Peter and Beryn Daniel are South Africa's leading raw foodists. Inspired by the growing number of people embracing the amazing transformative and healing potential of raw and living foods they wrote and created Rawlicious, recipes for radiant health in 2009 – South Africa’s first gourmet raw food recipe book. The recipe book has now been published internationally.
Website www.rawlicious.co.za Phone +27 21 702 4980 Mobile 0861 000 976 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food With A Story met with Peter and Beryn Daniel at their home to share a vibrantly healthy (and delicious!) breakfast, while getting to know them a little better. While we were a little intimidated by their 'health guru' status at first, we soon realised that they're quite normal after all - and pretty darn cool. The conversation follows...
You haven’t always been raw foodists or health fundis. What made you start questioning your ‘normal’ diet and health?
P: The pinnacle point for us was a course we did in London. A four day event with Anthony Robbins [Ed: a well-known life coach]. We walked on coals with 11 000 other people and then went through a series of practices to help us let go of negative self talk and beliefs. On day four food and diet were discussed. They explained how important food is to your life – your mind, your body and your emotions.
B: They also showed us shocking images of how animals are treated in the commercial food system.
P: Then we did a 30-day detox as part of the post-seminar work. I got sick for seven days (and that was actually the last time I have ever been ill!). We started reading more about health and food, and after that it was just a rabbit-hole of info. We went to more speakers and seminars in London. Brian Clement (from the Hypocrites Institute) was amongst them - that was an amazing lecture because he has a huge amount of clinical experience showing how the body processes different types of food. He is a raw foodist.
B: Peter came home from that one and said “Wow, that guy looks 40 and he’s 63!”
How healthy and vital people look is a pretty good signal about whether their philosophy works isn't it?
B: Definitely! So, these things coupled with my dad’s struggle with cancer made us really conscious about health. Then we entered a process of going in and out of being conscious about what we were eating, and falling back into old habits.
When did you really start becoming raw foodists?
B: It was really when we went to a trade show in London and met a raw food chef selling cakes at his stall. We asked him what was in his cakes, because we were detoxing at the time and couldn’t eat wheat, sugar, dairy and so on. His goods were all nut-based, sugar-free and delicious, so we signed up for his courses! It was once we started eating raw food that we really noticed increased energy levels and general well-being.
P: We didn’t change everything immediately. We didn’t like the idea of not being ‘allowed’ something. But it just turned out that we naturally just started eating more raw, and less cooked food, and eventually we were only eating raw food - just because it made us feel physically and mentally good!
So are you guys 100% raw at all times?
P: Pretty much. But we don’t like to say 100% anything. I like tahini every now and then, a sesame paste which has gone through a roasting process, so that’s not raw.
B: We say 99% because we don’t actively seek out cooked food. We don’t cook anything; we don’t have a stove. Sometimes I plunge a sweetcorn into boiling water, which warms it but doesn’t actually cook it, but I am not sure it’s still ‘classified’ as 100% raw. We slowly transitioned into raw. After about six months we were eating about 78% raw, and occasionally went out for a cooked meal. But we would always notice how tired we felt the next morning. So then it took us about another six months to go completely raw.
P: I am at the point now where my body doesn’t want anything cooked because I don’t feel as good. But it’s important not to repress the desire, because that’s not healthy either. We advise transitioning at your own pace.
How do your parents feel about the fact that you are completely raw? Do they embrace it, or do they just wish you would be ‘normal’?
[lots of laughter]
P: I think initially there was definitely a moment of “What are you guys doing now??”
B: My parents ran a bakery when I was younger, so there was a lot of decadent food around. When my dad got cancer though, he had a very strong will to get through it so he changed his diet and went on supervised detoxes. We all started eating lots of fruit and smoothies, and this really helped to prolong his life. But back then we didn’t have access to the health knowledge and alkalising substances that we have now, so unfortunately he passed away 12 years ago. So my mom likes the raw food thing, but she doesn’t do it that much. She’d love it if I prepared all her food for her – then she’d gladly be a raw foodist! But she does try, especially with the smoothies and juices. She’s currently caring for my gran who isn’t very well, and feeds her a lot of green juices which is really helping with her health. Peter’s mom was very sceptical at first because she was afraid that Peter, who has always been lean, was just going to disappear!
P: But she [his mom] has always been a frugal eater herself. And half the family is vegetarian anyway so it hasn’t been too difficult. The stress was mostly around what to feed us when we went over to visit, so we just offer to bring food and make it ourselves. They love that because it means I spend time with my mom in the kitchen, helping her, and showing her how to prepare raw food - a great bonding experience.
What about eating out? Are there any raw food restaurants?
B: Well there haven’t been but it’s starting! We’ve often been begged to start a restaurant, and we’ve been resisting. But now others are starting to fill that gap.
P: Kwalapa in Newlands do a great raw lunch platter. And Africa Café in town has added a raw section to their menu. My favourite place to eat out is at Earthshine raw food preparation classes. It’s so much fun.
If someone wanted to take raw foodism more seriously, what advice would you give them?
P: Firstly, dropping the seriousness. Eating should be fun! There is equipment that can support a fun process, like a good blender which is a quick and easy way to make something great. A good blender can really help someone get into raw food preparation.
B: You can even make juices in a blender by straining off the juice to remove the fibres.
We know that you have strong ethics in terms of human health, but does this extend to other areas like environment, and community?
P: By default it extends. If you are caring for your body in the most natural way, there is a knock-on effect. Organic food, caring for our garden, not consuming animal products – these all are very positive for the environment and our carbon footprint. We believe in Ghandi’s saying “Be the change you wish to see”. By starting with ourselves we’ve been able to see how that naturally ripples out.
You can purchase their recipe book and DVD set online at their webshop. Click here.
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