Pushing the Envelope on Health: Announcing A Raw Vegan Challenge

Raw Vegan DietIt’s not what you give up; it’s what you gain that counts!

Just for good measure, I will say it again: It is not about what you give up. It is all about what you gain.

That is how I have been able to take some of the bravest and greatest steps in my life without an ounce of regret anywhere. I am also willing to bet that when you have given things up in your life to take a step toward personal growth and self-evolution, you have been too busy focusing on what you gained to make time missing what you gave up. And today I am experimenting with that all over again with my raw vegan challenge and exploration of raw foods at the exclusion of all else.

Going vegan was not easy for me. The mere thought of giving up plain yogurt – a staple in Iranian culture – was dizzying. The idea of not having sushi while traveling as a bonding experience with my better half was aching. Naturally, my first attempt, which was an experiment, lasted one month and quickly followed with a return to normal, albeit healthy eating. But as in all things in life, I believe everything (and everyone) deserves a second chance. So second attempt, I am happy to report, has lasted 7 months and counting. I have been vegan since January 1st of 2011. Still alive. Still well. Just with more energy and vitality and motivation than ever before.

I must say that I really do not see an immediate return to my old eating patterns. I am happy with raw way (affiliate) of eating even though it takes a great deal of effort to eat a healthy vegan diet as opposed to just a vegan diet. It means a bit of exclusion on some social events. It requires patience explaining it to loved ones – or not explaining, depending on my mood. It takes forethought to fill your body with fresh natural foods and home-cooked meals and it takes creativity making smart choices when dining out.

For months now, I have been dying of curiosity to take things to the next level. Winter is long since over. Spring is behind us. The summer nights – at least here in the Northern Hemisphere – are long, hot and humid and so I tell myself that it would be easier to give up hot foods now. They are not the shelter and refuge that I consider them to be in the dead of dreaded winter months. What am I talking about?

Going on a Raw Vegan Challenge on July 11th for 30 days.

My friend, Marla, inspired me to give this a go when we met at World Domination Summit in Portland. She has already written a Going Raw series to kick things off. We are starting a raw vegan challenge tomorrow – July 11th, Monday. I imagine this will seriously kick into gear a full return to yummy green juicing too.

Care to follow along or just watch us go through the ordeal?

That’s my big announcement for this week. I will be documenting the whole “ordeal” and bringing it to you soon. Love to have you join us but if not, whatever you do, treat that body as the temple that it is and as the greatest treasure you shall ever own.

Love to know your thoughts on Raw Foods in general so any tips, advice, experience, and recommendations are most welcome.

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  • http://www.thetastefullife.com Marla Trevino

    YAY so excited to start another challenge with my new friend! This is going to be lots of fun. It’s definitely what you gain that matters here. It takes a while to reprogram what your body has been eating for years, but even if someone starts by doing raw vegan for one or two meals a day it will make a difference.

    But if you do the challenge 100% the energy and mental clarity you get from it is amazing!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      I am so excited, Marla. I have everything ready for tomorrow and will be documenting everything. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I will rely on you to pull me through when I miss my cooked foods so schedule some “therapy” time for me this week ;)! Seriously, thank you for the big push. We are going to have heaps of fun.

    • http://www.jessilicious.com Jessilicious

      Marla! Fancy seeing you here. :) Just saw your smiling face and had to pop in a hello. 😉

  • http://www.bloggingbookshelf.com Tristan

    That’s awesome, Farnoosh. Since my diet pretty much consists entirely of alternating between $5 Subway sandwiches and $5 Little Caesar’s Hot-and-Ready pizzas, I can’t give you much in the way of advice. But I’m looking forward to seeing your progress and hearing your thoughts :)

    Good luck!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Tristan, you should totally join us. It will first put your body in a shock but then who doesn’t want a little fun in life? Seriously, I hope you do not alternate often between those two, although Subway used to be a regular lunch way back in my college days. Well, we shall report out from here for sure. Thanks for saying hello and sharing your diet details :)!

