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What is Raw Veganism?

By Page Coleman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Veganism is a belief system that holds animals should not be used for human food, clothing, or for any type of medical or product testing. This includes the use of animal products even when the animal is not killed, and vegans also avoid consuming dairy, eggs, and honey. In addition, adherents of raw veganism believe that to optimize health the food they eat should not be cooked at a temperature greater than 115° - 120° F (46° - 49° C).

Raw veganism developed because of a variety of concerns around cooking and eating animals. These concerns include environmental impacts and animal well-being. Proponents may also believe that nutrients are destroyed through the cooking process, and they may have philosophical and spiritual beliefs that encourage raw foodism.

The foods allowed on a raw vegan diet are fruits, nuts, nut pastes, sprouts, seeds, seaweed, raw spices, fresh herbs, and vegetables that can be eaten without being heated above 120° F (49° C). Plant products that require thorough cooking to be digestible are not eaten. This eliminates both rice and grains from the diet.

Fruitarianism is a subset of raw veganism. In this variation only fruit, nuts, and seeds are consumed. Vegetables may be prohibited. Some fruitarians try to avoid any plant products where the plant is killed, and these followers may eat only fruit that has fallen. Other fruitarians may go by the botanical definition of fruit, and so they will eat some types of legumes (beans) and peas.

An emphasis on fresh vegetables is generally considered nutritionally sound. Those who strictly ascribe to raw veganism may have a difficult time fulfilling some nutritional requirements. They are especially at risk for B12 vitamin deficiencies.

Raw vegans may also have difficulty getting sufficient high-quality protein. Plant-based proteins typically require combining sources, such as rice and beans, to obtain all the essential amino acids that make up complete protein. This can be difficult to do with the limited selections of food. People who have high energy requirements may struggle to maintain a healthy weight on a raw vegan diet. To reduce some of the nutritional concerns, some raw vegans do not stick to the diet entirely.

Though it may be difficult to obtain needed nutrition when following raw veganism diets, some studies indicate people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia may benefit. Fresh vegetables and fruits offer many vitamins and antioxidants. They may offer immune system support and may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate certain health conditions.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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