A lot of you girls have been asking my opinion on the raw vegan diet. This diet is pretty popular right now. It promises a lot: a healthier and slimmer body.
But the diet is also incredibly restrictive, and that can cause people to question how good it really is.
Here’s more about the diet itself and my thoughts on it. :)
WHAT IS THE RAW VEGAN DIET?
The raw vegan diet is all about — you guessed it — eating a vegan diet but also sticking to foods that haven’t been cooked much at all.
Some raw fooders say that they don’t want anything cooked, while others are okay with food that has been cooked at 116 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Instead of cooking their food, people on this diet soak, juice, puree, or sprout their meals. Or they just eat things completely raw.
Typically, a raw vegan diet is full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, beans, and legumes. People on this diet can’t eat any animal products (so say goodbye to meat and dairy), and they can’t eat anything that requires extensive cooking.
FOODS THAT YOU CAN EAT
Some of the most common foods on the diet are:
- Fruit that is juiced, dehydrated, dried or fresh
- Raw nuts or seeds
- Raw, juiced, dehydrated vegetables
- Soaked or sprouted beans or legumes
- Nut milks
- Nut butters
- Fermented food like miso
- Vinegar and soy sauce
- Cold-pressed oils
Non-vegans who follow a raw diet eat unpasteurized milk, cheese, and honey, as well as raw fish and meats.
FOODS TO AVOID
People following a raw food diet must avoid:
- Cooked fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, or legumes
- Baked goods (no more bread!)
- Roasted nuts
- Refined or processed food, like candy or chips
- Pasteurized juice (Pasteurization involves heating food to kill bacteria)
- Coffee and tea
HOW DID THIS DIET BECOME POPULAR?
The diet has been around since the 1880s when one doctor suggested his patients follow a 50 percent raw diet. Since then, it’s been popular on and off.
IS THE RAW VEGAN DIET HEALTHY?
People tend to follow this diet for health reasons: they believe that raw foods are healthier than cooked foods.
A lot of people who encourage this diet say that it provides all of the nutrients the human body needs, and they discourage taking supplements or vitamins with it.
To understand if the diet is truly healthy, we need to understand how it is supposed to work.
HOW THE RAW VEGAN DIET IS SUPPOSED TO HELP THE BODY
The raw vegan diet developed around the idea that heat kills off some of the enzymes found in food. Enzymes are the chemicals in food that help our bodies digest and absorb the nutrients.
But not all nutritionists agree that the raw vegan diet does what it is supposed to. Our bodies create their own enzymes that work the
Also, when enzymes from food reach our stomachs, the acid in there normally destroys many of them.
Other fans of the diet love how much it emphasizes eating plants. Getting more greens is good for you, there’s no debate about that. And sticking to a diet like the raw vegan diet forces you to eat your veggies.
THE BENEFITS OF THE RAW VEGAN DIET
MORE GREENS & OTHER GOOD INGREDIENTS
This diet is full of food that really is excellent for you! We could all use some more vegetables in our diet, after all. But fruits, nuts, and legumes are also good for most people (save for intolerances or allergies!).
Eating more vegetables can help you medically by helping protect you against many health problems, including:
- Type Two Diabetes
- Heart disease
- Some forms of cancer (especially stomach cancer later in life)
- High blood pressure
Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and legumes can also help lower cholesterol, reduce your chances of being overweight, and lower your blood pressure.
LESS PROCESSED FOODS
Most of us know that we need to cut back on processed or junk foods. These foods typically have more salt, sugar, or unhealthy fat than necessary. Plus, additives like MSG and Sodium Nitrate can give people headaches, stomach pains, or other health problems.
The raw vegan diet eliminates all processed and junk food, which could help prevent weight gain and other bad side effects in the long run.
GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
The raw vegan diet requires you to do a lot more chewing than a normal diet. Turns out, this might actually be good for you brain. Chewing can trigger parts of the brain that help with learning and memory.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF THE RAW VEGAN DIET
This diet eliminates so many food choices! This can be a disadvantage for a few different reasons.
One, this diet requires that you eliminate foods that are generally accepted as good for you. For example, you can’t eat whole grains like brown rice or quinoa.
Also, it requires you to eat the same thing again and again. I know from experience and from talking to so many women that completely cutting out junk food or treats can mean that you eventually binge them.
Typically, I suggest you try to enjoy a treat or two a week so that you don’t feel deprived. This can actually help you stay on track better than diets that don’t allow you to have anything tasty. :)
IT CAN BE EXPENSIVE
Most people on this diet choose to only purchase organic ingredients to avoid pesticides. I respect the choice and understand the desire to eat well, but I also know that this can be much more expensive.
For some people, the diet might not work with their finances. I totally believe it is possible to eat healthy on a budget.
YOU CAN BE AT RISK FOR DIGESTIVE ISSUES
Eating raw food can put you at risk for food poisoning. There’s a higher chance that your food might have mold, bacteria, or parasites in it. Always make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables under water. :)
Also, the insoluble fiber in fruits and vegetables can be really hard for the body to digest, especially when they are eaten raw. Bloating and gas is a really common side effect of this diet. You might lose weight, but you’ll probably feel pretty uncomfortable doing so.
YOU CAN MISS OUT ON KEY NUTRIENTS
Staying on the raw vegan diet and getting all the nutrients your body needs can be very challenging.
Meat, dairy, and fish provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin D.
People who follow this diet often aren’t eating enough protein. It’s really hard to eat the recommended daily amount of protein on a raw vegan diet. As a result, many raw vegans have lower bone density and mineral content and lower muscle mass than the average person.
CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT ON THE RAW VEGAN DIET?
Yes, you definitely can lose weight on this diet. Because of how restrictive it is, it is very hard to eat too much while on the diet. Many people become raw vegans for weight loss, and they succeed.
I’m actually concerned that you could lose too much weight on this diet, or do it too quickly. In one study that I read, about 30% of women who tried this diet, ended up losing their periods because of the rapid weight loss.
Most doctors recommend that you lose an average of .5 – 1 kilogram a week. Women who lose weight steadily like this are more likely to keep the weight off!
The raw vegan diet can help you eat lots of very healthy foods, keep you away from processed ingredients, and help you lose weight.
If you try this diet, make sure that you do so carefully. I even suggest talking to a doctor to make sure you aren’t losing too much weight or missing out on vitamins! You can even try doing just 70 % or 80% of the diet to see how you adjust to it.
And, remember, different diets work for different people. There are plenty of ways to make sure that you are eating healthy.
Always try to be in tune with your body to make sure you’re feeling good, healthy, and confident! xx