In this special five-part series, Joanna Steven uncovers where some top vegetarian athletes get their protein. Here's part three, focusing on Robert Cheeke's take on this issue.

YELLOW PEA POWDER

In the spring of 2005 this natural body builder became a champion bodybuilder - all on a strict? vegan diet. Robert Cheeke, an activist/athlete raised on an Oregon farm, went vegan when he was 15 years old and transitioned to full on vegan only two months later. Winning titles in Portland, OR and competing at the Natural Bodybuilding World Championships held in California, Robert maintains his intense mass building workout regime on a 100% animal-free diet.

Jim here... This post is for anyone who has turned to raw foods in an attempt to become healthy -- to lose weight, lower cholesterol, to lower blood pressure, to beat diabetes, or perhaps to overcome something even more serious. Let me ask you something (rhetorically): Have you ever, in your journey toward optimal health, looked at someone else -- someone else who eats "worse" than you do, yet who appears outwardly more healthy -- and thought, "Why is it so hard for ME and yet so effortless for that person "

Have questions run through your mind such as: ?How can that other person eat all of the wrong things, and yet look healthy? ?Why is it that I eat better than most people, and yet I'm the one facing a health problem Why is it that some people go raw and their issues clear up so quickly, and yet here I am still not feeling and looking 100% healthy? Why is it that physical health is not always bestowed on those who really deserve it?

Picking up from the previous installment, Wendi and KDcat absolutely loved beautiful Corvallis, but ultimately felt it had too much of a small-town feel for us. So, they decided to take a road trip to the nearest big city, Eugene. KDcat and Stephanie (one of the lovely daughters of our Corvallis hosts) were enjoying their time together, so Stephanie decided to come along.

The trip from Corvallis to Eugene is but one pleasant hour's drive.The group's first stop was the Buffalo Exchange, a new and secondhand clothing store. Everyone loved the store, which offered a great selection of? fun clothes you can t usually find in other stores or thrift shops. A barely worn pair of red hi-top Converse sneakers was the highlight of this stop for KDcat. She's been wanting a pair of these exact shoes for ... well, forever! She immediately began decorating them when she had the chance (after they were disinfected, that is).

From there, they explored greater Eugene, checking out areas others had suggested. There were a lot of cute shops, but they were geographically spread out. It wasn t like the neighborhoods in Portland, where you can walk blocks and blocks with unique stores, restaurants, etc., all in a row. There was a nice vibe to Eugene, Wendi said, but something about it just didn t feel like home for us. Wendi said there weren t as many people out and about as she'd expected, but that could have been because they visited on a Sunday. Here are some pics from around town -- and then we'll talk food.

Welcome to Day 2 of Pure Jeevan's "Salad Dressing Week"!? Today we take a trip across the Pacific to the land of the "Rawsing Sun." I've yet to meet any raw vegans from Japan, but would be highly interested in hearing about what it's like to be raw vegan there.

Today's video not only shows a tasty salad dressing recipe, but it's really a testament to bold improvisation in your raw kitchen. In order to create something new, you really have to be willing to experiment. Sometimes you simply fail!? But, more often than not, a recipe that you have not quite perfected just needs some tweaking.

Today for "Take the Time Tuesday," we'd like you to take the time to meet Mimi Kirk, whom many of you may know as the winner of PETA's "Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50" contest last fall. If you're interested in longevity, and how diet influences the way we look, act, think, and exist, then you'll definitely want to listen closely to what this vibrant woman, who is 71 years young, has to say. We spoke with Mimi for nearly an hour this weekend, and are happy to share her inspiring interview with all of you. Below, you can listen right here, or download a podcast MP3 version.

Those consuming a raw food diet sometimes use a dehydrator to prepare raw food dishes. They do this at low temperatures, below the point of actually cooking the foods, to intensify flavors, reduce the amount of moisture in the dish, and sometimes to take the chill off something they'd rather serve a bit warmer than straight out of the refrigerator. There is a practice that we've seen, however, that is actually cooking the very foods were taking such great measures to consume raw! Let me share an experience I had when I first started eating raw foods, that will help explain how some of us may be cooking our foods by mistake.

