The road to becoming the Two Raw Sisters has been long and filled with potholes for Margo and Rosa Flanagan. Growing up in Christchurch, the pair were both forced to deal with severe health issues.
"I was a full-time athlete," says Rosa, 27. "I specialised in 3000-metre steeplechase, and I developed a training obsession and an eating disorder, which led to a diagnosis of RED-S [relative energy deficiency in sport]."
"I had an extremely low body-fat percentage, which is one of the main factors for why I didn't get my period until I was 21."
Meanwhile, Margo, 25, was suffering from endometriosis and chronic fatigue.
Turning to each other for advice and support, the pair reached a simple conclusion – they needed more plants on their plates.
Rosa tells, "Being an athlete, something I started learning more about was the correlation between your performance and your nutrition. That's how my passion for food and educating others on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle came about."
She completed a degree in nutrition while recovering from RED-S and after witnessing just how much their lives improved with a few simple dietary changes, the sisters took their knowledge one step further. In 2019, they signed the lease on their own kitchen in Christchurch and started their business, Two Raw Sisters.
With an "all eaters welcome" approach to food, they began running cooking and education workshops, as well as publishing four best-selling cookbooks, creating an app and opening a commercial catering company.
"Rosa and I put our heads together and thought, 'There's a massive market for people who need to incorporate more plants into their every-day lives,'" says Margo, whose health struggles have improved immensely since including more raw foods into her diet. "We aren't vegan or vegetarian, but we found the classic Kiwi plate always starts with the meat first and the veges are always the last-minute boring side.
"We never imagined starting a business together. Everything we've done within Two Raw Sisters has just happened naturally, which has been really cool. We're very much riding the wave of, whatever comes up, we'll give it a go."
The latest wave has seen the twosome team up with the Life Education Trust, known for its Kiwi puppet Harold the Giraffe, and the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust, touring their workshops around schools across New Zealand from May through to September.
"We love getting in front of kids and teaching them first-hand how they can use ingredients they have at home – or that a lot of them have heard of before – and showing them how they can cook plants in a really delicious way," explains Margo.
As kids, the sisters would help their mum Juliet, 57, and dad, Chris, 59, prepare their lunches. In hindsight, they realise they were privileged to go to school every day with healthy food to eat. Visiting schools as adults has made them aware of just how many children show up each day without lunch.
"It just makes us hungrier to get out there and educate kids, and give them some tools they can apply and use," tells Rosa. "We're focused on educating children on how they can get their five plus a day of vegetables and fruit. It's cool they can use the math to calculate how many vegetables they're getting per recipe.
"It's a really great target audience because they're the ones who are going to make the change later on."
And children aren't the only ones on Margo and Rosa's radar.
"We're looking into the overall women's health area more, and focusing on not only females who are going through their menstrual cycle but perimenopausal and menopausal women as well," shares Rosa.
Their goal is to give women "the tools and the education on how they can support themselves as their body transitions through the second phase of their life, and not lack confidence in terms of weight gain, which is a common symptom of going through menopause".
Rosa adds, "One of the things I love about what Margo and I do is that one day we're talking about menopause, then the next we're talking to 14-year-old kids at school. It's all encompassed under Two Raw Sisters, which blows my mind. It's like, 'Wow, this is so amazing.'"
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