It's a tough prospect for many. Especially in meat hungry Alberta. Giving up meat in exchange for a plant based diet. As one of five participants in the Edmonton-made documentary "I Like It Raw," Edmonton resident Shane Walker decided to give up meat in favour of uncooked fruits and vegetables for 30 days.
He was surprised by the outcome, losing 32 pounds in one month.
"You're scared you're going to be craving meat," he said. "I'm from South Africa. We eat meat. (But) it was strange because after two to three days, you lose the craving. Your body just flips over, you don't lust after it."
The documentary by filmmaker Dana Giesbrecht follows Albertans as they leave behind their meat-eating ways and spend a month on a raw, vegan diet. It's the perfect experiment for a province known for its love of beef.
I’ve always been really interested with food and how what we put in our body not only affects our shape and size, but also our mood, mental clarity, energy levels, skin, self-esteem," Giesbrecht said. "I wanted to look into the cleanest, healthiest diet I could find and see how completely transforming your eating habits would impact your life."
Walker took part in the study and while he no longer eats a strict raw vegan diet, he does try to make vegan food at home now. He hopes to continue to incorporate a raw diet into his lifestyle, since he credits the uncooked diet with his boost in energy.
Giesbretch doesn't limit herself to uncooked fruits and vegetables. She describes herself as "flexi-tarian" and eats meat, cheese and drinks alcohol but maintains a mostly raw vegan diet.
"The biggest obstacle that my challengers and I faced wasn’t even just giving up meat, it was the idea of not cooking our food," she says. They started their journey last April and it was tough eating cold food in the cold weather.
"Eating cold food in cold weather makes the initial 3-4 day detox even more painful," she says. However, once that detox phase has passed, it becomes incredibly easy to stick to the diet.
Participants claimed that their energy levels is off the charts when eating raw food. They felt a motivation to set goals for themselves and achieve them, work out more in the day, and genuinely feel more positive, inspired, and excited to take on the day.
"We, as a team, accredited this to the loss of the mental fog and lethargy a person gets when they’re drinking too much coffee, eating too much sugar, or other crap throughout the day," says Giesbrecht. "Being on a raw food diet gives you endless energy and so many other amazing side effects, we were all hooked by day 5."
Doctors she interviewed for the documentary agreed that the diet is an extreme option, particularly in a northern Alberta winter.
Griesbetch simply wants people to consider introducing more raw fruits and vegetables into their regular diet.
"It's not putting a negative stereotype on the meat industry," she said, "Just maybe consider a different option, and maybe half the plate is vegetables."