Going on a purely raw diet may sound a bit extreme, but if you look at the food most people tend to eat all the time, you’ll realize that adding raw food to your diet may be beneficial to your body and overall health. (However, those folks with leaky gut should keep raw foods to a minimum.)
There’s several variations and definitions when talking about Vegetarianism, here are the most common:
Vegetarian – Diet consists of plant-based foods and includes eggs and dairy.
Vegan – Abstain from ALL animal products and consume only plant-based foods (NO meat, fish, eggs, or dairy).
Pescetarian – Diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, dairy, and fish (No poultry, beef, or red meat).
Should You Be a Vegan or Vegetarian?
The Raw Vegan Diet
A raw vegan food diet consists of raw foods that have not been heated over 46º C or 115º F. When you decide to go on a raw vegan food diet, you’re only allowed to eat the following:
- All kinds of raw fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Roots and root vegetables (squashes included)
- Fresh Herbs
- Raw Spices
- Sprouted Whole Grains
- Soaked Legumes
All other types of food must be eliminated while being on the raw vegan diet. However, you can drink fresh and fruit vegetable juices. There are other kinds of food that are allowed in limited amounts, just as long as they have not been heated over 115º F. Examples of such food are:
- Cold pressed oils
- Raw nut butters
- Raw nut milks
- Unprocessed olives
- Fermented food like miso and kimchi
- Pure maple syrup
- Dried fruits and vegetables
- Vinegars and food that has been cured by vinegar
- Raw cocoa / dark chocolate
Benefits of a Raw Vegan Diet
- More enzymes– Alissa Cohen, author of Living in Live Food states that when we cook our food over 112-118º F , we lose most of the vital enzyme content. When cooked over a certain temperature, the enzymes found in food become destabilized. Enzymes are important because they are needed to break down the food into smaller nutritional units that the body can handle. While the pancreas and other cells make enzymes in the body, raw foods provide more enzymes for the body to use. In a diet of purely cooked foods, the pancreas and other organs are overworked, because there is no external enzyme source. As a result, they become exhausted
- Avoid the by-products of cooked food – when meat is cooked at high temperatures HCA’s (chemical compounds) can be created that may be carcinogenic. The higher the cooking temperature, the more toxins are created. Not only that, some nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are destroyed or altered. Eating too much cooked food creates waste in the body that cannot even be used, which in turn, may have a clogging effect on the body.
- Raw foods contain Biophotons or “sun stored energy”. Biophotons can control important processes in our body. The more biophotons we consume the more we’ll tend to have higher levels of energy and improved mood.
Disadvantages of a Raw Vegan Diet
Switching to a raw vegan diet is considered a healthy move by many, but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be, below are the downsides to having a completely vegan diet:
- Lack of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and are important for cellular health and proper metabolism.
- Low levels of vitamin B12. You can only get vitamin B12 in substantial amounts by consuming meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
- Phytic acid. There are grains, beans and legumes such as raw soybeans, lentils and mung beans that may contain trypsin inhibitors. These inhibitors can block key digestive enzymes. Also, grains can contain phytic acid that can keep you from digesting calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. However, soaking and sprouting your grains and legumes can greatly reduce phytic acid.
- Potential inability to put on muscle. This may be due to the lack of certain vitamins that we normally get from meat and fish.
- Over consumption of carbohydrates. One of the most common trends I’ve found from working with hundreds of vegans and vegetarians is that they tend to over consume carbohydrates and sugars. Eating too many carbs can cause Candida and yeast overgrowth along with weight grain. There are some vegans who have created a better balance but this is far from the majority.
- Fatigue and low energy. Again, due to the lack of certain vitamins that we normally get from meat and fish.
Is Vegan Healthy?
I believe it’s possible to be healthy as a Vegan, but it’s not ideal. As a vegetarian or pescetarian you’re able to get plenty of amino acids and vitamin B12 without supplementation so I prefer those approaches.
If you are a Vegan I strongly suggest you supplement with vitamin B12 and consume plant based protein powder daily and get plenty of nuts, seeds, mushrooms, beans, seaweed and higher protein grains like quinoa in your diet.
I believe many people choose a vegan diet because there’s so much improper treatment of animals today. While I totally agree that this is sad and common, there are companies who abide by Organic and Biblically based standards today so you can feel good about your source.
So…Raw, Vegan, or Vegetarian?
My diet is 70/30. I personally consume about 70% raw plant based foods but also about 30% of my diet is organic grass-fed beef, organic pastured dairy, wild caught fish (wild caught salmon is my favorite), and free-range organic poultry and eggs. I’ve tried a number of diets including vegetarian, vegan, and pescetarian and have found I really feel the best following this ratio. I call this ratio the Healing Food Diet and have also found this to have the best results with my patients, as well. Here’s the new, updated Healing Food Shopping List so you can have an extensive food guide to follow. If it’s on the list, it’s good to go.
1. Do you follow a Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, or Healing food diet?
2. If so, why?
- Educational Nutritional Research Seminar by R. Neil Voss, 2004, American Fork, UT
- Food and Healing, by Annemarie Colbin, 1986, Ballantine Books, div. of Random House, New York, N.Y.
- HEALTH FOOD JUNKIES, Orthorexia Nervosa: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating, By Dr. Steven Bratman and David Knight, 2000, Broadway Books, a division of Random House.
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, 1999, 2000, NewTrends Publishing, Inc., Washington, D.C.
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Weston A. Price, DDS, Keats Publishing, Los Angeles, CA, available from The Weston A. Price Foundation, www.westonaprice.org
- Raw Food–One of Your Keys to Outstanding Health by Wes Peterson.
- The Untold Story of Milk, Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy Foods, by Ron Schmid, ND, 2003, NewTrends Publishing, Inc., Washington, D.C.
- Traditional Foods are Your Best Medicine, by Ronald F. Schmid, ND, 1997, Healing Arts Press, div. of Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT.