A raw vegan diet may be new to many people but without doubt has major advantages. But what is it and how do you start on it?
It may well not be for everyone, at least full-time. In this article I want to look not only at the benefits of raw veganism, but also how to start a raw vegan diet and some challenges that you might experience if you choose to undertake this.
What is a raw vegan diet?
A raw diet is an approach that emphasizes the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed plant based foods. It’s a lifestyle choice that (of course) excludes all animal products and involves eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains in their raw, natural state. So let’s look at the raw vegan diet benefits.
One of the primary advantages of a raw vegan diet is its emphasis on nutrient dense-foods. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting overall health and well being. By consuming these foods in their raw form, individuals can maximize their nutritional content, as heat and the cooking processes can often reduce the nutrient value of most foods, raw vegan diets can provide an abundance of vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate and minerals like potassium and magnesium. I am sure we have all thought of how much of a plant’s nutrients are poured away with the water that a vegetable was boiled in!
Increased fiber intake
Raw vegan diets are naturally high in fiber. As we all know fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Consuming an adequate amount of deity fiber helps promote regular bowel movements, prevent constipation, and support gut health. Additionally, a high fiber diet can help control blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol levels, and support weight management by providing a feeling of fullness and reducing calorie intake. The inclusion of fibre with other intake tends to slow down, and regulate the absorbtion of sugars and fats in the gut. A lack of fiber has also been associated with many illnesses starting in the stomach and bowel but impacting the whole body. One large study (reflected in nutritional facts.org) concluded that 97% of Americans are deficient in fiber. Just to stress the fact, for those who eat them, meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese have no fiber whatsoever. Fast “junk” food contains very little.
Enhanced digestive health
Raw vegan foods are often easier to digest compared to cooked or heavily processed foods. More fruits, vegetables, and sprouted grains contain natural enzymes that aid in the digestion process, making it easier for the body to break down and absorb nutrients, these enzymes can contribute to improved digestion, reduce bloating and put less strain on the digestive system. The high water content found in many raw foods also helps prevent dehydration and support overall digestive health. However it is important to bear in mind that we all need to be correctly hydrated to benefit from any of our menu choices, it is just this one helps a little more than others.
Improved energy levels
Many individuals who adopt a raw vegan diet report increased energy levels and improved vitality. Raw plant based foods are abundant in natural sugars, complex carbohydrates, and essential nutrients, providing a sustained release of energy throughout the day.
The elimination of processed sugars, caffeine, and unhealthy fats commonly found in a standard Western diet, contributes to a more balanced energy state. The body can efficiently utilize the nutrients present in raw foods leading to improved energy levels and reduce fatigue. Of course if you are an athlete or in a very physical occupation your need for more energy input will be greater.
Potential health benefits including weight loss/management
A raw vegan diet for weight loss is probably not the reason most people will turn to this diet and lifestyle choice. However, weight loss is one of the major reported advantages of this dietary approach.
That said, it is important to bear in mind the detoxification process too. Raw vegan foods are generally low in calories and high in fiber, which can aid in weight management and support a healthy body weight, indeed more so than a general vegan diet which will include cooked and often processed foods, particularly if you are a vegan who likes “fake” or alternate meat products.
Of course it might well be that you choose a vegan lifestyle permanently, and choose to do a raw vegan diet as a trial, “jump start” or a detox to help you get started. This may be to stay on a raw vegan diet depending how the start goes, or indeed a vegan diet including cooked and raw foods. Additionally a raw vegan diet has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity/balance, reduced inflammation, lower blood pressure, and the decreased risk of chronic diseases such as those of the heart, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. However, it’s important to note that individual results may vary, and the long term effects of a raw vegan diet on various health outcomes are still being studied. However, the early indicators are very positive.
Challenges on a raw vegan diet
Surely, the first question is “how do I get started on a raw vegan diet?”
There are a few options here, one is to adopt a vegan diet first and then try a period on the raw vegan diet and see how it suits you individually. The second option is simply to dive in and see whether you can maintain the raw vegan approach. A third option is of course, is to simply incorporate more raw vegan food in your diet gradually to see how that suits you as an individual. If this third option is indeed your choice, just remember that not everything that’s worthwhile is achieved easily.
Just because you find some difficulty in maintaining it first time out, it does not mean you have to abandon the whole experiment or indeed lifestyle choice. Simply have a little bit of time off and then try again.
Probably the most important thing is to bear in mind why you are trying to undertake the vegan diet, and in this case in particular, the raw vegan diet.
That may be a personal matter surrounding your own or your family’s health, whether pereventative or after a serious illness. Of course it may also be a decision to give up your part in the torture and murder of animals that are commonly seen by many people as nothing more than a commodity to do with as we wish, whether that be torture exploit and eventually turn into foodstuff. A raw vegan diet is only one small step from a vegan diet after all, but a very important step for those that feel strongly about it.
Many individuals may find it challenging to meet their nutritional needs solely through a plant based raw vegan diet, Particularly in terms of obtaining sufficient protein, vitamin B-12, iron, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Careful planning, variety and potential supplementation are essential to ensure all nutrient needs are met. Consulting with the healthcare professional or registered dietitian who specialize in plant-based nutrition is advisable before making significant dietary changes, especially if you have current health issues. Many of these dietary concerns can be offset with supplements. These could take the form of protein shakes, or one or more of a vitamin/supplement pill.
However, just a word of warning here. While many people on this diet will not want to add much by way of supplements, some will be essential unless you are an expert in this dietary field. Taking protein shakes and supplements are not giving up on your raw vegan ideals, but an often essential addition, look at it as a means of facilitating the diet. But there are various different shakes and supplements. I would urge you to look carefully at the labels and advertising. For example, many protein shakes are made with whey, a bi-product of cows milk, this of course should be avoided by all vegans. Indeed even vitamin supplements are not all created the same, and are not all vegan.
However, there are all natural vegan shakes and supplements out there that are responsibly sourced and some come in fully recycled and recyclable packaging. There are indeed specialist supplements made especially for people on a raw vegan diet.
In conclusion a raw vegan diet offers many true health benefits which I do not feel I need to repeat here. But it should be undertaken with care, proper planning and at least a considered approach as to how to obtain the necessary parts of your diet needed that a raw vegan diet does not easily fill. And I make no apology for stressing that if you simply find a raw vegan diet too hard, you could just give up, but I respectfully suggest you just take a break from it, give yourself some time, then consider it in the future.
Thank you once again for visiting my website and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it. I also hope you feel the benefit of a vegan diet as much as I do. If you have any questions, or even want to suggest an area I can explore or explain in more detail, or even anew, then please drop me a message below.