My journey with raw food began at the age of 13, long before I had ever even heard of a “raw vegan.” An otherwise quiet summer became the most eventful time of my life after a series of bizarre symptoms brought me to the emergency room. After numerous scans, injections, tests and one emergency surgery, it was decided that I had brain cancer. Funny enough, the doctors always compared the size of my former tumor to fruit.
Originally, I heard “juicy plum” after my first surgery. (Side note: It was a few years before I had a plum again.) After a second surgery and brand-new dose of steroids and other medications that I could never ascertain the true purpose of, despite my best attempts, my brain was deemed to have a mass the size of a cherry. More fruit. Delightful. And this fruit, apparently, was of mixed origin. My brain was harboring a variety of fruity cells known to me by their official name, glioneuroma. According to societal norms, I was supposed to be shopping and gabbing on the phone with friends about teenaged trivialities. Instead, I was defending myself from a stage 3 cancer invasion.
My oncologist had chosen his weapons of choice. His arsenal included hefty doses of radiation and a highly potent chemotherapy drug famous for fighting losing battles. He wanted to attack the cancer at full force. So my mother and I teamed up to do the only logical thing we could. We said no. Thus began our journey to find an alternative.
After one year of coming up short on any treatments or dietary changes that could actually make an impact, we stumbled upon a raw food café called Arnold’s Way in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Arnold Kauffman himself taught my mother and me all about why the raw food diet is the healthiest possible way of eating—and a way to heal disease naturally. You know what I thought? I thought it sounded like a bunch of bullsh—t.
It’s worth mentioning that, at the time, I was a meat-eating machine. Scratch that. I was an animal-product-eating machine. I was a standard American dietary cliché, my digestive system filled to the brim with whatever fleshy, animal-y goodness I could get my hands on. However, my illness had backed me into a corner. Nothing else had worked for me, and Arnold’s books were filled with facts and testimonials that led to the same conclusion: that the raw vegan diet works. So, feeling as though I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try.
I became a raw vegan overnight. I spent a few months eating “gourmet raw,” which, for me, meant that I was binging on kale chips. You know, the ones with the “cheesy” coating. I delightfully discovered that if you make them at home, you can double or even triple their “cheesiness.” But a “cheesy,” high-fat raw vegan diet is not sustainable and definitely not a tumor-busting way of eating. Tumors generally do not respond well to “cheese.” So I ditched the fat. All of it. It wasn’t easy, but I did it because I knew it was important. Once the cravings subsided, I felt better than ever before.
Now, after two years of living solely on fruits and vegetables, my mind is clear, quite literally. I am cured and have reached a summit of health and well-being. That is how I went from being a 13-year-old cancer-filled meat muncher to a healthy 17-year-old veggie cruncher.
Now, at the age of almost 18, I am a proud raw vegan. I have an associate’s degree in theater, an art form I feel a deep connection with. I love to act, sing and dance, and I have been lucky enough to get the chance to do all three in college. My efforts have been rewarded with several nominations and even one award, so I’m guessing I’m at least moderately good at this whole theater thing. I also have a passion for photography and a newfound love of writing. I consider myself a wordsmith in training, perilously working on my new craft in the hopes my jumbles of words might make a difference in this world. I am lucky enough to still be in this world, thanks to those most unlikely culprits: fruits and vegetables. And since I’m here, I want to make my presence count.
P.S.: I’m looking forward to meeting lots more fruit-powered humans at this year’s Woodstock Fruit Festival!
Editor’s note: Megan enjoys exploring her many talents. In addition to her writing skill, she shares with Fruit-Powered Digest readers her performance and photography passions.
View a clip of Megan in performance from her spring 2013 production of Cabaret. Megan was recently nominated for a 2013 Perry Award for Outstanding Youth Actress in a Play.
View several of Megan’s favorite original photographs.