Tarah Millen, 23, of Courtenay, British Columbia, also known as 40 Below Fruity, has thrived on a high-fruit raw vegan lifestyle for more than three years. Coming from a background of disordered eating and health complications, Tarah has lost 35 pounds and healed cystic acne, indigestion and receding gums with an 80/10/10 diet.
Prior to adopting a high-fruit lifestyle and while carrying excess weight and experiencing fluctuating energy levels, exercise had been a burden for Tarah. Upon switching to a raw lifestyle, Tarah’s energy and endurance skyrocketed, enabling her to thrive physically and focus on her passions of dance and trail running.
Tarah draws on her past experiences and health struggles to assist others on their raw journeys. The raw lifestyle awakened in her a passion for helping others achieve health and happiness. She inspires through her YouTube videos, personalized coaching and her program Eat Fruit & Feel Sexy 21 Day Raw Food Cleanse. Tarah’s goal is to empower women and men, freeing them from the cycle of dieting, restriction and health challenges through a high-fruit, high-vibe lifestyle.
Brian’s note: I began 10 sentences with targeted words, presented in boldface below, that serve as conversation starters and asked Tarah to complete the thoughts in this condensed “interview.”
Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman caused me to laugh, cry, shake my head in wonder and inspired me to adopt a vegan lifestyle—all in one evening. I was a simple teenager and, like so many others, desperate to be thin. I read the book with the intention of learning the secret to the perfect diet. Instead, everything I thought I knew was flipped upside-down. A fog was lifted from my mind, and a feeling of passion and compassion overtook me.
Skinny Bitch didn’t just help me adopt a plant-based lifestyle; it caused me to look inside myself and change everything I had thought to be true up to that point. It guided me and helped me discover my life’s passion to be a voice for the voiceless.
After two years eating a high-fat raw food diet, I felt lethargic, exhausted, frustrated, irritated, overweight and lost. This was supposed to be the healthiest diet, so why did I have to consume supplements? Why did I have to restrict calories? Why did I have acne, yellow skin, receding gums, bloating, low hydrochloric acid levels, greasy hair, brittle nails, constipation and cooked-food binges? I realize now that I must be grateful for my struggle with a high-fat raw diet. My two years of frustration provided me with the motivation I needed to embrace the fruity lifestyle!
Freelee [of 30BananasADay.com and TheBananaGirl.com] has been my inspiration, motivation, role model and friend throughout my raw journey. She is an incredible, selfless human being with the desire to speak her truth and help others in any way she can. In many ways, she’s paved the path of fruit freedom for all of us women suffering from low confidence and eating disorders. She is a visionary with a goal of spreading the message of the high-fruit lifestyle. Where would we be without her guidance and the community she created at 30 Bananas A Day?
On a low-fat, fruit-based diet, I’m the best version of myself that I can be. I feel energetic, vibrant and euphoric. How many words can I use to describe how perfect the raw lifestyle feels for me? Sometimes I need to pinch myself to believe that this is not a dream! I enjoy the benefits of clear and soft skin, bright eyes, effortless digestion, healing of receded gums, perfect body weight, white teeth, high energy levels and a feeling of profound joy that comes from eating unlimited amounts of fruit for every meal. After three years of living this lifestyle, I feel that it can’t possibly get any better. Even though it seems impossible, each day brings more benefits.
Eating all the fruit I care for is incredibly liberating! After measuring and monitoring every bite of food I took for years, eating all the fruit I care for is a joyous, freeing experience. I never have to feel deprived. I’m no longer forced to eat bland, low-calorie foods. I’m no longer trapped by “food allowance” chats, calorie counters, diet drinks, powders and pills. Eating all I care for is the single thought that consumed my mind when I attempted to forget my hunger through eight years of dieting and restriction. Now eating each meal is a deeply satisfying experience. I feel full, satiated and bursting with energy.
It took me two years living 100 percent raw to finally kick my salt addiction. Consuming salt derailed my progress, and eating it even sporadically kept me addicted. I was a salt-a-holic for most of my life and would sometimes consume up to 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams per day! After two years of eating fruity, I committed to dropping salt from my diet and raising the amount of fruit I consumed. It stands to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my diet and lifestyle.
What I’ve noticed the most is how intrigued others are of my bulk fruit purchases at the grocery store! I’m always able to find an opportunity to inspire others in the checkout line. The question “What do you do with all of those bananas?” is continually the perfect moment to discuss health, happiness, recipes and ways the average person can experience more health and vitality.
My top tips I share with coaching clients are to remain consistent with your dietary choices and only make adjustments to your lifestyle that are sustainable for you! I never promote perfectionism but rather steps to improve your diet and lifestyle in ways that are enjoyable and affordable. Consistency takes top priority, as what we do the majority of the time will have the largest impact on our body, mind and soul. Some of my coaching clients have become my closest friends. It’s such a wonderful, joyful experience to share the raw journey with others.
The vegan message is the most important message we can spread to the world. Compassion toward all creatures helps create a more peaceful planet. There is so much unnecessary violence in factory farms, fur farms, circuses, rodeos, with fishing and even on your local “family farm.” We don’t need to eat animals, and we certainly thrive healthwise without the consumption of animal products. As humans, we have the natural instinct to protect animals rather than eat them. It can all be summed up with this idea: “Put a child in a room with a bunny and an apple. Observe which one he plays with and which one he eats.” Before reading Skinny Bitch and literally going vegan overnight, I remember saying, “I wouldn’t eat chickens if they weren’t so stupid.” I cringe now at the idea that I once said such things. Who are we to decide an animal’s worth?
Even at 40 degrees below zero, I can stand outside in a bikini and shoot a video about finding health and happiness. 😉 Seriously, though. It’s a common misconception that we cannot thrive on a raw food diet in cold climates, but this simply is not true. We are truly blessed in North America to have access to delicious citrus, dates, bananas and persimmons during even the coldest winters.
Hungry for more? Check out Tarah’s Sweet and Spicy Salsa recipe!
Check out Tarah’s arts feature story.