In the beginning of eating raw foods, my entire family loved the Vegetable Stir-Dont-Fry I used to make (you can find that recipe in the free eBook you downloaded when you first visited our site). One day I created a double recipe so we could eat more the next day, without going through the process of preparing it again fresh. The following day I took the bowl of Stir-Dont-Fry out of the refrigerator and put it into the dehydrator to take the chill off. It wasn't warming up fast enough on such a low temperature, so I thought I'd just cover the dish a little bit to trap in some of the heat that seemed to leave each time I checked the dish and stirred it around. So, I took a plate and placed it on top of the bowl with about an inch, or two, opening.

Jim here... An unusual occurrence prompted this post, and I'm unsure as to whether it's significant. I've talked about some of my favorite non-raw items before -- things that were tough to leave behind as I embarked upon this raw foods journey. I think I covered pizza in a relatively recent post.

Corn chips were another. In fact, after Wendi went 100% raw and I more or less began to follow her dietary choices, I clung to corn chips for dear life for quite a long time. I began eating a LOT of salsa in those days. Sometimes, that would be all I'd eat for lunch -- just an entire jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips (though, by then, I'd at least usually buy the organic ones and, quite often, a baked variety of chips as well).

When I finally decided I'd be better off transitioning to an all raw lifestyle, I figured my love affair with corn chips had come to an end. Farewell beautiful chips, I thought. I'll never forget our delicious crunchy time together. And that was that. I never looked back.

But then, at a local raw foods pot luck, I met a raw chef who had more or less perfected a raw corn chip recipe. Could it be , I thought. Has this delicacy returned to me after all, as though via some sweet culinary destiny? Ahh, my friends, that was a glorious day. Chips and salsa had returned to me in an enlightened raw form. I could enjoy them once again, guilt free. And enjoy them I did -- usually using a local shop's "Peruvian Purple Corn" (a living, sproutable, dried corn product).

Alas, fate stepped in once again. "Thou may partake of these crisps any time thou wishest," fate boomed. "Yet, in order to do so, thou must prepare them thine self using thine Vitamix and requiring an enormous flax-sticky mess with extended clean-up time, and thou must have parchment paper available at all times, and thou must exercise great care and patience in using your Excalibur, for these chips must dry for many an hour before ready."

Yeah, it was a bit of a chore to produce them. So, as the novelty of chip making and eating wore off, I slowly decreased the frequency of going through the messy, time-consuming hassle of preparing them. Until yesterday, it had been literally months since I made a batch. But... we'd ordered a few pounds of the corn from Natural Zing lately, and I found myself with some extra time the other night. So...

Now, I'm going to pause for a minute for a tangent on digestion. I know a great majority of people, it seems, complain of various digestive disorders. As a result, we have many raw foodie specialists schooled in the nuances of food combining. Oddly, I never paid much attention to these discussions, nor offered input on these matters, because they simply weren't relevant to me.

In fact, I likened my own digestive system to some kind of nuclear powered garbage disposal. It didn't matter what I ate; digestion wasn't a problem for me. So, for example, I'd routinely finish off heavy meals, and then follow them with a huge slice of juicy watermelon (a major no-no according to common wisdom). It just never bothered me.I always joked that, even though I'd been raw for ages, I could still probably go eat a Big Mac (not that I would) and be unaffected by it.

So powerful was my stomach acid that, admittedly, I sometimes privately *worried* whether this might mean something was wrong with me. I mean, shouldn't some of the things I was eating make me sick? Was it "good" to not be made sick by what is generally regarded as poor food combining choices? Do people commonly suffer from problems of efficiency as well as deficiency ? I still do not really know the answer to these questions, and suspect the answer is rather complicated, anyway. Fortunately, it doesn't matter now because...

Something finally made me sick!? I'm laughing now about that, but I spent most of the evening in terrible stomach pain after having over-indulged in some of those (in)famous raw purple corn chips.

