When I tell people I follow a raw food diet and teach raw food workshops I often get a very puzzled looked followed by silence. The silence is then preceded by the question “so you eat rabbit food?” Most times when people hear the term, raw food, they assume it means just eating carrot sticks, celery, or lettuce, straight from the produce isle nothing delicious, savory, or flavorful, but that couldn’t be furthest from the truth. While it is somewhat true the food is uncooked but you are not just eating plain carrot stick or salad when eating raw food you can eat taco’s, pasta, rice dishes, sandwiches, pizza, cake, cookies, and the list goes on and on. I bet you’re wondering how this is possible.
Lets start with a little background on the raw vegan diet. Following a raw diet is the practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed, whole, living foods to maintain the nutritional content and enzymes so the body receives maximum nourishment when you consume them. The belief and science behind raw food is, in order to nourish a living thing you must feed it with living things such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It has also been shown that cooking your food, in most cases, completely destroys the essential living enzymes and decreases most of the vitamins and minerals content. Cooking also changes the molecular structure of the food causing it to do more harm than good in the body.
What is considered raw food? Raw food is anything unprocessed and not heated above 118º, once you go higher than 118º you start to kill off the enzymes. Foods that are eaten are, all fruits, most vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and a few legumes(sprouted). These foods are made into delicious meals by soaking, sprouting, blending, and dehydrating them. Oh and lets not forget the seasonings, yes seasoning, how else can you get delicious flavors. Herbs and spices are also used on raw foods. Below I have included a few pictures of raw dishes to give you a visual of what a meal or snack on a raw food diet looks like.
The benefits of eating raw foods are amazing. I know first hand of these benefits and can vouch for them as I have experienced them all. When you add raw foods into your diet you will immediately, well within a week or two, notice more energy, clearer skin, less brain fog, weight loss, and better sleep. Another benefit, which is not as tangible as the others, is disease prevention. Supplying your body with the added enzymes and nutrients helps to build your immune system, by adding more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, to fight off free radicals, toxins, and unwanted viruses and bacteria.
How much raw foods one should incorporate into their diet depends on bio-individuality and personal choice. Your body will let you know what it needs, you just have to listen. I lived a 95% raw lifestyle for two years. Although in the beginning being high raw worked for me over time I found my body worked best with a balance of 50/50 plant based cooked and raw foods. However, there are many people who live on a 100% raw food diet and it works well for their bodies. What works for one may not work for another that is why it is important to explore and listen to the needs of your body. However, what is definitive is the body needs living whole foods for many reasons and everyone should incorporate some level of raw foods into their daily eating habits.