I've reached my 2 year high carbohydrate, low fat raw vegan anniversary. For two years prior to this lifestyle I followed a high fat raw vegan diet and experienced wonderful benefits when I made the switch to fruity living.
This past year has been one of learning. I've come to realize that I must make health my top priority. I went through a lot of trouble and discomfort. But what a year it has been! Be patient, this is long.
2011 was off to a great start. I was working a job I loved, creating my own hours and helping people with their health and fitness, until the job started to go sour and I got an eerie feeling, a restlessness, feeling that something terrible was going to happen and that I needed to return to Japan for the dolphins, a premonition of sorts. I left my job, spent two weeks fundraising and left for another Taiji campaign. I was in my element. I love activism and action.
Through a series of events I ended up in Northern Japan the midst of a 9.0 earthquake, surviving a tsunami by 40 seconds that ravaged the coastal town killing thousands. We were in Otsuchi to document the slaughter of 15,000 dolphins annually and ended up documenting the worst earthquake to hit Japan in over 100 years. It was a shock, to say the least. We witnessed carnage that I'd love to forget. We hiked through damage beyond conceivable. Death, burning, explosions. We were helped by those who had lost everything. I was forced to eat cooked food for the first time in over a year, vegan energy bars, but it had no negative effect.
I spoke with my partner and family back home, them finding out after 24 hours that we were alive. I laughed nervously as over 200 aftershocks rocked the hotel we were staying in. At that point I felt it was all a dream. I returned home and spent days crying...For the lives lost, the young woman we couldn't save, the pollution released in the ocean, for surviving. Our group developed a bond that will never be broken. I developed an intense fear of anything touching my neck that I haven't been able to shake. Writing this now I realize that I still haven't dealt with my emotions over the event.
Day of Tsunami
Life slowly returned to normal, as it always does. One positive event came after the tsunami, being a part of a documentary on nuclear disasters. I was able to share my experience, receive funds and share it with my friends, fellow survivors.
Summer followed and I returned to my normal self. I was having a blast on Vancouver Island, enjoying the life that I was so grateful to have. I decided to go overt fat free for the summer, hoping to feel the same lightness and energy that I had the previous year. It didn't happen as planned. Instead of feeling wonderful, I experienced my first symptoms of detoxification since becoming vegan three years earlier. I went through a three month period of detox, experiencing intense waves of constipation and diarrhea, body odour, breakouts, dry skin, a white coated tongue, 10lb water retention, cellulite, and dehydration no matter how much water I consumed. During this time I experienced my receding gums healing very quickly and an intense migraine with hallucinations. I decided after this period of time to introduce overt fats back into my diet and all symptoms ceased within a matter of hours. My digestion improved and I shed the water retention.
I spent the summer fundraising to return to Taiji. I rode my bicycle pulling a bamboo trailer built by the inspiring Derek Howlett to collect bottles door to door and off of highway sidelines. I purchased watermelons, sliced them up and sold the slices by donation. I sold my artwork and raw energy balls at events. Each day I followed my passion and educated others about marine conservation. I received love, donations, and criticism from some. After a few months I had raised enough to return to Taiji and continue on to Australia to volunteer on the Sea Shepherd ship.
On my way to Taiji my wallet was stolen, along with access to money. Luckily my fundraised cash was kept in a different compartment. I spent a week documenting another 35 dolphins slaughtered and another 10 taken for captivity. I ate an abundance of fresh local citrus yet my digestion completely stopped. I was extremely tense. I hated watching as dolphins died, knowing that I couldn't do anything to stop it. I had to leave because I didn't have access to any additional funds. I broke down at the airport on my way out of Japan. Pent up frustration, sadness, and a deep hate for the killers.
I arrived in Sydney Australia to meet with Ryan and we went straight to the Bob Barker ship and started work. I knew I needed relaxation, but I couldn't afford to slack. I needed to prove my dedication to the oceans and cause. We spent two weeks in Sydney and went out to sea for a voyage to Hobart. By that time it had been almost three weeks with no bowel movements. I was extremely bloated, over worked, undercarbed, under slept, and stressed. We encountered a pod of around 200 dolphins, swimming with the ship and bow surfing. It was such a beautiful moment. I broke down sobbing. It meant so much to see them alive and free. The pain of 235 dolphins dead and 110 taken for the slavery industry caught up with me.
We worked hard in Hobart. 10-12 hour days. 30 minute meals. 4 days off in 5 weeks. We spent every minute preparing the ship to sail to Antarctica. It was the hardest work I've ever loved. The crew were amazing, the experience unforgettable. But I made a decision to place the cause above my health and I suffered for it. I went over 1 month with no bowel movements. I consumed some salt. Acne, bloating, and body odour returned. I was desperate for a solution. I tried aloe vera, fasting, juice fasting, chia seeds, extra exercise. Nothing worked. I was too tense and stressed I was only able to get out a few painful bowel movements after repeatedly hitting my stomach. 30 bad was here with me throughout it all. I became extremely sick during my last week on the ship. I got the flu, and badly needed rest. I took one day off and then ignored my body's signals to rest. I was dizzy, weak, had headaches, and almost fell down the stairs to our room. I was caught by one of the Animal Planet crew. A few days later I started to vomit continuously.
I gave up an opportunity to go to Antarctica, a long standing dream. There was no doubt about our dedication. I was told that if I was willing to follow a cooked vegan diet I would be accepted. I declined, determined to be apart of an ocean campaign while staying raw. We left the ship at the beginning of December, our friends sailing away to protect the whales.
I spent the next two weeks eating during the day and vomiting all night. I had bad diarrhea. I felt weak and sick. We were staying with friends in Melbourne. I could hardly get out of bed. I felt that I needed food, but each time I ate I couldn't stop the vomiting. I made the decision the day the vomiting stopped that from then on my health would come first. I couldn't help the animals or oceans while being sick.
For the past 2.5 months Ryan and I have been living in working in Torquay, Victoria. I spent the first few weeks resting and began to feel like a new person. My bowel movements started to become normal around mid-February. My scaly skin became soft and clear again. I'm hydrated. I'm fit and toned again. I've been biking an average of 50-100kms per week, and have been running 3 days a week for the past month. I work for a small organic produce company and have access to beautiful, local and organic fruits and vegetables. I'm taking some time off activism and focusing on my health. I feel alive for the first time in a while. I've been feasting on figs, bananas, dates, mangos, sugar plums, grapes, and watermelon. 3000 calories or more. Sleeping 9-11 hours per night.
Here are two pictures after much needed rest and relaxation. The first one is after the vomiting stopped, getting adequate sleep, food and water.
Working in the Vineyard
Throughout these experiences you've all been here to support me. I couldn't have gotten through it without 30bad and raw foods. Fruits and veggies are important, but they can't work miracles. I've come to realize how important sleep and adequate rest are.
I once thought that I could sacrifice my health for activism and now realize that it's not possible. I need to keep myself healthy to ensure that I can fight for their rights.
It's been quite a year, but I wouldn't change any of it. I learned the greatest lessons while at my worst. I've learned that I must get enough sleep, water, fruit, rest, and exercise. If any of these key ingredients are missing, this lifestyle will not work! If they're followed properly, health and happiness will be abundant.
I completely understand.
The thing is I simply haven't found one overt free salad dressing that I enjoy. I love zucchini dipped in the mango-date-basil, but I even find that doesn't taste good over greens. The only way I really enjoy greens is if they're in a smoothie or covered in fat!
Oh, me too, Tarah, I don't like fat free dressings and as of now I have not converted. I still eat all raw fruit all day long but I do have a bit of salt and dressing on my salads. I have come to grips with this as I do run many miles a day and in Arizona you need some salt. I run in over 100 degree weather many days. I still feel loads of energy so I am not forcing myself to do anything but enjoy my fruit filled days. When I am ready if I am ever ready I will try to go more all raw but for now I am sooooo happy with how I feel.
Oriana, we need natural SODIUM found in celery and tomatoes especially. NOT table salt, black salt, dead sea salt, pink salt or any other toxic item that is deemed "natural". Salt is toxic!
I understand that everyone is following their program to raw and health and needs to take their steps. Please research the issue on salt and convert over to whole foods sodium. Your body will thank you for it.
Thank you for the information and help, Karen. I'll read up on it.
Oriana, that makes me smile. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing - always such an inspiration to read about your journey:-)
thanks so much for sharing, Tarah. i can so relate...my hugest love is serving individuals with disabilities, and some of my favorite things in that field i have had to stop doing because it did not allow me to get the rest my body needed...and then i would collapse and could not serve the individuals i so desired to help.
it is humbling for sure, and takes a lot of discipline to say "no" to GOOD things, simply because i have got to prioritize rest and health.
good for you! it is a big thing to do to say "no"! i enjoyed reading your story.
blessed to be on this journey with you. :)
Good for you! When you live in abundant health, with care and love for the oceans and animals, just your presence is enough to make a difference :)