Organic Avenue’s got a new direction, and so does its raw-vegan visionary-founder Denise Mari.
Since she sold her controlling stake in the company to Weld North, Mari’s entered the next phase of her journey towards bringing good, vibrant health (through good, vibrant food) to as many people as possible.
On April 22, she debuted her first book, Organic Avenue: Recipes for Life, Made with Love, which shares her personal story of conversion to a raw, vegan diet, breaks down the tenets of her LOVE (Live Organic Vegan Experience) philosophy, shares cleansing plans and guidelines, and provides recipes for juices, smoothies, salads, and more.
She also completed a yoga teacher training with Dharma Mittra and is opening Mari Manor in Westhampton Beach, a “Bed and Cleanse” that will serve organic, vegan meals, and eventually host wellness retreats. (Not to mention rumblings we’ve heard of another project, but more on that later.)
Each project, she says, is simply another step on the same path. “It’s the same mission as with Organic Avenue and everything I do—to really present the lifestyle in a way that attracts people to it and shows them how they can do it,” she says. We caught up with the vegan visionary to find out more about her future plans.
What was your main focus in putting the book together? This one is really focused on the first phase that Organic Avenue was focused on—juicing, cleansing, and raw foods, whereas I could see future books incorporating more cooked foods and everyday foods to eat when you’re not cleansing. I think for me, though, I was really blessed to find raw foods and juicing right when I did…. I realized I didn’t want to harm animals anymore, and I had a desire to feed myself the healthiest food possible. I dipped into the vegan world and learned about the real foundation of a pure vegan lifestyle—fruits and vegetables! And ultimately I believe raw and less processed is the best foundation for everyone.
But for people who are new to this kind of diet, won’t that be more difficult? Why not transition gradually? Some people think you should transition through cooked food and comfort vegan food and then come to cleansing, but I say I was really fortunate to sort of plunge into the juicing and raw foods so I could create a foundation there, and I think that really saved my life. Food is really addictive, and there’s a period of time of complete abstinence where you can really regroup yourself on what you want, and the cleansing process gives you that clarity. It clears your body and your mind and spirit so you can become that channel for greater information, and you can’t really do that if you’re just weaning yourself. Eventually you’ll get there, but your addictive tendencies will be there, so it’s hard to do.
Interesting. You’ve been sharing wellness guidance like this for a long time. What made you decide to go do a yoga teacher training at this point in your career? Will we see you on a studio schedule soon? I didn’t have the time during Organic Avenue days. I used to practice with Dharma Mittra a good ten years ago. This past winter, I picked up the DVDs, and I was like “Why did I stop going? This person is a living guru!” It sort of changed my life yet again and gave me another aspect of my lifestyle practice that I can incorporate. I have more empowerment now, and I love to share yoga, raw foods, and meditation. I see myself as a teacher, but I don’t know how that will be revealed. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, check out Organic Avenue: Recipes for Life, Made with Love