If you’ve heard my story before, you know that I became a vegan because of health concerns. I had lost relatives to cancer and I grew up with relatives having diabetes and suffering from heart disease. It felt as though it was not a matter IF I would become diabetic or have heart disease but WHEN. Having numerous medications and a few diseases seemed normal and a matter-of-fact of growing older. After having children and doing some research, I learned that these diseases that I thought were guaranteed to me due to heredity, were in fact preventable. And, it was up to me to make that choice whether or not I wanted to take that task on. So, I chose to adopt a mainly plant-based vegan diet. I, say, plant-based because even a vegan diet can be unhealthy. Processed vegan junk food has made it easier for people to adopt a vegan diet for ethical reasons but has also made it easier to remain unhealthy. Focusing on health, I chose a plant-based diet with the intention of eventually going raw vegan.
What is a raw vegan diet?
A raw diet is based on eating whole foods in their natural state. No cooking or preparing food over 112 degrees. Raw diets consist mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. For non-vegans, a raw diet can include unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat, and fish. Obviously, a raw vegan diet would not.
Why did I choose to try a raw vegan diet?
First, let me say, I chose a plant-based vegan diet because of two studies: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s study on coronary heart disease reversal and T. Colin Campbell’s study on the direct affect casein in cow’s milk has on cancer cells. If you are not familiar with either of these studies, I highly recommend you read their books or get a taste of it in the documentary, Forks over Knives. While many diets can promise you weight loss, a plant-based diet is backed by scientific evidence to promote health. Based on those studies and my interest in health, adopting a raw diet would not suffice. It had to be raw vegan to maintain my desired health goals.
Through my research of a vegan diet, I stumbled upon testimonials of stage 4 cancer patients reversing their condition through a raw vegan diet. With cancer being such a fresh wound for me, I was a bit scared and wanted to do all that I could to prevent becoming its latest victim. While there are no studies that I am aware of that prove a raw vegan diet can reverse cancer, there are health benefits to eating raw whole foods, such as:
- Retain more antioxidants in your foods. High antioxidant foods are sensitive to high temperatures and could be weakened after cooking.
- Raw foods make their way through the digestive systems easier.
- Creating a more alkaline diet. When we cook foods, we create more acidity.
- Focusing on eating raw whole foods forces you to eliminate processed foods—even vegan junk food.
Was it easy?
In the beginning, absolutely not! A few months after going vegan, I tried to make the switch and failed miserably within a day. It was extremely overwhelming and I was just not ready or knowledgeable enough yet. How could I enjoy food this way? Yes, we should eat to live and not live to eat but, I must confess, I LOVE eating! I love having a meal that causes each and every taste bud to explode with flavor. How was I supposed to do that with nuts and seeds? I know every raw foodie reading this is screaming, “OMG! It’s so easy! You can always spice it up!” But, again, I was just not ready.
Now, after having been vegan for about 4 and a half years, I was ready to give it another try. When fellow vegana, @RicanVegana, posted about her challenge of going Raw ‘til 4pm, I decided to follow her lead. Until 4 o’clock? I could do that! So, I used my tips to go vegan and applied some of them to my current endeavor. I made the decision and I prepared myself. Eating raw until 4pm forced me to eat raw most of the day and would leave me one meal to incorporate cooked foods, such as legumes and brown rice. Knowing that I would have at least one cooked meal at the end of the day, made it seem more manageable.
So, did I like it? And, what did I eat?
Shockingly, yes, I enjoyed my experience more than I anticipated. I think the biggest difference between trying it this time around was that I wasn’t afraid to explore. Raw foodies have to love eating too, right? I just had to find what they loved and what I love. There are a lot of good options out there. You just have to be willing to look for them.
I started basic with overnight oats for breakfast for the first 5 days. It was easy, delicious, and only left me thinking about what in the heck I would eat for lunch. I found Wrawp on Instagram searching #rawvegan and picked some up from WholeFoods. These would be my in case I don’t know what to eat, make a wrap, option. Once I had those options available to me, my anxiety over what I was going to eat began to subside and I could look for specialty foods. I looked for those recipes that excited me and more importantly, my taste buds. A few of the dishes (other than salads) I loved were:
Remember, I was only raw until 4pm, so after my oats for breakfast and either a grab and go lunch or a specialty dish, I was able to eat my regular beans tacos or veggie pizza. It worked for me and the 10 days passed easily.
Did you notice any difference?
Absolutely! I was stuck in a rut. After a few years of being vegan, I had begun to explore vegan junk food and I loved ‘em. Wanting to return to a mainly plant-based vegan lifestyle, this helped reset my body.
- My cravings began to change. Eating more raw vegetables and fruit made me crave more of them and less cooked foods. When I did eat my regular dinner, I was only incorporating one or two cooked items and I would continue to pile on raw foods. On day 6, I thought I would treat myself to a cup of coffee in the morning, only to be left completely unsatisfied. I never finished it.
- I stayed full longer. I did think I would be hungry all day but it was quite the opposite. I was eating a lot of fiber-rich foods, which helped me feel fuller longer. My cooked meal, also, became a smaller portion as well. I noticed that I did not eat as much by the end of the day.
- My inflammation began to decrease almost immediately. No bloating or discomfort. My stomach began to flatten some within the first couple of days.
- I lost a few pounds. Honestly, I was a bit shocked by this because as I mentioned I was still eating tacos for dinner. But, I think with the changes to my appetite and my body being able to process the other foods easier probably led to some weight loss. That’s my assumption—not a medical opinion. During the 10 days, I lost 3 pounds but the weight loss has continued afterwards. I lost another 7 pounds in the 2 weeks that followed.
Would you go completely raw vegan?
Not 100% but I may be more strict when I know my body needs a reset. I believe raw whole foods should be a staple in everyone’s diet. We should not feel the need to always cook our veggies but I also believe cooked grains and legumes are extremely beneficial to our health. Again, following the data, Dr. Michael Greger gave a great skype interview discussing raw vegan diets and whole foods plant-based diets. If you’re interested in learning more, I would recommend checking out the video.
Overall, this experience was beneficial in that I was able to expand my knowledge and revive my plant-based philosophy. There are still days where I will eat raw until dinnertime because I fell in love some of the dishes and it helped me discover new ways to incorporate raw foods into my diet. Since trying raw, I have consistently eaten a raw oats cereal, with the exception of store bought almond milk, instead of cooking my oatmeal. I simply pour some oats in my bowl, add flax seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, fresh fruit, cinnamon, and almond milk. It’s easy and satisfying. Also, I love seaweed wraps with sprouted hummus, avocado, and veggies for lunch. It has also sparked my interest to learn more raw vegan recipes, but I no longer feel the need to completely eliminate healthy cooked whole foods. Since going vegan, my goal has always been health and going raw ‘til 4 has allowed me to evolve. I believe I’m attracted to both a plant-based diet and a raw vegan diet because they have similar guiding principles:
- Leave the animals alone, they do not serve your body, and
- The food your body needs can be provided by the earth, so leave the processed stuff alone.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical profession. This site is solely for sharing information and should not to be used a medical advice. Always seek advice from your physician or qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding your diet or medical condition.