following is an interview with Carissa Leventis-Cox of
in the Kitchen
, and she ain’t cookin’!

You have been a raw vegan
for approximately 2 1/2 years. What health benefits have you noticed?

Before changing our diet and lifestyle, my husband and son
suffered colds or coughs about once a month. Now that they eat about 50 percent
raw vegan foods, they get the sniffles or coughs only a few times a year, if
that. Before becoming a raw vegan, I thought I was pretty healthy. Then I
discovered I am now even healthier: My energy level has increased tremendously,
the uncomfortable joint aches and pains I’ve had since I was 4 years old are
gone, all the whiteheads and blackheads on my arms and legs I had since puberty
disappeared, and my high cholesterol dropped significantly. I have had people
compliment me on my glowing skin too.

Your family does not follow a fully raw diet, and yet they still feel
the added benefits of eating living foods. So, a 100 percent raw vegan diet is
not the only way to go?

Some people add only 25 percent raw and still feel
the added benefits.
Many prefer to eat 50 percent raw, but the term
raw vegan
mainly describes people who are at least 75 percent raw.

What are the other long-term benefits of a raw vegan diet for you and
your family?

I cannot predict how my health or
my family’s will be in 10 years, but in eating a highly raw veggie diet, we are
creating an alkaline environment in our bodies and consuming live food full of
enzymes and nutrients needed that have been proven to increase the immune
system and prevent (and cure) cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high
cholesterol, and many other problems. In eating more raw, unprocessed foods, I
know we are radically reducing our carbon footprint, and we have influenced
many friends and family who have consequently improved their own diets and

Do you believe that cooked food is poison?
What I like to say instead is that processed
foods are
What is most important is to un-process
our food
to improve our health. We need to focus on
simple foods prepared from raw, fresh, organic, local, and seasonal whole foods—whether
raw or lightly cooked
. I believe eating a plain,
steamed sweet potato is better than eating a big piece of raw cheesecake loaded
with cashews and sweetener, for example.

Can you eat whatever you want on a raw vegan diet?
Many raw vegans have a “just
eat whatever you feel like” attitude. But, like any diet, a raw vegan must
pay attention to daily balanced nutrition. Some famous raw vegans have
become sick from an unbalanced diet of too many sweets and heavy foods (such as
fruit, sweeteners, and nuts) and too little greens (where the bulk of raw vegan
nutrition is). And some people have actually gained weight eating an excess of
raw nuts, avocados, and oils too.

Do you ever crave cooked

Yes. I do try the cooked vegan foods I prepare for my family sometimes.
If I crave it, I eat it. But then my body starts to ache here and there, a
whitehead appears, I need more sleep … and I am reminded of my improved health
on raw living foods.

What advice do you give to
people who are interested in your raw lifestyle?

If you are interested in the raw lifestyle,
I would say to go slow to make
permanent changes. It’s a step-by-step process. Ultimately, the goal is to un-process
our food for our health, the health of our family, and the health of our
planet. The most important step is the first, which is to get rid of everything
processed in your kitchen and in your family’s diet. This means anything canned,
packaged in bags, frozen dinners, junk food, and sodas. Substitute these
processed foods with clean food. Then
add living foods to your diet a little at a time. You and your family may be
surprised how much raw foods you are actually eating and enjoying in the
process: fresh fruit for breakfast, big salads for lunch and dinner, green
smoothies and fresh juices at mealtimes or snack times, and raw desserts. Finally,
by combining more raw vegan foods with daily exercise, enough daily sleep, time outdoors
for sun and fresh air, and more time to relax, you are creating a much healthier
lifestyle for your families.

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