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Book Review: The Raw Life by Paul Nison

As you might imagine, I have read more than my fair share of books on raw foodsim over the past few years, but not since David Wolfe's "Sunfood Diet Success System" and Cheryl Stoycoff's "Raw Kids" has a book really left me wanting more. Whether you are new to this lifestyle or a mid- to long- term raw fooder this book will definitely have something for you, if not many things.

When I first heard about the concept behind "The Raw Life", I was intrigued. Essentially the book uses the analogy of boxing and working your way towards the ultimate title of Raw Champion by beating various opponents such as "Dairy Man", "Grain Man" and ultimately "Cooked Food Man." Yikes! Not for the faint-hearted - so I hope you've got a good head start...

As with all books which I come to love I am always keen to put a person to the print, so it was a nice turnaround to meet the author, Paul Nison, before the book was actually written. We met last autumn in London while he was visiting from New York, and by talking to him and spending some time  with him, I knew that this guy was really walking his talk. Even back then I couldn't wait for his book. Almost a year later and a draft copy of "The Raw Life" is finally here in my gloved paws for reviewing purposes and I am delighted to say that it was definitely worth waiting for - it's a real belter!

Yes, this is one of those books I would love to have had when I first started out. I would have pored over it for hours and read it again and again - there is just so much in it and it definitely grows with you, so no two reads will ever be the same. Therefore this book has a great shelf-life and won't be collecting much dust - that's a great feat in itself.

What did it for me personally, however, is the way "The Raw Life" takes the subject of raw food eating and makes the whole thing fun and fascinating at the same time. The early chapters are liberally sprinkled with amusing cartoon characters of all the baddies to beat (the cooked fat out of - oops, my little excitable addition!) and this really brings the book to life. But  it's not just all fun and games - not by a long shot - it also delivers in a big way on the more serious side of things too, and pulls many years of personal research all into one exciting arena. Great work, Paul.

"The Raw Life" is a very impressive 350 pages long (paperback) which ensures a good solid read, but it never gets boring. There are many reasons for this, but what especially springs to mind is the way its pace varies from chapter to chapter and keeps the reader on their toes. There are also lots of great quotes and snippets to keep you in there and inspired at all times.

The book begins by introducing each of the 10 main opponents. Of course, you don't have to fight them all if you've already beaten some (or all) of them prior to reading the book, but each one is definitely worth reading more  about just so you know exactly who you conquered and to clarify how far you've come.

Next you get to meet your all-important support team. There are also 10 supporters, each one equally valid and waiting to assist you, such as "Language Man", "Willpower Man" and "Fasting Man". I loved this whole section. This is going to help a lot of people.

Once you have beaten your first set of opponents and become the champion, you're a winner alright, but what happens next? Well you retain your title by eating an all-raw diet of course, and in chapter 4 Paul gives some great advice and pointers on "What Can You Eat and When Can You Eat It?". In this chapter many different areas are discussed relating to the way we eat our food, and the importance of remembering it is not just what we eat but the way that we eat it. There are also 20 well-chosen recipes which are very simple to prepare and sound dee-licious. Great stuff. Another winning round from Paul Nison the Durian King (his official raw title).

Chapter 5 outlines Paul's personal diet, the way of eating he has come to after years of study, experimentation and of course, evolving. He raises  some excellent points and this chapter will be very useful to many who want to know the specifics of a real raw fooder and not simply to be told "just eat raw food".

But don't bathe too long in Paul's glory because the fight is not over yet! Oh no! Chapter 6 brings with it some new opponents - "Detoxification Man" is the first, "Underweight Man" the second, "Overeating Man" the third, and finally a new kid on the block - "Frozen Food Man"! Yes, it could be tough. But you're up for the challenge, right?

Having successfully kept your title for some time, the next stage is to move beyond the raw food diet itself and to become more natural in other areas of your life too - hence the title "The Raw Life". As many soon come to realise, this raw food thing is about so much more than what you put into your mouth - it's a whole new way of being. Accordingly, in this rapid-fire round, television, make-up, toiletries, perfumes, sunglasses, eyeglasses, contact lenses, hospitals and supplements all take a good hammering and Paul shows absolutely no mercy here. In typical Nison style he deals with each and every one of them like a true champ and they're all out for the count after only a paragraph or two. He's a mean man alright. Thank goodness we don't have to fight him too is all I can say.

Next comes some bigger issues. It's the section "Mentally Raw" that I particularly love. Paul says: "The biggest change in my life since becoming natural has been something that I was not even looking for. Before I thought life was explained by science, and that was that. I now believe 100% that there is more. I know many people who have been eating natural foods for a very long time and they all feel the same way. Someone told me that when you become truly natural, this is a normal process. It is as if your mind had spent the whole unnatural life inside a dirty house, with the windows so dirty that it could not see much. That house is your body. It could only see what was brought inside the house. Then one day you clean your body. This house was like a glasshouse, but you never noticed it because of the dirt. Now that it is clean, the light of the sun shines through and you can see out of the windows everywhere. Those windows are your mind and once it is clean you will see the truth about everything." From my own experience I can only agree with him on that one.

Chapter 8 is really something very special, and a chapter I know all readers will relish - 27 pages of in-depth interviews with 9 long-term raw fooders such as Morris Krok, Dr Douglas Graham, Brian Clement and Roe Gallo. This is a phenomenal chapter which had me well and truly hooked. As with other sections of the book there are also photos of real people living, quite literally, real lives! Fantastic. Yes, I admit it, this round floored me good and proper... but I'll be back!

The final chapter consists of a very informative Q&A section. Subjects covered include: social issues, eating for climate, children, water, juicing, fasting, colonics and even libido! This section will be very useful to many, especially those relatively new to the raw life and are just beginning to experiment more deeply.

The book concludes with a final message from the author, a comprehensive raw dictionary, recommended reading and a useful addresses section. As with all good things - alas - finally they do come to an end. Never mind though, I'll just start all over again!

Not surprisingly then, from Karen's Corner "The Raw Life" definitely gets a big thumbs up (which is just as well because these boxing gloves don't give me much room for manoeuvre here-!). As you will find if you rise to the challenge, this book is very much one of a kind and I really do think every raw fooder should have one, even if it's just for the interviews chapter alone. This chapter is, in my opinion, worth a hundred times the price of the book and will probably pull you back for a re-read again and again. Yep, I am mightily impressed, Paul. "The Raw Life" is a real knockout.

Review by Karen Knowler, fresh network, UK

The Raw Life

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