The Power of Choice, and a Raw Challenge

by Gena on May 3, 2009

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Happy (Rainy) Sunday, everyone.

I was supposed to meet the lovely April of Raw Food Passion for lunch today, but her flight was (sadly) delayed. So instead, I’m taking a moment to make an announcement, and to share an article that’s near and dear to my heart.

First things first: Miss Jenna (of Eat Live Run) and I are inviting our mutual readers to join us for a Raw Foods Wednesday Challenge! Now, you all know that every day is a raw day for me; I want this blog to encourage each and every one of you to eat raw as often as your lifestyle will healthily and happily make room for. But there’s nothing wrong with a little motivation, now is there? So here’s the deal: each Wednesday, Jenna and I challenge you to eat one raw meal and one raw snack. We’ll be doing two fabulous giveaways for our participants, one midway through the month and another at the end. And we’re sure to be collecting lots of great feedback from readers all over the blogosphere. If you’re just starting with raw foods, this is a fun way to get involved. Please leave a comment on this post if you want to join us!

In other news, I want to share an article that I recently wrote for my friend Mary’s Beam Green newsletter (which you can all subscribe to for free on her website!). The article is about being proud of one’s dietary perspective in the face of social pressure. It’s somewhat reminiscent of this guest post I wrote for the wonderful Melissa on restaurant dining not so long ago, but with a slightly broader emphasis: my intention was to encourage women of all ages, but especially young women, to feel proud of their healthy habits.

It’s a sad truth that sometimes the very habits that women should feel proudest of—eating well, being mindful of alcohol consumption, getting adequate rest—are the things they’re forced to apologize for. One of the major challenges in adopting a raw or vegan diet is finding comfort with the declaration, “I’m vegan,” “I’m raw,” or even “I don’t feel like eating meat tonight.” Young women in particular fear being perceived as weird, as “crunchy,” or as holier-than-thou. When it comes to moderation with alcohol, the fear is being perceived as a stick in the mud.

Ladies, let’s get real here. If you feel ambivalent about being raw or vegan because you’re not certain that it’s healthy or feasible for your lifestyle, then hey, don’t sweat it. You’ll find a great way to take steps towards raw that don’t necessarily entail the whole commitment. But if your big fear is social perception, I urge you to rise above pettiness, and take a proud stand! Without further ado, “The Power of Choice.”

The Power of Choice

Raw foodists know plenty about social pressure. The choice to eat vegan and raw is not only a matter of what one does or doesn’t put on the plate. It’s a decision to step outside of mainstream norms. At first, these decisions can be difficult, especially since so few of our friends or acquaintances are making them with us.

For no matter how much you maintain that eating for health and compassion need not mean sacrificing a vibrant social life (and I do!), there’s no denying that going vegan and/or raw will mean that your social dining habits shift a little. You may be ordering differently when you dine out. You may start bringing your own dishes to dinner parties. You may be defending your lifestyle to family members or friends, whose judgments will be stunningly sharp. You may find yourself explaining what raw foods are to the CEO of your company at a business lunch. You may have to tell your boyfriend that no, you don’t want to split that pizza with him at 2 AM. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that you will, at some point, be called upon to weigh your devotion to a healthy lifestyle against social convenience.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the health benefits and benefit to animals make all of these scenarios well worth it. So the challenge is to move through the initial adjustments with commitment. This can be particularly hard for women, not because we lack the forbearance to make changes, but because we’re disadvantaged when it comes to resisting social pressure. We ladies are socialized—by our families, our culture, and the media—to be accommodating. This gives us many strengths: we’re peacekeepers in times of crisis. We’re empathetic. We’re good caretakers and active, engaged friends. We’re good listeners. But these strengths come at a price.

“Men look at women,” the art critic John Berger writes. “Women watch themselves being looked at.” It’s an overstatement, perhaps, but there’s truth to it: women worry about how they are perceived far more than their male counterparts seem to. And when it comes to dietary and lifestyle choices, this anxiety can be a bit of a handicap. Female friends will often confess to me that they want to make healthier choices in their lives, but they fear how their friends, families, or boyfriends will react. This may mean hesitation about ordering a salad in a restaurant for fear of being teased about eating “bird food” or interrogated by friends: “A salad? That’s all you’re getting? You’re not on a diet, are you?”. It may be fear of looking like a stick-in-the-mud: hey, no one likes to be the only virtuous person drinking club soda at a bar. Or it may be fear of coming off as “odd” to others: I admit that the catalog of raised eyebrows and bewildered responses I’ve gotten when I say the words “raw foodist” is downright impressive.

