Commentaries & Essays
10:46 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Confessions of a Juicer

Janis Jaquith

Remember the chipper scene from Fargo? Frances McDormand is investigating a homicide when she finds a man who is feeding Steve Buscemi’s leg into a wood chipper.

Last year, when I became a juicer, whenever I picked up a long, thick stalk of celery and fed it into my juicing machine, that ear-splitting whine of the motor, plus my hand pushing down on the stalk, made me think of the chipper and Buscemi’s sock-footed leg.

This is what happens when a carnivore goes vegan.

Now, I have no philosophical reason for turning vegan. I just wanted to be skinny. And so, I went on a juice fast. Nothing but homemade fruit and vegetable juices. I wanted to see how long I could stand it, and how many of those extra pounds I could lose.

If you’re wondering how anyone could be persuaded to do this, then you have not seen the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.It was made by an Australian, Joe Cross. He was one of those guys who look like they’re in their third trimester. Others in the documentary were dealing with migraines and autoimmune disease.The point of the movie is that many illnesses, like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are caused by what we consume: the sodas, carbs, dairy, and meat.

Even worse, we’re not consuming the plants that could lengthen our lives.
Juice fasting is a way to maximize nutrition and minimize calories in order to “reboot” our bodies as we shed pounds and get our cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure under control. And that’s what happens to Joe Cross in the movie. He goes through a 60-day juice fast, under medical supervision (strongly recommended for anyone fasting more than a few days), and he becomes healthy as the fat melts away.

Hm. How long would I be able to stay on a juice fast? A few days, maybe.

Here’s what I discovered: These juices are good, even when they look like something siphoned from a swamp. When you juice dark green veggies like kale and chard, if you add a few apples and a lemon, you get a terrific drink.

I loved getting up every morning, just to weigh myself. Weight loss has always been a challenge. But now that I was juicing, the numbers went down, down, down.The days passed, and I was a happy juicer at breakfast and lunch. But, oh, the protein fantasies came on at sunset! Visions of roast chicken haunted me as I fed the veggies into the juicer. Every night I’d think: If only this thing was a meat grinder, we’d be having hamburgers for supper.

What would happen when the fast ended? Would I go nuts? Gain it all back? I astonished myself by staying on this juice fast for a full thirty days. A month of nothing but juice! 

When a friend said she had given up chocolate for Lent, I trumped her by saying I had given up chewing.

When it was over, I followed a plant-based transition plan for several days, which prevented a feeding frenzy. I lost 10 pounds during the fast, and have continued to lose about a pound a month ever since, for a total of 18 pounds.

What’s weird is that, for all my fantasizing about tender, aromatic animal flesh during the fast, the moment I came off it, what I was jonesing for was vegetables. I couldn’t get enough salad, and chewing was never so satisfying.I feel like my brain has been reprogrammed.

Yes, I do have meat from time to time, but seldom eat bread, or grains of any kind. I feel great.  

When you leave your comfort zone, you never know what will happen. Could be good health and weight loss, could be your colleague in the wood chipper. You don’t try, you’ll never know.

Janis Jaquith of Charlottesville reads her essay.