It has been three years since Maceik Kolbusc and his wife, Kriti Sachdeva, have had anything cooked. They don’t have a gas connection at their home in Yemlur, Bengaluru, either. The couple has been living on a raw vegan diet, which now has a lot of connoisseurs in India.
“Right now I’m in a position where if you give me a capsicum, I don’t have to cut it with a knife. I’ll just put it in my mouth and eat it like an apple. It is so sweet and juicy. I’ll just chew it instead of doing any kind of processing,’’ smiles Sachdeva. The yummiest food she has tasted is a Thai fruit called durian. “No food prepared by a human can taste so good,’’ she says. Kolbusc loves jackfruit.
Sachdeva, 28, believes fire doesn’t add any value to food. “When you cook something, you definitely lose the vitamin and mineral content. A lot of phytonutrients, which have anti-cancer properties, are also lost during cooking,” she says, while chopping cucumber and coriander leaves for the dinner salad.
Sachdeva’s kitchen looks delightfully simple. There are no big pressure cookers or frying pans in their kitchen cabinets. The stove and the tiles never get slimy. The chopping board is surrounded by vegetables and fruits of all shapes and colours. Together Kolbusc and Sachdeva eat more than 8kg of fruits and veggies every day.
Fruits, veggies, veggies, fruits... isn’t it a sad diet? Kolbusc fields the question with raw vegan sweets he prepared. Made of copra, almonds and dates, they are out of this world. Kolbusc took less than ten minutes to make them!
Being on a raw diet, the couple gets a lot of ‘we time’. “We watch a movie every day,” says Sachdeva, who is working with PETA. “The time which I would have otherwise spent destroying food is now being used for more important things. I edit wikipedia pages in my free time. We have also started a website―indianrawvegan.com―for spreading information about raw food.”
Fruit consumption in India is abysmally low, she says. “Fruits are still a luxury in the country. People cannot afford fruits on a daily basis. The government gives subsidies for grains only. Grains require so much upkeep whereas it is easier to grow fruits,” she says.
The journey to raw veganism has been magical for Kolbusc and Sachdeva. Kolbusc, 34, who comes from a typical Polish family where they have meat and wine at every meal felt much better after he turned vegetarian. And, a few days before Easter in 2010, he transitioned to raw vegetarianism. “I told my friends that I’ve given up cooked food for Lent. Nobody can question religious reasons and I could make it through the 40 days,” he recalls.
Kolbusc has never cheated on his raw vegan diet except at the time of his marriage in 2012. “He had some rice then since he didn’t want to be disrespectful,” says Sachdeva.
Kolbusc met Sachdeva through a vegan dating website. Sachdeva was not in good health then. Her stamina was very low and she could hardly walk half a kilometre. “I would keep getting fever. Once I fell sick, while I was dating Kolbusc. He told me that if you really want to change, you should change your diet. Then I went on the raw vegan diet,’’ she says. “When you are doing something like this together, it intensifies the bond of love,’’ says Sachdeva as an afterthought.
Sachdeva who used to be slightly anaemic earlier is hale and hearty now. She eats half a dozen bananas a day, besides other vegetables and fruits. Earlier, she would eat only one or two bananas a week. “After I turned raw, I became so fit that I became a certified fitness instructor in the UK,” she beams.
The raw vegan diet has helped Kolbusc gain more strength and endurance. “My energy levels have also improved a lot because I’m eating food that is easily digestible. Nowadays I just need to sleep for 5 or 6 hours a day to feel refreshed,’’ says Kolbusc. Cooked food can make you feel tired because you need to spend a lot of energy for digestion, he adds.
Kolbusc and Sachedava work out hard in the morning. “We do at least 100 sit-ups and 50 push-ups. We also do boxing and Jiu Jitsu, which require a lot of energy,” says Sachdeva.
But can a human being survive solely on raw food? Kolbusc says he never has cravings for cooked food. It has been several years since they fell ill. Unsurprisingly, they have done away with their medicine cabinet!