But let’s think about the big picture, shall we? What could possibly matter more than our health and our personal sense of right and wrong? Don’t let social insecurities interfere with the way you approach your diet and lifestyle.

Here’s a fun experiment. The next time you feel criticized by friends or family for eating healthy, take a moment to examine where those sentiments come from. Do you envy this friend or family member’s habits, health, outlook? If the answer is no—as it probably is—remember that, in nine cases out of ten, a friend who makes this kind of criticism is feeling envious and threatened by your choice to be more health-conscious than she. So let’s state the obvious: the choices you make about food may be influenced by the people around you, but their consequences will only affect you. Your health, your conscience.

Here’s another good example: I choose not to drink. It’s not always easy, especially at parties or work events, but it’s a choice that I’m proud of, and I stick to it. Countless female friends, especially in their mid-twenties, have told me that they’re tired of drinking and want to stop, but fear how they’ll be perceived if they do. I’ve even heard stories of women ordering “faux” cocktails (soda water dressed up as a vodka tonic). Guess what? I remember that urge well. No one likes looking prudish. But once again, it all boils down to personal choice: you should never feel compelled to make choices that go against your own impulses. And if your impulse is to have some soda water and call it a night, you should listen. You’ll feel better without the headache tomorrow morning, anyway.

And take pride in your choices! With each of those healthy entrees you order at a restaurant and each of those surplus cocktails you turn down, you’re making decisions that will protect and nourish your body and protect your animal neighbors. It’s easy to forget that so many social habits are ingrained only by force of habit. That they’re commonplace doesn’t mean they’re right, or that they’re good for us.

Take pride, too, in the fact that you are, little by little, learning to shake off your social insecurities. Confidence and bullheadedness are not the same things. Embrace your confidence. Be open and enthusiastic about your lifestyle. I assure you that taking a warm, self-assured approach (bringing a delicious, healthy dish to a dinner party and offering it to other guests, for instance) is the best way to protect yourself against naysayers and to feel the rewards of a plant-based lifestyle. There’s a time and a place for compromise, but the dinner table isn’t one of them. So order that giant salad, and relish every bite. Your body is yours to nourish as you see fit.

PS — Keep the entries into the spiralizer contest coming, everyone! I’m loving each and every one of your great emails and comments.

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlena Torres May 3, 2009 at 11:43 am

Perfection!!!!!!!! So many wonderful points that will really resonate with so many.

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Gena May 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Thanks, dear Marlena!

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Amber May 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

Great article. I will defiantly be part taking in the challenge. Right now the thing I am having the most trouble with food combining but I think with practice I will get better at it.

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Gena May 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

That is great, Amber! Keep going with Natalia’s program, and let me know if you have questions.

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Chloe May 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

I will definitely try the Raw Food challenge on Wednesdays – I’ll check back here for some menu ideas and maybe our raw meal will be dinner and I’ll include the boyfriend!

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Gena May 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

That’s awesome, Chloe! Please do include him! Can’t wait to hear about your creations.

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Laura May 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Wonderful article! You so articulate, and such an amazing writer.

I already commented on Jenna’s blog that I think the Raw Wednesday challenge is a great idea. I’ll be participating!

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Gena May 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Thanks so much for those words about my writing, Laura — that meas a lot to me.

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Nancy May 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

The Raw Food Challenge sounds great to me. I’m up for joining in. It will help keep me moving in the direction that I want to go. Once my Excalibur arrives (NOT fast enough for me!), it will help me experiment with using it. – Nancy

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Jess May 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm

What a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing.

I was one of those people criticizing others (in my mind) just recently. My husband and I took a trip to Ireland with friends (both of whom are in awesome shape) and I couldn’t get over the fact that the wife ate grilled chicken every time we went out – on vacation! It made me feel like a HUGE pig when I’m ordering an appetizer, entree, AND dessert. I was disgusted by how much I was eating, but didn’t feel like I could stop.

Thankfully I’ve since become more aware of what I”m eating and where it’s coming from and what it does for me. Although I”m no where near being raw, I’m much more comfortable with what, and how much, I’m eating. I think family is the hardest to convince that you’re doing what’s best for yourself.

Thank you again! I can’t wait for the raw challenge to begin!

