"I had tried everything," said Eric Sanchez, a 25-year-old New Yorker who says he believed his life would have ended if he hadn't made the switch to a raw vegan diet when he did. At 22 years of age, Eric came down with Alopecia, a condition that causes your hair to fall out, for no apparent reason. At the same time, he was quietly experiencing other health symptoms including heart palpitations and shooting head pains, anxiety, depression, and more.  After so much trial and error he reached a point where he thought: “Maybe this is my fate. Maybe I’m supposed to get sicker and sicker year by year until I die. ”It all made little sense. "I knew I hadn’t been a perfect person throughout my whole life, but I didn’t believe that I had ever done something so wrong that I deserved to suffer this way." The pain progressively got worse every year until he began to despair that there was no end in sight.

After trying to heal for years, Eric eventually sought out alternative medicine. He looked for someone who would get creative with his healing, and try methods that go beyond traditional western medicine. Eric and his mother reached out to anyone that could help him get to the bottom of his conditions, including nontraditional treatments. He felt like he had no time to lose, and he was at the end of his sanity or will to live.

"I went to doctors here in New York as well as all around the world. I flew to Florida to see a specialist there. Went to upstate New York. Considered a doctor in Connecticut. Spoke with specialists in Texas. Meanwhile, I was trying all these diets. I tried the Candida diet, keto, removing dairy and cheese, hopping in and out of veganism, trying different medications, looking for a magic herb or pill. I  flew to Cyrpus for weeks of Ozone therapy, and then to Honduras to Dr. Sebi’s Usha Village (to eat what he called alkaline cooked foods). I felt like I was trying all SO many different methods to heal, and nothing was working. I felt so disconnected from my body. Eventually, I decided to stick to veganism long term because I had seen a few testimonials where people said it helped them heal their health problems. Maybe I didn’t give it a long enough try.”

Eating strictly vegan for two weeks–beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Eric saw very mild improvements as his symptoms began to lessen; it helped with his Candida, but he knew deep down that whole food cooked plant-based diet wasn’t enough to heal. "It was sort of like putting a bandaid on. I wasn’t getting to the root cause of my issues.” It wasn't until he experienced the lowest point in his life that it allowed him to change his health, career, and life for the better.

Eric quietly broke down in tears in a public restroom stall in New York City. "I had reached a point where I started to believe it might be better off if I was no longer alive. That way, I wouldn’t have to continue to deal with the pain. My soul could just be free. I was having a conversation with God. I told him that I didn’t understand why he was doing this to me. I had tried everything. I remember just sitting there and crying, asking God to tell me what to do.”

Walking a thin line between life and death, two days later, he came across a YouTube video on the concept of raw veganism recorded by master herbalist and naturopath Dr. Robert Morse. He had seen Dr. Robert Morse’s videos in the past but had always skipped them. This time, he decided to sit and watch the whole thing. He decided to give a high fruit-based diet a shot. This was the one thing he hadn’t tried in all these years of suffering- eating all living foods. After three days of eating predominantly raw fruits, Eric's symptoms started to subside. "I remember feeling like this must be the truth. A lightbulb went off. I woke up, and so many of my symptoms subsided so quickly. I didn’t have any heart palpitations. The weird body tingles were minimal. The Alopecia took a little longer to heal, but spots of hair started to grow back within two months and have permanently grown back since."

The Beet chatted with Eric, who shared his secrets to success and mental resilience, saying, “Real change occurs when the pain of staying the same hurts more than whatever it is your going through.”

Eric is now a certified detox specialist and gave us free advice on how to help anyone who needs to heal from any type of disorder, disease, or chronic pain. Learn from his journey in our interview below and feel inspired to incorporate more raw foods into your diet, because even if you don't go totally raw, you can still reap the benefits from incorporating these foods into your diet.

TB: What made you decide to go raw vegan?

