The raw food diet has taken London by storm. Tanya Maher, who formerly worked as a Raw Food Coach, recently opened Tanya’s Cafe in Chelsea, which serves organic raw food dishes and also houses a superfood cocktail bar, she tells The Resident why we should go raw

What are your primary aims at Tanya’s Café?
Our focus is to offer the healthiest and best quality meals that are equally as tasty. This means that we only use organically grown, hand-picked, ethically sourced ingredients, that are of course raw living and we keep them this way. We don’t cook anything and our dehydrators don’t heat the food above 47ºC, which preserves all the nutrients, vitamins and enzymes in every dish we offer at the café.

Do you believe that people are more interested in healthy eating than they were five years ago?
Absolutely! I moved to London from New Zealand five years ago and explaining to people that I was a raw food coach was challenging enough, but telling them that such a thing as healthy chocolate exists left the majority in hysterics. Now I find myself having to explain the meaning of ‘raw’ less and less and people are coming to their own conclusion that there’s vegetarian, there is vegan and then there is also raw.

Is using gluten and dairy-free ingredients more of a challenge?
We don’t only not use gluten or dairy, but meat, refined-sugar, non-organic ingredients and non-fermented soy don’t enter our premises either. Doing something so new is always a challenge, especially when it comes to finding suppliers and ordering from so many different sources, but we are privileged to be able to offer something so unique. Our staff are happier and very proud of being part of such a beautiful movement in a beautiful setting.

Do you think that more restaurants should try gluten and dairy-free?
It’s not up to me to tell others what they should be doing, but I know that people like to have a choice. I also know that when presented with a choice and the taste isn’t compromised, we usually go for the healthier alternative.

What made you want to do things this way?
When I was a teenager I broke my back and inflamed my pancreas after a car crash, and healed very well on raw vegetable juices. At that time, I wasn’t conscious of the fact that it was the nutrients in the raw food that were doing this, all I was concerned with was how to keep the food in me. My body completely rejected any hospital foods and intuitively asked for what it knew would be crucial for it. Then in my early 20s, I read about the healing power of raw foods and it quickly occurred to me what happened all those years ago. It was like a massive light bulb moment and I knew that I didn’t want to wait to be sick again, if I could prevent getting ill and explore the raw food diet, it made sense for me to do just that. I haven’t looked back since. And I haven’t had a flu since either.

What are your plans for 2015?
I’ve just signed a contract with Hay House for a beautiful full-colour raw food recipe book and it will be out in September 2015. We are also looking to open another Tanya’s (maybe even two?)* and launch some of our very own products. Watch this space.

What are your top detox tips?
My top tip is to not be afraid of detoxing and just do it. It’s a good thing when toxins are releasing and for some of us, they have been piling up for dozens of years. Citrus targets fat cells, so begin each day with a warm water and lemon; raw food has all the enzymes to get your digestion going, so make it all about the raw. Dry skin brushing gets all of your lymph moving, while clearing away any dry skin that blocks breathing pores, so make it a daily habit.

35 Ixworth Place SW3 3QX, tanyascafe.com

*Since this article was written Tanya has opened a new café in Parsons Green 

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