My personal journey to raw food has been over a number of years. I come from a very strong meat eating environment and had eaten it for 17 years until I moved to the UK from my native Latvia. I found that meat didn’t taste as good as back home and was expensive for a student budget but at that time I hadn’t really become conscious of any of the reasons that drive me now.
I became a vegetarian about five years ago as I started to look more into healthy living and being vegan was my 2009 new year's resolution. Raw diet was introduced to me by a friend with whom I initially started my business in September 2009 and I have not looked back since. Saying that, I am not a 100% committed vegan or raw foodie, I live my life by the principle of doing my best and adapting to situations when it is necessary and occasionally I quite enjoy some cooked vegetarian food.
The main difference with increasing the amount of raw food in my diet was that I stopped having cravings and the amount of food I needed to eat became smaller. In the transition process I lost 8kg of weight, my eyesight improved and plaque stopped developing around my teeth. All three had been problems previously.
After working in different corporate environments for a number of years, it soon became clear that I would prefer to have my own business! At the same time, the notion of wanting to do something with my life that makes a difference to the environment, peoples lives and attitudes, increases well-being and vitality became stronger and stronger so I decided to take a break from working and London and give my inner voice a chance to be heard.
I spent three months in the wonderful, colorful, always sunny Costa Rica learning Spanish, opening my heart and meeting amazing people from around the world. More importantly, within two weeks I had decided that I would like to create a living vegan fast food chain! During my corporate experiences I had realised there is nothing on the high street that would cater for vegetarians, let alone vegans and raw foodies and that in general there are not enough healthy food places.
My business name Pura Vida also came from Costa Rica, where it is used very commonly and means greeting and wishing well. In translation from Spanish Pura Vida means Pure Life and the Costa Rican as well as the literal meaning just made sense immediately for what I had in mind for the business idea, as well as the message that it would send.
So far we have created a daily delivery service of lunch and dinner meals, breakfasts and juices in central London and are also working on releasing our first products in the shops. My longer-term aim is for Pura Vida to become an international chain of healthy hot and living vegan foods as well as home delivery service and a range of everyday base products such as breads, cookies, burgers and nutballs sold in the shops world wide.
Why raw food? There are numerous issues with a cooked diet. Primarily, cooking kills enzymes. The body can create enzymes but its a process that takes a lot energy and it makes us feel tired and heavy. Furthermore, the enzymes that our bodies make are not as efficient and effective as those that were destroyed in the food. As a result, the food is not broken down properly and it starts a rotting process in the intestines and gives parasites more chance to survive. Cooking also changes the ph level of the food and makes food acidic. We should eat alkaline foods, as eating acidifying foods makes our bodies a welcome ground for disease. It also destroys most vitamins. Raw food is prepared under 45 Celsius and preserves the enzymes and vitamins.
The benefits when your diet consists of 75% or more raw foods are more energy, less sleep needed, weight loss, clearer and more beautiful skin, clarity of mind and better memory, improved immune system, prevention or even reversal diabetes.
Here's a tasty raw food recipe you can try at home:
Pura Vida Rich Delicious Nori Rolls (pictured above)
(Equipment needed – blender or food processor)
For the "rice"
- Almonds 200g (you can cheat with almond flakes)
- Fresh Basil 50g
- Fresh Parsley 50g (can't cheat with parsley nor basil, has got to be fresh and screaming green)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 Lemon Juice
- A pinch of salt
- a little water
For the filling:
- 1 avocado
- 1 cucumber
- 50g Fresh peeled ginger
- 50 Fresh Coriander
- Any other vegetable that you like - Courgette, carrot, red or yellow pepper, anything that comes to your imagination
For the outer coat:
- Preferably dried, not roasted nori sheets, but they taste the same really, its just a matter of whether you want to go completely raw or not.
If you are using whole almonds - soak overnight and then blend, with a little water and lemon juice, then add basil and parsley and garlic so you get slightly hummus like texture (the ticker, the better)
Separately, blend the coriander and sliced ginger (easier in the blender) together, then cut the avocado and cucumber and anything else you've chosen in long strips.
You're ready for rolling now.
Lay out the nori sheet, put two small tablespoons of the almond mixture on one end of the nori, spread it out, add the coriander and ginger mixture, avocado, cucumber, etc and roll it into a nori roll. Enjoy!
Have a look at the menus on the Pura Vida website, where you can also sign up to receive 'Fortnightly knowledge' and have recipes sent to your email. For any further details, contact Aya: email@example.com.