ES: Two years ago I was diagnosed with alopecia, a so-called “auto-immune" disease where you start to lose patches of hair. I would lose patches on my head and beard, but it has all grown back now. I also had a bunch of undiagnosed symptoms. I had heart palpitations, which was scary. I was only around 22 or 23 when they started. I would have shooting pains in my head. I would wake up sometimes with a strange tingling sensation head to my toe. It’s almost as if my blood was on fire. Everything was just in pain both physically and mentally. And the people around me had no idea. I worked in the entertainment business at the time for a major radio network, and I’d be suffering in silence. I’d sometimes need to be alone in a bathroom stall just to decompress for 3 minutes before rushing back out to work again. Everything was out of alignment. I didn’t know what was going to manifest in the future. It was a really dark period.

Through research, I figured that maybe my health issues had something to do with what I was eating. At that point, I was already vegan - but “vegan” doesn’t automatically mean “healthy”. I ate a lot of vegan junk processed foods (fries, processed burgers, etc.). I returned to New York from a trip to LA on February 27th. I decided that I’d go fully raw vegan the next day- February 28th. Three days later, I started to notice my symptoms begin to go away. In the few years leading up to me going raw, I’m not a super religious person or anything, but I had become a much more spiritual person. This happens to a lot of people who are sick or suffering. They start to question what their purpose is, and what the general meaning of life is. I would think, “well maybe I’m just supposed to get sicker and sicker until I die,” and I was only around 22/ 23 years old when I was having these thoughts. That’s what it felt like because every year, I was getting progressively worse. I didn’t know what I had done to deserve it. I knew I hadn’t been the best person in life, but I knew I didn’t deserve to suffer like this. I remember walking to a park, and I was in a public bathroom stall and just broke down. I had reached such a low point where I started to believe it might be better if I was no longer alive. That way I wouldn’t have to continue to deal with the pain. I remember sitting there and crying, asking God to just tell me what to do. I’d tried everything, I've been all over the world to see so many doctors. Tried so many diets. There was nothing left for me to try (or so I thought). When I left that bathroom stall, I remember feeling like I had just given it all up to God, and I just needed to wait for an answer. I was going to fully let him take the wheel. I thought that I had already  “surrendered to God” in the past, but this was a TRUE surrender. I had ZERO fight left in me. I thought that there was just literally nothing else I could do. I thought to myself “If I get hit by a car on my way home, so be it. If I heal, so be it.” I also had a very deep feeling of guilt because my mom (who cares so much about me) had been suffering on this journey with me. My pain had brought her to tears and I distinctively remember a conversation where she was trying to be strong for me, but tears started filling her eyes and she said that she just “doesn’t know what else we could do”. Watching her suffer and hurt for me the way she did just broke me down. I sometimes felt that I needed to hide my pain from her to protect her despite her encouraging me to call her whenever I needed to. Seeing her son slowly lose his sanity was not easy. I owe my mother everything. I wouldn’t have healed without her. I love her so much.

It took four years of pain and despair to finally figure out what would help.

TB: Did those kinds of negative thoughts stop after you went raw?

ES: They’d come and go periodically. Emotional releases are an inevitable part of a detoxification protocol. Many negative thoughts and old harbored emotions came up when I was in the middle of my 90-day juice fast. During a juice fast, you release a lot of deep-rooted feelings. Different organs hold onto different emotions. As those organs healed, sometimes I would have an outburst of emotion. This is how the process of healing the human body works- layer by layer. I would sometimes feel the emotions come up as I was working out or jumping on a rebounder. The emotions would come up, be released, and I would feel like a weight had lifted off of my shoulders. This is not to say that I never deal with anxiety anymore. I’m still a young guy from New York City. I work. I have relationships. I’m a human. I still have all the everyday pressures of life. It’s natural to feel all of those emotions, but they shouldn’t ever consume your entire life. Going raw most definitely helped stabilize my moods.

TB: What did you experience when you started your juice cleanse?

ES: I’ve done a few juice fasts. I completed my first one-two months before I first went vegan. It was a 21-day juice fast of predominantly green juices. It wasn’t easy: my body was flushing out a lot of toxins. I had terrible detox symptoms, and after I finished, I caved and had a chicken sandwich.

After about two weeks, I went fully vegan and then eventually raw (on February 28th). After I ate raw for about seven months, I went on my 90-day juice fast. I wrote an article about my experience on my website. I just felt like although my symptoms were subsiding, I had a lot more work to do. I had been eating “gourmet raw” food, so I was eating many foods that were very high in fat and a lot of dehydrated foods to satiate myself. I had heard so many people talk about how a 90-day juice fast was the gold standard, so I decided it was time to go for it. It was a challenging process. I’m not going to sit here and say it was easy. There were certain moments throughout the fast (even as far as day 60), where I would think, “what if I just had a cheat.” Although my friends were supportive, many had no idea why I felt the need to fast for so long. I just know that God had called me to do it. One of the reasons I was able to keep going was because of this quote: “Only those who have gone where few have gone can see what few have seen.” I printed it out and put it on my wall. I’d read it several times a day. I also had a checklist of 90 boxes, and every morning, I would check one box. The trick for me was always to keep my mind focused on my goal. Once I got to day 60, I realized it would be crazy to end because I only had a month to go. I was more scared of disappointing myself than anything else. I just stuck to it and kept going: I just wanted to be able to say I had completed this juice fast.

TB: How did you feel after you finished the 90-day juice fast?

ES: Amazing. Accomplished. Excited to eat! It definitely sped up my healing process. I was slowly healing those first seven months. I was getting better, but I hadn’t been healing at the speed I desired. During those three months, I was able to give my stomach a break. When your body isn’t digesting fiber from foods, it spends extra energy healing your body. Your body is also filled with a lot of nutrition as the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from the fresh raw juices are absorbed quickly. I noticed I had more mental clarity, and my symptoms had gone away. It almost felt like “escaping the matrix” because based on what I had always believed and been taught, I would die if I didn’t eat for even a week or two. But then I’d think to myself “here I am, after months of only consuming raw juice, and I am the healthiest I’ve been in years.” It all made sense to me: the medical community makes money when you’re sick, and they need you to depend on them. Doctors need you to get treated. The western way of executing when it comes to “dis-ease” is a TREATMENT based modality. They go after symptoms with “treats” (medications). But I wasn’t treating myself, I was actually healing myself. It was liberating.

TB: What did some of the doctors think about your health transformation?

ES: The last time I went to see my primary care doctor was more than a year ago just to check my blood levels because I had changed my diet so drastically. I was curious to see if he'd find any deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, etc. He told me that everything was perfect. No deficiencies and to keep doing whatever I was doing. Meanwhile, when I was a meat-eater I had several vitamin deficiencies. Ironic, huh?

Now that my health has improved so much I really don’t have a reason to see him. I feel like my own doctor.

He just told me to keep doing what I was doing. I did tell him that I had healed by changing my diet, and although he didn’t say this directly, I could tell it made him think that all my health issues had probably just been in my head the whole time. People often forget that doctors are only not trained in nutrition whatsoever. They are only trained to treat symptoms.

TB: Why do you think a raw vegan diet was so beneficial for your specific issues?

ES: I’m a certified detoxification specialist now, so I understand the relationship between the two. When you eat raw, you begin to open up your channels of elimination. All disease really is, is “Systemic Acidosis.” Raw veganism often focuses on the fact that there is really no such thing as “diseases” per se. Your body is simply not at ease (DIS-ease). And it always has to do with what you’re consuming. It’s acidosis manifested in different areas of the body. When you eat cooked foods after a long period of time, your lymphatic system gets clogged up. If the lymph in your head region is backed up, it may manifest as a tumor, cancer, dementia, or alopecia. So by eating raw, high astringent foods (such as acid and sub-acid fruits), you can begin to open up your channels of elimination. All of a sudden, your kidneys start to function properly which filters out the built-up waste. Your lymphatic system starts releasing years worth of cellular constipation through your eliminative organs. That’s when bodily harmony can begin.

