Just Eat an Apple
A Teenager Discovers the Raw Lifestyle
by Rick Kump
For every raw foodist, there is an experience, and each of ours is unique. For a teenager, trying to find his way in an unnatural world, I have come across many challenges and resistance. Not only have I overcome most of these, but I have used them to my advantage. Raw foods have made me stronger in every way I know.
Throughout junior high, I was “the vegan.” It was during those years that I first became conscious of the effect one’s diet has on the world. I was always interested in health, but I never took it seriously. It was tough being different, but I grew in so many different ways because of this, and I cannot say I minded all of the attention. Most of the attention I received was negative. The more I read about the world, the more convinced I became that society was ignorant and cruel. Used to bottling up anger, I stored my negative thoughts. I became less a promoter of peace than an aggressor, pushing his ideals.
Three months before my fifteenth birthday, the idea of eating only raw food presented itself to me. I admit that I did not envision something great. I pictured an elderly man and woman sitting at a table, cutting up broccoli and eating it with a fork! After a little research, my views changed. This diet made too much sense not to give it a try. Little did I know, it was an entire new way of living. Ready to start a new adventure, I jumped right in… WOW!
Raw foods immediately forced me to analyze my lifestyle. My previous diet consisted of approximately zero percent fresh fruits and vegetables and consisted mostly of soy, grain, and condiments. I am still adjusting my diet and lifestyle to my needs. It is a wonderful process.
Unlike soymilk, vegan cookies, and meat substitutes, my raw food diet does not give the impression of denial. No longer am I living just without meat, dairy, eggs, this, that, etc.; I am living with raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds! I was drifting further from society’s expectations, but in school I put up with less resistance. My “diet” was a lot easier to defend.
God, nature, and human logic were on my side. Many people who previously were hostile towards me became truly interested. I was becoming a more reasonable, peaceful person.
Transitioning to a raw food diet has been the biggest challenge of my life. I was doing this because I wanted to be healthy, strong, and live naturally. I wanted to be happy. I regret not keeping a journal during this pivotal time in my life. During this time, I ate nuts and seeds by the pound to suppress cravings. My stomach was not used to the light feeling. I also ate many bananas and large, nearly raw salads. The change in eating habits was hard, but not the most difficult part for me. I had intense mood swings, which created strain on already weak family bonds.
My parents, avid meat-eaters, mocked my rapid weight loss. They called me emaciated and anorexic. For a teenaged male, whose ideal image for himself was one of bulging muscles and profound strength, being called these things really hurt. My family bonds were further weakened by money situations. I was constantly asking my mother to buy me bananas and raw seeds. My parents told me I was “fading away” and not eating enough, but when I ate, they made me feel guilty. I wasn’t getting enough food.
The problems I faced left me doubting my new lifestyle. The night of Halloween that year, cravings hit hard. I went to a party and gave into social pressure. A few pieces of candy sent me on a downward spiral like nothing I’ve experienced. The next two months, I felt like hell. Detox, cravings, emotions, toxins… everything was blurred. I felt like a failure, and I was embarrassed by this. I suffered through intense junk food cravings, but I had no one to tell.
I searched for the bottles and the packages with the highest calorie and fat content. I ate jars of salsa and drank salad dressing until my taste buds burned. I tried to make it appear that I was raw, even though I wasn’t. This furthered my guilt. As I binged, I might as well have been a cocaine addict, shooting up in an alley. I lived for those releases, the artificial satisfaction brought about by these foods, crushed by an overwhelming sense of defeat and sickness but a few moments later. I felt very emotional during these times. I cried frequently, often for no apparent reason.
Despite my setbacks, I persevered. I used my backyard as a getaway to think and be alone. I kept trying and had some good, raw days. My Thanksgiving dinner that year was one of raw corn, orange slices, sunflower seeds, and bananas. I was proud.
It was around January when the guilt became too much. I didn’t want to lie or sneak around anymore. I started telling people I was transitioning. I now could eat as much cooked food as I wanted, and I could do it without secrecy. I ate lots of vegan “nutrition” bars, oils, and hummus. Finally, I admitted to myself that my “transitioning” was nothing more than an excuse to binge. On the cooked food, I hadn’t gained an ounce (my body wouldn’t let me). I decided to quit my self-abuse. I went raw for real: 100%. I felt great! One year later and here I am, writing this article.
A lot has happened this year. Raw foods have revolutionized my life and thinking. Some changes have been physical. A few brief fasts over the summer left me feeling much cleaner. For a few months, I had so much mucus that I had to open my car door and spit whenever we came to a stop sign. My face has cleared, but my light acne proves that I am still “cleaning house.” Cravings are a rarity now, and my need for concentrated fats continues to wane. I am now more active than I have been in my entire life. I lift weights, hike, climb trees, jog and much more. Slowly, I am gaining muscle.
Once an atheist, I now have faith. I accept that I am of the Earth. For this reason, I don’t proclaim to know who or what God is, but raw foods have shown me the magic and mystery of the universe. I have a new kind of confidence in the human race, and I strive for peace, within and around me. I wake up every morning anticipating the wonders of the day. I am living proof that not every teenager has to be stressed, depressed, and hopeless.
As my family continues to become accustomed to my changes, they change also. Both of my sisters are now vegetarians, one who aspires to be raw like her big brother (grins). My relationship with my mother continues to improve. Our household is less tense than it used to be and, overall, less toxic.
My senses have sharpened, especially my sense of thought. Food was not a problem in school– I faced the halls with sunflower seeds, apples, and carrots in my backpack– but last year, I noticed how dull and tedious schoolwork was becoming. I made my days bearable by doodling, stretching in my seat, staring out windows, and receiving hall passes whenever possible.
This year, however, after my first raw summer, school was different. It was more than a waste of time; it was a prison. After much discussion with my mother and friends, I left public school. I concluded that there are too many things to learn to wait for someone else to assign them to me! Now, the world is my teacher. When I left school, I was worried that I’d become a hermit. The opposite is true.
It has only been recently, with raw foods and free time, that I have begun to reach out and explore the world. I have discovered so many new interests, and I am meeting many people. For a year, I had no raw support other than online. Now, I am meeting raw people everywhere, but only since I’ve started looking! I even found an organic buying group very close to my home.
Raw foods let me live a real life. The things that I’m learning now will help me in the future, but I’m living for the present. I volunteer at a local forest, and I have begun to involve myself with activism. I recently started a garden. As a teenager, it has been difficult to find an occupation, but I am looking for a healthy, meaningful job and aspiring to become a professional writer. I look forward to becoming a strong contributer to the raw food movement.
I believe raw foods will continue to show me the way. What way? I’m not sure, but I am reaching out for the special things that the universe has in store for me. I am so grateful that I am on this path at such a young age. I have, by no means, achieved the perfect lifestyle (whatever that is), but I am learning so much. Challenges present themselves, and I work to overcome them. I adapt my lifestyle to fit the opportunities given to me. No matter what age we are, we can embrace our struggles as a means to better ourselves–for each of us and the world!
About Rick Kump
Rick has for some years been consulting people and especially other teens on
nutrition and the raw-vegan diet. He is now writing a book about his journey on raw