I’ve been seeing more and more vegans eating completely raw diets and swearing that it is the best thing in the world. There are some, such as Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, who have been raw vegan for decades and are thriving, so they must be doing something right. A big concern of people against a raw vegan diet is the possibility of not getting enough nutrients. Due to health reasons I once went raw for a little over a month and I can say I did experience some positive side effects. What is crucial for any successful change in your eating habits is to do your research, know the changes that might occur in your body, potential side-effects, especially in the early stages, any risks, and so on. Depending on why you plan on switching it up, it may be wise to also speak to a health professional. So, here is a list of the pros and cons as well as risks and benefits of a raw vegan diet.
What you can eat/drink
- Grains, Beans and Legumes – Yes, you can eat grains, beans and legumes as long as they are germinated or sprouted, not cooked. When it comes to beans and legumes, it is best to stick to chickpeas, mung beans, and lentils, as some other types of beans are not easily digested if not cooked. It’s best to stay away from kidney beans and soybeans, for example.
- Fermented food – Sauerkraut, Kimchi and coconut yoghurt are a great source of probiotics for a healthy gut.
- Oils and fats – fill up on healthy fats such as Avocado, coconut oil or cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and dive into all kinds of nuts and seeds as well as some nut butters.
- Herbs, Spices, Condiments – Don’t worry, your food won’t have to taste bland. Most spices are good to go. Also, raw chocolate is fine so no need to miss some nice treats while eating raw.
What not to eat/drink
- Caffeine – skip the coffee, black tea, and green tea, and opt for other things like fresh juices or coconut water.
- Processed and refined foods – no refined carbs like pasta, no canned or boxed foods and no baked goods.
- Proceeded sweeteners – no sugar or artificial sweetener.
- Low intake of sugar, saturated fats – On a raw food diet, you will eat lots of fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats such as nuts which has a lot of benefits for the body. Cutting out unhealthy, processed foods can help improve your digestion and other issues you might have, whether it’s skin issues or anything else. Don’t worry about the natural sugar that occurs in the fruits you will be eating, the important thing is to not eat the processed sugar that most of us eat way too much off.
- High in fibre – If you are not used to a high fibre diet (which, if you are vegan you probably are though), you might be a bit bloated in the beginning. Once the body is used to more fibre it is a great and very important addition. Healthy digestion, lowered risk of hear disease, strokes and other things are a few of the benefits of getting enough fibre.
- Low in sodium – Most people have too much sodium because most foods today have it added to them. Sodium is an important nutrient so don’t leave it out completely, but reducing your sodium intake can be beneficial in the reduction of risk of chronic kidney disease, heart failure and hypertension.
- Can be expensive – Depending on where you live fresh fruits and vegetables can be very expensive, especially if you want to buy organic items. Moreover, not all fruits and vegetabels can be bought all throughout the year or are in season all the time, meaning it can be difficult to get what you are looking for while also not being very ecological. If possible, don’t buy fruit that is not in season in your region.
- Might not be balanced enough – If not done properly, you risk not getting all the nutritions you need or eating far below the calories you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You also have to make sure you get enough protein.
- Unhealthy relationship with food – This is a big one. Coming from me, who has suffered from an eating disorder for a decade, do not use a raw food diet as an excuse to remove certain foods from your diet or to go down a rabbit hole of cutting out carbs and high calorie foods under the disguise of “healthy living”. Eating raw, whether short- or long-term can have many positive benefits, but if you are at risk of disordered eating, eating mainly fruits and vegetables and restricting what you can or cannot eat can lead you down a very unhealthy path. If you want to try raw eating for health reasons, that is great. But please, please, please don’t do it for any other reason.
Before deciding to go raw, whether for a few months or forever, one should consider everything. Look at the pros, the cons, speak to a health professional if you are unsure and do not continue eating raw if you realize you are not getting the nutrients you need. Eating raw is not for everyone. It can have amazing health benefits or be a great “reset” for your body, but only if done properly and with enough research. So, before you start eating only fruits and vegetables without considering important vitamins and nutrients you need, do your research. Only then will a raw food plan succeed.
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