That’s what happened to me. I was eating so many acidic foods for so many years (on top of all the stress that I was dealing with) that my body was no longer getting rid of cellular waste. When you eat raw, especially if you eat high astringent raw foods, your body will start to heal itself because it finally has the adequate environment to do so. If you’re only eating dehydrated foods for all your meals, it’s going to be a much slower process to heal. When you think about it, there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of different species on earth, but humans are the only ones who cook the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals out of their foods before consuming them. We’re also the only species with the number of manifestations of diseases we have. When you put it into perspective, of course, other animals get sick, but we’re the only ones that have so many different symptoms and diseases. It is directly related to what we consume as a species. It’s unfortunate that this information is suppressed. The top killers in humans every year are directly related to diet.

TB: What were the first few months of being completely raw like for you?

ES: Within three days, I felt like all of my symptoms started to subside. I remember feeling like “Finally! This is the truth. This is my answer.” I woke up, and I wasn’t tingling everywhere. I didn’t have any heart palpitations. The alopecia did take a little longer to heal, but the spots started to grow back within two months and have permanently grown back since. That’s how detoxification works. You peel back the layers of damage you’ve accumulated from consuming unnatural foods, taking medications, using harmful hair & skin products, living in polluted cities, etc. There are many different layers of healing. I like to think of the human body sort of like an onion. Within the first two months, I knew I had found what I was looking for after all these years.

I’ll never forget when two months into being fully raw, I had one simple cooked meal, and my body reacted pretty violently. After two months of cleaning myself out with raw food and herbs, my body was like, “What the heck are you doing!” I knew then that I was going to be sticking to raw foods for a very long time.

TB: What happened when you went off the raw vegan diet?

ES: I went and had a vegan buddha bowl, so it had quinoa, chickpeas, hummus, and some vegetables. So it was still a healthy, vegan meal, but I think after doing some juice fasting and eating primarily fruit for two months, my body freaked out. It’s kind of like being a newborn baby; if you gave newborn chickpeas and quinoa, they would get sick. If I ever wanted to start eating cooked foods again, I would slowly introduce them back into my diet. This was like a massive bowl of cooked food out of nowhere.

TB: What’s your diet like now?

ES: At this very moment it’s pretty simple. I’ve learned to love and appreciate simplicity. But when I want something more savory I’ll indulge in a gourmet raw food meal (raw vegan burritos, lasagne, etc.). I love having Kelp Noodles with my homemade raw vegan tomato sauce (raw vegan pasta).  I do own a dehydrator which I sometimes use. Through the years I’ve learned how to make things like raw vegan burgers out of sprouted nuts and seeds. I now know how to make cultured raw vegan cheeses out of different nuts (like pine nuts, cashews, etc.). But currently, I eat a simple clean diet. Fruit for breakfast and for lunch I’ll often have a salad, a smoothie, or I’ll sometimes even have just a bowl of guacamole, as funny as that sounds. I like to just whip up something quickly. I eat when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m not. I also like to take a Green Formula which is made up of raw & highly nutritious plants from various countries around the world. It’s super potent. This ensures I’m getting an abundance of different greens, vitamins, and minerals throughout the day.

TB: Do you find that being raw vegan is expensive?

ES: It depends on how you do it. I don’t find it's that expensive anymore. In the beginning, to satiate me, I would often go to raw vegan restaurants and indulge. My favorite go-to spot would make food that was almost like “raw vegan junk food,” and it was pretty costly, like $12 for a raw vegan burger. But I didn’t mind paying for it because I knew the amount of time and effort that goes into making gourmet raw foods. It also helped me feel like, “Ok, this tastes really good. I can definitely eat this way long term.” I wasn’t making my own gourmet foods at that time, so I would go there a few times a week when I wanted something besides fruit. But now, let’s say I eat guacamole for lunch. I can get two avocados for two to three dollars, add a small slice of onion, a little Celtic sea salt, a tablespoon of minced cilantro, etc.. That’s actually a very filling and inexpensive meal. You just have to explore different options and see what you like.

