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Arnold Kauffman holds a menu while talking to a patron at Arnold's Way

Ailing SAD Eater Who ‘Wanted His Life Back’ Goes Vegan

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Stories from Arnold's Way by Arnold Kauffman - Fruit-Powered Digest

What I do each month is have anywhere from three to 30 people join my 30-Day Raw Challenge, sometimes for free and sometimes for minimal cost ($3.33 per day for a green smoothie and entrée). The only requirements are minimal as to my viewpoint but offer a monumental decision that tests the participants’ very essence of what to eat and what not to eat.

In other words, to participate in the program, one has to become a vegan. For 30 days, one has to abstain from eating all animal products, including fish, dairy and eggs. It is on this note that, for whatever reason, I decided to have a 30-Day Raw Challenge geared to men. My goal was for 20 men to participate in the program. To sweeten the deal and achieve my goal, I decided to literally give to all participants a whole month of free green smoothies and entrées—what I thought would be a no-brainer. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Arnold's Way owner Arnold Kauffman chats with patrons at a potluck
Arnold Kauffman talks to patrons at the November 2012 potluck at Arnold’s Way in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

This goal that I thought would be simple to achieve left me full of anxiety and put my marketing skills at the very edge of failure. It is on this note that I begin my article—on love, on indecisiveness, on throwing away bad dietary habits and replacing them with a dietary lifestyle that would support one to optimum health. So this story begins … .

I was in my store about mid-afternoon on a Sunday, a kind of day everyone wishes for, when friends stay over and what everyone does is just lay around. Hardly anyone was coming into the store, and I was in a state of desperation. With two days before October 1, only five men had signed up for my 30-Day Raw Challenge. And then my match for indecisiveness walked in.

He was a big man, to say the least, weighing more than 350 pounds, and a huge meat eater. He also had a huge list of dietary-related health issues that not only showed up in his weight but his scruffy demeanor and heavy-paced movement. His life force seemed totally drained by partaking in too much of that rich gravy, which slowly is simmered into a juicy steak. This huge man, George, came into my store not by choice. He was kind of pushed, cajoled or whatever you would call it to come into my store.

An overweight man buttons his shirt

To pay $99, which is refundable at the end of the 30-Day Raw Challenge, would seem to be an easy decision. To this man, it was a matter of life and death. In essence, he did not want to change his dietary habits. He loved bacon and eggs in the morning. He loved his juicy steak, hamburgers and chicken wings. This was what he ate, and no man would take that away from him. He was bound by his food laws, by his friends, by the way he was raised from childhood, and no one could change his mind. Or so he thought.

As I saw him, I saw a jackpot—another notch closer to my goal of creating an energetic movement for the transformation to a disease-free world. As he saw me, he saw an enemy of doom and gloom, who, with one swoosh, would vanish his savory meat dishes into thin air and replace them with rabbit food. This was the basis of our initial confrontation. I, on my white horse, charging to conquer, and he, in his fortress of the dining room, sitting in his chair, firmly tucked in and readying himself for my charge of veganism.

So it began with us facing each other, with me talking and him listening. We went back and forth on the powers of dietary change. I had my backups of different people, different success stories. I had Chuck share his story about losing 35 pounds, getting rid of his medication and almost dying from an epileptic seizure. George listened but still kept his silence. He was afraid of change. He was afraid to enter another world, where there were rules and ways he did not know about. Chuck shared how his once-swollen feet were swollen no longer. George listened intently to this fact because he indeed has trouble walking.

Charles Schmidt and Arnold Kauffman embrace and pose at Arnold's Way
Arnold embraces Charles “Chuck” Schmidt Jr. at the September 2013 potluck at Arnold’s Way.

George was entwined in the partaking of prescription drugs, and he was indeed envious of Chuck and his weight loss. But one person is not enough to change one’s mind. In this standstill of decision-making, in walks Demetrius, whose size matches that of George and whose lifestyle was once that of George’s. Demetrius spoke about his transition from meat-eating to veganism. He spoke about his 40-pound weight loss, which George once again envied.

George at one time was a star athlete in football and basketball. That was, as of today, just a memory, like a haunting dream that has no end in sight. As I spoke, as Chuck spoke, as Demetrius spoke—all about the tremendous changes that occurred to them on all levels from physical to emotional, of the joyous ability of regaining their youth—George just sat there. not moving. George uttered nothing except for an occasional grunt. All this time, his wife was by his side, actively encouraging him to do this program for, in reality, there was nothing to lose. As George listened, there went off a tiny white light of what’s important and what’s not. George wanted his life back, if not to recapture his youth but to become youthful again. George wanted to regain the joy of walking and taking each step without pain and to be a man of strength and independence without the dependence of drugs.

With all his stillness on the outside, George was on fire on the inside. He felt my passion for doing this program—to give a gift of free smoothies and meals for 30 days for 20 people. Doing the calculations, this adds up to major bucks.

An overweight man walks on a football field
With enjoying enough fruits and shedding some weight, George can begin to get back into playing, just as this man has.

In hearing the stories of at least five customers and realizing there was no financial risk whatsoever as well as that he would be in a community that would support him wholeheartedly, George, in the tiniest of whispers, after one solid hour of not giving any sign whatsoever that he was willing to make the change, reluctantly said yes.

That was September 29. George and his wife became the sixth and seventh people to join the program. Intuitively, once George signed up, I knew that the rest would come not only easily but abundantly. On October 1, I started the program with 20 people. As of this writing, 22 days later, George calls himself a vegan and has lost a lot of weight. He’s walking better, feeling better, smiling and happily proclaiming the joys of being a vegan!

George’s overriding factor for staying with the program and giving up his meat, chicken and anything that even resembled, tasted or smelled like animal products was that he wanted his life back. He wanted to be free, alive and have the zest for life and sports that he had in his youth. The 30-Day Raw Challenge is his chance, and he is going for it. Stay tuned!

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