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What is a Raw Food Vegan Diet?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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A raw food vegan diet is an eating plan involving ingestion of no cooked foods and no animal products. Many people consider only strict adherence to this plan true raw veganism, but some people who eat mostly raw vegan foods group themselves under this label. Despite the limitations on cooking, there are many raw food vegan diet recipes that creatively combine raw ingredients to yield satisfying and nutritious dishes. Even so, it is important for people on this diet to pay very close attention to possible signs that their bodies are lacking nutrients.

Most people who adhere to a raw food vegan diet eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and sprouts. Foods such as rice and grains, which are normally cooked, are typically not part of a raw food vegan diet. Many people who subscribe to the raw food vegan philosophy also believe strongly in other natural food movements, so most raw vegan dishes that can be purchased in stores are also organic.

Raw vegan cooking often makes use of processes such as grinding and mixing to make food more interesting. The tools a raw vegan needs in the kitchen may be significantly different than those required for cooking. Food processors, for instance, can be considered a kitchen essential. Some processes, such as pickling or fermentation, can be applied to ingredients to vastly change their flavors without cooking.

While most people think of raw foods as being cold, it is usually considered acceptable to warm raw vegan foods. The highest temperature considered acceptable is somewhat variable, but the guiding principle is that the food should not be heated to a level that destroys certain essential nutrients. Whether or not this basic tenet of raw veganism is accurate has not been scientifically determined.

The reasons a person might turn to a raw food vegan diet are extremely varied. For many, it is a religious conviction based on a philosophy concerning the sanctity of the earth. Others believe that raw food veganism is healthier for the human body, even though there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim. Raw food veganism is also frequently used as a cover for eating disorders because the strict dietary restrictions may permit a person to justify refusing to eat with the aid of moral arguments.

There are many different ways to approach a raw food vegan diet. For instance, a person may adhere to fruitarianism, which may involve limitations as strict as eating only fallen fruit that does not involve killing any plants. While these significantly stricter diets could be identified as raw veganism, they are usually identified by the most limiting of their restrictions. Similarly, even though vegans are necessarily vegetarians, a vegan would not usually be called a vegetarian. A raw food vegan can therefore be thought of as a person who eats everything that is both raw and vegan, with no further limitations.

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