Amber Locke is the creator of Raw Vegan Blonde, a website that celebrates the diversity and dietary benefits of raw, plant-based food.
Since starting an Instagram account a little over a year ago, Amber has amassed a litany of followers and her beautiful fruit and vegetable-inspired montages have featured in numerous editorials and advertising campaigns.
Curious to know more about what is still considered by many to be a rather radical lifestyle, I invited Amber to share some insights.
What inspired you to start eating raw vegan food?
My inspiration to start eating raw came from the supermodel and face of Ralph Lauren, Valentina Zelyaeva. I first read about her super-healthy lifestyle in an article on vogue.co.uk in May last year and I became hooked on her fascinating blog. Before this I'd never come across the concept of raw foods and her inspirational posts on juicing, smoothies, health and wellness opened up a whole new world of nutrition to me. I decided to try the raw food lifestyle as an experiment and was so blown away by how incredible it made me feel that I just carried on.
Are the benefits just physical, or has living this way had an effect on your spiritual and emotional wellbeing, too?
The beauty of raw food is that it’s such a great and delicious way to fuel yourself. We’re all encouraged to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into our diets and in their raw form they’re typically more nutrient-dense, alkalizing and easier to digest so they feed and nourish your body with pure, living, high-vitality foods which it absolutely loves.
As well as the fantastic health benefits I find it gives me incredible energy, vastly improved mental clarity and a general feeling of calmness, harmony and well-being. My skin has developed a real glow and my hair grows so fast! I also think I’ve become far more in tune with my body and very aware of how what I eat can dramatically affect how I feel both physically and emotionally.
Were your friends and family supportive when you changed your lifestyle?
They were a little sceptical at first but gradually came around to the idea, especially when they noticed what a positive impact it was having on my health and vitality.
How do you deal with critical opinions?
I haven’t really encountered any critical opinion yet, just curiosity. Everyone is different and food choices are a very personal thing so I certainly don’t like to preach or judge, but I’m really happy to share the knowledge I’ve gathered and my personal experiences if people are interested.
What do you eat on a typical day?
I like to start the day with a big glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in to it. I’m not a big breakfast person so I usually make a kale-based green juice. For lunch I’ll have a big green smoothie and some seasonal fruit plus lots of infused water to sip throughout the day. For supper I have a HUGE salad with a yummy dressing and then later in the evening I might have a bowl of fruit salad or a piece of raw chocolate if I’m still hungry – that’s my ideal day, it doesn’t always work out like that but it’s what I aim for on a daily basis. (A big bonus is that you can eat as much as your appetite dictates and never have to count the calories!)
Are there any specialised preparation techniques to learn?
Preparing raw food is really simple; it’s quick, easy, requires very little washing up, there’s virtually no waste and there are no complicated recipes to navigate. I haven't experimented with dehydrating yet, but there are loads of interesting techniques to try out if you fancy, such as sprouting (which is really easy), fermenting, making nut cheeses and raw chocolate etc.
Which items of kitchen equipment do you find most essential?
My favourite gadget is my Blendtec high speed blender which makes wonderful silky-smooth smoothies, ‘whole juices’, raw soups, salad dressing and nut butters. This is the one piece of equipment which really transformed my raw food prep.
How easy is it to find something to eat when you're not at home?
I try to be prepared. If I’m travelling during the day I’ll often take a juice or smoothie and fresh fruit with me. If I’m eating out, depending on the venue, I’ll choose a big salad and maybe take a bottle of homemade dressing with me ... or I’ll just choose the healthiest and greenest option possible.
If you were to throw the ultimate raw vegan dinner party what would you serve?
As this diet is one of abundance and ‘food freedom’ it would be a party of plenty, so there would be lots to choose from. I’d ideally hold it outside in the summer in the little English country village where I live, and have huge soft cushions and throws scattered on the lawn so we could chat, mingle and eat casually rather than sit around a formal dinner table. I’d decorate everywhere with garlands of greenery and summer flowers, light a fire in an outside fireplace, have lots of scented candles and put fairy lights in all the trees so that as the sun went down the garden would come alive with little twinkling lights and lovely fragrances.
I’d serve a selection of fresh cold-pressed juices, infused waters and juice-based cocktails served over ice in beautiful glassware and pass around platters of mixed crudités and dips to nibble on before supper.
There would be a huge buffet table set up to choose and graze from and it would be filled with big platters piled high with vibrant and colourful salads topped with sprouted seeds, edible flowers and fresh herbs and I’d serve a selection of delicious and unusual dressings alongside. I’d also serve some of my favourite classics like spaghetti bolognese, curried coconut noodles and pasta carbonara – all raw versions of course!
For dessert we’d have big platters of sliced tropical fruits, a selection of raw ice creams and fruit sorbets (vanilla, chocolate, coconut, strawberry, banana, blueberry, mango) and individual cups of raw dark and white chocolate mousses with a variety toppings; frozen berries, bee pollen, crushed nuts, cacao nibs, chunks of marinated fruits, fresh coconut and freshly picked sweet wild strawberries.
Everyone would have a gift bag to take home filled with salted caramel raw brownies, a little bunch of herbs and flowers from the garden and a mini version of some of the scented candles I had lit at the party. I hope it would be a memorable night.
And who would you invite...?
I’d invite all the amazing friends I’ve made on social media. Joining Instagram really changed my life so this party would be a celebration of all our shared interests, love, support and friendships.