat in my life and that which I do it is organic, grass fed and free of hormone injections and all the other crap they use in industrialised farming, so tonight I had it with a marianated rump steak.
In case you don’t believe me, here are some pictures:
And in case you don’t know just how bad industrialised farming is, watch this amazing film called Food, Inc. It will knock you out: