As folks evolve along the path of veganism they think that the natural evolution is towards raw veganism and perhaps even a subset of that known as fruitarianism.
This is not only fallacious but also unhealthy. The main thrust of this article is going to be about why you shouldn’t become a raw vegan. But first I’ll show you how to go raw as a vegan because some of you might want to do that. If that is the case, then I’d rather you went raw carefully and properly than poorly.
Too many ex-vegans become self exiled from veganism because they embraced the false notion that raw veganism was somehow the pinnacle of being vegan. This is incorrect.
I believe that diet can play a role in gaining enlightenment and developing your spiritual self.
It seems to me that eating a diet that is as harmless to the Earth and other sentient beings – a non violent diet – can only help bring greater awareness to our spiritual growth and development. A vegan diet is such a diet of harmlessness and as such can offer great support to your spiritual growth in whichever religion or perspective you choose to develop it.
But I think that many raw vegans think that raw veganism is somehow a pinnacle of vegan evolution if not downright spiritual evolution.
For some fringe members the pinnacle can often be the unattainable state of breatharianism. Also known as inedia or fasting, if you try breatharianism for long enough you will die. We are not unattached spiritual beings. We are spiritual beings attached to a living body that must be nourished – and nourished well!
I am not against raw foods entirely. I think that eating a large percentage of raw foods perhaps even greater than 50% can be extremely beneficial.
Salads, veggies and fruits should be enjoyed abundantly and enjoyed abundantly in their whole, natural state which is raw. Nuts and seeds can very often be enjoyed this way too.
But to suggest that a raw vegan diet is the pinnacle of veganism for either health or compassionate reasons is incorrect.
Okay, enough about the preamble to why you shouldn’t become a raw vegans. Let’s actually get to the how to go raw as a vegan.
How to go raw vegan
Generally there are two problems to becoming a raw vegan. The first is a lack of calories and sometimes micro nutrients like minerals and vitamins. The second is too many calories or more specifically too much fat.
How do raw vegans get too little calories?
Primarily this happens from eating a diet based primarily if not exclusively on salad greens an raw vegetables while excluding all or many fruits, seeds and nuts.
Let’s look at an example. If you ate nothing but romaine lettuce or similar types of lettuce you’d have to eat over 11 kilograms of the stuff to satisfy a 2,000 calorie per day diet. That friends, is over 26 pounds of lettuce. On a good day I can find a head of romaine lettuce at my grocery store for around a buck. A head of romaine is roughly 630 grams.
Eating only romaine lettuce to meet my calorie requirements would require eating 18 heads a day. That’s almost $20 a day or $600 a month. My family of 3 eat extremely well on $600 a month with lots of variety and snacks and convenience foods.
Okay, okay, I know you’re not going to be eating only lettuce. But what if you got half your calories from lettuce and half from broccoli. Then you’d be eating about 5 bunches of broccoli stalks and all and around 10 heads of lettuce. That’s about 5 kilos of lettuce and 3 kilos of broccoli.
This kind of diet still works out to about $20 a day. Bunches of broccoli at my grocery store average around $2 a bunch.
Not only is a raw vegan diet based on vegetables both boring it is also huge in quantity and can be exceptional difficult to eat the amount of food in order to meet your daily caloric needs. You’d need to be eating just about all the time.
How do raw vegans get too many calories or too much fat?
The other alternative problem with a raw vegan diet is that you can often and easily get too many calories especially too many calories from fat.
Often this happens to raw food vegans who start off with the best intentions eating tons of veggies and some fruits but they’re hungry all the time because they can’t eat the quantity of salads and veggies to fill their calorie needs.
So what happens is that folks start turning towards the higher fat and more calorically dense raw vegan foods.
You start eating a couple or 3 avocados a day and a half cup or more of nuts. Doing this and you’ll very quickly end up with a diet that is 40%, 50% or more with calories from fat. This is not helpful. I don’t believe in a high fat Atkins type vegan diet whether it is vegan or not.
Okay, so how can eat a relatively healthy raw vegan diet?
The best way to approach it is what is called the 811 diet. The diet is called this based upon the idea that 80% of your calories should be from carbohydrates and 10% each from protein and fat.
These numbers are not a bad ratio. But what happens is that the diet severely limits your ability to eat avocados, nuts, seeds and other high calorie dense raw foods. The main focus becomes tons of salads and tons of fruits. In fact, the bulk of the diet is made up with fruits.
Think mangos, bananas, papaya etc. The tropical fruits which are yummy, sweet and higher in calories than other fruits like apples and pears. Though all fruits are allowed and enjoyed.
Dinner will often consist of a huge salad with lots of raw veggies on it. This type of raw vegan diet the 80 10 10 diet seems to have a lot of adherents and maintains a loyal following. It is however made up of large quantities of food. You’re eating a dozen or more bananas, several other fruits and heads of lettuces and other veggies.
It is also very expensive and not appropriate for most of us. But if you want to do this then this kind of raw vegan diet is perhaps the safest and healthiest. So long as you supplement with vitamin B12 an vitamin D.
The problem with raw veganism or why you shouldn’t go raw vegan
I’ve alluded to some of the problems with the raw vegan diet above. It can be hard to hit the sweet spot with getting sufficient calories at reasonable prices while still enjoying your food and not becoming a slave to eating all the time.
But most of us will fail at this. And that doesn’t mean you are lacking moral fiber or character. Not at all. It’s just that I don’t believe the raw vegan diet is the best diet for us. Including beans and grains – which can’t be had in the raw diet unless sprouted – is one of life’s many joys.
Not only do beans and grains provide a good amount of calories but they are also made into some of our most beloved foods. Bread, tofu, soy milk, soy ice cream, vegan meat analogues etc. And what about the beloved potato? I could never give up my beloved baked potato.
Food is not only health promoting but nourishing to our very souls and emotional well being. Cooked food is an important part of the diet.
It is also cheaper to eat a vegan diet that includes cooked foods like grain and bean products. And what about social occasions?
Eating a raw vegan diet will find you self ostracized from enjoying many dining out experiences that don’t involve your own insular raw vegan tribe.
By all means enjoy raw foods and eat them in abundance. But don’t limit yourself to those solely. This the key to the kingdom of vegan health and abundance. Eat and be merry.