Moein Ghahremani Nejad is a raw vegan author and an activist. Originally from Iran, he currently lives in Malaysia and is actively connected with people all around the world, spreading the raw food message and helping people to succeed in following a healthy diet, whether vegan, raw foodist or otherwise. He runs websites and has published books in both English and Persian.
Moein is genuinely dedicated to helping people and contacted me to offer his help with spreading the message of this website. Once I learned a little more about him, I decided that it was important to interview Moein and to be able to share his wisdom and experience with as many people as possible.
Thank you so much Moein for the inspiring interview and for your reflections on the questions regarding my own health journey as well!
I first became a vegan in October 2011 after suffering severe headaches and some digestive disorders for several years. As I witnessed sicknesses in others, I thought that maybe it was not a natural phenomenon to get sick.
As I remember from my childhood, I was always very interested in healthy living, healthy lifestyle and natural cures for diseases. I became familiar with the concept of veganism and raw veganism on the internet. The idea seemed very interesting and logical to me.
I felt much better and this lifestyle became much more interesting for me after feeling the results in myself. I adapted to the new lifestyle very fast.
Research into all dimensions of veganism and raw veganism was important for me. I spent a lot of time researching nutrition, read more books and articles (both in Persian and English) and eventually wrote my own e-book in both Persian and English. I then updated it several times over the years.
I was always very interested in technology and this helped me keep updated with the latest innovations in health, nutrition and other aspects of life. I now try to balance the benefits of both modern and natural lifestyles.
Well, as I'm Iranian and I born in Iran, my diet was like the traditional and usual diet of the Iranians. It was based on bread, grains and animal products. Like most of the traditional foods in the world, the Iranian traditional foods are also not healthy enough.
However, I always avoided sugar and unhealthy snacks, like potato chips, as much as possible. Although my mother tried to use less oil and salt in the foods she prepared for us, the diet was still not very healthy.
The traditional foods are of course healthier than fast foods but this does not mean that they are the best and perfect choices.
To be honest, when I became familiar with the idea of raw foodism, I felt very blessed and grateful and I wished I had become aware of it sooner! I felt passionately interested in the idea and wanted to go raw immediately, however I didn't find it very easy because of both food cravings and some social issues. But everything became easier as time passed.
I only had a few detox symptoms after going vegan, such as an inflammation in my knees which finished after a few days and never came back again.
Food cravings are very common with all raw foodists. I haven't seen one long-term raw foodist who didn't eat cooked food even once during this time. The reason is that the food addiction is very strong and, as you mentioned, we are surrounded by cooked eaters and not only are cooked foods available everywhere like cigarettes, but they are also advertised and claimed to have health benefits! So, don't worry about it too much. Food cravings can be decreased.
For example in my case I had a craving for bread, because I'm Iranian and our country has the highest rate of eating bread in the world (200kg per person, per year!) But my cravings for bread and wheat decreased slowly and I went gluten-free, as I feel very bad when I eat bread and wheat products.
So, food cravings can be decreased even if they might not disappear completely.
Also, don't forget the psychological side of this issue. I saw many raw foodists who could last on a completely raw diet for more than a year but finally returned to over-eating meat and all junk foods to the point of vomiting!
At least I didn't eat animal products during the last years and was able to go gluten-free, even though it wasn't very easy. So, be careful whenever you feel deprived and try to find a way to end this feeling.
A little damage from eating cooked foods may be better than deprivation forever, don't you think?!
[Interviewer: Yes, definitely. That's why I usually emphasize the importance to transition slowly, so as not to feel deprived, but also to have time for proper research, and for the taste buds and the body, mind and lifestyle to all have time to adjust to the new situation at the same time.]
Well, when I started to change my lifestyle I had been living in western Iran, where the society around me was completely against this idea, both for reasons of tradition and for lack of knowledge.
But fortunately I didn't use that as an excuse to escape the truth! Instead I decided to be more involved in this subject while helping others.
So, I wrote my book and established my websites (in Persian and English) and this turned into my resumé on veganism and raw foods. As a result, people around me became more aware and most of them accepted and respected my views after that. I think this was a very good strategy to continue with veganism in a non-vegan society, while increasing my knowledge day by day. I think there could have been no better way to achieve this for me.
[Interviewer: Yes, that sounds like a perfect way to solve the problem, and to spread the knowledge at the same time!]