So, what happened ? That's an interesting question for me. Here are some possibilities: (1) Perhaps my hyper-active digestive system *was* in fact a problem, and now it's beginning to normalize. Perhaps, had I been healthier all along, I would have been made sick by some of my food choices, but now my health is improving!? (2) Perhaps it's a fluke and I simply shouldn't have eaten mass quantities of corn and flax so late at night. (3) Perhaps my body is improving in its ability to communicate with me, and/or that I'm getting better at listening, and that the message here is that corn is not something my body gains nourishment from -- at least, not in this dried-reprocessed-redried form. After all, some leading raw food authorities, like Gabriel Cousens, aren't fans of corn (even fresh corn!).

Oh sure, there may be other explanations (e.g., "a bad batch of corn"). But, I'm actually most interested in #3, above. Even though this is an extreme example (more intense than it needed to be), I'd like to think that I'm getting better at knowing what I'm being nourished from and what I am not. I'd like to think that this is a latent sense that can be developed, much like our ability to know things by feeling and intuition rather via pure rationality all the time.

But, with food, I think it's a matter of inventorying your physical sensations head to toe, and also as a whole. How is the food you're eating making you feel? Do you feel satisfied or still hungry? Do you feel light or is the food sitting kind of heavily? Do you feel energized or dragged down? How's your mental clarity? Do you feel spacey or more grounded? Do you feel noticeably happier or more sad than before? How are all of these things mapping out over time? Is your weight moving in a positive direction for you? Are your illnesses improving? Food is medicine, after all; it has all of these effects and many more!

For now, I think I can safely check purple corn off of my own personal list of foods that make me feel good. I suspect my old assertion about "being able to eat a Big Mac without any side effects" no longer applies -- and maybe this is a good thing. I think perhaps it signals some progress in my journey toward optimal health.

In any case, I think this kind of purposeful introspection is healthy, and something we should all strive to do more often.How about you? Had any similar experiences? What have you learned from them?

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On April 15, 2009, essie wrote:

Jim here... Thought we'd share some hidden camera footage from the Pure Jeevan household. Didn't you know ? ... the Pure Jeevan household is under continual video surveillance!? We have an enormous bank of these cameras, all feeding live streams to our costly, off-site high-tek storage facilities, monitoring every room in the house -- all to capture moments of inspiration such as this one. Why carry pen and paper all the time when you can simply install hundreds of "inspiration-cams" and pay techies to maintain a gargantuan bank of petabyte hard drives ? So, in this clip, the actual origin of an idea is captured. (We totally weren't just acting, ok ) So, having scoured said bank of petabyte hard drives, we isolated the following clip --thought you'd enjoy it as a preview of what's ahead tomorrow.

"I sent out over 100 emails, now, and have been corresponding with the chair of the almond board. He s an ass."

~Wendi, writing a few years ago in her "Almond Frustration" blog post.

Jim here again... Wow, that's an excerpt from a very fired-up Wendi, writing a few years ago about her frustration over the USDA's absolutely insane regulation that nearly all almonds sold in the United States must be treated with chemicals or heat prior to sale. I'm sure you know the story by now, so I won't rehash it here. (In case you do not, you can read about it in our original post, Wendi's Almond Frustration post (which even recounts a disturbing, related dream she had about this issue), or our last update post. It's an issue we've been following for years here.)

Here's another brief video from our travels. Since time for editing is limited, I think I'll just run some more of the shorter vids this week and then get into the longer, more in-depth interviews next week. So, this is a short, fun conversation I had with Steve, who tends the raw juice and smoothie bar at Cousin's Incredible Vitality raw restaurant in Chicago. Here's the vid:

Just a quick announcement today:? I just pressed "send" on our gorgeously produced November 2009 e-newsletter. While we've done periodic newsletters in the past, we've now revisited our commitment to doing them regularly. So, each month going forward, we plan to send out a new e-newsletter.

And they're always crazy fun!? They're kind of like bouncing on a trampoline -- like flying, you know ? Nothing but care-free, transcendent happiness, soaring amid the tree branches, smiling ear-to-ear, gravity-defying hair flying every which way. (Okay, maybe they're not that much fun. But, they are at least generally enjoyable -- and informative!)