Good afternoon everyone! Today I am delighted to share another interview with one of my favourite people: Ellen Fisher. I followed Ellen a while back on Instagram for her bright photos and positive message. She and her family reside in Maui, Hawaii where they live a raw vegan lifestyle full of joy and abundance. When I visited Maui back in July I had the pleasure of meeting up with Ellen and her two (now three) year old son Elvis. She is a wonderful person and I’m so excited to share this interview with you all.
1. How long have you been a vegan and what made you initially decide to make the switch?
I initially got into the raw food diet over 8 years ago in order to get my health back. I was dealing with the eating disorder of anorexia and I was ready to focus on a healthy body and mind. It wasn’t until years later that my eyes were opened to the realities of animal cruelty in the meat, egg and dairy industry. A shift took place within myself and my reasons for living a vegan/raw vegan lifestyle expanded quite a bit. A whole foods vegan (and raw vegan) diet does more than just benefit one’s health. There are so many reasons to be vegan: to promote compassion and non violence, for the people, for the planet, for the animals, and for our health. Living a vegan lifestyle practices world peace. It teaches to love and respect all beings’ desire to live in love and avoid pain, regardless of whether they are black, white, Asian, male, female, dog, cat, cow, whale, chicken, fish etc.
2. You live in Maui with your family; what made you choose Maui and how do you like living there?
A while back I made a friend who lived in Maui with her husband and two kids but grew up in California. I asked her, “What’s so special about Maui? Why did you move to Maui?” to which she replied, “What’s there not to love? Sweet tropical fruit, warm sun year round, raising kids in warm and clear ocean water beneath the palm trees, laid back ‘Aloha’ lifestyle etc.” That sparked it for us. She couldn’t have said it better. My husband and I both grew up in Orange County, California, where the rush-hour mentality is non stop and much value is placed upon the material possession one owns. I felt a lot of social pressures growing up to look “perfect” and have really nice things. And we wanted something different for our children. We are SO glad we made this move! It really feels like we are supposed to be here, like God wants us here. Because everything just fell into place and we’ve made some really wonderful friends here on the island. We absolutely love the life we are living in Maui and are grateful for everyday.
3. Elvis thrives on a raw food diet consisting of only fruits and vegetables. What do you think will happen when he gets into his teens regarding food choices?
To be honest, I’m not sure what will happen as he gets older, but I also don’t really concern myself with it. A friend of mine was raised on a raw vegan lifestyle. She strayed off her vegan diet in high school and college because of peer pressure and temptation, but then came back to the raw vegan diet on her own later. You can check out my YouTube video “Gabriela’s experience being raised as a raw vegan” HERE where she shares her thoughts and experience!
We value letting our children become who they want to be, and loving them just as they are even if they choose as they get older to live differently than we do.
Both my husband and I are passionate about eating a raw vegan diet with an emphasis towards a minimalistic compassionate lifestyle. EVERYONE raises their children upon the passions and lifestyles they value. Some people criticize us, saying we “force” our lifestyle on him. But I could easily say the same thing to every parent out there raising their children they way of their choosing. Just because our lifestyle is not the NORM, does not mean our child is deprived of a happy childhood. In fact he LOVES the foods we feed him and enjoys his food with gusto! He loves the waterfall hikes we go on and adventures we seek. He loves our lazy beach days and raw family dinners, and so do we!
Our outlook is that if something is unhealthy for our child, that we should not give it to him because it is disrespectful to his body. We respect our son. And part of respecting our son is respecting his body. At his little age, it is 100% our duty to take care of and nurture him. It is our responsibility to treat him respectfully. And we respect his body by feeding him the healthiest foods, giving him the healthiest happiest start to his life that we can. He can make the choice to be unhealthy later, if he wants to, and experience life as he chooses. But right now, it is our duty to respect his wholeness- and to us, that includes food and health. That is why we feed him raw vegan foods, because it’s much easier to be happy when you are healthy.
But putting an emphasis on healthy eating is not the only reason we explain to elvis why we eat the way we do. In fact, a much larger emphasis is put upon eating what’s best for the planet (the number one thing destroying this planet is animal agriculture) (http://mindfullybliss.com/why-veganism-is-more-than-just-a-diet/), being kind to the animals (because instinctively children know that animals want to be loved and avoid pain just like us humans do), and to help solve world hunger (many times more land is required to feed a meat eater than a vegan. We could easily feed 10 billion people with the available crop land in America if everyone in America alone went vegan…There are only 7.5 billion people in the world. World hunger is not a scarcity problem, it’s a distribution problem). We hope that bringing this awareness to our children will create a lasting love for being vegan. But we also realize that if their passions differ from ours as they grow, that that is ok and our love for them will not change! And we will be happy with knowing we gave them the healthiest start to their lives, creating as minimal a negative impact as possible on the planet, the people, and the animals in the process of doing so.
4. The biggest misconception when it comes to veganism is that we don’t get enough nutrients. (protein, iron, calcium, etc) You are also expecting another child (congratulations). How do you nourish your body to keep both you and the baby healthy?
