I probably should have quit when doctors started complaining. Back in January, as many of you are aware – God knows, I never stopped talking about it – I fasted for two weeks, surviving only on a daily diet of cayenne pepper, lemonade, salt water, maple syrup, laxative tea, and more determination than I thought any human being had, much less me. It was quite an achievement and I was very proud of myself, bordering on smug for a while.
But then, when I happened – in my euphoria – to mention on my BBC thing, that I wasn’t eating, it drew a flood of complaints. A flood.
“How dare your correspondent suggest,” insane medical people wrote to the show’s producers, “that he can live on salt water. If you drink salt water, your brain grows bigger than your skull and you die.”
To which my general response was: “You morons. I’m not living on salt water, I’m using a tablespoon of it in water each morning to flush out my system. It’s called The Master Cleanser, dummies. It’s been around for fifty years.”
But because everyone takes the opinion of the medical establishment as law, the topic was considered dangerous and I was banned from mentioning my fast ever again on the show, lest I set a bad example to any corpulent, sick, uneducated, self-destroying listeners by being a model of health – because that would never do.
Well, anyway, what many people didn’t know at the time was that I was filming the whole two-week drama for a little film. That ridiculous spat with doctors – which made me more dead set against their extreme and ridiculous practices than ever – even made it to the final cut. And the best news is, you can now watch it too.
The movie, which is called Fast and Very Loose, has been showing around various film festivals recently. But that’s done, and today I can announce with some pride that it’s available for general viewing on Vimeo.
If you’re interested – and really, how can you resist seeing me suffer? – you can watch it here.
Odd that this should happen this week actually, because it coincides with a radical lifestyle choice I’ve just made. After much discussing and dithering, I’ve decided that, as from July 5th, I am going totally raw. Raw, I tell you! For the next 100 days, I will eat nothing but raw foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and so on. (Actually, there isn’t much “and so on”; I think that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to eat). And I will film this experience too. That will be my next little movie experiment.
The final straw, the one that made me resolute about changing my diet, was an extravagant event I attended Saturday night in Los Angeles, called The Beastly Ball. My partner and I go every year as a guest of actress and icon Betty White, who’s considered some kind of higher being in zoo circles for her concern and love of animals.
The event takes place at the zoo itself and is attended by a bunch of dignitaries – the mayor, a senator, etc – and celebrities (if you can count local TV weathermen as celebrities). Ticket prices run at around $1000 a head. Yet, despite the cost, thousands showed up to support the zoo, though mainly, I suspect, to get at the free food and drink, which this year was divine.
It’s the free food that makes this my favorite event EVER. You’re supposed to be walking around, ogling all the animals, but honestly, who wants to see a chimp doing backflips when there’s free lasagna around the next corner?
Every so often, as you walk around, you come across a booth. There were 25 of them this year. And in each booth a top L.A. restaurant is offering a sampling of its food. It’s all steaming vats and sizzling pans and bustling activity. Like an upmarket soup kitchen crossed with an easter egg hunt. Very nice.
But the pressure is on, of course. Because basically, it means you have to find the booths and eat 25 little meals – everything from hotdogs to green corn tamales to chicken pot pies – in about an hour. Something I’m up for and prepare for, and eagerly anticipate.
Only this year, for the very first time, I noticed something bad happening. I had an adverse reaction.
The whole event culminates in an auction. You sit around at tables, eating and eating and eating, while one of the TV weathermen bounces about a stage eliciting bids for several top of the line items, some of them quite inspired. For $4000, for instance, you could buy yourself a walk-on part in an episode of 24 – “with a character who’s not just anybody, he’s got a name, so he’ll go down in the mythology of the show!’
“Oooh,” I squealed, “I want to be Butch McGibbon, faded prize-fighter with secret ties to Hamas and a simmering hatred of Jack Bauer.”
Unfortunately, since I wasn’t willing to pay $4000 for a walk-on in anything, let alone a show I don’t watch, I was outbid instantly by a man at the next table, so it’s him you’ll be seeing get beaten up and tortured in a future episode, not me.
