West of Friendship Beach, close to the southernmost tip of Phuket lies the Wellness House. It is the home and workplace for Dr. Richard Cracknell, a triathlete, chiropractor, acupuncturist, healer, life coach and a well-versed raw food cook (Or non-cook, in this case). He makes his living in Phuket healing those who come to him, and providing counsel to those in need of it. He hosts people from around the world who come for natural detox and healing sessions. Some people stay for a day, some stay for a week. They all come out healthier, and appreciative of the help they received. Among his most notable services, and the reason for our visit to his enclave, are his Thursday morning raw-food prep classes, which myself and two brave volunteers, one already a vegetarian, the other a committed carnivore, were lucky enough to attend.
Dr. Cracknell first gave us a lesson in the nature of food; why we eat the way we do, and how to eat healthier. “Look at your teeth. It’s been noted that only 12% of our teeth are meant for meat. Humans are omnivores. We’re meant to eat everything, but meat just isn’t healthy for us.” The 64-year old triathlete told us how he first stopped eating all meat, except for chicken and fish. Then, he took out fish. He then became a full on vegetarian, then a raw vegan. The process spanned about four years.
“Food today is heavily modified. Vegetables and fruits are injected with pesticides, and animals are full of hormones and painkillers. When you eat a steak, you’re also eating everything that cow was poisoned with. An animal in a farm dies in pain and anguish. That energy flows into the food, and you eat it. I think that’s quite harmful.” After spending time doing research, he decided he would take the challenge: going vegan. Four years later, the results of his experiments are in his shop, for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment.
We followed five recipes; pesto sauce, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, combined them into a lasagna and then made chocolate brownies. We made each sauce from scratch with ingredients that Dr. Cracknell provided. With each step, he asked us for the next ingredient, helping us to remember the recipes. As we finished each sauce, we took a taste test. The verdict was unanimous: we made the best pesto, tomato and ricotta cheese sauces we had ever tasted.
Impressed with our saucy creations, we moved to the lasagna. We peeled strips of raw zucchini and layered them with each of the sauces, as you would with regular lasagna. After the addition of garnish, the finished product was on the plate.
We were all surprised. It was the quickest lunch we had ever made. After eating it, we concluded that it was also the tastiest. We learned that the best part about raw food isn’t just its health benefits, it is also the ease and convenience of preparing it. Our entire view of vegan cooking changed, and the transition started with our taste buds. Oh, and our committed carnivore isn’t so committed anymore.
In addition to the wellness house, Dr. Cracknell runs a shop and restaurant where he sells vegan cookies, power bars and breakfast bars; all made on site using natural ingredients and homemade dehydrators.
As of December 1st, his restaurant will become fully organic, which provides the people of Phuket even more incentive to go and try the food. The class goes from 9:00 A.M. until noon, and costs 2,500 Baht. If you can spare a Thursday morning from the beach to go learn from Dr. Cracknell, you should do it, the experience is worth it.