A Raw Vegan Diet?
In recent times the raw food movement has begun to gain more of a following. People around the world are reporting in social media that they have received amazing benefits from eating a diet of raw vegan food. The meals are generally comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds only - with an emphasis on fruit. Those who practice this lifestyle have claimed to have experienced reversal in symptoms of diabetes, remission of cancer, recovery from eating disorders, and many other amazing results. So is this a genuinely sustainable and healing way of eating?
It’s early days. And the long-term scientific studies on raw food diets just aren’t out there. What we do have to go on, though, is the personal experience of people who have tried this lifestyle long-term. If you search the internet you won’t have any trouble finding people who are putting their own experiences and results in the spot light in support of the raw food lifestyle - some of whom have followed this way of eating for a decade or more.
My way of looking at it is this: if nothing else, it is clear that fruits and vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients and health-building substances that have the potential to prevent disease and assist in curing existing conditions. Therefore, it seems obvious that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables - especially organic - can only benefit you. Indeed it is one of the few diets that I am aware of where people experience more than just weight-loss and general well-being but profess reversal of what are considered serious illnesses.
Yet, it makes some sense. We have long known that vegetarianism can contribute to health, and recently veganism has been shown to be equally - if not more - beneficial. Could the precepts of a raw vegan diet be the next step in the ascension to health?
What Better Way To Find Out?
Having tried the raw vegan diet myself was enough to convince me that eating this way could have immediate benefits. Within the first week of embarking on it I felt more energetic and clearer of mind than I could recall ever feeling before. I also found that I slept noticeably better. After a few months of eating raw food I was able to see various positive differences including stronger nails, improved skin, weight loss, improved digestion and a loss of respiratory symptoms that had plagued me for years.
During this time, I noticed a number of things that helped me be successful on this lifestyle, and which made the experience more enjoyable. Here are my Top 7 Tips for embarking on a Raw Vegan Diet:
Tip 1: Transition To Raw Vegan Food Gradually
Because it is such a radically different way of approaching eating, it is important to adopt this lifestyle slowly. Start out by allocating one meal a day as a raw meal - ideally breakfast. This will give you the opportunity to become accustomed to eating meals comprised only of raw fruits and vegetables. Once this becomes natural for you, introduce a second raw food meal and progress from there.
If however, you wish to dive straight into the raw food lifestyle, it's a good idea to do your research. This is because many of the principles of a raw food diet are different to those of a standard diet. When starting out it can be all too easy to under eat, improperly combine your food and focus on the wrong types of food.
Failure to understand the proper way to eat 'raw vegan', and progressing into it too quickly are two main reasons for failure.
Tip 2: Eat More Than You Normally Would
Most of us are accustomed to eating food with a high calorie density, like fried foods and cooked starches, so we eat relatively small portions. On a raw food diet, most of what you will be consuming will be very low in calories but high in water and fiber content. Because of this you will need to eat more than is perhaps natural for you. Make a point to eat more than you would normally, or you will find yourself hungry soon after a raw meal.
To give you an idea of volume, an average raw fruit meal could consist either of 8 - 10 bananas, 3 large papaya or 7 - 8 mangoes, for example.
Raw Vegan Options vs Popular Foods
|Food||Calories||Fat Content (grams)|
100g of chopped bananas
100g of strawberries
100g of quick oatmeal with milk
100g of fried eggs
100g of vienna bread
To Raw or Not to Raw
Tip 3: Eat Mostly Fruit
When you eat a standard diet you rely on the denser calorie sources like cooked starches, meat and oils to provide you with the fuel you need. But when you eliminate cooked food you need a different source of calories to sustain you. On a raw food diet, these calories come mostly from the sugar in fruit. While you can definitely eat raw meals comprised of vegetables only, on the whole, they do not provide enough calories alone to satisfy you for every meal. Instead, try to focus on high calorie fruits like bananas and mangoes for most of your meals.
Tip 4: Eat RIpe Fruit
When your diet is made up predominantly of raw fruit and vegetables, it is more important than ever that the fruit you eat is ripe. Educate yourself on how to determine whether individual fruits are ready to be eaten. Bananas, for instance, will be spotty, when ripe. Stone fruit will be soft and give to the touch, while persimmons are at their best when squishy. Eating properly ripe fruit will ensure that what you are consuming has adequate sugar - which is primarily what you are fuelling yourself on in this lifestyle. It will also help you avoid the stomach aches and bad digestion that can arise from eating fruit that hasn't reached maturity.
Tip 5: Make Smoothies
Trying to eat the large amounts of fruit and vegetables that are needed to succeed on this lifestyle can be difficult. However, changing the consistency of your food makes it easier to eat and is one of the best ways to eat large fruit meals. As such, smoothies are a staple for many raw foodists.
It's important to keep in mind, though that raw smoothies don’t contain milk or yogurt. They are instead most commonly made with a base of bananas, dates and water with other fruit and/or greens added.
Strawberry Date Smoothie
- Check dates for any pits and remove
- Soak dates in the water for at least an hour
- Put all ingredients (including date-soaking water) in a blender
- Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.
- Serve immediately
- 500 grams Strawberries
- 3 Ripe Spotty Bananas, chopped
- 100 grams Dates, soaked
- Ice, (optional)
- 1 cup water
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
Serves one person for a single raw vegan meal
Tip 6: Be Well Prepared
An unexpected part of adopting this lifestyle is that it challenges so many of the habits that serve us well on a normal diet. You simply cannot stock your cupboards once a fortnight and be adequately prepared. Almost all of what you will subsist on is perishable, and much of it needs to be purchased and ripened ahead of time.
Being prepared on this diet can mean going to the market multiple times a week, or it may mean buying fruit a couple of weeks in advance of when you will actually need it. Having a constant supply of ripe fruit ready for the eating will be an art that you will learn, but till then, err on the side of caution and buy a little extra. You can usually freeze excess fruit once it has been ripened.
It can be helpful at the outset to make tentative meal plans for the fortnight. That will give you an idea about the amount of food you need to buy to set aside for ripening, and what you can afford to leave to the last minute, e.g. herbs and fresh vegetables. If you run out of ripe fruit you will find yourself turning to cooked food out of sheer necessity.
Tip 7: Keep Your Fat Intake Low
When you are not used to living on food which has a low calorie density, it is easy to under eat and find yourself ravenously hungry. Because nuts and seeds, avocado and coconuts are part of the raw food diet, it can be easy to lean on these denser calorie sources when you find yourself peckish. Although high fat raw foods are more filling, they will prevent you from eating the large amounts of fruit and vegetables that are the very reason that this diet is so health-giving. It also will not assist you if you are seeking weight-loss. Some raw foodists also claim that including a lot of fat in their diet has disagreeable effects including low energy and breakouts. Hence, many raw vegans now advocate keeping fat intake low.
The Raw Vegan Guidebook
Further Raw Food Reading
- What Is the Raw Till 4 Diet?
The Raw Till 4 Diet is considered controversial by many as it encourages a high amount of carbohydrates. Despite this, the diet has been known to cause weight loss when followed for a length of time.
- 'Just Fruit' Breakfast Smoothies
Could eating 'just fruit' smoothies set you off on the right foot for the day? Find out about the benefits of smoothies - and discover the easy and healthy low fat Carrot Breakfast Smoothie.
- Who Is Freelee The Banana Girl?
Freelee the Banana Girl, as she is known, is a pioneer and leader within the Raw Vegan Community and in the growing High Carb Movement. She is also the inspired creator of the Raw Till 4 Lifestyle.
Nicholas Daly from NSW Australia on March 10, 2015:
Yeah I like raw vegan restaurants around the place.. I imagine people who eat that way do have a lot of smoothies and juices, but to the average person (&-or people who are new to (raw) veganism) that might or would likely seem less appealing as they're used to not only meals but hot meals & various things in each meal.. I admire people who are thriving on the diet no matter how they go about it given it can be so healthy..
Rota (author) on March 10, 2015:
On the contrary, the people who eat this way tend to eat smoothies twice daily quite often. Blenders and Juicers are quite different. I'd advise you to get a high speed blender, above anything else.
As for other suggestions..well if you are going to eat a raw vegan diet it's a lot about salads. Failing that, raw 'sushi', raw burritos (using a large lettuce leaf to wrap), and raw zucchini pasta, etc. Really, changing to a raw vegan diet is a big step. You need to arm yourself with lots of knowhow or you won't be able to do it successfuly..check out well-known youtubers like 40BelowFruity and FullyRawKristina. They have lots of excellent recipe ideas
Nicholas Daly from NSW Australia on March 09, 2015:
Yeah I love smoothies and juices, I was curious if you had further suggestions (such as salads as you've just mentioned at the end) as most people would not have smoothies or juices several times a day.. I really need to get a juicer/blender whatever the name is haha.. Major optimum nutrient losses going on no doubt!
Rota (author) on March 09, 2015:
Point taken about the 'normal diet' reference...so true - whats normal? Haven't begun supplementing yet, but will soon, with B12. B12 is not a vegan issue as I'm sure you are aware, but is generally a problem in the wider population. Like many, I haven't been addressing this. Thanks for the reminder.
Broccoli can be made into a green juice. Just combine apple and broccoli. Use lots more apple than brocolli if the taste is unpleasant. failing that, cut into florets and use along with other sliced vegetables as finger foods with dip. Find an avocado-based dip that you like. It will go well in this scenario.
As for kale, my absolute favourite way to use kale is by making a juice created by FullyRaw Kristina on Youtube. Pass kale leaves (minus the stalks) and green grapes through a juicer. The resulting juice is delicious. Should it be to sweet for you i suggest you add a squeeze of lime just before drinking.
In general, kale, spinach, etc are easiest to add to the diet by adding to banana smoothies. The presence of dates will further assist the masking of the taste if it is something you dislike. Eating fruit like pineapple, pawpaw, sliced apples or citrus on your evening salads also does a world of good making greens pleasurable to eat.
Hope this helps!
Nicholas Daly from NSW Australia on March 08, 2015:
Noticed you're also in NSW, I mostly live vegan as it's just good and becoming easier socially too (not that that should be as significant in decision making as I'm suggesting it is!)- I have friends who are mostly raw but succumb in restaurants (but some manage to do it all the time).. I guess you use b12 supplements? This is a good hub, do you have another tip on what you do with things like spinach, kale and broccoli to "liven them up" or what have you? The only other thing I thought of, at one point you say "normal diet"- I avoid using that phrase in general & these days it's not always clear what is meant (in NSW no doubt a meat heavy one, but that's not true in other places..). Either way, thanks for writing about this topic!
Rota (author) on February 10, 2015:
That's great to hear Melissa Orourke! I was a vegetarian for more than 6 years before I gradually got into raw food. I can't tell you how much of a difference increasing your consumption of raw food can make...I always thought vegetarianism was healthy enough as it is - but going 'more-raw' just takes you to another level. Good luck!
Melissa Orourke from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras on February 10, 2015:
I think I am going to start incorporating more raw food meals , in our
primarily vegetarian diet!
Rota (author) on February 10, 2015:
That's great! Hope you will have the opportunity. Thanks for commenting
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 10, 2015:
one day if i am living alone, I will go on vegan diet
Rota (author) on January 27, 2015:
Hi poetryman6969. I do agree with you that a pure fruit diet is inadequate. Definitely need your dark green veggies etc. And yes, whole food is always better than packaged stuff. Thanks for stopping by!
poetryman6969 on January 27, 2015:
I think a pure fruit diet is bad for you. But more veggies is always good. That and there is no minimum daily requirement for refined sugar so deep sixing the fructose and the packaged stuff is probably a good thing.
Rota (author) on December 14, 2014:
Thanks a lot for ur support.
Nicu from Oradea, Romania on December 13, 2014:
This is very useful for who want to begin a healthy diet. Thanks for your tips.