The misconceptions about nutrition when it comes to veganism is just that, they are mere misconceptions. For example, most people say we need milk for calcium to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis (because the dairy industry and governmental organizations funded by the dairy industry tells them so). Yet staggering statistics show that the countries who consume the highest amounts of dairy (such as the United States, England and Sweden) are also are the countries who have the highest rates of osteoporosis. This is because all animal protein is highly acidic. So when animal foods are ingested, the human body often leaches calcium-phosphate from our bones to balance the acidity in the body. The phosphate does the job of balancing the acidity, and the calcium is excreted through the urine. We are actually promoting osteoporosis by drinking cow’s milk. We can get all the calcium we need by eating a wide variety of whole plant foods, and as a plus, our body doesn’t need to excrete calcium from our bones when we eat these alkaline plant foods.
I nourish my body by eating a wide variety of organic, tree ripened, local fruits and vegetables. I never restrict my calories and I eat enough to sustain myself and satisfy! As my baby grows, my appetite grows, so I simply eat more. The more calories we eat from fruits and vegetables, the more nutrition we are taking in. I get proper sleep and exercise and put importance on living a low stress lifestyle. Because stress wreaks havoc on our health! I eat the foods I gravitate towards: sweet tropical fruits, fresh citrus juice, tender greens, coconut meat, avocado, hemp seeds, collard greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice pasta, etc. I eat about a whole avocado every day (or coconut meat). And I add 1 tbsp of hemp seed and 1 tbsp of chia seed into my smoothies every other day. Another factor to be aware of when it comes to health, whether one is vegan or not, is that agriculture-based foods are not near as nutritionally dense as they should be and once were, due to early harvesting, over farming, and because the soil is not fertilized with all the nutrients we need. So it is helpful to add a nutritionally rich green powder to the diet to ensure one is covering all their nutritional needs. I add two heaping tbsp of barley grass juice powder to my smoothie every day.
I feel great and I love everything about pregnancy and birth! My vegan, mostly raw foods pregnancy experiences with both Elvis and this new baby in my tummy has been wonderful and I’m thankful for the life growing inside me.
5. Final question: You and your family eat predominantly raw foods; do you find it difficult or restrictive when eating out, traveling, or visiting places with other people?
Actually no not at all. Enjoying healthy food in social situations really is what you make of it. We simply prepare in advance our favorite foods to take to a social gathering so that we are totally satisfied and content. And often we bring a large enough portion to share with others so they can enjoy some delicious salad or fruit with us! For example, I recently went to a pizzera restaurant for a friend’s birthday and Elvis came with me. I brought all of Elvis’ favorite foods (a mound of coconut meat, bell pepper, avocado, dried banana and kale) and I also brought a large avocado for myself. I ordered a double portion of salad on the menu, and requested no dressing, no cheese and no croutons. I also requested a side of lemon and then mashed the avocado I brought over the salad as a “dressing” and squeezed lemon on it. Voila! Makes a delicious and GINORMOUS filling salad. People were actually interested in the giant bowl of brightly colored veggies I was eating, and everyone was amazed at how happy Elvis was eating his fruits and veggies. He didn’t once ask to eat the pizza that surrounded us. I make simple friendly conversation with people and never revolve the conversation around our food. If and when people ask about why we are eating differently, or why Elvis is not begging for the pizza the other kids are eating, I give them friendly simple answers and then direct the conversation in another direction.
When we go to a kid’s birthday party, I often call in advance and ask what type of dessert will be served. This way I can make a raw vegan version of the dessert for Elvis to have (and bring enough to share with others)! Also, crackers and chips are generally served at parties, so I make him special flax crackers before hand to take along which he LOVES. At this age of three, Elvis has truly developed a sense of not wanting to eat animals or anything that comes from an animal. So when he asks about certain foods kids are eating that we don’t eat, our explanation to him of WHY we don’t eat those foods makes sense to him. It’s quite cool! And there is almost always fruit served at parties to enjoy!
To help teach and inspire children to WANT to eat healthy and avoid animal foods, check out Ruby Roth’s children’s books at wedonteatanimals.com! They are amazing and do a very good job at explaining and inspiring kids!
And finally, when it comes to visiting places with other people, we generally do the offering to have people over at OUR house! Because I truly LOVE serving and preparing healthy food for others to enjoy. Our extended family is extremely supportive of our lifestyle and modifies a lot of dishes at holiday dinners to be vegan for us. And I always bring a giant salad for everyone to enjoy. We also have a lot of vegan people in our families (my sister is vegan, my husband’s brother, sister-in-law and kids are vegan), which makes that easier as well! Just be the example. Be love and light to others, and don’t let your differences ruin the fun in social situations. For more ideas and inspiration, check out my friend Kat Green’s awesome YouTube video “Eating Socially on a Low Fat Raw Vegan Diet” HERE.
There is no need to sacrifice your health to have a good time! Check out my YouTube video “Epic raw Vegan Kid Bday Party!” HERE.
Thank you so much for taking the time and answer these questions with the depth that you did. You’re a huge inspiration to the Vegan community and we could all learn a lot from you.
To find out more about Ellen and her lifestyle, follow the links below: