The raw vegan diet for people like you
When you think of a raw vegan diet, what comes to mind?
Maybe you picture someone eating a sad excuse for a salad.
Or maybe you think the diet sounds amazing!
Whichever side you're on, you have to admit that a raw vegan diet is probably a huge change from how you're currently eating.
You might have just had a steak, or maybe your last meal included macaroni and cheese.
But you're still curious about raw veganism. You've heard people say that the diet has changed their life. And how raw veganism can cure just about any health problem.
It sounds awesome. But can you really do it? Raw veganism seems...difficult.
Raw Vegan Myth. Some people think that this diet is restrictive. While you don't consume meat, dairy, or cooked foods, it might seem that way. But you can eat just about anything that you can find a raw vegan substitute for.
Let's look at the basics of a raw vegan diet.
A "Raw"some Start
A raw vegan diet is a more specific version of a vegan diet. Vegan diets omit animal products and byproducts.
That means no meat, dairy, eggs, or even honey. Because yes, honey is an animal byproduct.
It takes this one step further by also eliminating cooked foods. Raw food diets (vegan or otherwise) exclude foods cooked above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
You might be wondering what non-vegan diet is raw. Well, some people do choose to eat raw meats or raw dairy.
However, as a raw vegan, you can stick to raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
There are many reasons for following a raw vegan diet. From ethical and environmental reasons to possible health benefits, your reasoning for eating it should be one you believe in.
On top of that:
Some raw vegans believe that raw foods are more nutritious than cooked foods. Other fans of the diet claim that you can get all of your necessary nutrients from it.
It's nothing new
Though it has become more popular in recent years, but it actually has a long history. Our early ancestors consumed a raw vegan diet as far back as 2.5 million years ago.
That's right. It's been around for more than two million years.
It is possible that these ancestors consumed raw meat, but it's unlikely that cooking was invented until much later.
In the sixth century B.C
Pythagoras was a proponent of avoiding meat and fish. He also loved raw foods, especially vegetables.
Leonardo Da Vinci tried the fruitarian diet, a fruit-based version of raw veganism
In the 1830s
Sylvester Graham (namesake of graham crackers) proposed that drinking pure water and eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts could cure diseases.
In the nineteenth century
Dr. Max Bircher-Benner follows a primarily raw vegan diet, and he cures himself of jaundice. Around this time, German health educator Arnold Ehret cures himself of Bright's Disease by fasting and following a fruitarian diet.
Mahatma Gandhi followed the fruitarian for a while.
Paul Kouchakoff discovered a condition called Digestive Leukocytosis which is a reaction that occurs in the body after eating cooked foods.
30 years later in Iran
Arshavir Hovannessian publishes a book called Raw Eating after feeding his daughter raw foods to treat illness.
Did You Know? Celebrities like Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, and Venus Williams all follow a raw vegan diet.
While the raw vegan diet has existed for all of human history, it seems like it's this new thing that everyone has tried.
In recent years, it has definitely gained popularity. Thanks to the internet, more people can share their experiences with the diet. And you can find all sorts of resources so you can follow the diet correctly.
Yes, that's right:
There's a right way and a wrong way to eat as a raw vegan.
If you truly want to follow it, you can do it. There are plenty of resources out there to help you.
Raw vegan diet vs. raw food diet
The raw vegan diet isn't the only diet to exclude cooked foods. Some people follow the raw food diet. This differs from raw veganism because it includes raw meat and raw dairy.
You read that right. Raw dairy.
A raw food diet is also less strict about only consuming raw foods. On a raw vegan diet, you should aim for no cooked foods. However, Healthline states that a raw food diet allows up to 25 percent of your diet to be cooked.
Some raw meats and raw dairy can pose health risks. While this diet might seem harder to follow, you shouldn't have to worry about food poisoning from eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
The diet you follow is up to you, but if you're already giving up cooked foods, giving up meat and dairy isn't much of a stretch.
Raw vegan diet
- consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds
- excludes cooked foods
- excludes all animal products and byproducts
- minimal (if any) processed foods
Raw food diet
- consists of raw produce and some raw meat and dairy
- excludes cooked foods
- includes animal products as long as they aren't cooked above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit
- minimal (if any) processed foods
The Lowdown on a Raw Vegan Diet
Before you dive headfirst (or stomach first) into this diet, you should know a few of the benefits and risks involved.
Like any diet or eating plan, raw veganism has its pros and cons.
You can reap some amazing benefits from the diet, but you also need to educate yourself so you can follow the diet properly.
So, let's learn some of the benefits of raw veganism.
They have plenty of benefits. From eating a "clean" diet to simply feeling better, raw veganism is a great way to improve your health.
Here are a few benefits of becoming a raw vegan.
What's at heart?
Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure. Raw veganism also includes a lot of nuts and seeds which can lower your blood cholesterol levels.
In general, vegans have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure and dying from heart disease.
Vegan diets are also fantastic for reducing your levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol.
While few studies exist specifically on these diets, the high amount of fruits and vegetables means raw vegans can yield similar results to other vegans.
The sweet news
Since fruits and vegetables are at the center of raw veganism, raw vegans typically have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The high fiber content of raw veganism can also reduce blood sugar levels. It can also lead to more insulin sensitivity. Type 2 diabetes patients aren't sensitive to insulin, and low sensitivity can cause various health problems.
Nuts and seeds can also help lower your blood sugar levels. Therefore, most raw vegan foods can lower your risk of diabetes.
Veganism = Health? Many vegans report fewer symptoms, and some have used the diet to reduce or get rid of symptoms from a health condition.
Trust your gut
Do you ever feel like you can't digest foods properly? Well, then raw veganism might be your solution. Whole plant foods are high in fiber.
That fiber can ease digestive issues.
Raw veganism includes both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. These healthy bacteria create nutrients that lower inflammation in your gut.
Insoluble fibers help stool move more quickly through your gut, so you're less likely to experience constipation.
The elephant in the room...
The struggle to lose weight is real. Whether you've always had weight problems or you've developed them over the years, there's no denying that excess weight can pose many problems.
If you've tried everything to get rid of the weight, then you should give raw veganism a try. It's full of healthy foods and void of processed junk foods.
Various studies have shown that raw food diets can lead to lower body fat.
Raw vegan diets are an excellent way to lose weight. Fruits and vegetables are more filling than a bag of chips, so you can feel fuller on fewer calories.
But you still need to eat enough.
Give Me Fiber! The high fiber content means that you'll feel full on less food. However, you have to make sure you eat enough so you don't lose too much weight.
While raw veganism definitely has a ton of benefits, we can't forget the risks.
Raw vegan diets require a lot of planning. And a lack of planning can lead to problems.
You don't want to put your health on the line just to follow the latest diet trend.
Yes, these risks are very real. But if you educate yourself and find ways to reduce these risks, you can follow it successfully.
There are some lacks
Some proponents of raw veganism claim you can get all of your nutrients from raw vegan foods.
However, raw vegans can face problems when it comes to consuming enough vitamin B12.
Extremely low levels of this nutrient can lead to anemia, nervous system damage, and more. The reason you might not get enough vitamin B12 as a raw vegan is because it doesn't occur naturally in produce.
The bottom line is:
If you want to get enough vitamin B12 as a raw vegan, consider taking a supplement. Although some raw vegans oppose supplements due to their belief that you can get all of your nutrients on the diet.
Low levels of vitamin B12 don't always pose a problem, but it can lead to a deficiency over time.
They tend to be low in calcium and vitamin D. These two nutrients contribute to strong bones.
One study found that raw vegans had lower bone mineral levels and lower bone density than people on the standard American diet.
If you live in a sunny climate, you can combat the lack of dietary vitamin D with enough sun exposure. But some people might not get enough vitamin from the sun.
And that's not all:
They're are often low in protein, and this can affect bone strength and muscle mass. While you certainly don't need high levels of protein, you do need to consume enough to maintain bone and muscle mass.
Protein Myth. Many people believe that you can't get enough protein on a vegan diet (of any kind). Luckily, that's false! Vegans, and raw vegans, can get enough protein on the diet.
Fruits have a dark side
A diet high in fruits can do wonders for your health, but you should be careful when consuming overly acidic fruits. The acid in berries and citrus fruits can lead to tooth erosion and decay.
As you start your raw vegan journey, be sure to find fruits that aren't as acidic.
But if you really need those berries, do this:
Get a reusable straw and make smoothies. That way, you can still enjoy the taste while letting the fruit bypass your teeth.
Women need to keep this in mind
Women could experience changes in their menstrual cycle. Some women might even lose their period entirely.
Another way that raw veganism can affect your fertility is because of its low levels of calories. If you lose too much weight, you could experience negative changes in your menstrual cycle.
Be sure to consult a doctor if you experience any major side effects from raw veganism. We aren't here to give medical advice.
A doctor will be able to guide you based on your specific needs
Walking the Walk
It can be a life changer for some. Not only is it a diet, but it's also a lifestyle. If you don't commit to the raw vegan lifestyle, it will be much more difficult to stick to it.
And the ugly truth is:
If none of your family and friends follow the diet, that can make it even tougher to stay on course.
That doesn't mean you can't do it. The parameters of raw veganism are pretty simple. You avoid animal products and byproducts. And you don't consume foods cooked above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
It may seem like you can't eat anything. But, if you do your research, there are plenty of foods that you can eat as a raw vegan.
Let's start by looking at what you can (and should) eat as a raw vegan.
Uncooked grains (must be sprouted or soaked)
Nut milks and nut butters (raw)
Raw nuts and seeds
Unprocessed raw cacao powder
Pure maple syrup
Vinegars and other raw condiments
Anything cooked above 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit
Refined sugars and flours
Roasted nuts and seeds
Eat Like a Raw Vegan
Now that you know what you can and shouldn't eat as a raw vegan, its time to start your raw vegan journey.
You probably have a few questions about the diet like the cost, convenience, and how to shop for raw vegan foods.
While raw vegan diets seem expensive and inconvenient, there are ways to lower the cost. If convenience is important to you, then fruit will be your best friend.
Here's the thing:
Raw veganism doesn't have to be difficult.
Here's what you should know as you start your raw vegan diet.
About the money...
You might think that a raw vegan diet is expensive. You have to buy a ton of produce. And you can't rely on cheap bags of chips.
Yes, some raw vegan foods can be pretty expensive. Luckily, there are ways to make raw veganism more affordable.
The first thing you can do to afford it is to buy in bulk. If you buy produce in bulk, it will be cheaper overall. Grocery stores love to up the price on single mangoes or small packages of berries. Shop around for bulk produce, and you can save tons of money.
And here's another secret:
Out of season fruits and vegetables will be much more expensive than produce that's in season. So, buy in season.
And be on the lookout for sales. Don't be afraid to try a few new fruits or vegetables. You never know what hidden gems you could find.
Also, some produce is always going to be cheaper than other produce. Bananas, for example, are incredibly cheap. On the other hand, mangoes can be expensive.
One more thing:
Avoid the precut produce. It may seem easier, but you can chop your produce at home. It will be cheaper, and you can chop up the produce when you're ready to eat it.
What about frozen produce? Frozen fruits and vegetables are another great way to save money on your grocery bill. You can use them in smoothies and tons of other recipes
Your best friend
Unfortunately, there aren't many options for raw vegans at restaurants. You might be able to find a salad. But then you have to ask for no chicken or cheese, no dressing...
...It will just be lettuce and maybe tomatoes by the time it's edible.
