The Richters promoted healthy living and nudism from the comfort of their ahead-of-its-time restaurant.
Mrs. Richter’s cookbook isn’t just about food. For Beauty Salad I, she recommends tender asparagus tips with mint sauce, not because it tastes good but because it will “induce light perspiration, aiding circulation and clearing the complexion.” In fact, all of Vera Richter’s recipes were about a way of life. “Food is the answer to our problem to have a sound mind in a sound body,” she wrote in the cookbook’s opening. She was one of the essential figures of the Los Angeles healthy living scene, opening a chain of famous raw vegan restaurants alongside her husband, John T. Richter.
They might have fit the perfect hippie image, only this was 50 years before the word entered the lexicon. But even the earliest hippies would be influenced by the Richters and their desire to promote the tenants of the German Lebensreform movement.
Vera was born Verna May Weitzel to German parents in Pennsylvania. In 1903, at age 18, she graduated from the Butler Business College and accepted a job as a stenographer in Pittsburgh. By 1910, she’d moved to Los Angeles, where she met John. John had arrived in LA after working as a doctor of chiropractic and naturopathic medicine in the Midwest. They married, and perhaps it was Vera’s business acumen that got their restaurant, Eutropheon, started. However, it was John’s commitment to the ideas of Lebensreform, or life reform, that inspired the raw vegan cuisine they served.
John’s father, a German immigrant and pharmacist, had wanted him to be a doctor, but while studying at Rush Medical College in Chicago, John became more interested in natural methods of healing, including movement cures and the Battle Creek diet, a cooked vegetarian regime developed by John Harvey Kellogg to promote energy and general well-being. John saw great results with patients and even followed the diet himself, but he still felt a “general lack of energy.” That was when he learned about Dr. Benedict Lust and his uncooked food diet in a naturopathic magazine.
Original publication 13 October, 2019
Posted on NatCorn 16th October 2019
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