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Gena May 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Jess,

Wow. Thank you for such a tremendously honest response to this. I’m really glad it struck a chord.

My perspective here was definitely from the side of the table that’s getting flack for eating healthy. But guess what? The same applies to the other side: no one should feel ashamed of a healthy indulgence every now and then–for social reasons or otherwise. I’m glad you’ve found balance in your own life.

Can’t wait to have you in the challenge!

Gena

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Ashley May 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

This post is wonderful. Thank you for writing it.

When I started doing Weight Watchers and changing the way I eat I got a ton of flack from people who didn’t want to see me change (and some who didn’t want to see me succeed) I knew I *needed* to change the way I ate to achieve a healthier lifestyle and achieve the body I knew was hidden somewhere underneath the excess & processed food.

Later I quit drinking and then went gluten/dairy/sugar free for health reasons once again. Last week I was told by one of my coworkers that I need to “live my life” – well you know what, I am living my life in a way that I feel good about and that makes me feel good. While it may not be what society deems “conventional”, but I’m really happy and feeling great and that is what is important. “Your body [really] is yours to nourish as you see fit” is such an incredibly true statement. Thanks again for your honest and insightful post.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:07 am

Ashley,

There’s nothing worse than the suggestion that life isn’t being “lived” to its fullest without overindulgence in food or drink. I believe that it’s absolutely healthy to splurge when one wants to splurge, but just as important to maintain a sense of one’s healthy boundaries, regardless of what other people think. I’m really grateful for your feedback!

Gena

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lauren May 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Great article (I already read it in the newsletter!). I would love to join in. Count me in! Thanks Gena, you are so inspiring!

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melissa May 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

thanks for another amazing post. I am in for the challenge.

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Katie May 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Gena, what a great post! The John Berger quote really resonated with me.

I’m in for the Raw Wednesday challenge… I’m going to start surfing throw recipes!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:07 am

Katie,

Isn’t it a great quote? He’s a hero of mine.

Gena

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RunToFInish May 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I tried making my own spirals today..it went ok with a knife, but just ok.

I am totally in for the wednesday challenge…if I can do 1 meal a day then I may try for two as the month progresses. so I’ll be looking for recipe ideas!!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:08 am

Cool! I’m counting you in!!

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TorontoGirloutWest May 3, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I would LOVE to join you! I have a couple of RAW cookbooks and I’ve experimented a bit. This challenge will offer me added incentive! ;)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:08 am

Awesome! Thanks for joining us!

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nieves May 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I am up for it! I just “ordered” Natalia Rose’s books via interlibrary loan; I can’t wait to read more about living raw.

I tried green smoothies (with raw kale– I have made them with steamed kale before) for the first time yesterday and today, and they were delicious. This morning’s was particularly good:
1 c. goat’s milk kefir
1/4 avocado
6 leaves dino kale
1 apple
1 T. ground flax
enough water to mix

Yum!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:09 am

Hey Girl!

This sounds like a totally terrific smoothie!! And congrats on ordering Natalia’s book. You’re going to love it. Let me know your thoughts.

Gena

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KB May 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Wow, amazing. That is all that I can say about this post! Oh andd that I will join the challenge :)

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Heather May 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I am definitely down for Raw Wednesday! I’m really excited for that.

Thank you so much for writing about the power of choice. I relate to this on so many levels. I’m still struggling with the guilt of eating healthy – which is why Hangry Pants Heather’s post hit close to home, as well. Sometimes I let the social pressure get to me and I give in to certain things, but I find that being vegan helps since I *can’t* eat most things. (Well, really, it isn’t a matter of *can’t* eating them versus I will not, but whatever.)

I also identify with the choosing not to drink. I actually quit drinking when I was 19 (I started early, I guess? Yay high school!) and didn’t start again until about a year or so again. My reasons for not doing it were obviously different, but I still know the feelings of pressure and inadequacy that came along with it. People were really disappointed that I wouldn’t do shots with them or drink the wine they brought or try a new beer on draft. Now I know how to do it in moderation and I also know that one drink won’t turn me into an alcoholic (which was my original reason for not drinking, since someone I love dearly struggles with alcoholism) and I know that I maybe have a glass of wine once a week, if not every two weeks.

Regardless, good for you for fighting the pressure and also for writing a fantastic article about it. It’s good to know you’re not alone! It’s really wonderful to have someone else’s words to help put things into perspective for you. You’re kind of awesome, you know?

