Plant-Based Diets

Plant-Based, Raw Food Vegan Diets

vegan wrap

Raw Vegan Diets are Great for Many People

raw produceThe raw food diet is a plant-based diet wherein 75 to 80 percent of what you will be eating are raw or unprocessed. Some of those who follow this do heat their food, but it should not be more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit, as anything above it will decrease or eliminate the essential nutrients in the food. While the majority of the raw food dieters are vegan, there are also those who also incorporate raw animal products such as fish, raw dairy, and specific types of raw meat.

In a raw food diet, you will be eating lots of fresh leafy and non-green vegetables, fruits, organic legumes, sprouts, and seeds and nuts. Organic dried legumes and grains are also highly encouraged in this diet. You can also eat fermented food such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and unpasteurized yogurt, as these contain probiotics which is beneficial for you. For beverages, freshly pressed vegetable and fruit juices are staples for the diet and you can also go for herbal teas. That said, you should avoid any type of processed food, food with refined sugars and flours, pasteurized food, especially dairy, and those which contain caffeine and salt. You should also avoid produce which has been applied with chemical food additives, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.

Ever since the 1800s, when raw food diet was first advocated, there has already been extensive research and evidence associated with the benefits of following this diet. The most common ones include improvement of the digestive system, better liver function, cancer prevention, reduced inflammation, healthier heart, better skin quality, an increase in energy and weight loss.

Raw Food Diets Support Weight Loss

In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that the 43 people in their control group who followed the diet were able to lose nine percent of their body weight from when they started. Another study published in the Southern Medical Journal, where 32 people followed a 62-percent raw food diet, showed that the participants were able to shave 8.3 pounds from their initial body weight after seven months. For people who are near obesity or are overweight, this amount of weight loss can do a lot of wonders for their health and even help prevent the onset of diseases.

A 2005 study documented the dietary lifestyle of 18 individuals under raw food diet and 18 individuals following a typical diet among Americans. The study, which ran for years, showed that after four years, those who follow the raw food diet were able to lower their body mass index. The data showed that the average BMI among male participants on the raw food diet was 13.9 percent compared to 20.8 among males who didn’t eat raw food. Among female participants, the average BMI was 20.8 among those in the raw food diet and 33.5 percent among those who were not.

fresh raw sandwich

Addressing Nutrient & Other Concerns with Raw Food Diets

Like different types of diets, there are things to consider when it comes to following a plant-based raw diet. Those who caution against it claim that certain nutrient deficiencies can take place, including iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Although these are legitimate concerns, these can still be addressed by carefully planning out what to include in the meals of a raw food diet. The thing about this diet is that it does not have restrictions in terms of amount. At the same time, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin D are also present in plant-based foods, although not in high amounts. With that in mind, opting for high nutrient plant-based foods can help you achieve optimum health and avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Another concern raised regarding an all raw food diet is that since it involves minimal or zero cooking, there is some food that will not be digestible. Antioxidants in food, such as lycopene, beta carotene and the compound goitrogen, which helps prevent hyperthyroidism, are all activated by heat and cooking. And lastly, bacteria are eliminated and killed off when food is cooked.  But these shouldn’t stop you from following the raw food diet. You can still lightly steam your food, as long as it does not go higher than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Another technique to make food certain plant-based food digestible is to juice it instead. You can also dehydrate your veggies, sprout grains, and beans to make them easier to consume.

An all raw food diet is not for everyone, especially for those with digestive challenges. Certain individuals lack enzymes in their digestive systems that are capable of breaking down high-fiber diets. This is the case when you have ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease. Cooking food in low to medium heat allows the release of essential vitamins and nutrients that their body is not able to absorb raw.

Even Eating “High Raw” Can Work Well for Health

As noted earlier, following a raw food diet does require quite a bit of preparation and commitment.  For this reason, some people choose to go “high raw” – eating 50 to 75% of their diets as raw vegan and still experience benefits while enjoying some flexibility.  It is entirely difficult to sustain a lifestyle based on eating lots of raw produce. Here are some tips to make it easier for you to ease into the diet and maintain it for a long time.

It is helpful to plan out your meals by making sure that half of the portion is made out of raw, fresh and non-starchy fruits and vegetables. The remaining portion can be cooked in low heat.

When cooking, the temperature can be set to even less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is already enough in steaming and slow cooking your veggies. This is especially helpful when you are concerned about the above-mentioned risks, but at the same time, you won’t be compromising on your diet.

Most raw foodists do not add processed oils to their food.  However, if they do oil, they opt for those with good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, and nut, avocado, or seed oils.  It is important to include some fat in the diet as they have nutrients that help in the production of the hormone, brain development, weight loss, and has anti-inflammatory effects.

raw food rolls

The Raw Foodist Kitchen Typically Includes Lots of Gadgets

Raw foodists rely heavily on kitchen devices for food preparation. Most all have a good juicer and a high-powered blender to create fantastic fruit and vegetable concoctions. You can also buy a dehydrator to preserve fruits and vegetables so you can eat them easily. Another key tool for raw food eating is a spiralizer which allows noodles to be made from zucchini, carrots, or even sweet potatoes.  A simple food processor can let you whip out elegant  recipes with your raw food. By being resourceful and creative, you can definitely sustain and enjoy this new lifestyle towards cleaner and healthier eating.

When eating out, following your raw food diet can sometimes be challenging.  You can always enjoy a fresh salad sprinkled with some raw nuts or seeds. However, if you are concerned with the dressing, you can bring your own or use a fresh avocado. You can also opt to eat in organic restaurants so you have a wider variety of choices compared to typical cafes.

The great thing about the raw food diet is that you won’t be left with the feeling of hunger or dissatisfaction. In fact, you will feel full longer whole foods have longer digestion time. Also, since most of your food choices will veer towards high nutrient per calorie density, you can eat more, without the fear of gaining weight.

Have you every experimented with raw vegan diets?  What was your experience?

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Thriving on Plants is a resource for a whole food, plant-based way of eating and living. Here we celebrate all things plant and honor the power of informed awareness and a diet focused primarily of unprocessed vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains to support good health and happiness. Discover what a little more plant can do for your life!


This website is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing presented here should be construed as a substitute for medical advice. Before beginning any type of new diet (natural or conventional), it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed physician, nutritionist and/or healthcare professional.
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