Yovana Mendoza
  • Yovana Mendoza
  • Post Title: Fruit of the Matter
  • Post Date: September 30, 2013

“I felt like I needed a detox from my life,” Yovana Mendoza explains early into our visit to the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market, moments before cracking open a “White Genoa” fig. “I was always a really big party girl. Alcohol, not eating right, calorie restricting — very unhealthy patterns. [So] I went to the Optimum Health Institute here in San Diego. It’s a detox place where you go and eat raw food and do juice cleanses. I was initially going for a week but I decided to stay two weeks because I loved it. I loved the feeling of eating raw.”

That was last January, when Yovana was still living in Mexico City. Raised in San Diego and matriculated in Paris, Yovana moved back to SD last summer; today she’s better known across the internet as Rawvana, one of the leading voices (in both English and Spanish) championing the low-fat raw vegan diet known as 80/10/10.

In the 80/10/10 diet, 80 percent of one’s diet consists of carbohydrates from fruits, 10 percent from protein found in greens, and 10 percent from fats found in nuts and avocados. Alcohol, coffee, foods prepared over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and (of course) animal products are contraindicated.

The upshot? Yovana reports feeling “more energy, more vitality, and very clear-minded. Some people think that you’re not getting enough protein or that you’re going to be weak if you eat this way, but it’s the other way around.” (We’d also like to add that her skin is radiant.) You’ll notice that same energy electrifies her Instagram feed, a kaleidoscope of bisected watermelons, lustrous grapes, smoothies, and dragonfruit snapped against forest backdrops and city skylines.

Magnetic and cheerfully knowledgeable, Yovana met up with us at the Sunday farmers’ market in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. As we wandered in and out of the vendor tents, we talked smoothies, sniffed peppers, and shopped for the raw vegan feast that Yovana would make for us later that day.

“Most of the day I’m eating fruit, three to four pounds, depending how active I am,” says Yovana. A typical daily menu might look like this: first thing in the morning, she drinks two liters of water infused overnight with lemon, oranges, and mint; about 30 minutes later, breakfast might be half a watermelon or a whole honeydew (“something really refreshing and hydrating”); a post-gym smoothie includes four bananas blended with celery in the Vitamix.

Lunch is often a “monomeal” — that is, “I pick one type of fruit and eat that until I’m satisfied. The other day I had ten peaches for lunch so I took a picture of that and put it up.” More fruit precedes dinner and dinner itself might be a yummy zucchini pasta on a bed of greens and topped with a spicy tomato dressing, the same dish we would prepare that afternoon. Yovana buys most of her produce wholesale from Specialty Produce, which gives her a discount because she buys “in boxes, in bulk.”

She started blogging last spring, which eventually led to her popular YouTube channel featuring videos in both English and Spanish. The idea to go public with her lifestyle — including the “Rawvana” name — was kindled at a wedding in Mexico City.

“As soon as I arrived at the wedding everybody [was saying], ‘Oh, you look so good, you look amazing. What are you doing?’ Because I’d lost a little bit of weight. I started telling them about my new lifestyle, that I’m only eating raw fruits and vegetables and that I’d decided not to drink. One of my best friends started calling me ‘Rawvana’ at the wedding.”

Despite that enthusiasm (and over 10,000 followers on Instagram), Yovana says she doesn’t “have that many friends here who follow my lifestyle.” When she goes out to eat, “I might bring dates in my bag. Sometimes even a banana.”

During our interview, she was preparing to leave for an internship with Dr. Douglas Graham, who literally wrote the book on the 80/10/10 diet. Thankfully, before she left for Washington, Yovana made a spectacular lunch for us, a tribute to her current interest in dressings and everlasting love for pepper: “I always use serrano. That’s my staple — because I’m Mexican, and we love spicy,” she says.

[Post edited for length]

Title: The Horticult | Address: thehorticult.com

Author: Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit | From: La Jolla | Blogging since: March 2013

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