Much like their vegan counterparts, raw vegans exclude the intake of all animal-based products from their diets. The dietary practice has the additional concept of consuming only fresh (uncooked) food items or foods heated at low temperature. For most adults, consuming fruits and vegetables is a guilty chore they undertake as a bare minimum to have a healthy diet. They consider ‘healthy foods’ bland, and it is no wonder that a popular misconception about vegans is that taste and flavour are not relevant to them when it comes to what they choose to consume.
So is the raw vegan diet healthy? The short answer is yes … but! It is a healthy pure diet but you must be eating a variety of good quality foods and be sure to have enough good fats in your diet, also check your protein sources, as long as you eat a good mix of foods you should find you can fulfil all your dietary needs easily.
The raw vegan diet, however, has a variety of healthy, easy and delicious meal prep options that anyone can try! Here is a small style guide to becoming a raw vegan.
How to follow a raw vegan diet
The first thing you need to know about a raw vegan diet is that it involves solely consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. It may seem menacing at first, switching from an utterly nonrestrictive diet to one that centres utterly on plant-based foods but the health benefits make it worth a try in the long run.
So, how does one follow a nutritionally adequate raw vegan diet?
• Eat enough
The thing with eating animal-based foods is you can easily get many calories from tiny portions. With the raw vegan diet, you are mainly eating fresh plant-based foods, which are the poster child for weight loss and proper nutrition due to their naturally low calorie make up. One has to eat then enough to get an adequate number of calories to get through the day. This does not mean that you have to be continually eating through the day but that you ensure your meals have enough calories and nutrients.
One can blend healthy fat fruits and seeds such as chia and flax seeds for good measure into salad dressings, sauces and smoothies are one way to ensure you remain full and get a sufficient amount of calories for the day.
• Identifying simple recipes
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘raw vegan recipes’ is usually gourmet meals. Especially when one goes online, there are countless of heavy duty delicious looking recipes that may pressure one into an unsustainable meal plan. Gourmet meals do not have to be the order of the day, and raw vegan recipes can be as simple as mixing different fruits and seeds in a bowl for breakfast or as a snack.
• Have a meal plan
The nature of a raw vegan diet allows you to quickly put something together and pop it in the fridge for later. Making a fruit salad, smoothie or a vegetable wrap takes only a few minutes, and your snacking options can comprise of nuts or a mixture of whole grains and seeds. It’s always advisable to be prepared to avoid falling into old habits of picking processed foods from your local store as a quick snack.
Myths and misconceptions
There are many opinions online that try to prove that veganism is not nutritionally adequate and that animal-based foods are more abundant in certain nutrients. Such ideas could deter a beginner, and that is why we have taken the liberty to answer a few FAQs and concerns about the raw vegan diet below.
Can a raw vegan diet provide me with the same healthy nutrients associated with an animal based diet?
Yes, one can quickly get the same amount of nutrients from a plant-based diet. There is an adequate amount of protein, calcium, iron and omega 3 and 6 in seeds like flax and chia. You can also get your iron from broccoli, beans and cashews.
Can I be on a raw vegan diet and I don’t want to lose weight?
Yes, though plant-based foods are low on calories and naturally help with weight loss, most have ‘healthy fat’. Foods like nuts and fruits such as avocados, bananas and coconut are very rich in healthy fats whose un-portioned consumption could result in weight gain. People also quickly forget that fruits are rich natural sugar and fibre, albeit they are more robust than processed sugars; one still does not have to worry about involuntarily losing a chunk of weight.
Can I afford a raw vegan diet?
Fruits and vegetables which make up the raw vegan diet are generally high priced items, especially when organic. So that is a considerable concern; however, there are some tricks one can use to ensure they do not break the bank for a healthier lifestyle.
• Buy seasonal and locally grown fruits (support the farmers market)
• Plan and buy in bulk, once you identify your meal needs for the week, you can buy all your ingredients in large quantities which is cheaper, and they can take you through a week or two.
• Avoid going grocery shopping when hungry as you are more likely to buy unnecessary items. Try to eat a meal or snack before leaving the house.
Pros of a raw vegan diet
• Plant-based diets cut out a lot of unhealthy things like refined sugars and animal fat which in turn reduces the risk factors that lead to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.
• Consumption of a plant-based diet reduces one’s carbon footprint as there are more natural resources that go into meat production in comparison.
• Aids in weight loss, plant-based foods have more nutrients than calories; as a result, it is a good option for those trying to lose weight.
• A plant-based diet improves skin clarity and reduces the appearance of wrinkles due to the myriad of nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in such foods.
• Consuming clean sources of carbohydrates, sugars and protein leaves you feeling more energised for longer, unlike nonrestrictive diets that provide you with spurts of energy that leave you feeling fatigued.
• Vegetables and fruits are high in fibre and help with digestion making constipation a thing of the past.
Cons of a raw vegan diet
• Vegetables such as parsnips, alfalfa sprouts and buckwheat contain certain chemicals that become toxic when continually consumed fresh.
• Applying heat to food kills bacteria making it safer to ingest and also makes certain nutrients more easily absorbed by the body.
• Some people will find it harder to digest the fibre that abundantly found in a raw vegan diet, and this could lead to bowel irritation.
All in all
Many health benefits come with a raw vegan diet, and we are often encouraged by doctors and health experts to increase our fruit and vegetable intake. Though there could be some lingering concerns in terms of losing considerable weight and having deficiencies due to only consuming plant-based foods; one should keep in mind that a well-planned and coordinated diet plan will give you adequate nutrients and leave you healthy and energised.
For beginners, it is recommended to heat their vegetables such as broccoli on low fire to aid in the transition process. There are also many cookbooks that offer on the go and gourmet recipes for the raw vegan that can guide you on a variety of tasty meal preps.
The raw vegan diet is a dietary practice that the body will end up loving!