Omega: You are in your mid-70s and very healthy. Do you think there's a way to feel your age, or even feel old, while maintaining a sense of grace and vitality?
Mimi: We hope to have grace and vitality all our lives, not only in our later years. I see many unhealthy people my age, but I also see older people dancing, running marathons, practicing yoga, and staying involved in life. Good health can really make the difference between having an easy or difficult time aging. Because I’m in excellent health, I feel much younger than I thought 75 would feel. Aging is devalued in America, when in fact aging can be an exciting time of life. We are generally wiser and experience more confidence and less stress, anger, fear, and negative emotions.
Omega: Your book, Live Raw Around the World, takes your enthusiasm for raw food to a global level. You traveled around the world eating, and hopefully enjoying, other cuisines. What did you find that surprised you and changed your perspective on raw food?
Mimi: I decided to write Live Raw Around the World because I love to travel, and I love international food. I wanted to find ways to duplicate some of the international dishes I enjoy. I visited seven countries while working on the book, and what I learned is we all want to be healthy and enjoy delicious food. I was surprised to find so many people embracing raw vegan and vegetarian food. Everywhere I went, people talked about eating organic and improving their health.
Omega: You weren’t always vegetarian or vegan. What moved you to transform your eating habits and how has your diet evolved?
Mimi: I grew up with the standard American diet. In my early 30s I realized I didn’t want to eat animals anymore. Later, I learned about the inhumane treatment farm animals suffered to become food for humans. From that point on, with a few lapses, I was vegetarian, then vegan. In my late 60s, I was once again ate the standard American diet, including some meat, for about three years. My annual physical exam revealed my blood pressure and cholesterol were up and I had gained 20 pounds. I also had arthritic pain in my joints. My family history is full of a host of diseases, so I did some research and I thought a raw, plant-based diet would help me stay healthy. Within six months, my high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arthritic pains were gone. I was 69 and since then have managed to remain healthy and drug-free.
Omega: Is a raw food diet ever not enough for you? Do you ever take vitamin or mineral supplements or find the need to cleanse?
Mimi: I take B12 and vitamin D, as those are difficult to get in most diets. I think juice cleanses are a good thing to do as we are exposed to many chemicals in our daily lives. Even if we consume a healthy, organic, plant-based diet, detoxifying is very helpful.
Omega: Do you think a raw food diet is right for everyone?
Mimi: For me it has been the best way to eat for my health and vitality. Everybody is different, but I would suggest to anyone to cut out processed foods completely. If you can't go completely raw, try to eat 75% raw. Raw foods contain enzymes we need for digestion. Cooked foods lose those enzymes. Raw fruits and vegetables are a great way to ensure you're getting the nourishment, vitamins, and minerals you need every day.
Omega: What argument would you make to the skeptics to trigger their interest in a raw diet?
Mimi: I would argue for health and vitality. I know many people who have cured themselves of health problems and disease by consuming a raw food diet. Also, I personally feel younger than I did six years ago, and I look younger. When people meet me and see how energetic and vibrant I am, that speaks more for this way of eating than anything I can say.
Omega: What advice do you have for people who would like to incorporate raw foods into their diet?
Mimi: I recommend starting out by drinking a green vegetable juice every morning. You don't even need to give anything up at first. Just start having a green juice every day and in time your habits will start to shift. Later, you can add a fruit snack in the morning and switch to having a salad for lunch. Both my books, Live Raw and Live Raw Around the World include delicious, healthy, raw recipes you can experiment with, too.
Omega: You are remarkably healthy and vital compared to most people your age. You were voted the “Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50” by PETA. Do you see a link between health and sex appeal?
Mimi: To me sexy is being comfortable in your skin, being kind, nonjudgmental, loving, and conscious about the environment and all living things. Being healthy makes it easier to be all these things.
Omega: What’s your daily or regular personal practice?
Mimi: I have a green juice or smoothie every morning. I do yoga four times a week. I stay very active mentally and physically. I took up guitar early this year, and I give raw food talks and demonstrations regularly. I manage a large social network and travel as much as possible. I’m currently writing my third book.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies