- Food and Cooking
How To Become A Raw Vegan
A Raw Vegan Diet?
In recent times the raw food movement has begun to gain more of a following. People around the world are reporting in social media that they have received amazing benefits from eating a diet of raw vegan food. The meals are generally comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds only - with an emphasis on fruit. Those who practice this lifestyle have claimed to have experienced reversal in symptoms of diabetes, remission of cancer, recovery from eating disorders, and many other amazing results. So is this a genuinely sustainable and healing way of eating?
It’s early days. And the long-term scientific studies on raw food diets just aren’t out there. What we do have to go on, though, is the personal experience of people who have tried this lifestyle long-term. If you search the internet you won’t have any trouble finding people who are putting their own experiences and results in the spot light in support of the raw food lifestyle - some of whom have followed this way of eating for a decade or more.
My way of looking at it is this: if nothing else, it is clear that fruits and vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients and health-building substances that have the potential to prevent disease and assist in curing existing conditions. Therefore, it seems obvious that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables - especially organic - can only benefit you. Indeed it is one of the few diets that I am aware of where people experience more than just weight-loss and general well-being but profess reversal of what are considered serious illnesses.
Yet, it makes some sense. We have long known that vegetarianism can contribute to health, and recently veganism has been shown to be equally - if not more - beneficial. Could the precepts of a raw vegan diet be the next step in the ascension to health?
What Better Way To Find Out?
Having tried the raw vegan diet myself was enough to convince me that eating this way could have immediate benefits. Within the first week of embarking on it I felt more energetic and clearer of mind than I could recall ever feeling before. I also found that I slept noticeably better. After a few months of eating raw food I was able to see various positive differences including stronger nails, improved skin, weight loss, improved digestion and a loss of respiratory symptoms that had plagued me for years.
During this time, I noticed a number of things that helped me be successful on this lifestyle, and which made the experience more enjoyable. Here are my Top 7 Tips for embarking on a Raw Vegan Diet:
Tip 1: Transition To Raw Vegan Food Gradually
Because it is such a radically different way of approaching eating, it is important to adopt this lifestyle slowly. Start out by allocating one meal a day as a raw meal - ideally breakfast. This will give you the opportunity to become accustomed to eating meals comprised only of raw fruits and vegetables. Once this becomes natural for you, introduce a second raw food meal and progress from there.
If however, you wish to dive straight into the raw food lifestyle, it's a good idea to do your research. This is because many of the principles of a raw food diet are different to those of a standard diet. When starting out it can be all too easy to under eat, improperly combine your food and focus on the wrong types of food.
Failure to understand the proper way to eat 'raw vegan', and progressing into it too quickly are two main reasons for failure.
Tip 2: Eat More Than You Normally Would
Most of us are accustomed to eating food with a high calorie density, like fried foods and cooked starches, so we eat relatively small portions. On a raw food diet, most of what you will be consuming will be very low in calories but high in water and fiber content. Because of this you will need to eat more than is perhaps natural for you. Make a point to eat more than you would normally, or you will find yourself hungry soon after a raw meal.
To give you an idea of volume, an average raw fruit meal could consist either of 8 - 10 bananas, 3 large papaya or 7 - 8 mangoes, for example.
Raw Vegan Options vs Popular Foods
Fat Content (grams)
100g of chopped bananas
100g of strawberries
100g of quick oatmeal with milk
100g of fried eggs
100g of vienna bread
To Raw or Not to Raw
Would you consider trying a Raw Vegan Diet?
Tip 3: Eat Mostly Fruit
When you eat a standard diet you rely on the denser calorie sources like cooked starches, meat and oils to provide you with the fuel you need. But when you eliminate cooked food you need a different source of calories to sustain you. On a raw food diet, these calories come mostly from the sugar in fruit. While you can definitely eat raw meals comprised of vegetables only, on the whole, they do not provide enough calories alone to satisfy you for every meal. Instead, try to focus on high calorie fruits like bananas and mangoes for most of your meals.
