Vanda Dita Gallo began modeling as a teenager, and following the industry standard, soon became a serial dieter, which left her body weak and essentially unable to tolerate food. Adopting a vegan diet set her on the road to health, but it wasn't until going raw that the Slovakian native's mind, body, and spirit really began to glow with health and vitality. In the spring of 2015, she launched She's All Raw to share her message of positive living and encourage others to make healthier food choices. Here, the model, entrepreneur, and raw-living goddess shares her path to wellness--and her favorite vegan cheesecake recipe.
You were raised in rural Slovakia. What was your childhood like?
I call my childhood a "paradise childhood" and wish every kid could experience the same. I grew up in a small village in the middle of mountain In a house surrounded by trees and flowers. Every day I walked to school, played in the forest with my friends, and did a lot of nature sport, such as running and climbing trees. My mother still lives in the same house and I return often to relax and meditate.
You had interesting eating habits even as a child. Tell us about that!
Since my early years I ate quite little, preferring mostly fruits and greens. I chewed my food a lot--it would take me over 30 minutes to eat. It drove everybody crazy! It makes me laugh when I think back on it. The cooks at school and also my parents were mad because I wasn't interested in eating meat. As punishment, they made me sit at the table until I finished all my food on plate. Of course, I never did! But my belief now is that children follow their natural intuition when making food choices, and establish eating habits based on their natural senses.
How did you decide to go vegan?
I never liked or supported meat-eating, but as people around me didn’t accept this fact, I was raised as a meat eater. Eating meat later become a habit. Plus. I was born with anemia, and doctors said I needed to eat a lot of meat. I was also raised to believe that meat and dairy products are the only protein sources.
I'd heard of veganism, but never really explored it too deeply. But then I met a vegan friend who explained the health benefits of the diet, and that completely changed my way of looking at it. After this introduction, I was hungry for more information and began reading, listening, and asking a lot of questions. The more I asked, the more I was sure that this was for me.
At that time, my metabolism was already ruined by hundreds of diets from modeling; I wasn't able to digest food well always felt bad after eating. It was not an easy period.
What changes did you notice once you decided to eliminate meat and dairy from yoru diet?
I knew it was the right thing to do, but what I didn't anticipate was the major detox my body was about to experience! The first week, I had stomach aches and head aches, followed by serious skin eruptions that forced me to cancel all my upcoming modeling work. It was not easy. My family and friends was questioning my decision a lot that time and tried to change my mind. But day after day I felt progressively better. I've never regretted my decision!
What compelled you to switch to a raw-food lifestyle?
Since going vegan, I became intrigued by raw foodists and wanted to better understand their philosophy, so I read their stories, and researched the facts. I picked up a very interesting biography of Victoria Boutenko, and found it so inspiring. I could really relate to her story. That summer, I began eating as much fresh food possible. I tried many recipes from the book and others online.
Suddenly, I was full of energy--stronger, happier, and my natural senses got better and I start to feel the real pleasure and taste of the simple natural food. My skin, hair, and nails became healthier, too. People noticed the change right away, and I was feeling better than ever. Raw was perfect for me--even in winter, though I was drinking a lot more herb tea than before! I think that was an natural way of my body to stay warm!
Other benefits I experienced after a switch to raw foods was all a lot more mental energy and positive emotions. I stopped getting sick and felt stronger. My body began developing visible muscles from yoga, I was sleeping better, and depression, negative thoughts, or feelings of exhaustion lifted.
You just launched She's All Raw. What are you goals for this project?
To educate people. Not on turning raw, necessarily, but on eating more fresh food. Even 50 percent raw is good! It's also a platform for sharing the benefits of healthy plant foods and showing people it can be tasty, too.
I’m also developing my own brand of green smoothies and raw breads in Slovakia to show people how easy and great the lifestyle is. They'll be sold in organic shops and cafes as healthy snack options.
What advice or words of wisdom would you give to anyone who is considering a raw vegan lifestyle?
From personal experience, my advice would be to do it step by step. Do not rush. Listen to your body and tune into its needs. Learn to meditate to understand your body better. Ease into it by eating more fresh foods, and try green smoothies also to acclimate your body to consuming more greens.
It's so important never to rush things or to be too fanatic about them. Keep your eyes open your ears clear and do things that make sense to you. Deep inside yourself, you know what is best for you!
The Short List: 6 Quick Qs & As
Favorite holiday destination:
HOME! (Slovakia.) The place where I was born, surrounded by mountains, greens and fresh air. We have a garden and there is nothing better than to eat food you grow on your own and relax in the middle of a virgin nature.
42 Degrés in Paris and Go Raw Cafe in Las Vegas, I like to indulge sometimes with some good old raw cake or raw ice cream. My boyfriend is a cook also and sometimes can be really creative in preparing raw dishes for me. He supports me a lot. also!
Daily Food Routine:
I usually start my day with good warm English tea and yoga, followed by a green smoothie and after some fresh fruit lunch. As a snack I prefer fruit or a raw-seed snack or a fresh squeezed fruit juice. and diner is usually something green, like a big salad. It changes every day according to how I feel it and what my body recently tell me it needs.
Favorite Beauty Products:
I'm faithful to 100 percent rosehip oil--it's perfect for skin! I also use coconut and raspberry oil as a skin creams and turmeric and strawberries to whiten my teeth. Sometimes I'll use nettle or chamomile tea as a hair rinse. I use Yves Rocher products, too!
Love your inner you. Be your own best friend and love and care of yourself as much as you can. Give yourself a break. Keep your body in shape and feed it only good stuff, because it is your temple. Also, balance is the answer to everything. Say no to dieting!
Favorite Way to Relax:
Yoga. It's perfect because I can do it anywhere. I just need my yoga mat! Nature is very relaxing for me. I just sit back, relax, and listen, or watching the night sky, or climbing a tree. A good old hot bath, works, too, with a and book or a movie.
Vanda's Luscious Raspberry-Vanilla Cheesecake
For the crust
1,5 cups almond or cashew nuts
1,5 cups buckwheat seeds
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
For the "cheese" topping
2 and half cup of cashew nuts (let them soak in water for at least 20 min)
4 cup of fresh strawberries, raspberries, or both
½ cup of agave
½ cup of filter water
½ cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla
a pinch of sea salt
To Prepare Crust
Mix almonds and buckwheat in blender than add the rest of ingredients for the crust. Press into a cake pan and let chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
To Prepare Topping
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the berries and blend it until creamy. Set aside the cheese mixture, leaving 1/4 of the cashew cream in the blender. Add the berries and puree until smooth.
Spoon the reserved 3/4 portion of the cheese topping onto the crust and refrigerate for a minimum 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator, and spoon the remaining berry-cheese puree, and refrigerate for another hour before serving.
Cover photo by Peter Reefe Kováč