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:11 am

Thanks again, Heather, for this really wonderful comment. Appreciate it.

The drinking issue isn’t always easy, and I look forward to devoting a longer post to it. But yes, there are and always will be many who are simply dissapointed that you’re no longer the girl who’s up for shots or partying into the wee hours. But it’s important to question what those friends’ values are, and what they valued about you, if they’re truly alienated by your choice not to drink.

Glad you’re joining the challenge!

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Hangry Pants May 3, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Well, you know I love this topic and you’re an awesome writer. You convey my thoughts so eloquently. When I lived and work in NY I always felts pressure to have a fake drink, to take a cookie at the office lunch, to not order a salad because other people pretty much harassed me. If only I knew then what I feel and know now! Thanks for the excellent post.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:11 am

Thanks Heather!

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Heather Demetra May 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Gena,
I’m definitely up for the Raw Foods Wednesday Challenge. This is great – now I’ll get to try one of your recipes at least once a week! ;)

I loved this: These are not the rhythms that nature intended our bodies to live by.. So true! I often feel guilty when I don’t want to go out to eat at a restaurant (read Cheesecake Factory) where I know I’ll be served way too much food, and then come home feeling sick. Basically, anytime I go out to eat, my stomach rebels as I just can’t handle heavy food anymore. I’d much rather prepare my own healthy eats. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not crazy, but I simply want what is best for my body. We were not made to scarf down burritos the size of our head followed by a 800 calorie dessert….yeah, I’ve done that before. Not pretty.

Have a good week Gena. Looking forward to Wednesday already! :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:13 am

Hey girl!

Thanks for that lovely remark. It’s really true that we weren’t supposed to tax our bodies with too much junk. I like that society embraces the concept of a “splurge” or of having healthy indulgences, but at the same time, we all need to remember that our bodies are sacred, and not meant to be weighed down with unhealthy substances. That’s not natural.

SO happy you’re on board for the challenge!

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Jenna May 4, 2009 at 5:39 am

this was such a beautiful post! thank you! I’m on board for the wed. raw challenge! :) I’m super excited about it and I have some recipes I’m already planning!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:13 am

Awesome! Welcome!

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Mariposa May 4, 2009 at 6:09 am

Gena- this is a great post! i cant wait to start!
i feel a lot of this kind of pressure myself- i get really really bad stomach aches when i eat foods with dairy and gluten in them.. so i try and choose foods that i can eat.. and almost always end up eating something i shouldnt.. definitely because of the social pressure. i need to practice my willpower and say to myself- the trauma after is NOT worth it!

but this was a well-written post- i loved it!!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 6:14 am

Stick to your guns, my dear! The negative effects of those foods are NOT worth it!

And I’m so happy you’re in for the challenge :)

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elise May 4, 2009 at 7:05 am

gena – what a great post, as usual. initially it was hard for me when i began my new job to be vegan because being different (sadly) tends to be looked down upon. plus, i got SO sick of answering the 1000 follow up questions, like the inevitable “what do you eat?” but i couldnt let ridiculous notions that vegans only eat “shrubs” perpetuate, so it ended up turning into a full on description of my diet, etc. ugh. even this weekend at my friends wedding (where most of my friends there know im vegan) the husband of a reader was shocked to meet me and said “oh, your not all hippie like! i was expecting dreads and unshaved armpits!” now i realize he was most likely exaggerating, but the point is still applicable. why do healthy choices (food, alcohol, sleep, or whatever) have to be seen as such extreme measures?

anyways, sorry to have rambled on and on, your posts just have such good conversation topics!

i love the idea of raw wednesday, cant wait to begin :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:25 am

Thanks so much for this response! I too think it’s awfully sad that eating a plant based diet (which is of course the diet I think nature intended us to eat) is an invitation for people to be cruel, close-minded, and flippant. I could ramble on and on about the social reception I’d receive if I were as honest with some people about what I think of their food as they see fit to be with me, but I’ll save that for another time :) Glad you liked the post.

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Ryan (Chase Daylight) May 4, 2009 at 7:06 am

I loved this post :)

I’m totally in on your challenge! Can’t wait!!!

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Steph May 4, 2009 at 7:38 am

Gena, this post really hit home for me. Ever since I went vegan, I immediately felt the pressures, judgments, and criticisms of our society and culture. In fear of judgment, I didn’t tell my own mother I was vegan until 2 months after. Thankfully, she supports me and asks questions graciously. I do have a great group of individuals that support me, and there are the individuals who are so quick to judge. Some of the comments I have received have been ridiculous. I have been accused of being unhealthy and that I have an eating disorder. I have been judged and looked down upon; I have been made felt like I constantly have to eat more around certain individuals to prove that I am a “good eater” and healthy. I have been picked and pried at. Last night when I read your post I made a decision that I am done trying to prove something to individuals who refuse to be respectful of my lifestyle decisions. I am refusing to make food decisions based off of what others are going to think or perceive me as. I am going to stand confidently and nurture my body as I want to. Thank you so much for posting this.

I am also going to join the raw food challenge! I usually eat raw up until dinner everyday, but I think it will still be fun to join. :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:26 am

Steph,

I’ve grappled with the same accusations and attitudes. At the end of the day, making choices about your lifestyle–dietary or otherwise–often shows you who is a real friend and who is not. Hang in there. Be tough. Have the courage of your convictions. And lean on other people in the community when you need to. The important thing is to exude pride!

Welcome to the challenge :)

Gena

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Leah @ Simply Fabulous May 4, 2009 at 8:15 am

Hi Gena, I have to admit I am quite inspired by this challenge but nervous as well! I have been a lurker on your blog for a while now and I have been reading up on the raw lifestyle for at least a month or so now. I never just want to jump into things but I think this challenge could be something that I am looking for!!

Love the article by the way.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

Don’t be nervous, Leah! this will be simple and fun.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

Dear Gena,

I just want to say that you are a fantastic writer. These days, anyone can “publish” their writing via blogs, etc, but it is obvious that you have a true talent.

Also, I am getting many great ideas from your blog. I strive to eat mostly raw during the week (raw all day and cooked food at night is where I’m at currently, with some extra “indulgences” on the weekends).

Keep up the great work!

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Amy May 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

Oops, I typed your name instead of mine :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

Amy, thank you so much for the kind words about my writing! I truly cannot tell you how much that means to me. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

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katie May 4, 2009 at 9:02 am

gena, i’d love to participate in the raw food challenge. i’ve been thinking about trying this for a little while, and think this would be a great introduction to it :)

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Debbie May 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

Gena!
I have been raw for over 1 1/2 years and there are times when it is hard.. my husband is Chinese. Have you ever had ”raw” anything Chinese? Well no. So I either don’t go, eat before and always have an apple, a Larabar, some dates and nuts etc in my backpack. There are ways to do it and I am very proud to say “no thanks” to meat and other stuff I don’t eat.
Love your blog, love Raw Wednesdays!
If someone is already raw, they can juice fast or smoothie fast on Weds, just a thought!
love deb

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:28 am

Deb!

It is AWESOME to see you here.

I believe firmly that “100%” raw is a silly goal: I eat very high raw, and that works for me. But regardless, the important thing is to be proud of one’s beliefs.

Thanks so much for the comment, and of course I’ll suggest smoothies! Keep reading!

Gena

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Rose-Anne May 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

Gena, when I read your blog, I oscillate back and forth between being an outsider looking in and an insider who feels a kinship with you. I’m definitely an outsider when it comes to the raw foods discussions, but I have been eating more salads lately! :-) I’m an insider when it comes to discussions about making the choices that are healthiest for YOU, and my current belief is that there is no one right answer for everyone when it comes to healthy choices. So I’m trying to focus on making choices that make me feel healthiest and most energetic. The most indulgent healthy choice I make? Slipping into bed at 10 PM on Saturday night–oh, bliss!

Have a wonderful week, my dear!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

Ah, so you’re an early bedtime gal, too? I love 10 PM Saturdays :)

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Interested in Raw May 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Sign me up for the challenge!

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junghwa May 4, 2009 at 2:05 pm

i adore your blog so much!
i’ve been raw vegan for whole year of 2008 but stopped this yr. I still follow high-raw diet though! it’s really great!

I would love to be added to your blogroll. is that possible? i’ll feel very honored ;]

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

You just made my day! Thanks so much. I’m proud to have you on there :)

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junghwa May 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm

OOPS!
I see that I”m ALREADY on your blogroll. sorry ><
and thank you ;)

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Sharon May 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Hi Gena, I’m definitely doing the raw Wednesday challenge!

Thanks so much for what you wrote about social pressure. It really rings true with me. I lean heavily vegan and so often I get comments from people about what they think I’m lacking in nutrition, especially protein. It gets so old!

