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My raw food adventure

Sadhana bowl

Sadhana Kitchen's infamous raw vegan Super Bowl, with shredded kale, house-made sauerkraut, cherry tomato, cucumber & pesto zoodles served with brazil nut cheddar & sundried tomato & smoked paprika hummus.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

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By Green Lifestyle intern, Molly O'Neill.

A few weeks ago, I was treated to a completely raw vegan lunch – and it sparked a surprising, yet really incredible journey for me.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have eaten at Sadhana Kitchen in Sydney, you'll already be familiar with the mouth-watering, colourful meals and incredibly enticing treats.

Each meal that was bought out had me drooling, and I left feeling pretty excited by this style of 'raw' eating. I decided to set myself the challenge of trying to have a raw, vegan diet for a whole week.

For me, the clincher in making this decision – other than tasting the incredible food at Sadhana – was deciding that it was time to align my ethics with my actions. Not only is raw food good for you and your insides; it is kinder to animals and healthier for the planet. Most of your diet becomes SLOW food, that is: Seasonal, Local, Organic and Wholefood. It also tends to be the case that minimal packaging is used when you buy, and not much energy is used in the preparation of foods.

So, I committed myself to preparing and cooking food that is free from all animal products, and cooked at temperatures below 48°Celcius (this means the enzymes in the food aren't destroyed). This included raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, sprouts, seeds, sea vegetables, herbs, and lots of fresh juices.

I didn't think it'd be too hard, as I've been a vegetarian for awhile, and I already don’t eat too many dairy products (chocolate is my biggest weakness, but isn't it everyone's?!).

One of the first things I realised about a raw diet is it requires plenty of thought, planning and organisation. I am not the most organised person, so I had multiple lapses. There were even a few times I forgot I was trying this challenge and found myself eating a meal out with a friend, or enjoying a sneaky chocolate bar. Oops... but I'm only human!

I found it most difficult when I let myself get hungry – I'd get mad cravings for a piece of sourdough with avocado and vegemite, one of my favourite go-to snacks. I'm told that if I organise my time better I won't get hungry in the first place, and once I give my body more time eating raw, I'd start to crave the more nutritious raw food instead.

One of the most exciting parts of the journey for me was the smoothies. Each morning I would wake up inspired by the recipes in a new e-book I've just discovered by Byron-based Bella and Bhakti. I am really good at making huge smoothies, so generally one of these in the morning was enough to get me through to lunch, with a few tiny snacks along the way.

Lunch was usually where I found the hardest challenge, as I would often find myself running out of time to prepare something before I needed to leave home. There's a distinct lack of good, healthy options for people on-the-go, and that's made all the more apparent when you're trying to eat raw as well.

Being a sweet tooth, the best part of this journey for me was the incredible treats that are so easy to make! The Sadhana Kitchen has some pretty amazing recipes in their e-book that I wrote a review of a few weeks back too, Uncooked.

I also discovered some websites with fantastic information and mouth-watering recipes, including This Rawsome Vegan Life and 50 Raw food blogs. My Instagram news feed is now full of photos of delicious raw cakes and sweets, meals, smoothies, and other recipe ideas. Some of my favourites are @dvinebynature , @sadhanakitchen, @thisrawsomeveganlife, @addictedtofruit, and @lolacooks.

After this week, I can definitely see benefits of following a raw diet, and I'll continue to incorporate elements of it into my everyday life. I loved the light, vibrant feeling from eating a healthy raw vegan diet with loads of fresh fruit and veg. I felt the energy to power through the afternoon after having a fresh, nutritious meal, without feeling tired or heavy from a cooked, carb-loaded lunch. And the rush of a raw cacao chocolate smoothie beats a coffee high with it's harsh comedown and dehydrating effect on the body.

It'll take me a little while longer to get into the routine of making sure my pantry is stocked with ample ingredients (I've just moved house), and making sure I have enough snacks packed to get me through the day, but I can see why it being more widely accepted as a truly healthy way of living. It is a big commitment, but once you see past the challenges, and see limitations as opportunities, it really is a fun and healthy way of living.

I hope you get to enjoy some raw vegan treats soon too!
Molly x