There was also a speaking role in Family Guy on offer, which I thought was cool, as well as a personal tour of the reptile house by Slash, the rock guitarist person.
And while all this was going on, even more restaurants were serving up food around us, including my very favorite: potato martinis. Oh my God, I love these so much, and ate tw0 of them. It’s a martini glass filled with mashed potato, then drizzled with all manner of toppings, from chili to sauteed mushrooms.
That done, I followed it with my favorite dessert, a little squishy chocolate square that I look forward to all year. Oh, and on the way back from the dessert table, I spotted chefs cooking mini-quesadillas, and who can say no to mini-quesadillas? Not I. So I nabbed three of those too.
And that’s when I hit the wall. Suddenly, I was smacked in the face by reality. That I can’t eat this much. Nobody can. Not without bursting. That my system was overloaded. That a bloated riptide of nausea and disgust was rising up inside of me in reaction to these obscene levels of overindulgence and overconsumption.
My problem is: when I see free food, I have to eat it. And when I eat it, I do so like a starving orphan, as if I’m never going to be eating ever again, so I’d better stock up now. And it’s this ridiculous instinct that was my downfall on Saturday night. By the end, I was feeling really sick. As if I’d gone ten rounds with Butch McGibbon, faded prizefighter.
Worse, the next morning, I was still bloated and ill. So I ate nothing all day. And yesterday, Monday, was pretty much the same. In all, my body took a full 48 hours to readjust, and to simply expel all the crap I’d loaded into it on Saturday night. I was utterly disgusted with myself. Disgusted and ashamed.
And that’s when I made up my mind.
From July 5th – it would be a mistake to do it on July 4th – I am taking on the 100-day raw food challenge. For the next three months, and then some, nothing will pass my lips that is cooked. Because cooked food is dead food. Apparently, anything heated to over 120 degrees or so loses all its nutrients. Sadly, that includes cake – the food of life.
But it’s worth it. Raw food, apparently, if you eat it c0rrectly, brings your whole being into alignment. It enables your body to cleanse and lose excess weight; it affects you spiritually by raising your consciousness, allowing ideas to flow into and through you more easily; and it leaves you feeling balanced, alive, and energized – the exact opposite, in fact, to how I felt Saturday night.
I mentioned my new plan to friends and, naturally, everyone’s horrified. “So does that mean you’ll be eating raw meat, then?” someone asked.
Raw meat? Are you crazy? (Sometimes I don’t think my friends are very bright.)
No, only vegetables, fruits, seeds, sprouts, and nuts. The real food of life. For one hundred days. No coffee or tea. No milk, no sodas, no cookies, no cakes, no bread, no chips, no….well, you name it. Whatever it is, chances are I can’t eat it.
So I guess I should thank dear Betty White. Her largesse this year is double-edged. She not only bought me a ticket to the Beastly Ball, my favorite event ever, but she also unwittingly drove me into an entirely new lifestyle, one that will set me on the right road to future health, while also, incidentally, annoying my friends and loved ones intensely with the extent of its selfishness.
It should be an interesting summer.
TV Swami, he say YES to raw food.
Read the disclaimer yet? You should, you know. It’s at the top of the page.
NOTE: I received this comment for one reader called Zac who asked me if I’d include certain extra information. My own message is always: don’t take anything from anyone as gospel. Always check for yourself before doing anything. I’m not a doctor, and we’re all different.
Here’s what he said:
“Cash, can you somehow slip in one caveat that people experiencing any immune system impacting diseases or procedures (HIV, Lupus, Chemo Therapy, and/or Transplants) should check with their doctor prior to starting a diet based on Raw foods? The nutrients you speak of often consist of biotic agents, “flora”, that are either good [probiotics] or if neutral or bad are eliminated by a health immune system. People without a health immune system can see an overgrowth of these flora, and such an overgrown of even the good can have serious impacts. I wish you the best of luck with the whole experience!”
Don’t forget, two signed copies of Naked in Dangerous Places are up for auction on Ebay, with a special bonus chapter thrown in. They’re here. And here.
And Mommy’s Little Freedom Fighter, which also comes with a signed book, is here.