Tip 4: Eat RIpe Fruit
When your diet is made up predominantly of raw fruit and vegetables, it is more important than ever that the fruit you eat is ripe. Educate yourself on how to determine whether individual fruits are ready to be eaten. Bananas, for instance, will be spotty, when ripe. Stone fruit will be soft and give to the touch, while persimmons are at their best when squishy. Eating properly ripe fruit will ensure that what you are consuming has adequate sugar - which is primarily what you are fuelling yourself on in this lifestyle. It will also help you avoid the stomach aches and bad digestion that can arise from eating fruit that hasn't reached maturity.
Tip 5: Make Smoothies
Trying to eat the large amounts of fruit and vegetables that are needed to succeed on this lifestyle can be difficult. However, changing the consistency of your food makes it easier to eat and is one of the best ways to eat large fruit meals. As such, smoothies are a staple for many raw foodists.
It's important to keep in mind, though that raw smoothies don’t contain milk or yogurt. They are instead most commonly made with a base of bananas, dates and water with other fruit and/or greens added.
Strawberry Date Smoothie
- Check dates for any pits and remove
- Soak dates in the water for at least an hour
- Put all ingredients (including date-soaking water) in a blender
- Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.
- Serve immediately
- 500 grams Strawberries
- 3 Ripe Spotty Bananas, chopped
- 100 grams Dates, soaked
- Ice, (optional)
- 1 cup water
|Serving size: 1 Litre|
|Calories from Fat||27|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 3 g||5%|
|Carbohydrates 288 g||96%|
|Sugar 201 g|
|Fiber 28 g||112%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
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Tip 6: Be Well Prepared
An unexpected part of adopting this lifestyle is that it challenges so many of the habits that serve us well on a normal diet. You simply cannot stock your cupboards once a fortnight and be adequately prepared. Almost all of what you will subsist on is perishable, and much of it needs to be purchased and ripened ahead of time.
Being prepared on this diet can mean going to the market multiple times a week, or it may mean buying fruit a couple of weeks in advance of when you will actually need it. Having a constant supply of ripe fruit ready for the eating will be an art that you will learn, but till then, err on the side of caution and buy a little extra. You can usually freeze excess fruit once it has been ripened.
It can be helpful at the outset to make tentative meal plans for the fortnight. That will give you an idea about the amount of food you need to buy to set aside for ripening, and what you can afford to leave to the last minute, e.g. herbs and fresh vegetables. If you run out of ripe fruit you will find yourself turning to cooked food out of sheer necessity.
Tip 7: Keep Your Fat Intake Low
When you are not used to living on food which has a low calorie density, it is easy to under eat and find yourself ravenously hungry. Because nuts and seeds, avocado and coconuts are part of the raw food diet, it can be easy to lean on these denser calorie sources when you find yourself peckish. Although high fat raw foods are more filling, they will prevent you from eating the large amounts of fruit and vegetables that are the very reason that this diet is so health-giving. It also will not assist you if you are seeking weight-loss. Some raw foodists also claim that including a lot of fat in their diet has disagreeable effects including low energy and breakouts. Hence, many raw vegans now advocate keeping fat intake low.
The Raw Vegan Guidebook
Dr Douglas Graham is seen by some as the father of the raw food movement, and by most as a pioneer. Regardless, his book, the 80/10/10 diet is an invaluable resource to anyone looking into the raw vegan lifestyle - an informative read that will make you look at our ideas of health and diet in a new light.
Further Raw Food Reading
- What Is the Raw Till 4 Diet?
The Raw Till 4 Diet is considered controversial by many as it encourages a high amount of carbohydrates. Despite this, the diet has been known to cause weight loss when followed for a length of time.
- 'Just Fruit' Breakfast Smoothies
Could eating 'just fruit' smoothies set you off on the right foot for the day? Find out about the benefits of smoothies - and discover the easy and healthy low fat Carrot Breakfast Smoothie.
- Who Is Freelee The Banana Girl?
Freelee the Banana Girl, as she is known, is a pioneer and leader within the Raw Vegan Community and in the growing High Carb Movement. She is also the inspired creator of the Raw Till 4 Lifestyle.