Renée is a passionate advocate of the plant-based diet. She has been supplying beautiful salads and raw dessert treats to health shops and cafes for years. Renée’s raw vegan caramel chocolate slice is insanely good. Seek it out!
What’s the philosophy behind raw food?
The concept of eating raw has been around for a long time, it’s just that it has hit critical mass and become popular in the last two years. The idea is that food in its raw state holistically contains the entire vitamin and mineral content our body needs and the enzymes remain intact. When we heat food over a certain temperature we are actually killing all of the goodness in the food. In saying that, within the raw food movement, we do use dehydration which is around 42° Celsius. The enzymes and mineral content within the food remain intact at that level of cooking…or un-cooking. Enzymes get missed a lot in the nutritional fads that come about. People talk about vitamins and minerals but they don’t go into the enzymes and pro-biotics.
So it’s about the way our body processes food?
If you think about it from an energetic nutrition point of view, which for me is what it’s about, it’s about creating frequency. Everything in the universe contains frequency and food is a portion of that frequency. When we are consuming food in its raw state, we are consuming high frequency food and then as soon as we start to kill it, we’re killing or dropping that frequency. The frequency that we hold and the frequency the food holds is a co-creation. It’s feeding and nourishing us on a whole other level. Not only nutritionally but on an energetic level as well.
How did you get into raw food?
I got into it a long time ago. It was actually 2009 when I first started playing around with the concept of raw food. The whole idea made sense to me. My background was Chinese medicine so for me, it was an unusual flip because in Chinese medicine the foundation belief system is you cook the crap out of everything. Slow-cooked soups and stews with lots of meat. There was a lot of unlearning that had to happen for me. But working with raw food was a natural process that I understood. I started researching and playing around with recipes. I would research normal recipes and think, how can I turn this into a raw food recipe. Then I realised that it wasn’t new. I wasn’t inventing anything. I had thought I was coming up with these great concepts but people were already doing them.
Is it easy to find the ingredients you need?
You can buy a lot of them in supermarkets now, for example, coconut oil. You just have to make sure it’s organic cold-pressed. Terra Madre in Northcote is one of the most fantastic places to buy good organic produce suitable for a plant-based diet.
What about in winter, do you eat cold?
What it comes down to is that everyone is different. Every body type is different. Some people can handle a completely raw food or plant-based diet, as I like to call it, some can handle a certain amount of it. I believe it’s a seasonal thing. It’s important not to do something because it’s popular. You have to internally check how things feel for you. In the depths of winter, I believe that I need to eat warm soups and steamed vegetables, so I don’t choose to eat completely raw. When you eat seasonally and organically you’re choosing foods on a seasonal level and in summer, there are so many fresh vegetables and fruits and you want to eat more of that.
You seem to want to educate people about this.
When you first start out and you want to eat a plant-based diet, it can be daunting because there are so many rules and regulations and even dogmas. In the end, if you just start with something simple, like raw ‘spag bol’. Make a sauce from puréed fresh tomatoes and spiralise a zucchini instead of pasta and there you have it.
When we consume food, it’s an experience. Right from the moment we have the thought, we are already in the process. And it’s about sharing. You share the experience of food with others. For me, making food is like meditation, I am always in a good space. I wouldn’t want to make that food if I was upset. That’s the spiritual aspect for me.