When you are 44 years old but have the physique of a
20-year-old, you're doing something right. For Ani Phyo, that "something"
is eating foods that make her look and feel her best.
The vegan chef and award-winning author chatted with PETA
about how she stays fit, why she eats raw foods, and how—by making healthy
decisions—you can be super fit, too.
raw food cookbooks to instructional cooking videos, your ideas are fuel for
anyone trying to live healthier. What inspired you to do the work you do?
is fuel for our body and affects our level of health and vitality. The right
foods can fuel our brains to orchestrate the trillions of cells in our body to
fight disease, maintain our ideal body weight, and hum like a well-oiled
machine. We inhale and absorb toxins from our environment, so choosing to eat
clean, chemical-free foods means not adding more toxins while lowering
overall stress to our body. Less overall stress means we have more energy for
healing and doing all the things in life we set our minds to. I hope to help
everyone feel great, look their best, and live a great life.
learned the value of health at a very young age from my father who was
terminally ill and passed away when I was 17. He taught me how to use food as
medicine to boost our immunity, vitality, health, and to extend our longevity.
Photos by Tyler Golden
I went away to college, I began eating foods we didn't have in our home growing
up. This food included white flour, refined sugars, dairy, and deep-fried
foods. In only 2 months, I gained about 20 pounds, and my cholesterol levels
skyrocketed to almost 300! The doctors wanted to put me on medication to lower
my cholesterol, but instead, my mother reminded me of why she raised my brother
and [me to eat] the plant-based foods we did. She encouraged me to eat vegan
and healthy, I began exercising regularly again, and my cholesterol levels went
back down to normal.
inspired to share what I've learned to help people feel great because when we
feel good, we can achieve anything in life we set our minds to.
said that a raw-food lifestyle is more than just a diet to you. Can you
elaborate? How does it affect other areas of your life?
me first define "raw foods." For me, it used to mean unheated, fresh,
whole foods, including only nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Today, I define
raw foods in the same way as "raw materials." What I mean is that we
use rocks and wood straight from the Earth to build a house. And I'm
encouraging everyone to avoid foods that are manufactured in a factory.
Instead, choose whole, fresh foods that come straight from the Earth. This
helps us to avoid toxic industrial chemicals like preservatives and artificial
flavors and colors.
example, I may blend together tomatoes, avocados, and herbs to make a raw soup.
If I'm craving a hot soup, I may leave the blender on longer to heat the soup up
or even pour it into a saucepan on the stove. This hot soup has been made using
all whole, fresh ingredients and is cleaner and healthier for us than any boxed
or canned soup!
whole, raw ingredients means treading lightly on our planet. What I noticed
immediately when eating raw was that I no longer had garbage in my kitchen
because most of the garbage comes from food packaging. By shopping locally at a
farmers' market and by buying in bulk, my kitchen only produces organic compost
and recyclables. I even have a composter under my sink that turns my organic
compost into organic soil
foods are a lifestyle. Food choices have the greatest impact on our planet, and
by eating vegan and fresh whole foods, we lower our carbon footprint, reduce
pollution, and use less energy and resources. We will choose a raw vegan
lasagna because we understand how avoiding wheat, gluten, and dairy will help
us with weight loss while decreasing inflammation and easing digestion to fuel
optimal energy and peak physical performance.
the years, I've seen how certain foods can make us healthier, stronger, clear
up our skin, give us a radiant glow of natural beauty, and boost our overall
vitality. Eating raw vegan foods helps increase my mental clarity, focus, and
productivity. I have boundless energy, don't need as much sleep, haven't had a
flu or cold in about 20 years, and look and feel better than ever!
course, we must know: What recipe do you recommend for a hot summer night?
This recipe comes from Ani's 15-Day Fat Blast.
This yummy soup is all about the tomato. Recent research
suggests that in addition to being a good source of fiber and lycopene, tomatoes
help regulate the hormone ghrelin, which is one of the hormonal messengers
responsible for telling us that we're full.
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes1/2 cup avocado1/2 tsp. chopped garlic1/2 tsp. fresh or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme1/2 tsp. sea saltFiltered water sufficient to achieve desired consistency
(approximately 1 cup)Pinch nutritional yeast (optional)
Makes 1 serving
a very busy woman. What's coming up for you? Are you working on anything that
you're particularly excited about?
power of raw foods has inspired me to focus once again on the functional
aspects of food for weight loss, building muscle mass, boosting our immune
system, clearing up our skin, increasing stamina and endurance, and decreasing
inflammation. I'm inspired to develop recipes that support different goals to
help people look and feel their best.
grown up as a champion athlete competing in numerous varsity sports, including
track and field, volleyball, diving, and swimming, I've always studied sports
nutrition to fuel my optimal peak physical performance. While writing and
researching for my newest book Ani's 15-Day
Fat Blast, I've figured out how to burn fat, build muscle mass, and raise
my metabolic rate. I'm 44 years old, was eating about 1,600 calories a day, and
have weighed 132 lbs. for the past two decades. Today, I try to increase my
calories by an extra 900 a day for a total of about 2,500 calories. To my
surprise, with this increase in calories, I've lost weight, and now weigh 125
frequently ask me what I do for exercise and how I work out. So, I've been
inspired to develop a fitness and nutrition program that I'm super-excited to
share with you soon!
advice do you have for someone who wants to make the transition to a raw-food
simple! Avoid processed and packaged foods that come from a factory. Choose
fresh whole foods that come straight from the Earth like fruits, vegetables,
nuts, and seeds. You don't need to be extreme to see and feel the benefits of a
whole food diet. Just add a shake or smoothie, large green salad, and/or raw
vegan dessert to any meal. These nutrient-rich foods will fill you up and help
you feel more satisfied, and you won't have as much room in your belly to eat
as much of the other foods on your plate. You'll immediately notice that you feel
lighter, tighter, and that your mind feels clearer.
Once you experience how
good you can feel, you'll want to feel good always. And the whole, fresh food
portion of your meal will increase, slowly elbowing out room for the less
beneficial foods on your plate.
Like Ani's ideas? Share your healthy eating habits
in the comments section below!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.