Karen Bartz, 56, is a fully Qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath who resides in Perth. She seems to live in Heaven. No, not the one with the big pearly gates, instead this Heaven is the raw vegan cafe at FERN, short for the Fremantle Environmental Resource Network. I’m an avid frequenter of the cafe, gorging on the delicious raw vegan fare whether it’s mexican burritos, chocolate macaroons or cold pressed chai lattes.
FERN runs on donations businesses and volunteers. Monday night is soupi night, a vegan feast by donation. For those yet to drop by, make it a must do on your list! There are chickens roaming around the grounds, bicycles to ‘adopt’, a free library to browse through and lessons to learn in sustainability, gardening and overall health and well-being. The cafe is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am-4pm. Often there are special events such as Drum Circles, Reiki Sessions and Fire Walking. The FERN website is currently under reconstruction so for those seeking upcoming event information, the Soupi and Fremantle Environmental Resource Network Facebook pages are the place to go.
Karen is the author of best-selling book ‘Raw Food Awakening’ and has been on a raw vegan diet for the past 4 years. She also runs regular raw food classes.
Below is her story…
Your journey to vegetarianism / veganism:
I became unwell while studying naturopathy and nothing seemed to work. I was fed up with medical tests and supplements. One day I doused my food to see what was best for me to eat – so much was making me feel worse! I switched to 80% raw at that point but still ate minimal amounts of fish. I totally eliminated dairy and eggs. Miraculously, I felt better and six months later had an all-raw lecturer at college.
“I then went the other 20% and after two weeks felt better than I had in 30 years.”
I believe by experiencing the 6-month gentle introduction on 80% raw was just what I needed, considering I was coming from the dark depths of unwellness to begin with. Incidentally, prior to raw food I tried the blood type diet. I am blood type O, according to the diet I was supposed to do better on the Paleo diet. It was not successful for me.
What’s the most remarkable benefit or change (could be physical, mental or emotional) you’ve noticed since becoming vegan?
I feel extremely well and energised! I could not run the cafe for 6 days a week at the age of 56 that’s for sure. I cannot eat dairy in any case, as I get a hormonal reaction from it. With meat I am affected by the adrenalin present in the animals’ system so I get stressed and fearful.
At college they thought I was a little strange but now three of my lecturers from that time work in the raw food industry.
Also, I was not expecting the enlightening experience of spiritual awakening on raw!
A typical day’s meals for you?
Breakfast: Large bowl of chia porridge with homemade nut milk with just vanilla powder and cinnamon to sweeten, topped with chopped fruit. Today I had pear, strawberry and mango.
Lunch: Large salad with dehydrated onion bread and a nutcheese for lunch.
Snacks: Usually a dehydrated cookie and a large green juice in there somewhere. Occasionally beetroot juice.
Dinner: Usually more onion bread or dehydrated pizza crackers with avocado and more fresh fruit.
I do drink herbal tea. Current favourites are lemon and ginger and chai with heated nut milk.
Biggest challenges / obstacles of being vegan:
None. The pay off is huge plus I get adverse reactions if I stray from my raw vegan lifestyle. I also surround myself with what is required to stay on track as it’s that important to me, hence I choose to run a raw vegan cafe. Problem solved!
Advice to newbie vegans:
Follow your heart, consider raw food over processed vegan junk food
Biggest misconception about vegans:
That they are less physically strong. Studies prove otherwise.
That they are intolerant/aggressive. Perhaps some are.
But the most successful at influencing others, I have noticed, are the ones who aren’t.
Life motto / personal philosophy:
Follow your heart
Favourite vegan products:
Barefooters, Italian rubber shoes with cork liners, Chia seeds.
Valerie Boutenko, Fred Bisci PhD
Karen’s Chia Porridge
1 young coconut
3-4 tbs chia seeds
Blend water and meat of 1 young coconut and then stir in 3-4 tbs chia seeds and stir till thick (about 5 minutes).
Alternatively blend a handful of raw almonds with 1 1/2 cups filtered water and then add chia seeds to that.
You can stir in the blender on slowest setting or food processor. Serve with chopped fresh fruit.