After discovering a life-changing diet, Matakana resident Shouri has started her dream cafe, the Hungry Elephant, to bring plant-based raw foods to the masses.
Shouri was plagued with health issues for a number of years and had tried a range of remedies and diets before finding something that worked.
“I was so sick. I had asthma and allergies, liver dysfunction and bad acne,” Shouri says. “I felt like I’d tried everything, but with 10 days of eating purely plant-based foods, all my symptoms were gone. It was huge for me and I wanted to share my discovery with everyone.”
She has spent years researching and planning a cafe based on the philosophy of the plant-based, organic diet. Her dream was realised last month when the Hungry Elephant opened on Matakana Road, between Matakana and Warkworth.
“We have beautiful, delicious, gourmet food for everyone. We make smoothies, wood-fired pizzas, soups and a range of cabinet foods.”
Shouri’s struggle with her health has been mirrored by struggles in her homeland – Iran.
She was arrested twice for contravening the strict religious rules of the country and says she felt like she had to live a lie.
“In Iran you live two lives – one inside and one in public. When you go out, if you are a woman, you have to be completely covered. Once I was arrested just for wearing long boots!”
She moved to Malaysia with her husband, Arash, in 2008, where she learned English and started studying homeopathy. She went back to Iran following the 2009 elections, joining hundreds of thousands of people protesting the election result and soon decided her future wasn’t in Iran.
“It would have been extremely difficult for me to remain.”
The couple moved to NZ five years ago, first living in Takapuna, before moving to Mahurangi in 2012.
“When I first came to Matakana I realised how great the area is, and what potential it has for this style of cafe.”
The cafe also sells organic fruit and vegetables and has a shop selling a range of organic products, cosmetics, super-foods, supplements and giftware.