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Oy. Don’t worry, Sharon, I’m always forced to roll my eyes with the protein thing, too. Thanks for commiserating!

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EmilyEmily. May 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Gena,
This is a very well written piece. You’re such a great communicator of ideas, seeding thoughts as you go…
As discussed above, I also get frustrated with people saying I’m not living because I don’t eat the way they do and I do still find myself compromising and giving into other’s eating habits thinking well, it’s only one meal, I guess I can do it… After reading this post last night & discussing it with Andy, I am inclined to be more persistent with regard to going to a place where we can all be satisfied the next time we eat out!
Also, given I eat raw until dinner, I think I might take on Debbie’s suggestion of a juice/smoothie Wednesday and see how I go with that!
Thanks again for this wonderful post Gena,
Emily.

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Hey Emily!

Smoothie fasts are great: a super EASY and sweet way to eat raw for a day. But I’m giving everyone the option of doing exactly what they want, whether that’s smoothies or three course dinners!

I’m really glad you’ve been inspired to stick with healthy/raw impulses. That is awesome. Keep it up, and never forget that YOU are the customer! Why should you pay good money for a meal you’re not 100% happy with? Be tough.

Gena

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carolinebee May 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Hi Gena! I really really love this post, and your blog in general! I’m gonna add you to my reader and blogroll :D I’ve had restrictive eating habits so I’m not yet at the point to adopt a specific eating “lifestyle”, but my momma is a vegetarian so I can relate! I am always surprised and usually disappointed by the comments and judgements people feel the need to pass, even though she tries to downplay her food choices, or not make a big deal if the food served does not meet her needs. I think most of us would never say, Ew i can’t believe you’re ordering that huge cheeseburger and fries!?, yet the same courtesy is not extended when someone opts for the “healthier” option! Very interesting, thanks again :)

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Gena May 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Hey there! Welcome! Glad you love the blog!

I suffered from restrictive patterns in my early teens (it’s in the about me tab) and it took me a long time to embrace a way of eating that worked for me, but at the start, I think it’s VERY healthy to remain open minded to all food groups. Take your time and do what’s best for you, OK? But I definitely hope I inspire you to try some raw recipes!! :)

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Brenda May 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I am looking forward to the challenge. I think it is exactly what I am looking for. I will need all the help and support I can get. thanks for doing this.

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Samantha May 5, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Thats a great article…I love your perspective and you help to show those of us like myself who are newer to this that it is doable and it IS about choices.

I’m up for the challenge! It’s already Wednesday here, and I’m starting off with chia pudding. My goal is to go 100% raw for the whole day!

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Jess May 5, 2009 at 7:33 pm

I would love to join! Thanks so much!

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Christine May 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I posted on Jenna’s blog that I was going to take part in the challenge, but I didn’t realize I should post here too, so I am doing it now!

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Greg June 5, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I make every effort to eat raw consistently, and occasionally allow myself to enjoy a cooked meal at a fancy restaurant, or if someone goes through the effort of cooking a meal for me. And in those cases, I make wise choices based on raw food wisdom. I never beat myself up because I know that I am really going to enjoy my next raw food meals. At a social event with the wine flowing, I buy the kombucha mixed with fruit–grape, strawberry, cranberry–that matches the color of red wine. It is one of my greatest (secret) pleasures.
Gena, thanks for such a thoughtful post and an intelligent, inspirational blog!

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Kate July 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Fantastic post, Gena–very inspirational and I definitely will take that challenge to heart! Honestly, I think I’ve garnered some strength just from knowing that other people have experienced similar social pressures and learned to deal with it in a way that works for them. I’m definitely working to find my own peace with this–it may not always be easy but I think my health and happiness are worth some occasional socially uncomfortable moments… Thanks for such a great post and such an amazing blog!

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M July 16, 2009 at 7:41 am

I’m just coming across this post now, but I had to comment because I absolutely loved it. Everything that you say is so true–the price of sacrificing healthy choices for social acceptance just isn’t worth it. I’m going to take that into account for now on the next time that I attend a social gathering that’s loaded with fried food and booze. Just because everyone else is eating it doesn’t mean I need to, especially if it’s going to make me feel like crap later.
Thanks for this inspiring post, Gena!

