Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In this vast land of sisterhood called the blogosphere, I support and click my 130mm heels in celebration of those who are making a difference. At the top of my list is a West Coast spirit named Nwenna Kai, new author of the book The Goddess of Raw Foods
Following is my interview of her explaining her journey from vegan and raw food restauranteur to author:
TWHS: Define the term raw food.
Nwenna: Raw foods are raw organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
TWHS: So the person who is a raw foodist eats no meat?
Nwenna: There are raw foodists who eat fish, but for the most part a raw foodist does not consume anything derived from an animal.
TWHS: Has this been a lifestyle for you your entire life?
Nwenna: I became a vegan at age 14, after being influenced by Ghandi. But around age 24, I found myself sickly, suffering from migraines, vertigo, acne and constipation. I thought if I just had fresh juices and salads, I would feel better. I immediately felt the difference in three days!
So I began experimenting with recipes, and then I met a raw foodist in Chicago who gave me the inspiration to study the lifestyle.
TWHS: So you're a self-taught raw foods chef?
Nwenna: Yes, and I decided to open my restaurant in Los Angeles after years of creating easy recipes with the help of a blender and hydrator.
TWHS: Why the recipe book now?
Nwenna: After running the restaurant and catering for four years, I found myself burnt out and exhausted-
TWHS: It had evolved into a job?
Nwenna: Yes! So I closed the restaurant, did not answer e-mails or anything. I took a six-month break.
TWHS: In essence, you went through an emotional detox.
Nwenna: Yes, but I missed the connection I had with educating people about the raw foods lifestyle. So the book was the best way to teach people how to be healthier in a fun, easy way. The image most have of a vegan is so serious and restricted. I am not at all an extremist when it comes to a raw foods lifestylye!
TWHS: So for a person like me who is not a vegan, what would I get from your cookbook?
Nwenna: My recipes teach people how to eat better than they did yesterday. Raw foods help to detox your body, so my recipes are easy ways to incorporate healthier eating habits.
TWHS: Are your teachings being accepted within the African American community?
Nwenna: There is a huge resistance in our culture to healthier eating, due to deep-rooted customs and traditions. I find that to be very sad, because our people are willing to die for the taste of food.
TWHS: I'm sure you also get resistance from those who say buying organic is not realistic (or doable) in today's economy.
Nwenna: That is so untrue. Yes, organic produce is slightly higher than regular produce, but you don't have to go to the large chains like Whole Foods; most communities have their own home-grown farmers markets. And Mexican and Asian stores carry organic produce; they just don't promote it. And there is nothing wrong with growing your own garden...
Nwenna: We buy what we want, and beg for what we need... but the power to choose what we eat lies right in our own hands.
TWHS: What's next for The Goddess of Raw Foods?
Nwenna: I just came back from consulting an Australian vegan raw food restaurant for a month. It was a unique setup that featured a yoga studio, cafe and aerodynamic garden. Now that I am back in the states, I am working on a talk show, as well as more consulting.
TWHS: What advice do you have for those looking to live a more vibrant life, vegan or not?
Nwenna: Mother Nature is stronger than all of us! She's a mighty, thriving entity- and she's not going out of business. She has the foundation for us to build gardens to feast from. The revolution starts at the dinner table.
For speaking opportunities, you can contact Nwenna Kai at her website and watch her create recipes here.