My social circles became wider as a result and although my contacts with vegan and raw vegan friends increased, I had no problem with people with other diets. Now I have different friends with different lifestyles, and we just take it easy with each other. This is the way to have peaceful relations and to enjoy life!
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.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
[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...]
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.
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.
I think Malaysia is a very good country to live in, at least for a short time. The nature there is perfect, however unfortunately you can see wide natural destruction there mostly for economical benefits, like in third world countries. The tropical fruits are perfect, most people speak English so you don't have many problems with communication, and you can visit and meet people from any country in Malaysia, as more than 20 million global tourists travel there every year!
So I think Malaysia worth to live in, at least to try! Singapore is also like Malaysia but it is more expensive. And the natural places there are not too many, as it is a small island with a 4.5 Million population. I didn't travel to other tropical countries yet, but I think they would be good to live in as well.
Feeling healthier, more energetic and happier!
I usually feel sleepy whenever I eat cooked foods but this doesn't happen with raw foods. There is a great difference between these two.
Also I feel more relaxed and more tolerant when I eat raw food. This is a very valuable and positive point about raw foods.
Yes. However, it takes time and all the good things won't happen in one day.
My recommendation is, regardless of what beliefs you have, to become spiritual. Try to be a better person. At the same time, avoid egoism and all kinds of superstitions. Experience goodness by yourself and you will find that you are more than only this body and mind.
When you experience anxiety, don't fight with yourself! Just accept it and let it go away! And read books related to psychology and humanity to know yourself better. Seek the truth and you will succeed one day.
And in the end, don't take things too hard! We are all on this planet to experience life in all dimensions and as time goes by, we will learn new lessons that are needed.
Well, it depends. Even a raw vegan diet can be unbalanced and become harmful to the body. This is why many raw foodists fail after a long time, or even in a short time in many cases. The common mistakes with raw foodists are:
They are not as beneficial as vegetables for the human body, because they contain some natural toxins. Grains have some natural toxins, plus they are not a natural food for humans. But in a limited amount, they can still be somehow beneficial for the body, because they are cheap and easy to store.
In general, those sprouts which contain less starch are better than others, as they also digest better. For me, lentil and mung bean sprouts taste better than other sprouts.
My most important advice would be as follows:
Yes, it is true. I don't add salt to my food and during these three years of veganism, I only ate salt which was added to the cooked food by a chef, but I didn't consider it a useful ingredient to add myself! Even a few times I ate salt-free cooked food which no-one else could eat as it was tasteless for them without salt!
Regarding Himalayan salt, there are controversies. Even some salt-lover raw vegans claim that sea salt is better than Himalayan salt and vice versa!
Anyhow, dead salt is not a necessary ingredient for the body. It is just a very addictive ingredient in human foods. Do you know Charlotte Gerson? In the Gerson therapy method, they even eat cooked food, but don't use salt at all. And their health situation is still better than that of many other people in the world, including many vegetarian/vegans who eat salt.
It is about nutrition and lifestyle in general, and about raw veganism specifically. It is based both on science and real experiences.
The first and most important point that I emphasize in my book is to become conscious about what you eat. I think this consciousness can be very helpful, as a conscious person can stop bad habits much easier than an unconscious person.
I explain the scientific and natural reasons behind certain nutrition ideas, which are very easy to be proved by experience for the reader of the book.
Also I discuss all the different aspects of veganism/raw veganism, not only one (like animal rights concerns).
I was very honest in writing this book and didn't just write it to become well-known. I tried to write something that would show the truth to the readers and be very useful for them. And I tried to explain all the important issues in a summarized and still complete manner, to share enough knowledge with others in the minimum possible time.
[Interviewer: It is my understanding that fruitarians, who eat more than 90% of fruit, cannot stay healthy on the diet for more than a few years, despite feeling great at first. They seem to become deficient in certain nutrients. On the other hand, perhaps it depends on the person.]
Yes, I think you are right, and I think the main reasons for the bad experiences for some of the complete fruitarians are:
So, in total, I think eating different natural foods (including fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts) can be beneficial to avoid deficiencies. Also a healthy lifestyle in general, regular exercise, enough rest and enough body cleansing.
I think instinctive eating could also be useful somehow. For example, about two years ago, for a period of time I lost interest in eating vegetables but at the moment I enjoy a meal of vegetables everyday. The instinct can vary from time to time, based on the body's needs.
I think such a strict diet as fruitarianism can work well in the long term only for completely balanced bodies.