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Caroline July 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm

I completely agree with the comments above. This article is outstanding in so many ways: it’s informative, heartfelt, and written in such a clear style. I like the way you write, girl;)
What particularly resonated with me in this article is your discussion of alcohol. I have never been a drinker, and, as a 21-year-old, I have experienced years of social discomfort as a result of this personal choice. I feel like I’ve had the same conversation thousands of times: “Where’s your drink?” “I don’t want one right now, thanks.” “Why the hell not?!” Anyway, your words provided great perspective on the issue, and I think I will be able to handle these situations with grace in the future!

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Dara (MyVeryFirstKitchen) October 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I would love to join! So far so good today for me!!

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Jessica January 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi Gena,

I just started a raw food diet yesterday. I already eat a lot of fruits and veggies but I wanted to keep a “high raw” diet for this week to detox the holiday damages I may have done. I’m not feeling any different yet (it has only been 2 days though) but I’m slowly anticipating the “detox” stage where I might get hit with detox symptoms. When should I expect that to happen and exactly how bad is it? Any insight would be very helpful. Thanks!

BTW, I love your blog. It’s aesthetically clean, gives great advice and a lot of general nutritional information. Thanks for all the great stuff!

-Jessica

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Gena January 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Jessica,

There’s no predictable answer to this! First of all, you should definitely eat a fair bit of cooked — switching to all or very high raw overnight can be very problematic!

Second, there’s no hard and fast law. You may find that you feel some discomfort within a few week or a month; it takes others several months to feel anything. How bad it is will vary depending on how carefully you’ve transitioned, and also, what you were doing before.

If detox begins, I recommend gravity-administered colon hydrotherapy right away to help ease it.

Gena

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Alyxie June 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

Thank you for this post. Reading it a year later and being new on the raw/vegan bandwagon myself (not doing it fully because I’m trying to overcome my own love for what I call “quality” pizza & frozen yogurt and succumbing to social pressures), this is a nice piece to read. I’m thin and don’t ever want to look like I’m dieting and thus have to defend myself with why I am eating a spinach salad…and then add extra nuts to show people I’m not afraid of fat. It’s tough when society around you wants you to eat white pasta and sauce and call it a substantial meal while my zucchini pasta and pesto is bound to leave me hungry (or so they think). Coupled with my own fight of sugar cravings and non-vegan treats, the defense can be difficult. But you’re right. Why let them get to you? It’s my healthy choice and it matters for my body. Thank you for what can be my mantra.

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Desiree September 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Thank you so much for your website and for this article. I have now been vegan for a month, vegetarian for a month prior to that, and my omnivore family has been very vocal about their disapproval. I am trying to work more raw food into my diet and your website has been a godsend. I have found that social pressure has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome and I struggle with it everyday. I work at a law firm that hosts lunches almost weekly and being the one employee that is eating the salad she brought to work can, honestly, be a little uncomfortable. I still struggle with it and your post was really empowering to read. Thank you, Gena.

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Jessica April 8, 2012 at 12:54 am

Brought tears to my eyes. I needed to hear this so badly. Dealing with the condescending looks and comments from others has been harder for me by far than giving up gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, meat, alcohol, and caffeine put together. Thank you! :]

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Sarah February 10, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I realize you wrote this post years ago but I’m so glad I found it now. I eat and cook vegan in my home, when I am with my extended family I am only dairy free. They think I make a huge deal out of nothing about the dairy and how awful it makes me feel. When I found studies linking dairy consumption and anxiety attacks, I knew I couldn’t go back! Now I have a daughter and the pressure to give her dairy and meat is unbelievable! My husband supports the plant based lifestyle for our daughter and I. I just don’t feel like I have a good answer for the milk issue with my child and the rest of my family. Any advice on where to look?

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Gena February 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

I really like the book BECOMING VEGAN, which has good parenting tips. I also really recommend Dreena Burton’s site (Plant Powered Kitchen) and her books. She’s a mother of 3 with tremendous know how on raising vegan kids! Good luck, and don’t let the dairy pressure get to you.

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Kayla December 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Thanks! I needed this! I recently became a vegan and despite slowly telling people, today I was talked into trying a gluten free cookie that this nice woman was so proud of, it was her first gluten free venture. It was good but not worth eating any kind of dairy. But it had egg in it and now I feel sick to my stomach and disappointed in myself. But next time, I will insist on no and not be so accommodating. I’ve already gotten some bull for going vegetarian from some people, I can imagine their reactions to cutting out dairy as well. THANK YOU for this post!!

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