A raw food plan is a diet consisting entirely of uncooked, unprocessed foods. This diet typically contains raw plant foods, but certain plans also include raw proteins. Those who follow a raw food plan consider it to be the healthiest way to eat, because cooking food, especially fruits and vegetables, can diminish its nutritional value. There are several types of diets that are considered a raw food plan, with the most common being raw veganism, raw vegetarianism and raw animal foods.
A raw vegan diet is made up of uncooked plant foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits and sprouted grains. This raw food plan is based on the idea that heat not only destroys nutrients in foods but also makes the food harmful to the human body. Most who follow this plan will not heat their food at all, although it is acceptable to heat it up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). Benefits of this raw food plan include weight loss, clear skin, improved insulin tolerance and increased energy.
Raw vegetarianism is much like raw veganism. In addition to fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables, this plan also includes dairy products, eggs and honey. While there are many variations of this diet, raw vegetarianism almost always excludes meat, fish, poultry and their byproducts. This diet is considered the healthiest raw food plan by medical professionals, because the addition of dairy products and eggs allows for a higher intake of protein, which can be lacking in a raw vegan diet.
A raw animal food diet is the most controversial of raw food plans. It includes uncooked and unprocessed meats, eggs and dairy products. While it can include fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and soy products are typically not included in this raw food plan, because they hinder digestion. Meats eaten are not heated past 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and are almost never smoked. Because of safety issues, those who follow this diet plan often acquire their meats from grass-fed and free-range sources to lower the risk of harmful bacteria.
There are several forms of raw food plan, but the absence of cooking is the common denominator. The foods in this diet are easy to prepare, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Beans and grain products are often soaked overnight to aid in digestibility, although nuts and seeds can also be soaked to activate their enzymes. While there are few true followers of a raw food plan, this movement is gaining momentum and has a small, but very faithful, following.