About 70-80 percent of the daily calories should be supplied by fruits, in my opinion. Of course in certain situations, where access to enough fruit is difficult, it can be ok to use other healthy foods. But in general, fruits should be the biggest part of a human diet.
[Interviewer: After trying out raw food diets and juice fasts several times, as well as many other detox methods, and going back to a mixed-diet afterwards, I seem to have a very low tolerance for any toxins. I can't eat bread, for example, and react very strongly to sugar.]
Yes, this is natural. The body's detoxification process never ends and this is why you become more sensitive to bread and other unhealthy foods, even on a mixed-diet. I remember the last time I ate bread and I vomited! Even though I didn't have any kind of gluten or wheat sensitivity at all. And I dislike the taste and smell of bread more than before. So the best solution is to go back to 100% raw at least for a short time. And going gluten-free will also be very helpful for you, as I had the same experience as yours.
I don't have a special meal plan. I just eat whatever my inside eating instinct prefers at each moment. I usually eat seasonal fruits and vegetables every day, some dates, and some nuts as well.
If the subsidies shift to healthy foods instead of disease-producing foods [making healthy foods cheaper for people], then people, government and insurance companies have to pay much less for the healthcare system, especially for those diseases which are very easy to prevent just with a healthy lifestyle.
Also by decreasing the damage to the environment, we can expect better health, because our health is not something isolated from the environment! It has direct and indirect influences on our health, as well as the other creatures on this planet.
It depends. In some countries where fruits are very expensive and most are imported, yes, this diet is expensive. The governments have to pay more attention to make fruits and all healthy foods cheaper for people. Now, in some countries, the governments support organic agriculture in different ways, even by subsidizing it in some parts. These are very good actions which need to be continued.
It can still be manageable to remain healthy on a low budget. Life has many ups and downs, so we have to be flexible.
For being healthy on a low budget, I recommend two points to keep in mind:
First, eating smaller amounts of healthy foods because of low budget is much better than eating enough of cheaper unhealthy foods!
Also a healthy body really doesn't need too much food. Only 1.5-2kg of fruits per day, a little amount of vegetables and about 50-60 grams of nuts/fatty seeds/fatty fruits is enough. It is not very hard to supply our body's needs.
Second, local foods are usually cheaper. Use them as much as you can.
Also grains are cheap foods, but it is necessary to use them in the healthiest possible way (sprout). They are still better than nothing and until you have enough fruits and vegetables in your weekly meal plan, it can be ok and not damage your health to eat sprouts, at least for a limited time (for example 1 year).
Of course if you have any special diseases/disorders, then you have to follow a special diet and ask an expert about the best food choices.
There are different ways to support this work. The first and easiest choice is to share the useful information on the internet with friends in anyway you can (email, social media, blog, etc.).
The second and more effective way, is to share your experiences with different diets, short and long-term, with the rest of world. Producing good quality information is very important.
Writing books, making documentary movies, scientific research, etc. can be very helpful as well.
Also supporting everything which is useful for health and environment helps, including organic agriculture, trash recycling, natural health education groups, etc.
Charity and volunteering is only good when you support a trusted and really humane charity!
[Interviewer: I have noticed that if I have to do boring work, I can concentrate much better if I eat cookies or drink caffeine, etc. It is as if my mind gets brought down to the lower vibration level! And if I am happy and doing interesting things, inspired writing or reading, or walking in nature, etc., I don't need to eat that much and I'm happy eating fresh juices and foods - I even get cravings for them.]
I also experienced a similar thing. In general, I feel more cravings for unhealthier foods whenever I'm bored or stressed out and I have more cravings for fruits and healthy foods when I'm happy.
I think there's a relation between the vibration of foods and ours!
But we should be aware of that and try to control ourselves in stressful situations. When we are under stress we need to avoid unhealthy foods. If we don't, it will become worse!
These mind-body relations are undeniable. And to control them, we need to be in peace with ourselves and with the world around us. Meditation and mind controlling can help us. Also in a good and balanced life, eating is only one of the hobbies, not the only hobby!
I spoken about my experiences because I really know how complex and unwelcome the cravings can be.
Mind-conditioning is a psychological term for the habits which are placed in our sub-conscious minds. The reasons behind such habits are obscure for us to understand but they still affect our thoughts and our lives. This is a very wide agenda in psychology and I cannot explain more here!
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