While Vassar’s dining options include an impressive variety of creative and healthy vegan dishes, they falter, rather predictably, at providing food catering to a raw foods diet. Yes, both the Deece and the Retreat (Vassar’s main dining hall and cafe-style eatery, respectively) feature considerably well-stocked salad bars, but I certainly cannot hope to discover any cashew cheese, zucchini noodles, or kale chips within a 200-foot radius of either building. Though I don’t adhere to an exclusively raw diet simply because, from experimenting with doing so over the past couple of years, I find it unsustainable for my active lifestyle and too restrictive to truly enjoy. However, I prefer that both my daily breakfasts and lunches consist heavily of raw foods to ensure high nutrient density, thoroughly enjoy reveling in decadent raw desserts every so often, and immensely admire individuals who have vastly improved their health (many even reversing Western diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers) by committing to a raw diet. That said, I took great pleasure in sharing a potluck dinner last night with a handful of fellow members of the Madison Raw Food Meetup Group who, unlike the vast majority of my college campus, wholeheartedly appreciated the nourishing power of pure veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as shared my enthusiasm for sprouting, dehydrating, juicing, and smoothie-ing.
Starting from top left and working clockwise, our group of health-minded folk enjoyed:
- A wonderfully tender kale salad massaged with a citrusy olive oil dressing and tossed with avocado and grapefruit.
- Mushroom Pizzas with a tahini-based pate, tomatoes, and spiced avocado slices.
- (My contribution!) Falafel and Hummus Wraps with marinated mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers (recipe here). I adored the deeply savory, quite olive-y flavor of the pumpkin seed falafel, but opted to make a more seasonal wrapper out of winter squash rather than the one called for in the original recipe.
- Satisfyingly crisp sundried tomato-basil crackers and sprouted rye berry crackers accompanied by the silkiest, most delectable cashew cream cheese in which my tastebuds have ever had the pleasure of frolicking (of course the woman who provided these dishes employed a VitaMix to yield such a creamy spread—oh, the jealousy!).
- Two superfood dessert bars—the first of hemp seeds, dried figs, dates, and almond butter; the other a chocolatey date-nut square topped with shredded coconut.
The buffet table also included apple slices and almond butter, hemp seeds to top the kale salad, a strawberry cheesecake, and a platter of my Red Peppermint “Sugar” Cookies.
Boasting a larger turnout that the last raw food meetup I attended during the summer, last night’s potluck offered an informal, friendly setting in which to chat with likeminded vegans and nutrition junkies, including two members of the Madison-based band Sexy Ester, who describe their music as “post-modern power pop.” Lyndsay, the lead singer, described to me her journey to raw foodism: she adopted a vegan lifestyle at age 18 out of a deep love for animals and decided to experiment with a raw foods diet in an attempt to ameliorate long-term digestive issues—more power to her! I intend to keep in touch with her and continue to support her band’s endeavors.
Finally, I’d like to conclude this post by rehabilitating the powerful discussion I introduced in my last raw potluck recap, which describes my experience in and advice for finding the inspiration to remain vegan for life. The post touches upon my transition from health-focused veganism to passionate animal rights advocacy, and how both educating oneself of the three major reasons—the animals, the environment, and health—for becoming vegan as well as surrounding oneself with a community supportive of a compassionate lifestyle prove necessary “In order to thoroughly cultivate the dedication and unwavering psychology necessary to nuture a permanent vegan lifestyle” (as quoted from the post I’m referencing). I’d love if you’d take the time to read (or re-read) my musings and contribute your thoughts to the conversation.
Until next time, Ali.