Iranian Raw Vegan: Moein, Part 2

Do you feel healthy now or do you still feel like there are health challenges to overcome?

Well, I feel healthier than the rest of my life before veganism but I think my health situation could still be much better than what it is at the moment.

One of the most important health challenges I face is regular exercising, which unfortunately I haven't been successful with until now. Nowadays we are all very busy, but I think this is not a very good excuse to neglect one's health, as although we have many challenges in our daily life, we also have more facilities and more welfare as well, in comparison to before. So regular exercise and enough physical movement is an undeniable necessity, without which our health could not reach its maximum capacity.

Another big challenge is controlling stress. I had a stressful lifestyle during these several years so I felt the problems with that deeply. To control stress, we need to become wiser, more active, more spiritual, more open-minded and more ego-less! Exercise, meditation and yoga can help to reduce stress. But in total, we need to be happy in any situation and this is a great skill in life. Health cannot be felt without happiness!

So do different things make you happy now than before you turned raw vegan?

Yes, even small things in life can now make me happy more than before. However, I think I became wiser than before as I've read more books and experienced more things in my daily life. So raw veganism was not the only reason but it did help me very much to reduce many of the stresses, thanks to becoming healthier.

What do you say to people who don't have enough time to be healthy?

If you continue an unbalanced lifestyle, you will have to spend a lot of time in a doctor's office and in hospitals in the future! So prevent unwelcome illnesses before they happen in a way that is easy and kind to the body.

I don't seem to achieve the high energy levels that many people report on raw foods. Have you noticed others having the same problem?

The same happened to some raw foodists. They may not feel a difference in a 100% raw in comparison with 80% raw. The reasons are different but I think their bodies are a little more adapted to cooked foods and can tolerate it more than others. But about myself, I feel very sleepy when I eat cooked foods.

Now the main question for me is: Do you observe food combining rules correctly? Because most raw foodists combine all foods together and this can prevent them from experiencing the maximum vibrancy.

And as the body cells need about 7 years to renew, maybe you will feel a difference in the next 7 year cycle if you continue eating this way.

[Interviewer: I feel sleepy after eating many cooked foods too, but even on raw foods or while juice fasting I still seem to need a minimum of nine hours of sleep per night, sometimes more.]

How much sleep do you need?

I still need eight hours of sleep, even with raw veganism. I think it depends on the toxicity level of the body, as long as no other disorder affects it, of course. For example, if you have a day full of stress and you cannot sleep enough that day, you will have to compensate the next day. When this happens to me, I may sleep 9-10 hours the day after!

But another reason for the body to need more sleep is detoxifying. We know that sleeping helps the body to detox and recover. So the body needs more sleep when it becomes toxic, as well as during a detox program, because in both cases the toxins in the blood increase temporarily. So maybe this is why you need more sleep than other people even when you go on a juice fast.

Some experts say that sleeping before midnight is more effective than sleeping after midnight. Unfortunately most of us are habituated to sleep late, as well as being busy and not being able to sleep early, so this disarranges our sleeping patterns.

But on the other hand, I once had a discussion with one of my friends who is a psychologist and he told me that we can control our sleep by controlling our minds. He said that because we always heard that humans need eight hours of sleep everyday, and that less than that could be harmful, we become habituated to this situation. This doesn't necessarily mean that we need the same amount of sleep everyday and in every situation. I think he was right and this fact also effects our sleeping habits.

What is the raw food scene like in Malaysia and Iran?

Well, this lifestyle is still not popular in these two countries, especially in Malaysia. But fortunately, like the rest of the world, the people interested in veganism and raw food diets are increasing day by day with the help of the internet, social media and related seminars/meet-ups in the real world.

Now, for example, an Iranian Facebook group related to raw veganism has more than 25,000 members, only after about one year of activity! And my Persian group in Facebook about vegan/raw vegan experiences now has more than 1,800 members just after 6 months. These group members are people with different diets but it shows that nowadays more people are open-minded enough to become interested in new ideas on nutrition.

You've mentioned the Iranian traditional medicine system in our conversation before. Could you tell us more about it?

The Iranian traditional medicine goes back about one thousand years, when Avicenna, the famous Iranian traditional therapist of the time, developed this knowledge system based on his experiences. There are some principles which entered to Iranian traditional medicine from India and China as well, which helped to develop the Iranian traditional 'hygiene' (medical system).

This traditional medicine was useful in the past age, and some of its general principles are still working well, but in any case, it is also not perfect. So, I think an integrative medicine system plus natural nutrition may work much better.

