The raw truth of healthy eating

03:44, Aug 23 2013
Hayley Richards
Hayley Richards believes the raw food movement is growing "because it's really cool to be healthy".

Many people are overfed but undernourished, says raw food advocate Hayley Richards.

In Nelson, she is spreading her passionate message that a whole-food, plant-based diet can improve people's health and wellbeing.

She has converted business people to switch from their daily coffee and muffin to a green smoothie and blissball, and amazed a business gathering of 150 people with her raw food catering.

The 26-year-old Nelson mother of two who studies plant-based nutrition through Cornell University in New York, will pass on her knowledge through four workshops.

"Someone eating a meal of spaghetti bolognese could feel full and satisfied, but the pasta, meat and cheese have very little nutritional properties, are acid-forming and hard to digest," she said.

"It's not nourishing your body compared to a raw pasta of zucchini noodles, a fresh tomato sauce, creamy avocado and olives topped with fresh basil, which is nutritionally dense and nourishing on every level . Many people sip back lattes and fizzy drinks, snack on biscuits, muffins and chips, all of which are yummy, but not healthy."


However, she is gradually seeing increased interest in raw and plant-based foods. The first of her monthly workshops starts tomorrow and is nearly booked out.

She believes the raw food movement is growing "because it's really cool to be healthy".

"With rates of chronic illness skyrocketing, people are becoming more aware that we hold the power to prevent many diseases and want to do something about it.

"More people are jumping on the bandwagon to health through plant-based foods - it's cool to have a green smoothie."

With a background in hospitality, a few years ago she began looking into how food could make changes in people's health. She found a plant-based diet improved her skin, digestion and vitality, and now her family - partner and local chiropractor Hayden Thomas and their two young daughters - live on a whole-food, plant-based, highly raw diet.

"We thrive on it," she said.

While wanting to remain a fulltime mum, she has ventured into catering for businesses and groups such as mums' get-togethers.

While many were interested in a raw-food diet, they found it hard to overcome long-held beliefs, she said.

"People are really stuck in the present paradigm of ‘reductionism' rather than ‘wholism', largely influenced by lobbyists and big companies like the dairy industry about their food and health.

"When I say protein, people think of dairy and animal products, not realising there is actually more protein in plants.

"They are also scared that if they give up animal products for plants they will be malnourished when the opposite is true."

Tomorrow's workshop, Real Sweethearts, will teach new plant-food enthusiasts how to make raw cheesecakes and other sweet treats. The second workshop will focus on raw savoury foods, the next on plant-based cooked foods and the fourth will be about detoxing.

Tickets are available at Equilibrium Chiropractic in Church St, Nelson.

The Nelson Mail