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How Syracuse can veg out

How vegetarians, vegans and raw foodies live and work in Syracuse.

Until last March, Mariesa “Goji” Narelle rarely set foot in the kitchen. Now she works as a chef for the Vegan Raw Food Café at Green Planet Grocery in Fairmount. She believes she has found her calling.

“I never liked to cook,” she said while leaning over the counter of her small food prep area. “That was my mom’s job.”

Then again, this is not her mother’s kind of cooking. Narelle prepares her entrees without the help of an oven or microwave. Instead, she processes, grinds, dries and blends her ingredients into an array of all-natural, meatless creations. Though some take hours to make, she believes the benefits far outweigh the work.           

Photo: Mariesa "Goji" Narelle

See a map of vegetarian/vegan friendly establishments, plus get the recipe for Chef Goji's Raw Nachos.

“I believe it’s how we’re supposed to eat,” she says. “When you begin heating your foods and cooking it, you’re killing enzymes. It causes your white blood cell count to go higher and your body actually looks at it as a toxin.”

Narelle, a certified raw nutritionist, practices and advocates the most extreme version of what vegetarians and vegans do. A vegetarian diet excludes meat, while vegans eliminate dairy and animal products (this includes meat, cheese, eggs and milk). Raw foodists take it a step further by eating only uncooked, unprocessed plant –based foods. This means a menu rich in nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits.

The reasons for practicing these diets range anywhere from adhering to religious guidelines to wanting a healthier lifestyle. Sara Prussing and Sarnai Davaadagva, both freshmen at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, switched to veganism earlier this semester. Prussing decided to make the change (she had been vegetarian since high school) when she realized the contradiction of being an animal rights activist and still consuming animal products.

“I feel so much happier because I feel so much healthier,” she said. “My vegetarian friends said ‘How could you do this, you love cheese’, but it wasn’t hard giving up dairy.”

Davaadagva has similar motivations for making the change, but she also looked to scientific evidence before converting.

“I don’t agree with people using anything from animals,” she says. “People don’t need milk. We just drink it because we want it.”

But while there are challenges, both Prussing and Davaadagva say that finding healthy options has not been difficult. They cite the dining center in Sadler Hall, where they eat a variety of meals that include tofu dogs, vegan pizza and tortellini with non-dairy cheese filling. They also name several restaurants in the area, such as Strong Hearts Café on E. Genessee St. and Alto Cinco on Westcott St., that serve vegan and vegetarian dishes. (See map)

Vegan Desserts at Strong Hearts Cafe.

Creamsicle and mocha cupcakes are just two desserts offered at Strong Hearts Cafe. (Photo by Deandra Modica).

Narelle agrees that there are many obstacles, especially with an exclusive raw diet. However, she notes that it is possible to live without settling for what is available at most eating establishments.

“A lot of people who travel wonder what they're going to eat on the road,” she says. “Just go prepared. What’s quicker than grabbing an apple?”

Switching to a different diet without resorting to old habits can also be a challenge, but Narlelle believes that there are ways to make the transition easier. She advises that making the change slowly and doing research beforehand can help people make informed choices and not “fall off the bandwagon.” Even minimal changes can make a big difference.

“One percent raw is better than zero percent” she says. “If you’re just doing your breakfast raw, that’s awesome. You’re getting one meal a day raw.”


Go Vegans!

That is an awesome work!  Gongrats! Deandra and Amanda!  Now, I am more proud of being a vegan! People! Let's live simple, sustaianable and strong!!!!!! You gonna love it !!!  I promise! =)

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