[Interviewer: A Traditional Chinese Doctor told me that eating raw food (although good for animals) is NOT good for humans because we are not as active and don't move as much. It seems to me that many successful long-term raw foodists live in hot climates and/or do high amounts of sports. Perhaps it is true that the Chinese notion of balancing the heat/ coldness of the body is important, and raw food is on the 'cold' side.]

Maybe it's true that raw foods need balancing with high amounts of physical activity and/or lots of sunshine? Do you think that what the Chinese Doctor said might be true?

About traditional medicine, I have to mention one thing before continuing to answer your question:

The traditional medical systems around the world are created and developed by less than healthy people, who were not on a natural raw vegan diet. They were not successful in eradicating all diseases. So, even though it can be very valuable to use some parts of their knowledge, we should be realistic: nothing is perfect.

Lack of physical activity is a big problem by itself. But cooked foods and salt could make it even worse!

The Chinese medical doctor was correct in some parts but not in all parts. We also have the cold/hot theory of food in Iranian traditional 'hygiene' (medicine) but from a scientific point of view, those so-called cold foods in traditional hygiene are usually those that make the body acidic, while the so-called hot foods are alkaline. An alkaline diet and avoiding acid-forming foods as much as possible is one of the most important factors in a natural diet. Hotness or coldness of the body also depends on the acidity of the body.

In my view, as raw food diet is high in absorbable energy, so people on this diet will fail in the long-term if they don't have enough physical activity, and they may also become anxious as the energy in their body becomes unbalanced without enough physical activity.

Unfortunately this was my biggest problem whenever I didn't exercise and this is why I'm trying to have an arranged plan for exercise now.

Sunshine is also very important for the body and mind, not only for human, but for all animals.

Your body may be imbalanced because lack of sun and lack of physical activity. The best climate for the human body is tropical, as that's the only climate where humans can survive without any clothes (only your skin is enough there!) and have access to fruits all year long. And the good news is that you [being from Finland] are more resistant to the lack of sun than people from other countries like me, because you've somehow adapted to that kind of climate and you can tolerate it more.

penang organic fruit farm, tropical malaysia image
Moein visited the Penang organic fruit farm with the Vegetarian Society of Malaysia last year. It is 25 hectares of forest growing a great variety of tropical fruits. (Image published with permission from the Penang fruit farm.)

[Interviewer: So from your point of view the best place for people to live in is the tropics. But I have also read that many people found it difficult to get used to living in the tropics because of rainy seasons, stomach bugs and sometimes a lack of hospitals and infrastructure...]

What do you think about the typical challenges of living in the tropics – is it possible to get used to them and to adjust?

Well, it depends and would be a different experience for each person.

When I first tried living in a tropical country (Malaysia), while on a raw food diet, it was really great. At the same time, most of the other Iranians I met in Malaysia complained about the hot weather and they didn't feel well in the tropical climate.

I think the main reason is that those Iranians I met were not vegetarian and also not very fit. So I think that the tropical climate is not very hospitable for meat eaters and overweight people. But for raw vegans it is great! I didn't feel tired in this climate, even after walking for 7-8 hours a day and sweating so much that all my clothes became soaking wet!

And another interesting experience for me was that I felt a little uncomfortable the first day I travelled to Malaysia and I just couldn't believe how people there could become adapted to that kind of weather! But I adopted to it very soon, as if I was born there!

And when I travelled back to Iran (the country where I was born and grew up in), I felt amazed by how dry the weather there was! And it took me some days to become adapted to the climate which I grew up in!

So this shows the adaptation ability of the human body. But of course how well people adapt also depends on the overall health of the body and some personal preferences.

The biggest health concern in tropical countries is dengue fever, which is a contagious viral infection spread by mosquitoes. This disease has no definite treatment yet and can lead to death. However, the person's immune system strength is very important in the healing process.

As I've read from books, and also seen some real experiences with my friends who catched dengue fever, the disease is able to develop much better in an acidic body in comparison to an alkaline body. And in the same way, an alkaline body heals faster than an acidic body. So, a healthy and alkaline diet could be helpful even in such an unwelcome situation.

And also these disease-spreader mosquitoes in the tropical countries increase where there is environmental pollution and climate imbalance. So it would be even better to live in a natural and clean location.

In any case, if a person feels discomfort in a certain climate, there may several different factors involved with that.

But regardless of where you are in the world, a daily sunbath of 30 to 60 minutes is enough for the body (on a sunny day). Exposing the skin to sunshine helps to produce vitamin D (from the fat layers under the skin), as well as to reduce stress and to help the body become more alkaline.

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