What is a raw vegan diet and is it healthy?
If cooking isn’t on your priority list or it’s a particularly sweltering day, the idea of not having to roast vegetables or fry crispy tofu sounds pretty appealing. Maybe you sometimes avoid cooking for plant-based smoothies and salads. If so, then you’ve already tried your hand at raw veganism. But what does a strictly raw vegan diet entail? And is it for everyone?
What is a Raw Vegan Diet?
A raw vegan diet consists of foods eaten raw or heated to temperatures below 104-118 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is that cooking foods destroys their nutrients, which is true in some cases, but not all. (More on this later.)
Raw diets tend to be low in processed foods. This means that all roasted, steamed, fried, sautéed, boiled, pressure-cooked, pan-fried, broiled or broiled foods are off the table – so no roasted vegetables, grilled veggie burgers, cereals and cooked beans, pasta, bread, most kinds of nut butters, jams, vegan ice cream, or pasteurized non-dairy milk. This also means, of course, no animal products, including honey. It generally excludes table salt, but some raw vegans may use Himalayan pink or sea salt.
Proponents of a raw vegan diet tend to be health-driven (although there may be crossovers with animal rights and sustainability ethics) and the belief that you can get all the nutrients you need. from raw foods. Food preparation may involve blending, juicing, soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and dehydrating instead of traditional cooking methods.
So what can raw vegans eat?
With so many “no” foods, what exactly can a raw vegan eat? Breakfast could be a smoothie made with frozen bananas, fresh berries, spinach and raw almond butter or mashed avocado with chopped cilantro and diced tomatoes on raw bread made with nuts and seeds in a dehydrator.
Lunch could be a salad of chopped broccoli with red cabbage, diced shallots, unroasted sunflower seeds, dried fruit and raw vegan cheese, dressed with cold-pressed olive oil, juice of lemon, fresh garlic and raw tahini. Or, you could have this avocado-jalapeño soup. For dinner, you could make these raw vegan tostadas. And for dessert? These no-bake lime pies. This is a general idea of what can be eaten, but here is a more comprehensive list:
- Sprouted seeds and legumes
- Fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, miso paste, and coconut kefir
- Seaweed, such as wakame, hijiki, dulse, and Irish moss
- Raw herbs and spices
- Condiments like vinegar, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and nama shoyu (unpasteurized raw soy sauce)
- nutritional yeast
- raw chocolate
Speaking of oils… Some raw vegans avoid them altogether while others use options like cold-pressed olive oil, raw coconut oil, raw flaxseed oil, and coconut oil. of raw hemp. Avocados, nuts and seeds tend to be the main sources of fat. Sweeteners are also generally excluded – maple syrup is heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, but raw vegan recipes that use it are also easy to find. Raw agave nectar is acceptable to use.
What are the benefits of a raw vegan diet?
Obviously, a raw vegan diet is rich in plant foods, which have been linked to numerous health benefits.
It’s full of healthy plant-based foods
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to low blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Nuts, seeds and grains are related to reduce cholesterol. According to a 2017 study meta-analysis of 49 studies. This also includes legumes, which must be sprouted to be part of a raw vegan diet. Sprouts are simply seeds that have started to sprout. You can buy sprouts at the store or you can make it at home in a vented jar.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a 2021 study meta-analysis of 23 studies published in the British medical journal. Nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes are also linked to lower blood sugar.
Raw vegan diets tend to be high in fiber, which is linked to lower blood pressure and better digestion. Plant-based diets — those that consist mostly of whole foods, which don’t need to be raw — are high in soluble fiber (found in nuts, seeds, sprouted lentils, and sprouted barley) and insoluble fiber (sprouted vegetables and seeds). whole grains). The former nourishes healthy gut bacteria while the latter helps prevent constipation. Both can help you feel full longer after eating, so they can also help with weight management.
Some of these foods are more nutrient dense
Returning to the core belief of a raw vegan diet: certain fruits and vegetables do lose their nutritional value when cooked, but it’s not as simple as “raw broccoli = good, cooked broccoli = bad”, for example. Sauté or Boil This Cruciferous Vegetable lowers its vitamin C content of 38% and 33%, respectively, but microwaved or steamed broccoli helps preserve its antioxidant content. Generally, cooked vegetables are lower in vitamin C, but this vitamin is also abundant in fresh fruits.
Another notable plus is a 2008 study published in the British Journal of Nutritionwhich found that 198 people who followed a raw food diet had high levels of beta-carotene and normal levels of vitamin A. However, they had low levels of the antioxidant lycopene.
It is low in saturated fat
Since many raw vegans get most of their fat from nuts, seeds, or avocados, the diet is low in saturated fat. So it’s also naturally free of fried foods, a known source of unstable molecules called free radicals, which damage DNA, cell membranes and other parts of cells. This happens because the high temperatures cause the fatty acids in the oil to oxidize, which means they degrade in quality.
Are there any downsides to a raw vegan diet?
No matter what type of diet you’re considering, it’s essential to go into it knowing the pros and cons, and raw veganism is no exception.
Germs are not safe for everyone
Sprouts are grown in warm, moist environments, which is exactly the type of conditions in which the bacteria responsible for foodborne illness thrive. The Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsthere were a few E.coli and Salmonella germ-related outbreaks in recent years. When buying sprouts, choose those that are refrigerated and avoid anything that looks moldy or slimy. Store them in an insulated shopping bag and refrigerate them immediately.
Some foods are healthier when cooked
Cooked tomatoes may contain less vitamin C than raw ones, but they are higher in the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect the body against cell and tissue damage, according to a Cornell University. study.
Cooked spinach contains 53% less oxalic acid, which reduces your body’s ability to absorb iron and calcium. It is also higher in folate. Cooked carrots are higher in beta-carotene and antioxidants. Steaming cabbage reduces the number of isothiocyanates, which can interfere with iodine absorption. According to a study of the Technological Research Center on Mushrooms of La Rioja in Spain. (However, boiling and drying thoroughly does the opposite.) Steaming also helps preserve the antioxidants in zucchini and broccoli.
It may not be nutritionally adequate in the long term
A well-planned plant-based diet can be suitable for all ages, as long as it includes fortified foods and supplements to make up for the nutrients it is deficient in.
These to understand vitamin B12 (supports blood and nervous system health and contributes to the manufacture of DNA), vitamin D (regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helps regulate the immune system), iodine (reduces the risk of thyroid disease), calcium (crucial for bone health), and zinc (helps immune system and metabolic function and wound healing). Studies have shown that raw vegan diets tend to be low in vitamin B12calcium and vitamin D.
Proponents of the raw vegan tend to discourage the use of iodized salt, and iodine is essential for proper thyroid function.
It is not accessible to everyone
A raw vegan diet may not be sustainable in the long term. Lack of bread, cooked cereals, and cooked legumes can make it difficult to get enough calories each day without frequent meals, which can make it too restrictive to be a 24/7 thing. Some preparation methods, such as dehydrating, chopping produce, juicing, and sprouting, can also take time. Premade sprouted and dehydrated foods can also be prohibitively expensive, making a long-term strictly raw diet unaffordable for many.
How to Start a Raw Vegan Diet
If you’re curious about a raw vegan diet, the best way to start would be to try a few meals. Try some of our favorite raw vegan recipes, including Raw Vegan Swedish Truffles, Raw Vegan Tostadas, and Raw Vegan Coconut Cauliflower “Stir Fry” in a Zesty Lime Vinaigrette. If you’re looking for more, a quick Google search will bring you page upon page of other free recipes. If you like a curated selection, then a cookbook, like modern raw by Rachel Carr or Raw. Vegan. Not rude. by Laura Miller might be what you’re looking for.
To learn more about the vegan diet, read:
How to Go Vegan: A Beginner’s Guide
5 Reasons to Ditch Keto and Go Vegan
15 Vegan Protein Sources That Might Surprise You