What about the raw diet?
I’ve had a number of folks ask my opinion on the raw diet. I think people view the raw diet as a natural progression after becoming vegan - part of a dietary evolution. I don’t. While some people become raw foodists after being vegan for a peiod of time, others move into the raw food diet without ever being vegan. And, since there are variations on the raw diet that are very unvegan (ex: raw milk), a raw diet doesn’t necessarily evolve from one that is vegan.
A raw diet is comprised of foods that are not cooked and in a very natural and whole state, typically organic and with few processed ingredients (if any). Foods are not heated above about 46-48 degrees Celsius (114-118 F) to preserve the living energy of the food. There is a general belief that if someone consumes at least 75% of raw foods in their diet, that they are considered a raw foodist. I doubt that strict raw foodists agree with this 75% rule, however it seems to be prevalent amongst blogs and other sites. If you are a raw food vegan, there are no animal products in your diet, such as raw milk, sushi, or honey. Raw veganism has become a hot marketing trend in cookbooks, food products (ex: energy bars), and restaurant dining.
With all this raw foodism buzz, I think some vegans wonder if they should progress with their dietary changes and become ‘raw’. Would I?
I estimate that I probably eat about 55-65% raw. I don’t know if I could, or would ever, eat 100% raw. Not because I think the diet is uninteresting. Quite the opposite. Much like the vegan diet, I think raw foods are greatly misunderstood. They can be rich in flavor, textures, and exquisitely prepared. Raw dishes can excite the palate and satisfy any cravings. I am very intrigued by the raw diet, and incorporate elements in my own cooking and recipes. Not become fully raw, but rather to enjoy an entirely new branch of vegan cookery that brings new tastes to our table. I am particularly fond of raw dessert recipes. Many of them are simpler to prepare than raw entrees, and they are a very healthful way to satisfy that relentless sweet tooth!
Why not eat raw all the time if I love it so much? It’s simply not for me (and my family) at this time in our lives, and I don’t know if it ever will be. As a mom raising three children, it would be incredibly challenging to follow a raw diet. There is a heavy reliance on nuts and seeds on a raw diet. With children in school, it would be near impossible to pack raw lunches during the week with the prevalence of nut allergies. I love to eat plenty of raw foods – with every meal. I feel my digestion benefits from the digestive enzymes in living foods. However, I notice I do not feel my best if I overdo my consumption of raw foods. It aggravates my ‘vata’ constitution (Ayurveda). As a strong vata dosha, I can tend towards eating a lot of cold and raw foods, which creates imbalance for my constitution. (Ayurveda is fascinating, check out this link through to learn a little more for yourself.) Also, I think a raw diet can be challenging if you aren’t living in a warm climate that is abundant in a variety of fresh, local organic produce. Living in Canada, this time of year the variety of organic fruits and veggies is unfortunately waning. This is the time of year to eat root vegetables, squash, and tubers instead of strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini and fresh basil (sadly). I don’t know if I could get through fall and winter without cooking up weekly pots of soups, chock full of beans and warm, earthy spices. Yet, with that soup or stew, I always have a fresh salad on the side – again, the digestive enzymes. These are just a few reasons that I will not eat fully raw… not to mention that if I yanked baked potatoes, toast, and waffles from our diet, hubby might just sign me up for wife swap! Nevertheless, I embrace raw foods as a component of my diet, and think eating a large portion of raw, unprocessed foods is very beneficial in our diets.