  • http://idealistcafe.com/blog/ Russ

    Sounds awesome. I recently did a 21 day raw cleanse, and while difficult, it was worth it. I have also bounced between vegan and “normal” diet, so I know where you’re coming from. I have found though that what works best for me the the middle path. Eating lots of raw foods and greens and smoothies, but also allowing myself the ability to indulge with meats and cheeses and bread when I feel the need. Maybe it’s the easy way out, or even the slacker approach, but it works for me. I still feel great and get the benefit of so many great raw foods, but also can cheat when I feel the need without beating myself up about it. I think each person finds what works best for them. Good luck on your 30 day raw vegan journey!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hello Russ, nice to know about your cleanse. I am sure it was not easy. And I know exactly what you mean about the balance and the ideal diet being different for everyone. It really is. A lot of it depends on our activities, our lifestyle, what’s accessible to us (although we can stretch this one into great limits, you probably know this as well as I do) and how our body responds to some diets over others but no arguments about how fabulous raw foods are. Thanks for sharing your side on food and thanks so much for the good luck wishes. More soon from our end.

  • http://nathanhangen.com Nathan

    Love this. The more important part for me is avoiding leather, but giving up dairy is even harder, so I might join you for the ride. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Leather huh? Even in all my vegan months, I was not going to do away with my expensive Argentinian tango shoes :)! I knew there was a reason I did not call myself a complete vegan but just said that I eat a strictly vegan diet. Thank you for stopping by, Nathan. More from our end on details soon. Day 1 is here. Wish us luck.

  • http://www.deliberateblog.com Melody | Deliberate Receiving

    Farnoosh! You’re not going to believe this. I’ve been Raw Vegan since January 9th, he, he. Although, I don’t consider myself Raw Vegan. I consider myself an “intuitive” eater. I eat whatever I feel like, it just happens to be 90% raw vegan now. This has been the culmination of a journey that started years ago, and I gradually shifted away from processed foods, the low quality foods and finally dairy and wheat. I did have sushi once in the last 6 months, and occasionally I eat some grilled veggies. The rest is all raw.
    I love eating this way, and I didn’t miss the warm food, even in the winter. I’ve had some suprises, like the fact that papaya makes me cold, and green grapes warm me up (seriously). My body tells me exactly what it needs, so I’ll crave certain foods, if I’m not getting enough of some vitamin or mineral.
    The best thing is that I feel amazing. I have tons of energy and even weight training is no issue (I was concerned I might not get enough protein). Oh, and my relationship with food is SO much better. For the first time in my life, I can have chocolate (raw cacao is freaking awesome!!!) desserts and not feel guilty. I had no idea how much guilt I was carrying around with me regarding food until it left. Wow.

    I support you in your challenge, but honestly, if you have an intuitive drive to try this, you’re not going to need much willpower. I haven’t really had a problem in social situations. Other people have, though. It’s like they get mad that I’m not eating or drinking with them (I also generally don’t drink alcohol, except for the very occasional glass of wine, which is RAW by the way…)

    Good luck (you won’t need it), and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Wow. I’m all excited now. Might have to do a blog post about this. See how inspiring you are? :)

    Huge hugs,

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Melody, my loyal reader, how nice to know your journey into vegan and some into raw. I love it I think you should’ve saved some of this for that blog post of yours. :)) Anyway, I truly think our journeys have been similar as have our amazing experience and lessons along the way.
      So it is really good to know that your body helps you understand what you need. I am a bit worried about that and I totally believe that each food has a different affect and also probably it varies from person to person. Not much alcohol here at all so that won’t be an issue. Good to know I can have a glass of wine if the mood strikes. As for how others react, let it be their reaction and not ruin your excitement. I had to tell my Dad not to bring Persian left-overs here today and … well, let’s just say he was disappointed. Anyway, I am so excited. And I hope you join us on LinkedIn even if to just keep us company.

