You’re bananas! That’s nuts!

‘Ab­so­lutely!’ say pro­po­nents of raw ve­gan diet who sub­sist on un­cooked fruit, veg­gies and seeds

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FRONT PAGE -

JEFF Golf­man felt like he was in some crazy se­cret so­ci­ety when Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tor Woody Har­rel­son first in­tro­duced him to raw ve­gan eat­ing 14 years ago.

The pair were in busi­ness talks to­gether when the Win­nipeg en­tre­pre­neur stepped into the of­fice of Har­rel­son’s Cal­i­for­nia lawyer, who, like the ac­tor, also hap­pened to fol­low a raw ve­gan diet.

“I’ve never been to a lawyer’s of­fice like this, but it was full of sprouts and juices and blenders and all this stuff, says Golf­man, 44. “It was re­ally bizarre to me, be­cause, typ­i­cally, lawyers — the lawyers that I know, the lawyers that ev­ery­body else knows — are in some of­fice tower with a suit and a tie.

“They’re not work­ing in a room where they’re sprout­ing and they’re juic­ing and they’re blend­ing.”

Mean­while, his new pal Har­rel­son — best known for play­ing not-so-swift bar­tender Woody on the ’80s hit TV sit­com Cheers — al­ways seemed to be nib­bling on seeds, nuts and veg­eta­bles.

Golf­man’s foray into the sur­real went a step fur­ther when Har­rel­son took him to a raw food eatery.

“All of the sud­den, I’m here in San Fran­cisco in the Haight-Ash­bury area with a movie star at this raw food res­tau­rant,” says Golf­man, who, even though he was a veg­e­tar­ian at the time, still found the raw food diet strange. “I thought that I was on an­other planet. I thought ev­ery­body around me were aliens. It was bizarre.”

He was too flus­tered to pay at­ten­tion to what he was eat­ing. All he knew was the res­tau­rant was packed with cus­tomers who couldn’t seem to get enough of the un­cooked, luke­warm menu fare.

Fast-for­ward to to­day and some­one look­ing at Golf­man con­sume his lunch might think he’s the bizarre one.

On a re­cent sunny day, the founder of Win­nipeg’s blue box re­cy­cling (which he sold to the City of Win­nipeg years ago) and Prairie Pulp & Pa­per, his busi­ness with Har­rel­son, sits on the pa­tio at Fresh Café, a Co­ry­don Av­enue res­tau­rant known for its smooth­ies and sal­ads

Golf­man or­ders his meal, the Green Ma­chine, with ap­ple in­stead of car­rot. The wait­ress brings him what looks like a glass of thick, grass-green sludge — a con­coc­tion of liqui­fied fruits and veg­eta­bles — that Golf­man sucks back hun­grily.

Later, he con­sumes a drink that looks more ap­pe­tiz­ing. It’s a deep pur­ple smoothie made of blue­ber­ries. Along with that, he munches on some raw, un­salted macadamia nuts that he’s brought with him.

This is just the type of fuel, he says, that keeps his mind clear and his body en­er­gized so he can tackle his cur­rent project. Re­cently, it’s his en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, mostly straw-based Step For­ward Pa­per, which has made it to Sta­ples stores across Canada. Har­rel­son is a part­ner in the project, which has been 14 years in the mak­ing. Golf­man hopes the next mile­stone in their busi­ness will be the build­ing of a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Man­i­toba. (Cur­rently, a fac­tory in In­dia makes the pa­per.)

His other pas­sions are also health-re­lated. He took up run­ning as a hobby three years ago. (“I started run­ning be­cause I had all this en­ergy and I wanted to use the en­ergy,” he ex­plains.) It was dur­ing a race in Toronto that the Univer­sity of Western On­tario busi­ness school grad­u­ate met Thomas Omwenga, the Kenyan run­ner whom he helped bring to Win­nipeg to win this year’s Man­i­toba Marathon.

Golf­man, who grew up in Tuxedo, lives mostly out of suit­cases. He’s rent­ing out his Ex­change Dis­trict con­do­minium, so he’s usu­ally bunk­ing with friends and fam­ily when in Win­nipeg — he spends the rest of his time trav­el­ling among In­dia, Africa, where he runs a char­ity, and North Amer­ica.

Golf­man also op­er­ates The Cool Veg­e­tar­ian, a blog he started two years ago. Its posted videos — many of which he pro­duces — have sur­passed one mil­lion views.

