Vegan lifestyle suits Ortiz well

February 13, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - When Tanya Ortiz first adopted the vegan lifestyle, she was doing it just for herself.

But now, the Williamsport native is determined to bring this new way of eating and living to as many people as she can in her new role as a teacher.

"I teach people how to eat a raw food vegan diet," Ortiz said.

Now living in a new home in Falling Waters, W.Va., she has a large kitchen complete with a dining area she can use as a classroom.

Certified as a raw food instructor since September, Ortiz studied with a doctor in Silver Spring, Md., who helped her when she first started on her journey.


Unhappy with how she looked when she went to pick out her wedding gown, Ortiz became a raw food vegan and lost 35 pounds between September 2006 and March 2007.

The weight loss was fantastic, but Ortiz said she was unprepared for the other benefits.

"I have lots of energy now, am no longer a borderline diabetic nor am I tired all the time," Ortiz said.

She began learning a lot of recipes and quickly found some books were much more informative and realistic than others. When she decided to use all of the knowledge she had learned, Ortiz realized it now was a career as well as her passion.

She conducts group classes as well as one-on-one instruction.

"Most people starting out on the raw food vegan diet are used to the full feeling they got from eating," Ortiz said. On the raw food vegan diet, that doesn't happen and it takes some getting used to.

When she teaches, Ortiz stresses that she doesn't expect everyone to make a complete changeover. Even she has left herself some wiggle room.

"I eat raw food all week and then on the weekend, I have what I want," Ortiz said. That usually is steak and cheese sandwiches.

Her husband, Eliud Ortiz, is a New York native and 17 years her senior.

"I used to walk my German Shepherd near Halfway, where my mother lives," Ortiz said. "We ran into Eliud, who was walking his Dalmatian."

A Puerto Rican native, Eliud is retired from the U.S. Army and is a contractor in Afghanistan.

"His diet is smothered pork chops, rice and beans," she said.

Ortiz' 17-year-old daughter wants to be a doctor of natural medicine, which includes eating natural foods as a form of disease prevention.

"She is a vegetarian ... she eats no meat," Ortiz said.

Last summer, Ortiz' story was featured in the July 30 issue of First for Women magazine, she said

On a recent afternoon, Ortiz pulled together an eggless egg salad, which when placed on a bed of lettuce became her dinner that night.

In a food processor, she blended tumeric, a half-cup of water, some lemon juice, two cloves of garlic, some sea salt, 1 1/2 cups of cashews or macadamia nuts, and scallions. To that mixture, she added diced red peppers and celery.

The finished product looked and smelled like eggs and closely resembled the taste and texture of deviled eggs.

That and other recipes that are tasty and filling become Ortiz's favorites. Then there are her green smoothies, which are at the top of her hit parade in the mornings.

She mixes several fruits such as apples and bananas in the food processor, then adds in bunches of raw kale - a vegetable she doesn't like to eat, but loves to drink in a smoothie.

The book "Green for Life" is her favorite in the raw food vegan world. Some others she tried earlier were far too complicated, so she abandoned them.

"When I first went raw, there was only one aisle in the store where I could shop - the produce aisle," Ortiz said. Now, she knows that what she can't get in the store, she can order on the Internet.

For more information on the classes and the raw food lifestyle, call Ortiz at 304-274-0999 or send an e-mail to

The Herald-Mail Articles