TB: What advice do you have for anyone trying to go raw vegan?

ES: My advice would be that if you’re switching to eating fully living foods, you should really think about your “why”- what is your motive? Are you doing it just because it’s hip and healthy, or are you doing it because you want to heal? Either way, I think it's excellent, but knowing your “why” is what will help keep you on track.

Also, it can be a good idea to ease your way into it. Not everyone can jump right into living foods. One of the best strategies is to replace whatever you usually have for breakfast with your favorite bowl of fruit.

Our closest living relatives are the bonobos. They eat a high fruit-based diet. Like the bonobos, we have a body that is designed to easily digest the fruit. It’s the most uncomplicated food for humans to digest: it’s natural sugar so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar (unless you’re consuming it while eating a diet full of complex sugars such as bread, grains, etc.), it’s very hydrating, gets our bowels moving, and it gently detoxifies our bodies.

And maybe for dinner, start by having a salad with steamed or cooked foods for a few days or weeks. Use your intuition on your journey. Just slowly start to choose more raw foods and begin to savor the natural flavors of these amazing medicinal nutritious foods.

If you have any ailments whatsoever, detoxification truly is the way to go. Detoxification is how you heal your body and inevitably get rid of symptoms, whereas medications are designed to treat and mask your symptoms.

Cooked food & medication is a treatment based modality, whereas raw food and specific herbal formulas is a healing based modality. With detoxification, you’re working with the organs, the blood, and the lymphatic system. You’re not just treating the symptoms of an illness; You’re getting to the root cause of the issue. Dis-ease is not about the specific “germ”. We don’t “attack” specific ailments. Dis-ease is about the condition of your specific terrain. You clean your terrain, you rid your body of dis-ease.

TB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to eat raw vegan?

ES: As long as they’re incorporating more living foods into their life, most people will see some benefits. But if someone is trying to heal something more chronic, they’ll want to commit 100%. It often depends on what the condition is. Some people’s terrains are in a highly degenerated state. Eating 80% raw might be enough for some, but if you have cancer, a tumor, a virus, or an “autoimmune” disease, you’ll have to dig deeper. I would always recommend working with a detoxification specialist if your goal is to rid the body of dis-ease.

Something to note is that oftentimes when people switch over to a high fruit-based diet, they’ll say that the fruit is causing them to lose their energy. But that is simply not true. The fruit is so powerful that it’ll EXPOSE your body’s weaknesses. It’ll show you the actual state of your body whereas other stimulating foods (such as coffee, meat, etc.) stimulate your organs and give you short term chemical boosts (such as adrenaline). Fruits don’t “cause” symptoms, they SHOW you your symptoms and expose your weaknesses. When you eat raw food, your body goes into detox mode, so you’re going to be confronted with your body’s main challenges. Eating more fat from nuts, seeds, and avocados can help stabilize some of those symptoms. But everyone’s body is in a different state, which is why I coach people full time and work with people on a case by case basis.


TB: Do you have any quotes or words of inspiration you live by?

ES: Yes, I actually have a few. I love a good quote. One of the ones I appreciate is “Only those who go where few have gone can see what few have seen.” I didn’t write it, but it definitely helped me get through many moments of my personal detoxification journey.

Another one is, “Real change occurs when the pain of staying the same hurts more than whatever it is you’re going through.” For me, that one’s a nice way of basically saying that real change occurs when you’re sick of your own bullshit–sick of caving in, sick of disappointing yourself, sick of insanity. I had to first get sick of letting myself down before I was in the position to create actual change. It was like the prerequisite to my transformation. It was only then that I finally had the mental capacity to create real boundaries with myself and do what needed to be done. Did I struggle through it? Yes. But I’d remind myself who I was. I’d pray. I’d read those quotes. And I’d do whatever it took in order to heal my mind, body, and soul.


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