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Vitamin salad of young vegetables: cabbage, radish, cucumber and fresh herbs.

A guide to the raw vegan diet

There are many reasons why you might be considering the raw vegan diet. It could be that you want to eat healthier or that you see it as a way of losing extra pounds and cleansing your body. To many people, it seems like an extreme diet, especially if you currently eat meat but with the right research and planning you can still enjoy a balanced diet.

What is the raw vegan diet?

It’s a diet that excludes animal-derived ingredients so no meat, eggs or dairy products are permitted. It’s all about eating vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. The food is eaten raw and often in its natural state. No cooking above 48°C is allowed because it’s at this temperature that the natural enzymes in the food are destroyed.

What are the possible benefits of the raw vegan diet?

Advocates of the raw vegan diet believe that it’s a cleaner way of eating and gives them more nutrients per meal than other diets. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene are boosted when food is cooked so it’s actually better to eat foods such as carrots and tomatoes this way. Cooking can also help our bodies absorb certain nutrients too.

Some fans of the raw vegan diet claim that it can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches, boost your immune system, clear up eczema and stop you suffering from allergies, however there is little evidence of this. You’ll be eating lots of vegetables and fruits every day, which will naturally give your body a boost and if you currently have high blood pressure it should help bring it down to a normal level. If you’re overweight and lose weight when on the diet than you’ll potentially be reducing your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, having some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

How to do it

If you decide to take up the raw vegan diet, you’ll need to be careful about what you choose to put in your shopping basket. You can’t go from having steak and chips for dinner to having just a bowl of salad, as it won’t contain enough calories or nutrients to keep you going until your next meal.

To help you get things right, we’ve created a swaps chart so you can see some examples of the different options available to you:

Food you currently buy: Swap for:
  • White pasta
  • Raw squash pasta
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Vegan seed cheese
  • Bagels
  • Bananas
  • Table salt
  • Organic seaweed or celery salt
  • Bread
  • Lettuce leaves or raw sunflower bread
  • White boiled rice
  • Cauliflower rice (cauliflower blended slowly in a food processor)
It’s important to do your research and get advice from a nutritionist before you embark on a raw vegan diet. You may need to take daily vitamin supplements to make sure your body is getting everything it needs to stay healthy as a raw vegan diet is often lacking in calcium, protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B12.

Eating out and getting takeaway probably isn’t going to be an option, unless you live in a big city with raw vegan restaurants and cafes. You’re going to have to create the majority of your meals from scratch, so it takes more effort than most other diets. You’ll spend a lot of time blending and drying (dehydrating) food, whilst making sure that you wash everything thoroughly because of the risk of food poisoning.

If you want to stay on the raw vegan diet long term, you’ll need to think creatively and put together interesting and flavoursome meals so you don’t become bored. It’s well worth checking out websites such as Raw Food Recipes[1] for inspiration. Find out more about Veganism How to make a meal planner [1]

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