Interview: Maranda Pleasant
Maranda Pleasant: You haven’t eaten cooked foods in ten years! Do people think you’re crazy?
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram: Changing my diet changed my life. And not just my life, but my entire world. My body, my mind, my career, my family, and my community. Does it sound mundane to say that eating a FullyRaw vegan diet completely changed me? Does it sound crazy to say that I haven’t eaten a cooked meal in ten years? Am I an extremist because I haven’t eaten any meat, dairy, pastas, breads, rice, etc. in ten years, and I choose to eat only foods that make me feel good and alive? The answer is YES to all of those questions. Yup, it all sounds totally crazy. But, it’s true.
MP: You’ve changed a lot over the years. What happened?
KCB: I went from being a little Lebanese-Ecuadorian girl who had just graduated with three majors in the top of her class striving to be a potter, an artist, while working night shifts as a calculus tutor to a woman who risked it all to run her own produce co-op in Houston and inspire health. I’ve given the past ten years to my passion. I’ve sacrificed so many opportunities, lost too many loved ones, dealt with massive betrayals, witnessed some of my closest friends take advantage of me/my businesses, healed from two horrible heartbreaks, said goodbye to people I thought cared about me, hit puberty at 26 with a public audience, was left to support my family financially, and more. Do the details matter? No. What does matter is this: All of these challenges were growth opportunities that finally opened my heart to experience vulnerability and follow the inspiration, the light, within my soul. Each experience has transformed me into a stronger, more intimate, more passionate woman. I may be left with a few scars, but ultimately, I am more beautiful because of them.
MP: Why did you start eating FullyRaw? At what moment did you decide you could overcome your illness?
KCB: When I was 18, I went FullyRaw vegan and I haven’t turned back since. I am now 28 years old. I run three of my own companies in Texas, and they are growing and developing daily. All three of them are sisters and work together to inspire greater health within our community, and this world. My story began at 16 when I was diagnosed with hyperglycemia, the onset of type 2 diabetes. I was 5″6′ and 87 pounds at my sickest point. I spent too much time going in and out of hospitals, and I nearly didn’t graduate from high school because I had so many sick days. I wasn’t alive. I wasn’t living. I didn’t know the difference between depression and pain. Was this a rock bottom moment in my life? Yes, but now that I see it in hindsight, it was the greatest gift given to me. My sickness was my biggest growth opportunity, and I took it.
MP: You made the change in one night? How and why? What does it feel like to hit rock bottom, and what tools can you give our readers to inspire them towards greater health?
KCB: Hitting rock bottom literally feels like a moment of life or death—or maybe you feel dead because the emotions are too mulled together to notice a difference. When you’re that thin, that frail, that sick, that depressed, you either try everything you can to try and get better, or you just give up. To some, it may seem
extreme to switch to eating a raw vegan diet overnight, but I didn’t really feel as if I had a choice because nothing else had worked for me. I grew up on my mother’s Lebanese food and my father’s Ecuadorean food, both heavy in meats and oils. I basically ate fat, salt, and oil growing up as a child, and the only fruit I ate was in the Summer when we would cut open a watermelon and share it. God brought me an angel in a grocery store named John Rose who randomly approached me and started talking to me about juicing and eating raw. I thought he was a “rabbit man” when I first met him, but it wasn’t until I got out of the hospital again at my lowest point that I called him up and said, “I am desperate. I have never tried anything alternative before, but what the doctors are telling me isnt’ working. I am willing to do whatever it takes.” We met at a Whole Foods, and he educated me about REAL health. He told me to pick my favorite fruit and eat it for two weeks straight. I told him I couldn’t do that because I had blood sugar issues. He said that the sugar in fruit is different, and that I could heal myself on a plant-based diet. I was 87 pounds at the time, and I walked out of that store with 80 lbs. of peaches to last me the next 3 days.
MP: Do you have any grave health issues today?
KCB: Within three days of eating FullyRaw, or an abundance of raw, organic, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, I noticed a difference in my health. No migraines, no dizziness, no nausea, less depression, fewer blood sugar issues. After a month I knew I was hooked, but I never told myself that I wasn’t going to eat cooked food
ever again. I merely told myself I wanted to eat what made me FEEL good and happy. After a year and a half of learning to LOVE the feeling of health, I was free of my hyperglycemia, and I have not been back to a hospital for health issues (or any related issue) since.
MP: How did your story inspire your lifestyle? How did this lead you to create three successful businesses, all about raw foods?!
KCB: My health success story of overcoming hyperglycemia is what inspired me to start a food co-op. I run an organic produce cooperative in Houston called Rawfully Organic, and it is now the largest organic/vegan/raw produce co-operative in the U.S. My intention was merely to afford feeding my family quality organic produce. After helping to start up the Tuesday farmer’s market on Rice University campus, I decided I wanted something “closer to home” and with more produce options. I started the co-op with about seven to twelve people in my living room about nine years ago. It went from being a small neighbor-to-neighbor pick-up in my garage to having three locations, a home delivery service, and over 52,000 members in the Houston area alone.
Seeing the number of people who needed access to quality food, seeing the need for local produce, the need to help local farmers, and seeing HOW MANY people really needed help with their health is what truly inspired me to grow this venture. The mission: to HELP people and to help change our food system as we know it. My passion was no longer just to feed my family, but an entire city.
MP: At what point did you start making YouTube videos and why?
KCB: Rawfully Organic gave birth to FullyRaw, which was my mission to educate people on how to eat healthy raw foods. Families were going home with their boxes of produce and LOVING the freshness, but no one knew what to do with kale, or swiss chard, or arugula, especially since it didn’t look like the produce they were used to getting in grocery stores. So I started my YouTube channel. One of my first videos ever was me coming home from co-op, setting the box on the counter, and making
a smoothie in just a few minutes with the ingredients from the box. That’s it. With the help of our community and the online vegan community, my channel grew rapidly. It’s been nearly three years that I have had my channel, and I’m almost at 700K subscribers, and these supportive and health-inspired friends aren’t just in Texas, they are all over the world.
MP: Are you just an “Instagram Star”?
KCB: The other day someone called me “an Instagram star,” and I got upset. I got upset because that’s not who I am. I am not just an online figure or on YouTube. My main work is in the community. That’s where my passion started, that’s where I am rooted, and that’s where my heart is: changing our local and organic food systems to be sustainable and educate our WORLD on why eating CLEAN, REAL, PLANTBASED, RAW FOODS is the BEST for our bodies.
MP: You always seem so happy in your posts and videos. Do you ever have bad days?!
KCB: HELL YES, I have super terrible horrible heart-shattering disappointing shouldn’t get out of bed days…and I have them TOO frequently. HOWEVER, I made a commitment to myself LONG ago never to give up. Even my bad days now are not as bad as my rock bottom points that I experienced before I found this lifestyle. Even on the worst days, I still show up and do the work. I do it because I know that people, even if just a few, are looking to me as an example. People underestimate what it takes. My biggest vice is sleeping four hours a night. I’ve done this for about eight years now just to keep my businesses and my life thriving and I still run six to ten miles a day! It’s continuing to do what you love even when shit hits the fan. That’s passion. The shit list I mentioned above, I choose to call all of those blessings in my life. The illness, the heartbreak, the pain, the betrayal, all of it made me into a stronger woman. To shift my mentality, I think of the phoenix and how it rose from the ashes, I think of the things that bring me strength and joy, I count my blessings, and I spend time with those whom I love. This love lifts me up. People don’t realize what it takes to heal your mind and body, and it’s not a shift that happens overnight. It takes time, but when you do it right,
you develop the skills to strengthen your soul and find light in even the darkest of moments.
My social media has become more personal to me and has become an outlet of expression apart from my work where people can get to know me, Kristina, apart from my companies. I’ve learned to be open and vulnerable rather than holding it all in. It sets me free.
MP: What is your next big thing?
KCB: My most recent baby is my first book called The FullyRaw Diet coming out in January everywhere. I am honored and excited to be able to share my story, my recipes, and more with so many people.
FULLYRAW.com | Instagram: @fullyrawkristina