  • http://learnit2earnitwithlynn.com Lynn Brown

    Bravo to you Farnoosh! You are far a better woman or person than I. Although I will say I do have the same passion and desire for life as you do, just not in the raw foods category — lol

    Really enjoyed reading your journey and your human trip ups that you have seemed to overcome. Isn’t that what life is about? Stumbling but then getting right up again only to conquer your challenge…. So you are a very inspiring person and I am so glad that we ‘connected’ on Linkedin.

    Stay the journey Farnoosh as I feel you will continue to be very successful — and I look forward to visiting your blog again to bring some of your inspiration into my life!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Lynn, welcome to prolific living. Nice to connect with you on LinkedIn. I don’t know about better being the right word. We all choose different passions and my recent ones have raised at least a few eye brows, I assure you! The raw foods has been a fantasy – yes I know that’s a bit sad – but I am delighted to be finally doing it. I take it you won’t be joining me ;)!
      Thank you so much for all the very kind words. Life IS about stumbling AND getting back up indeed. Lovely words, thank you!

  • http://www.onelovemeg.com Meg | One Love Meg

    Yay!!!! I love this challenge. I think that I am going to join you. Ahhh. I have no idea where to start. :) I have been vegan since November 2010 and I love it!! I did the raw diet for a week when I went to a retreat for a week. I felt so good but when I came home I got stuck when it came to having to prepare the meals on my own. I felt defeated becasue I didn’t have the fancy blender and dehydrators. I am excited. Starting tomorrow. Whoof. Ok health market here I come! :)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Meg, join the LinkedIn group. I think you just joined me on my LinkedIn too. Oh I am so excited there is now 4 of us and the first day is off to a fantastic start. I even made my own paste (carrots, beet, spinach, walnuts, salt, lemon and olive oil). I can’t explain it but it was very good. Anyway, welcome and we love to have you on board. I am using mainly a blender, a food processor and a juicer. No dehydrators here. Hope not to need one as there is no kitchen counter left, trust me.

  • http://vintagevideogames.com John

    I have no desire to offend anyone. But I don’t understand what is wrong with eating cooked foods. Really. Even using my wildest imagination I can’t even guess what about cooked foods holds one back from “personal growth and self-evolution” as you put it. I don’t run in “vegan” circles, so please give me the elevator pitch on the evils of cooking food. Thanks!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      John, for a minute I thought that either my husband or anyone else in my family wrote this :)! I want to assure you that not only am I not a vegan/raw foodist snob, I will never ever be one. There is *nothing* wrong with eating delicious cooked meals in my opinion. None. I would not advocate fried foods or fast foods for the life of me but delicious cooked meals are fine. I grew up on Persian and other middle eastern foods and love Indian food these days.
      This is just a challenge, and a challenge is when you give up something to which you are attached and usually when you do go on a juice fast or other fasts or other diets, it is a process that you de-associate with something you are emotionally attached to and I believe that it tests our temptation, our strength, our willpower, and in this particular case, I really believe that a purely raw vegan diet can actually do some good for the body and give it a break from cooked foods. That’s all.
      I do hope this helps. Others may very well have different opinions but these are my uncensored thoughts. Thank you for yours.

  • http://idealistcafe.com/blog/ Russ

    John, before I chime in, let me say that I am not a raw foodist and I do eat meat, cheese, dairy in small amounts. That said, the basic premise of eating raw is that you’re getting natural foods in their natural, unaltered state. The theory goes that once you heat food over 105 or something like that, that it then becomes altered and enzymes are destroyed. There is some belief that once food is heated to this point that it then becomes toxic. Sometimes raw foods are also know as living foods, a leaf of spinach is “alive”, you then steam it or saute it, it becomes wilted and “dead”. But I think the core of raw foodism is simply about eating foods in their pure, unaltered state.

    To answer your question about how eating cooked can limit “personal growth and self-evolution”, there are plenty of raw foodists who believe that when you begin eating more raw foods and eliminating cooked foods, once your body becomes cleaner your mind follows. Some of the supposed perks of raw foodism are increased energy, clearer thinking, and more “creative flow”. I can vouch for more energy, but have personally never experienced an increase in creative flow while eating raw, but there are plenty of people out there who have.

