Our Stories: Tanya Maher

Written by Holly Algie.

Tanya MaherTanya Maher credits her parents with discovering the secret to the ultimate healthy lifestyle was a raw food diet but, since embracing a fully raw lifestyle six years ago, she has established herself as one of the most influential figures in her field. Introducing Tanya, founder of ultimate wellness company Better Raw, a renowned raw food nutritionist and holistic coach who has featured in the likes of Vogue and Women’s Health, co-founder of high end raw food café chain Tanya’s, a recently published author, and a pioneer of the clean eating movement in the UK.

Russian born but raised in New Zealand, it was a near fatal car accident that Tanya was involved in as a teenager that ultimately led to what she refers to as her “calling in life”. Tanya suffered a broken back and extensive damage to her internal organs and was told by doctors that her organs could never fully recover. Although Tanya’s parents were given the option to cut out her pancreas, they decided not to operate unless it was absolutely necessary. In their search for alternative healing methods and because Tanya was unable to process solid foods, they began to juice vegetables and fruits. Tanya kept her pancreas and surprised doctors by how quickly her body recovered.

According to Tanya, she slipped back into a more “standard diet” and it was not until years later after witnessing the health benefits that her parents experienced from a raw food retreat and reading testimonials of people that had healed from all kinds of injuries and disease, that she realised that raw food had played a significant part in her own recovery. This was Tanya’s “light-bulb moment” – that ill health is preventable with raw food – and once she began to live a wholly raw food lifestyle, all of her stomach pains, headaches, colds, flus and even toothaches, disappeared.

Tanya’s realisation happened to coincide with her and partner Elliot’s arrival in the UK in 2009. Aiming to give London a try for a year, Tanya took a job in advertising and was shocked at how unhealthy the working environment was with employees eating ready-meals at their desk. She says “…I was so disturbed at how unhealthy everyone looked – yellow eyes and horrible skin”. Tanya says that she “knew [she] would always end up working for [herself]” but until then had never had a reason to leave her previous jobs where she had “great bosses…great energy…”(Tanya worked in commercial property in New Zealand).

Without a database or any contacts in the wellness industry, Tanya started to read everything she could find about raw food and began to knock on yoga centre and restaurant doors asking them if she could run seminars. She was soon running raw food workshops and nutritional seminars for their customers and was asked at her very first class whether she did private coaching – having no idea what that entailed, she immediately went home and googled “private coaching”!

Tanya has since gained a huge global following online via her website and blog, BetterRaw.com, and through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tanya has her own Better Raw YouTube channel, has created Amazon #1 bestseller DVD ‘Raw Food 101’, released four raw food recipe and detox programme e-books, works with clients on bespoke wellness programmes, and facilitates wellness retreats in the UK and Ecuador.

It was also through her reputation as a raw food nutritional coach that Tanya met Linda and Andreas, owners of high-end botique hotel group myhotels, and with whom she collaborated to open her first café “Tanya’s – Experience Raw” in Chelsea in August 2014 – a restaurant serving ethically sourced, organically grown artisan raw foods and Europe’s first ever superfood cocktail bar. You may recognise Tanya’s if you are a fan of the Made in Chelsea or The Apprentice television series. Tanya has since opened a second Tanya’s - a coffee shop and juice bar in Parson’s Green - and a third Tanya’s pop-up within Selfridges at its flagship store on Oxford Street which is the first completely organic and raw food café in a department store in the world.

If all of that doesn’t sound like enough to keep Tanya busy, her book “The Uncook Book - the essential guide to a raw food lifestyle” is to be released worldwide this month and is the culmination of Tanya’s knowledge and experience as a raw food expert – “her life’s work” – to date. According to Tanya, everything she has done has been motivated by the demands of her clients and online following and not by an overwhelming need to “change the whole world”. It is enough, she says, to inspire people and show that, through food, there is a path to ultimate health and prevention.

For more information on Tanya’s company Better Raw, see www.BetterRaw.com

For more information on Tanya’s cafes, see www.TanyasCafe.com