“Society is full of people chasing stuff that will kill them. Each day we decide to wake up or go to sleep; to engage in life or escape it; to grow a garden or go to Vegas.” Aaron Yaris could be a preacher, maybe even a prophet. He’s a big man with a booming voice who intones memorable phrases with pronounced certainty. Like the Prodigal Son, he’s visited the edge of excess and returned to testify how life should be lived. In Aaron’s case, excess took the form of overeating. He keeps a photo of his immense girth before his epiphany. Aaron lost over 200 pounds, took up exercise, and became a raw vegan. Now his fitness and food regimen is his way of life. “Meat makes you feel sated. But I overdid it. I ate like eight hamburgers. After I lost weight I had energy. I walked, then started biking. I was empty-minded in the beginning. I felt invincible. Then I found obstacles, but I just kept getting back up.”
Aaron met his partner Marian at the Hog Farm, Wavy Gravy’s commune, “a place where people are expressing themselves without outside interference; no money, no mortgages.” Marian grew up in a Lesbian community outside Portland, OR; Aaron was born to hippie parents and adopted by a pair of college intellectuals. They lead a home-centered life. Their living room is home school classroom for their five children, ages one through nine. Their kitchen looks like a lab; jars raw vegan food in various stages of fermentation. Their spare bedroom is an office; they both work from home in the medical marijuana business. Despite somewhat unorthodox backgrounds, Marian feels unsupported by how her family lives. “My parents have offered to pay tuition for the kids in private school, but they won’t help us home school.”
“My body is a gift.” Aaron has a keen appreciation for his trimmer self. “I had to learn to eat well because my metabolism burns energy slow. When we cook our food, we have a physical degradation of our bodies and a mental degradation of our psyches. Cooking our food is an extension of eating the apple in Eden. We will go to great lengths to have cooked food.”
Aaron is also aware how his new way of being moderates his labile temperament. “I am an extremely unbalanced person. I’m celebratory, high energy, then depressed. I have this Joseph Campbell thing to ‘follow your bliss’. I find it on my bike. The bike is more than a means of transportation. It is a form of enlightenment.”
Aaron is proud of being radical, “You’re not going to meet anyone more ‘out there’ than me.” Yet, because he and Marian live in opposition to so many norms, their family is bound tight. “Americans have more stuff and artificial choices, but we are actually the most oppressed people in the world.”
Aaron and Marian also believe that their way of living is ultimately sustainable. “The ecological impact of meat is immense. One pound of beef takes 2000 gallons of fresh water to produce. California is the canary in the water mine. It hasn’t hit the rest of the world yet.” But when it does, being raw vegan won’t seem radical. It will seem prophetic.
How will we live tomorrow?
“If I said how could we live, I think it is going vegan. The world isn’t made peaceful by wearing an Ohm tattoo. Check your carbon footprint and change.” – Marian