    This is just based on my experience and research, I’m not an expert, but figured I’d throw in my two cents since I’ve read a lot about raw foods, both pro and con. Like Farnoosh pointed out, it’s more about the challenge, but there is plenty of information out there about raw foods if you are curious to learn more. It will be interesting to hear Farnoosh’s opinion after her challenge is complete!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Thanks Russ. I have heard those explanations a lot before too and read a great deal about them. Thank you for sharing your experience and what you have heard from others. It’s interesting to see what I experience because I was eating vegan, I have lots of energy most of the time and I feel pretty creative but hey, I can have more of both. But that’s *not* why I am doing it. I am deeply curious to test all of those theories and I really LOVE raw foods so I want to give this experience a chance. Hope we have given John some good answers to his question.

  • http://vintagevideogames.com John

    Thanks guys, that helps. I had heard rumors over the years that some people only ate raw food because they believed that plants had souls or could feel pain or something (dare I say crazy?) like that. It made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. And when I saw this article, I figured it was my chance to find out the truth.

    I can respect the desire to test and improve ones’ self-control. It’s something very few people in this country ever attempt – we seem to generally be so self-indulgent. As a Christian, I am called to exhibit self-control in many areas that are extremely challenging to me. (Although technically I am aided by the Holy Spirit). Anyway, I don’t mean to hijack this discussion. I probably sound as crazy to some people as the people who believe plants have souls!

    Thanks for the answers. I’ve heard that drinking lots of caffeine also helps energy and creativity – and has been proven to do so. I think I’ll take that route – MUCH easier! Good luck in your challenge.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      John, I am so glad you decided to re-visit us. People! They say such things ;)! Well, there are extremists on every subject under the sun and I am glad you decided to speak to us here. None of this sounds “crazy” to me, it is just outside the norm. Your beliefs are yours and for no one else to judge, undermine, criticize or call names. If it is your path in life, then nothing else should matter. Oh and all my caffeine is coming from one source; it is called Oolong tea, baby! Thank you. Day 2 down. 28 days to go. Wish us luck! Thanks for coming back!

  • Sideah

    Hey Farnoosh congratulations on your endeavor.. How is it going so far?

    I’ve been attempting to go raw for the last 16 months! For some people it does happen overnight, but for me it doesn’t. I do feel like I am getting closer though.

    I don’t know if I agree though that cooked meals are fine because I’ve been noticing that my body has been getting sicker and sicker whenever I eat cooked food. Right now I have a very stuffed nose, itchy itchy palate, repetitive sneezing (like allergies) and feeling very mucusy because I ate cooked food last night. I’ve never had it before but I believe after a while your body starts to get more and more sensitive.

    When I was raw for three months I ate a small bowl of soup (pretty simple) and I got violently ill. It was like my body was poisoned and it was extremely painful :(

    That being said I do believe that cooked food is very hard on the body and it is arduous for our body to digest and try to assimilate, so.. I now believe that fruit is my foe.

    Do you have a plan that you are following for the raw diet? Have you heard of Dr. Doug Graham? He has a video here ..
    I mostly eat a lot of very ripe fruit and a little greens to supplement. No oils, salts, no dehydrating anything, very little fat, just keeping it nice and simple. It makes me a very happy girl!!!

    I’d recommend trying to get in at least 2500 calories of fruit a day. It makes everything easier when you are getting enough carbs in!

    Here’s another really great forum if you are interested in talking to more like-minded people!
    Ok.. Namaste:)

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Sideah, oh that is a lot of fruit for me. I have to mix it with vegetables and nuts. I have not heard of the sources you mention here so thank you.
      Your body is just sensitive. You need to listen to it very carefully and figure out the things to which it responds well and the things that it does not handle well and don’t guess. Try to eliminate as much as possible so that you know for sure. Sometimes, it’s not so much the cooked food as one ingredient or spice in that food that you may be allergic or sensitive to. And everything can happen in its own time so maybe you are on a slower path to raw foods but I bet it will be a more sustainable one if you take your time. If you want to just follow us along in LinkedIn, we love to have you. Best of luck and namaste. Thanks for your comments here by the way.

