Well here goes – Our very first blog for our shiny new website. The first thing I’ll be blogging about is the explosion of interest in raw foods and vegetarian/vegan eating. My personal love of a vegetarian lifestyle started when I was 17 after reading a book on animal welfare. This book changed my world and thirty years later I’m still a Veggie despite my Mother thinking it was just a phase I was going through. My initial motivation for going veg was ethical, and this still stands true, but just as importantly I believe a plant based diet is the key to high energy levels and disease prevention. This lifestyle works for me and more and more medical research is supporting this. In the last 5 years I have embraced raw foods and switched more and more to a Vegan diet.

Suddenly it has never been cooler to live this lifestyle. Trust me for many years living an alternate food lifestyle meant you felt like a social outcast every time you went out for dinner. I can’t tell you how many Chefs’ think it’s OK to put Chicken Stock into a “Vegetarian” risotto. Suddenly the tables have turned and everybody’s getting on board. I’ve been in the health food industry for nearly 20 years and I have never ever seen such an explosion of interest and products to support a clean, green plant based diet.
Yahoo is all I can say! You can go the whole hog and embrace the raw/vegan/vegetarian completely or you can do what suits your lifestyle. No judgement here – do what suits you! Just remember every time you choose a clean green meal you are improving your health, energy levels, reducing your eco footprint and possibly saving a life or two (baa baa).

There is still some confusion about what vegetarians, vegans and raw food lover eat. I recently had a girlfriend who I’ve known for 30 years tell me that “Most Vegetarians eat Fish”. No vegetarians don’t eat fish. I’m not being critical if you want to eat fish, eat fish but if you choose fish you are not a Vegetarian. Put simply, Vegetarians avoid eating anything that is the product of the death of an animal. Eg. Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Gelatine, Chicken Stocks, Rennet. Vegans are Vegetarians who also exclude anything that is produced by an animal, eg. Eggs, Dairy, Honey, Leather etc. The last piece in this food puzzle is Raw Food. Raw Food Lovers eat a diet which comprises primarily raw fruit, vegies, sea vegies, nuts and seeds. It may also include a small amount of lightly cooked or dehydrated vegetables, whole grains and legumes which are cooked under a 118 degree threshold.
You can call yourself anything you want and you can eat anything you want. My motivation for defining the terms is that there really is a lot of confusion about what they mean. My greatest passion at the store is sharing my knowledge (and recipes) with people who are striving to improve their health through food. What I do know from personal knowledge and talking to 1000’s of customers is that incorporating vegetarian, vegan or raw foods into your diet (even a few times a week) will make real changes to your physical and emotional state.

No matter what you choose to eat I have some key rules I like to follow. Eat food as close to it’s natural state as possible. If your Great Grandma didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t either. If you can’t pronounce it and it sounds like a chemical don’t eat it. Eat organic wherever you can. If a food product has more than 5 ingredients listed it is fast becoming a processed food – think about avoiding it. If it has a shelf stable date of more than 5 days – don’t go there. If it has lots of numbers don’t touch it. If you eat animal products – choose cruelty free every time.
“Balance” is the key. If you go vegetarian, vegan or raw you still need to make sure that you are meeting your bodies protein, iron and omega 3 requirements. You need to find good protein sources, chickpeas, lentils, linseeds, nut butters, kale, broccoli – the list goes on. You need to eat good Omega 3 sources – flaxseed oil, linseeds, walnuts and avocadoes. You really need to make sure you truly understand what is required to feel amazing.
My food mantra is “Balance”. I have met lots of vegans/vegetarians who live on pasta, rice and processed soy products. They are often low in energy, anaemic and feeling pretty miserable. I have also met plenty of Mothers whose teenage daughters have gone vegetarian/vegan and just don’t know what to feed them. Do you research, come in and talk to us at replenish, we have naturopaths and nutritionists on the team. My goal is to support and respect everybody’s food choices and to hopefully share some knowledge and my love of all things green along the way.

Jo Sexton Bennetts