The blog of­fers in­sights, tips and in­ter­views with ex­perts — even med­i­cal doc­tors — about raw ve­gan liv­ing. It in­spired him to write a self­pub­lished book, The Cool Veg­e­tar­ian Na­tion: A Com­plete Guide for a Veg­gie, Ve­gan & Raw Life, which he plans to re­lease soon.

Har­rel­son wrote the book’s fore­word, in which he calls Golf­man “the most ded­i­cated, in­spir­ing and pure 100 per cent raw food­ist I know. The guy has be­come raw dis­ci­pline in­car­nate.”

Golf­man delved into veg­e­tar­i­an­ism at age 22 and went raw about seven years ago, with Har­rel­son’s help.

Golf­man starts his day with le­mon wa­ter and a litre of smoothie made with a ba­nana, berries, greens — and of­ten cin­na­mon with sprouted gra­nola.

“Then from there I’ll go on to fruit and just graze on fruit for sev­eral hours,” he says, not­ing that he takes in about 3,300 calo­ries a day.

Raw ve­g­an­ists such as Golf­man do not eat an­i­mal prod­ucts — no eggs, fish, meat, but­ter or dairy. And the foods they do eat — fruit, veg­gies, nuts, seeds, sprouted grain and beans — are not heated to tem­per­a­tures higher than 118 C or 48 F.

“You want food that’s alive. You want food that’s go­ing to give you life. You want food that’s go­ing to give you en­ergy,” he ex­plains, not­ing that he doesn’t drink cof­fee or even tea, un­less it’s in the form of herbs from a friend’s gar­den steeped in wa­ter.

“Fresh, un­cooked fruits, veg­eta­bles, seeds, and nuts is a high-vi­bra­tion, high-en­ergy diet, be­cause it’s not cooked. The food hasn’t been killed.”

It’s been a long ride to where he is now.

He started his jour­ney into meat­less­ness at a Lon­don, Ont., board­ing school, where he didn’t ex­er­cise, binged on fast food and was feel­ing the ef­fects of what he calls his stan­dard Amer­i­can diet.

“I was flat on my back in bed and couldn’t get out of bed,” says Golf­man, who at five-foot-eight weighed about 175 pounds. “Here I was, 22 years old and just couldn’t move. I thought I was go­ing to have to drop out of school and I thought that I wasn’t go­ing to fin­ish.”

He de­cided to give up red meat. Years later, he gave up white meat. And then fish. And then dairy.

Along the way, he says, he wasn’t al­ways healthy even though he gave up meat: he lacked nu­tri­ents, con­sumed too much soy and even too much fat.

At 140 pounds to­day, Golf­man says he’s fi­nally found the right bal­ance.

Dressed in dark blue jeans and a white shirt, Golf­man looks less thin in per­son than he does in pho­tos. His sunkissed skin ap­pears ra­di­ant and he ex­udes bound­less en­ergy.

He says his loved ones, who now look to him for nu­tri­tion ad­vice, once thought he needed psy­cho­log­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion. “Your friends and fam­ily and ev­ery­body thinks that you’re just bananas un­til you get into it,” he says.

Main­stream nu­tri­tion ex­perts might worry that raw ve­g­ans couldn’t pos­si­bly get enough pro­tein, vi­ta­min B12, iron and other nu­tri­ents. Golf­man says it’s a myth that peo­ple can’t get such nu­tri­ents from plant sources and swears his lat­est blood-test re­sults prove his nu­tri­ent lev­els are per­fect. (Al­though it wasn’t al­ways that way un­til he added more greens to his diet and sup­ple­mented it with vi­ta­min B12, he says.)

He ad­mits his way of eat­ing isn’t for ev­ery­one, but says ev­ery­one can cut some meat and in­cor­po­rate more plant­based food into their di­ets.

“I think ev­ery­body should be high raw, high ve­gan. I re­ally do. I think that is the best diet for hu­mans,” says Golf­man. “I be­lieve that the world would be a bet­ter place.”

MIKE DEAL / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Jeff Golf­man, pres­i­dent of Prairie Pulp and Pa­per Inc., buys fruit and veg­eta­bles at St. Leon Gar­dens on St. Mary’s Road.

SHA­MONA HAR­NETT HEALTHY LIV­ING

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