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  • http://www.healthquest.lifemax.net Gail

    There is no doubt the raw food lifestyle can be challenging and intimidating. I especially have a hard time with the morning coffee. It deals with coming out of ones “comfort zone” which we have all dealt with at some point in our lives. I have been a vegetarian for 23 years and over the last year have been focusing and getting more educated on the raw lifestyle and boy have I learned a lot. This is a challenge and no doubt will change the way you feel and view food and the nutritional value it delivers to your body and mind. What has helped me is being sure my frig has all the fruits and veggies for the week, wash and have readily available to prepare. I also make a large batch of “green juice” to continually sip on throughout the day- helps curb the appetite during the day and love smoothies….Plant based Superfoods are extremely important. The difficult time is if you are working- be sure to pack your lunch. I work part time for a restaurant and bring my lunch, how crazy is that??? Stops the temptation to break the cycle. There is a ton of education and great raw food chefs with fabulous recipes. Great blog. Thanks for my step daughter Meg for sharing with me.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dear Gail, how kind of dear lovely Meg to send you over. We have been supporting each other and will continue to do it. I am so delighted to hear that you too are familiar with the raw foods realm. Thank you for all of your tips on green juicing. I am so lucky to be working completely from home so half the time I am in the kitchen anyway ;)!
      To be honest, on the vegetarian diet I gained weight but it’s a widely varied diet and it depends what one does. I must’ve been consuming a lot of dairy.
      Glad you found the blog useful and I hope you come back. Happy juicing and to your health!

  • http://www.motivationalmemo.com Peter G. James Sinclair

    Awesome Farnoosh – if only I could post you some of my organic vegetables from my veggie garden. Here’s to your good health! Did you say juicing? I love my juicer.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Peter, I am emailing you my address right now! You have me salivating here ;)! Thank you so much for the offer but with those import/export laws, even if you could freeze it, they’d never let those evil veggies in! LOL. Great to know you also are into juicing! Lovely to see you here.

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  • Dimond

    I’ve been 100% Raw Vegan for several years and I love it! I did it for health reasons, but really there are so many benefits. I found this way easier than any other health diets and ended up enjoying the food so much more. We don’t even realize how real food is suppose to taste when it’s cooked and/or processed. It really destroys the taste and most nutrients. This is why most people think they don’t like fruits & vegetables. Even I didn’t like many despite trying various vegan and vegetarian diets. I’ve made more progress in all areas of my life, especially spiritually. My #1 tip is to keep it simple and not get into preparing all kinds of gourmet meals (unless you like to and have the time). I try to stick with recipes that take 5 or so minutes and use few ingredients. Farnoosh, hope you have a wonderful experience with your challenge. :)

    • http://www.healthquest.lifemax.net Gail

      Wow, 100% raw that is awesome. I find dinner a bit challenging so if you have any ideas that would be great. I love everything raw, just can’t seem to get the versatility mojo going.

      • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

        Gail, it’s been 8 days and I found enough variety to keep me going. We share all our recipes on the LinkedIn group above if you want to join us.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Dimond, that’s amazing, just amazing. I am on Day 8 now and I must say it is NOT as hard as I thought it would be. I do not crave cooked food so much as variety and I am not very adventurous yet so I don’t know what I can and cannot have. For instance, I want something crunchy. It is amazing how you can change the taste even by simple blending and processing without ever attempting to cook. Thanks so much and your site went to an invalid page so if you let us know where to learn more, we’d love it.

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  • Dimond

    If you email me I can give you ideas and recipes. Also, which part is challenging-finding an equivalent of what you use to eat or feeling full/satisfied? I have some ideas for both situations. I’ve modified my diet numerous times so I’ve dealt with most situations.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      How nice! Dimond, any chance you may want to join our LinkedIn group too? No pressure and thanks so much again for offering Gail more advice.

