Shortly after becoming vegan, I started collecting books on raw foods, and the idea of a purely raw diet has fascinated me since. Consuming oodles of live enzymes from fresh, hydrating foods has its allure for several reasons.
For one, you’d get the full benefit of the enzymes, mineral, and vitamins in produce. When foods are heated above 118 degrees, these health-giving components begin to break down.
You’d also not have to worry about cooked oil. It’s easy to overheat oil during the cooking process, making it rancid and carcinogenic. On that note, you’d never have to clean another heavy pan!
And let’s not forget, there are no doubt many beauty benefits to be had from a (balanced) raw diet. The plethora of raw foodies I follow report glowing skin, clearer eyes, slimmer waistlines, shinier hair, etc.
Sound like a utopia, right?
For these reasons and others, I try to eat as much raw food as possible—but I’ve never gone fully raw—not even for a day! Although I’ve certainly considered it, I admittedly feel physically and psychologically dependent on having some cooked foods, mainly warm foods. Perhaps I can blame my tiny size—but I’m constantly cold. If it’s below 60 degrees, my bones feel cold. Sometimes hot oatmeals just feels so right. You can see why I’m hesitant about an all raw diet—for my body, at least.
Nonetheless, the fantasy of an all-raw (or largely raw) diet still looms large.
I recently had the pleasure of eating at an all raw restaurant in Salt Lake City called “Rawtopia.” Fittingly, the food was heavenly—the best I’ve had on this long trek across the West. Other than being raw, the food was organic, vegan, and gluten-free.
As I thoroughly enjoyed my “Creamy Kale Salad,” I contemplated the raw lifestyle once again. My tendency towards being chilled to the bone hasn’t been as strong on this trip—after all, I’m usually sitting in direct sunlight in the car and the weather has been in the 90s—at least. Raw food and juice seem far more appetizing–and no doubt, I feel my body prefers it to cooked foods in these conditions.
Since every body is different, I think it’s smart to customize your diet by listening to your body as much as possible. And even then, the body may need something a little different every day depending on the weather, your health, your activity level, etc.
That’s the rational side of me talking, of course. Even though I feel my body needs cooked food from time to time, as soon as I start sautéing veggies, the “cooking guilt” sets in, which makes me worry: when does my health-consciousness cross the line into self-restriction?
I am very curious to hear your thoughts, readers. What has been your experience when raw food diets? Am I the only one who reaches for a sweater at the thought of raw soup? How have you listened to your bodies and customized your diet accordingly?
Photos: Mary Hood