No one wants a boring salad like that. Enter your best friend: meal prep.
As a raw vegan, you HAVE to meal prep. Unless you want to go hungry, you have to bring your own food on the go. You have to cook at home.
The truth is:
If you have busy days during the week, you'll have to make time beforehand to cook enough food for those days.
Planning your meals in advance has another benefit: you'll know what you need to get on your next food shopping trip. And if you like easy snacks, well then stock up on apples, bananas, and other "fast fruits" that don't require prep to eat.
Where to shop
You can shop for food at your local grocery store. As a newbie, you don't have to go crazy with food shopping. Most likely, you already know your grocery store. Now you get to stick to the produce section.
If you want more options for raw vegan foods, try a specialty food store. Whole Foods and similar grocery stores tend to have more healthy options than traditional grocery stores.
And think about this:
Summer is the perfect time to visit your local farmers market. Stock up on some produce you wouldn't find at your local grocery store. You can even ask the farmers about buying in bulk.
Got Veggies? If you have the space, start your own garden. You can save money on produce, and you'll know exactly how your produce was grown and harvested.
What else do you need to start your raw vegan diet? Recipes, of course!
Making the switch from a traditional American diet to raw veganism isn't easy. But if you have a few recipes up your sleeve, you can ease the transition.
Let's look at a few delicious raw vegan recipes.
One raw vegan staple is smoothies. Smoothies are completely customizable. You can pick and choose which fruits and vegetables to use.
While you won't want to use milk as your base, you can use water or a raw nut milk.
Taco Tuesday doesn't have to go away
That's right. You can make raw vegan tacos. Instead of a corn or flour tortilla, you will need romaine or iceberg lettuce. That will be your shell.
Then, you can add spinach, tomatoes, raw sweet corn, avocado...the list goes on.
Just put all of your fillings in the lettuce shell, and you're good to go.
This is another customizable meal that's perfect for a new raw vegan. All you have to do is gather your favorite fruits. Chop them up, and then mix them in a bowl.
Boom! You have a tasty fruit salad that's all your own.
Banana "nice" cream
If you're a fan of ice cream, you'll love this recipe. Raw veganism doesn't mean you have to give up dessert.
One of the easiest raw vegan desserts to make is banana "nice" cream. It's like ice cream but with bananas as the base instead of cream or milk.
Chop up a few bananas then freeze them for a few hours or overnight.
Next, gather your ingredients. You can use any type of fruit or even cacao powder.
Take the bananas out of the freezer then put them into a blender. Start blending the bananas. Then add in your ingredients of choice.
Once you have a nice consistency, you're ready to indulge.
Raw vegan feta cheese
Going raw vegan doesn't have to mean giving up on cheese. You can make vegan "feta" cheese with just a few ingredients.
Start with some almonds, add a few spices, and blend. Once you have a "cheesy" consistency, you can roll it into a ball and grab some raw vegan crackers or vegetables.
Now you have to perfect dip to bring to parties!
Eat Your Way to Health
A raw vegan diet can be intimidating to many because it can feel restrictive. You can't eat animal products or byproducts. Cooked foods are also off the table, literally.
But there's good news:
You can find plenty of tasty treats that do fit into raw veganism. From smoothies to tacos to feta cheese, there are tons of amazing raw vegan recipes out there.
Raw veganism has a long history, dating back as far as humans, if not farther. Since then, people have used the diet to cure illness and get rid of health conditions.
People all over the world choose raw veganism for its health benefits.
But that doesn't mean there aren't risks.
While your heart health can improve as a raw vegan, your bones and muscles might lose some density.
Like with any life change or diet change, you have to create a plan when going raw vegan. Make sure you have enough food on hand to keep you full. Plan your meals.
And don't forget to indulge in a little banana "nice" cream!
Are you a vegan ready to take the plunge into the raw vegan world? Or are you completely starting out? Tell us about your journey in the comments!