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Richard Widmark poses at Arnold's Way

Richard Widmark Is on the Road to Raw

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‘I Have More Energy. I Have More Mental Clarity. I Feel Alive.’

At 617 pounds, Richard Widmark woke up one morning last April and decided he was going to be vegan—at least just for the day. In time, he began consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, and his raw food journey took him to The Woodstock Fruit Festival in Diamond Point, New York, last August, where he quit his two- to three-pack-a-day smoking habit for good.

Richard Widmark smiles“I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to go. I’m going to go with no expectations, and just whatever happens happens,’ ” he said. “It was an amazing time, and to meet the people I watch on YouTube was kind of surreal. … It was like a community. I’ve never felt that sense of community ever in my life.”

The week of the Woodstock Fruit Festival and the following week, Richard remained 100 percent raw. Whereas he found tremendous support at the festival and rode the wave of his success in the days afterward, reality soon took hold.

“I had to go back to real life, my home life,” he said. “I don’t want to make any excuses, but I don’t have support at home. I don’t have raw food people around me. My family, they don’t understand it. They think I’m crazy.”

Richard Widmark poses at The Woodstock Fruit Festival in 2012.
Richard Widmark poses at The Woodstock Fruit Festival in 2012.

Richard, whose peak weight was 669 pounds, has remained wholly vegan since April 23 but has found the raw food path more challenging to remain fully committed to. He lost dozens of pounds before gaining back some weight, and as of December 16, he was 557 pounds, or 60 pounds lighter compared with when he decided to stop consuming animal products.

Despite experiencing cycles of ups and downs, Richard is a shining example of a person whose eyes are on the prize.

Headshot of Richard Widmark“It’s little bitty changes that will get me to the big picture,” he said.

Richard continues to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables and especially enjoys pineapple. Bananas and grapes are among fruits he eats regularly. Bananas and coconut water is his standby breakfast recipe. He continues to learn how foods make him feel.

“I have more energy … I have more mental clarity,” he said about the effects of eating fruits and vegetables. “I feel alive.”

Eating animal and cooked foods produces a different kind of feeling, Richard said.

“Eating raw really brings emotions out to the front,” he said. “Before, I could be like, ‘… I’m going to eat two pizzas and some breadsticks and totally numb myself out to everything.’ Now I can’t do that. I can eat 1,000 bananas, but for some reason, that doesn’t numb me. It doesn’t numb me. It gives me life. It’s like, ‘OK, you have to address these problems you have.’ ”

Some days, Richard meets these problems head on, and other days he retreats—staying vegan but consuming high-fat foods. Chris Kendall of has worked with Richard on the mental aspect of eating a raw food diet.

Richard Widmark's 36th birthday cake
Anna Chmielewska of created this birthday cake using bananas, dates, coconut, strawberries and cranberries.

Richard aspires to return to the Woodstock Fruit Festival and lose about 200 pounds in 2013.

“My goal is to just be happy being me,” he said. “As simple as that is, the rest will come. The food, that will come. I know when I’m at my happiest, I make all the right choices for myself to know where I want to be.”

Richard made the trip from his Greater Richmond, Virginia, home to Lansdale, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, to celebrate his 36th birthday at Arnold’s Way. It was his second visit to the raw vegan café, a place that offers education, community and support for the curious, transitioning and experienced raw fooder. A special playful fruit pie was prepared for the guest of honor.

Visit Richard’s website,, to follow his journey.

Richard Widmark's 36th birthday party at Arnold's Way

Watch Richard in Action in a Popular Video

Watch Richard in The Woodstock Fruit Festival 2012 Documentary

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