    • http://www.healthquest.lifemax.net Gail

      I miss my ekekiel bread and some crunchy snack stuff and my vegan cheese. I am one who likes to feel satisfied. I am not picky about the raw food choices, just trying to find more variety especially at dinner since I prepare dinner differently for my husband and mom. What is your email? Thanks so much for your ideas and knowledge, it is appreciated.

      • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

        Oh don’t get me started on what I miss and I just went from vegan to raw vegan. I just want something crunchy :)! And my chocolate. Although cacao powder got here today. Might be making some desserts tonight.

        • http://girlonraw.com/ GirlonRaw

          Good luck on your challenge. I have just started a series every Monday on my blog on how to go RAW the easy way, you might find it of interest. I love this “whatever you do, treat that body as the temple that it is and as the greatest treasure you shall ever own”

          • http://girlonraw.com/ GirlonRaw

            Oh and my main reason for posting here, was to say that you can still have crunchy! I made crunchy flax crackers yesterday and they hit my ‘crunchy’ spot right on!

            • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

              Hey GirlonRaw, I got your recipe/ebook that came with your newsletter sign-up so I hope to get the Monday stuff too? Thanks so much for stopping by. I must do something about the crunch craving. Will look for crackers. Thanks!!

  • Dimond

    Somehow a slash was put in place of a period. Don’t know if you’re able to fix it.

    Thanks for the invite. I don’t tend to belong to any social networks or groups, just go on forums & blogs. Rawfoodtalk is the best forum and I’ve been on there for yrs. What’s great is how all info is available online.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      No worries at all – now I see your website, I’ll fix the other ones, no worry, Dimond. And totally understand on the forum. I will look into rawfoodtalk (.com I suppose, I’ll find it). Thank you so much!

  • Dimond

    It’s strange that it’s still adding a slash every time. Anyhow, to respond to your comment:
    You can make your own crackers or chips if you have a dehydrator or you can buy them pre-made. I did the latter because it was easier and I never ended up getting a dehydrator. Later I ended up finding that anything savory could work as a substitute since that was really what I was craving. Pre-made food can be expensive, though worth it if you have long-term goals of being raw. I found buying in bulk online to work best, though sometimes there are local buying groups you can join.

    Celery alone, with spices or dipped in olive oil can make a great snacks.
    Cucumber slices with guacamole, salsa or other dips/spreads.
    Seaweed can make an excellent snack if you like the taste of it.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Don’t worry – both of those go to your site.
      No dehydrator and no plans to buy one. I have no kitchen counter left. I may to get some pre-made raw food. So far, I am doing ok just some craving but 3 more weeks ahead and I may go longer.
      Not crazy about celery, although I am mad about guacamole so it may work :)!
      Thanks again Dimond.

  • http://www.andrewcaldwell.org/blog Andrew

    This is great that ‘vegan’ is getting out there. One week of Vegan and I thought vegetarian’s had the world at their feet!

    I wish I was stronger in regards to vegan & vegetarian, I take my hat of to you all!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Vegetarians do have the world at their feet – gosh, that is funny :)!
      Raw is not that bad, Andrew, although today I decided that one thing is going to go back on my diet and that is Tahini, so I just made a raw non-hummus hummus and I feel so much better :)! Thanks so much for the encouragement. Day 8 over here!

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  • http://urbaLiving.com C Sanchez


    Eating 100% raw vegan can be a challenge – no pun intended. But, the benefits to your health far out weigh the challenges. See you on the other side.

    More power to you Farnoosh,

    *P.S. Raw guacamole rocks and contains good amount of protein /essential fatty acids.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi there, thank you and gosh do I need the power. It was easy until Day 9 – yesterday – and lack of planning can get you in trouble. So I made an exception and used Tahini and soaked some soba noodles in hot water. It is very hard to be 100% but I think my girlfriends approved of those. I am feeling good and light and wow, I gotta try that guacamole. Thank you!

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