Profile: Raw Food Vagabond – Cartagena, Colombia

“You can’t party forever, but you can live happily and healthy, well not forever, but a lot longer.”

We met Jonathan at the Roof Hostel in Cartagena, Colombia.  We were both making dinner – he had been traveling for over a year and when we discussed Communeaty, he showed great interest and was excited to share his story

There are several raw food diets out there, but what is your definition of ‘Raw Foods’?

The raw foods lifestyle / diet that I follow is very high fruit based. This Raw Food Vagabond in Cartagena Colombiaform speaks louder to me because it is easily accomplished in nature.  [I can accomplish this] without machines and too much preparation. One other approach is a very high fat diet. Lots of oils and fats, and salad and greens.  It is another form of raw diet, but a different proportion of macro-nutrients.

I decided to follow the high fruit diet, by first looking at how we are designed at an anatomical and physiological level and by comparing us to other primates, and looking how they eat. The breakdown of the macro-nutrients profiles (fruits and veggies) would be around 80% carbohydrates and 10-15% fats and proteins.  If you were to look at it on a table, in volume it would be half fruits and half vegetables, but you just get most of you calories from fruit (as they are higher in caloric value).

What got you into Raw Foods?

I think people are attracted to such an extreme diet when they are in a bad place in their life. At that period in my life, I was looking for something different in England. Before raw foods, I was unhealthy, trying to lose weight, at university – overall depressed. I was researching different diets, and it dawned on me that rather than try to lose weight, if I eat healthily, it is a better long term plan. After looking through the different resources, books and the web, I picked out common denominators and jumped to being vegan, then raw foods just came pretty much straight after that.

Each species on this planet has a diet specific to their design. Today, the human diet is so far skewed from what we biologically and physiologically could eat. That whole concept sent a light bulb out in my head. But it wasn’t until I got experience eating that way, when I got the physiological response from my body that made me realize that there is definitely something here. I have been striving to keep a raw diet for the past 5 years.  The lack of community surrounding [raw foods], made me “snap” back.  The power of community, on doing things everyone else is doing is so influential, regardless on whether you perceive it as negative or not. There’s something so comforting and being one with everyone around you.

Can you go into more detail regarding community and how it has affected your diet?

That’s a recurring theme since I’ve been travelling. Actually the purpose of my blog was to document eating raw foods in South America, the challenges I came across, how to overcome them, and find people online that were eating raw foods in different countries to help me maintain that diet. When I volunteered on a farm in Ft. Lauderdale, there were lots of people into raw food there. I flew down to Brazil in Rio and lasted a week eating raw foods in a party hostel. I felt like I had enough friends in my life that were always drunk; I wanted to build up my social circle with people that would support me in doing things that were more positive to my life.  So I didn’t even go into the bar, I didn’t even connect with people on that level.  Then after a week, I had a beer day and ended partying for 6 weeks in Rio. It dawned on me that it was like a judgment for me to say I can’t get to know you just because you drink. And I had kind of put that barrier up, but for me it was once again that feeling of community and feeling like you are in the flow once you are doing things that everyone else is doing. That’s what feels great, and hence going back to the The Woodstock Fruit Festival in NY.  Being there it is just phenomenal. [A raw foods diet] is no longer seems difficult or extreme when you are surrounded by 600 other people doing the same thing.

Did you get the same feeling that you got from your partying in Rio?

Totally. Life is perfect, you live in the moment and you aren’t worrying about coursework deadlines for college or work after the weekend or having to get your sleep to get up or anything, you just live for the moment. But the difference being when I’m in that community of people that have the same ambitions towards health and vitality, it feels like a win/win because you don’t burn out. You can’t party forever, but you can live happily and healthy, well not forever, but a lot longer.

Cartagena BlurHow did you find out about the Fruit Festival in New York?

I was on a Raw Food internet forum when I was first getting into the diet and lifestyle. There were just so many questions to ask, like “how did you pick ripe produce or dietary/ nutritional questions?” Raw foods is more of a whole lifestyle change, it’s not just focused on diet. One of the guys from the forum, has his own website, TheFruitarian. Last year when I was in Asia, I saw a link up for [the Fruit Festival on TheFruitarian] and saw they had a volunteer program. I put my application it and got accepted. That was last year and I went back this year and I’ll go back again next year.

What were your thoughts on the Fruit Festival?

I completely want to go back. It’s like the best friends you have ever met.  At this festival you meet people where you just sit down because you know where, you don’t have to ask them about anything, you know the challenges they have had on how they eat, you don’t even talk about it. You just sit down and you feel like you know someone almost instantly. Within 5 minutes, it’s like one of the most open communities – it’s cool.

You said there were 600 people at the last festival. Now as you are going back travelling, how do you stay connected with the community you met at the festival?

This year I was volunteering hauling fruit off the truck to the kitchen and dining hall, wizzing around introducing myself to everyone and getting everyone’s Facebook details. Now I have that connection with those people and since I’m travelling I’m going to go visit a friend in Panama.

Actually when I got [to Cartagena], the next day I saw someone had commented on my friends Facebook post talking about Cartagena being a good place for getting quality fruit. I sent her a message, and it turns out she lives two blocks away. So I met up with her and straight away you get that feeling like it’s someone you knew for a long time. She showed who to go to for the freshest fruit and best prices.

Can you share with us your favorite Raw recipe? Cannon Overlooking the ocean with the Colombian in Cartagena Colombia

I got into this diet because of its simplicity. It talks about how there were no recipes in our primitive environment. We would come across a fruit tree when it’s ripe, and you can smell it, a fig tree for instance, and you would just eat a ton of figs until you were satisfied. I always try to eat like that. Simply, like a whole meal of one fruit, until I was satisfied and then change it up like every meal. Every day you get a big variety, every season you get a huge variety.

I found I used to love cooking before, but now when I got into this, it was just messing with the flavors. I didn’t want to create that same association with food. I just wanted it to be simpler.

However, being at this festival the first year, they have people who are all about recipes. This time around at the festival, I had a friend who was presenting some amazing dishes. He made this Pad Thai dish, and the dressing and the zucchini noodles were just phenomenal. I am actually going to get his e-book now to get the recipes.

I also love smoothies. Here in Colombia, the papayas are phenomenal, so I have been enjoying papaya and banana smoothies.

You have traveled for the last two years, what are your favorite in-season fruits and their associated country?

I feel like if it is summer and there are ripe fruit trees, then is habitable environment for us. You look at England in the winter, and all the trees are bare, you don’t have access to anything, but in the summer the fruit in England is fantastic.  My criteria for fruit is something that is easy to eat and not fussy. For example, I love the taste of mangos, but they are messy. A fig you can just pick it and eat almost the whole thing, and you can just keep eating.

The fruit I have been eating in Colombia is called Patria, Yellow Dragon Fruit. They are amazing. You don’t have to cut them, you can just peel them and open them up, then you have a whole pod in the middle that you can just eat the whole thing. Eating food that have edible seeds, so you can just eat the whole thing, rather than having to dispose of the scraps.

Johnathan’s Favorite Ripe Fruits:

  • Figs in England (August)
  • Durian in Thailand & the Philippines (July-August)
  • Cherries in Canada (July – August)

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