Before I launch into the topic of “Why raw?”, a caveat: I am not fully 100% raw. I describe myself as “high raw”, something which a few of my friends has assured me makes me sound like I am perhaps partaking of recreational substances a bit more suspect than mere hemp milk. This means that I usually make sure my meals per day are at least 70% raw. On my worst days, it goes down to 50%. On my best, I’m around 90%. I’ve done 100% and it’s fantastic. It’s a great goal to aim for, in my book.
Relying on non-processed foods where its original nutritional profile was kept is best for optimal health. If you’re boiling your veggies, so much of the lovely vitamins and minerals goes into the water! Heck, baking alters the profile too! There are ways you can “lightly cook” veggies at a low temperature in order to preserve them at their best, and that’s not a bad thing to do.
It was very strange for me going from a diet where you HAVE to cook your food or have it processed in some fashion, or you can’t eat it (meat, eggs, and dairy) to a vegan diet, which has an admittedly longer shelf and fridge life, you don’t have to kill anything in it by cooking it, and you can pretty much…well, eat it raw. Like cookie batter. Remember as a kid being told you couldn’t eat raw cookie batter due to the eggs in it? With vegan cooking, there’s no salmonella risk! It’s a wonderful thing.
Anyway, I’ve been doing my best to incorporate more raw food into my diet because I like what it does for my health, how it makes me feel, and various other things. A few pitfalls with eating raw that I’ve found:
1) Eating too much in the way of fat. Ideally, no more than 20% of your daily calories should come from fat. I like to aim for 15% at most, and if you want to be 80-10-10 compliant, that should be at 10%. So 20% is actually quite permissive. But at the same time…eating enough fat to make McDonald’s look healthy is NOT good for you, plant based or not.
2) Not eating enough calories. If you’re mostly eating veggies, you’re not likely to be able to get enough calories. Dump the fruitphobia and get some lovely, juicy fruit in your diet. Fruit is the best and healthiest carb out there. And it’s tasty! You can even make ridiculously tasty, guilt-free desserts out of them!
3) Perfectionist syndrome. This is when you jump into a new food lifestyle, try to do everything PERFECTLY, ALL AT ONCE…then you make a mistake or have a problem, and declare it a total failure. Bad, bad, bad. I see people doing this especially coming from an omni diet to a raw vegan one. WOW. That’s TWO huge paradigm hurdles you’re trying to overcome at the same time! TWO! Go easy on yourself there and start simple! Transition to a plant-based diet first, get the hang out what that looks and feels like, THEN gradually go raw!
4) Burning out. This is when people try SO HARD to only eat certain foods they consider to be allowable on whatever version of raw they’re trying…then inevitably they’ll feel deprived and start binging on cooked food–usually unhealthy cooked food at that, like fries, dessert, etc. It’s far better to eat a healthier whole foods, plant based diet then it is to be perfectly raw 100% of the time.
So…why raw? Here are a few of my reasons:
1) It’s easier and faster than cooking. Granted, getting the hang of juicing (and sometimes cleaning your juicer depending on what kind you have) can be a royal pain at the start, but once you know what you’re doing, holy hell it’s the tastiest thing ever. Seriously. Some of the best recipes I have from Drew Burke’s Sexy Raw Vegan 5 Day Juicing Fast ebook, which is worth its weight in gold. Give it a try if you don’t believe me. I think the ONLY recipe I wasn’t seriously head over heels in love with was the one with the beets, but I plan to try it peeled next time. I think it’s the outer layer I dislike, not the poor veggie itself. I’m sorry beets, it’s not you. It’s me.
2) Health benefits a-hoy! Aside from getting detoxed (which can be tricky, trust me) I just love what eating raw does for my finicky digestive system, my complexion, and my energy levels. Just try it. I swear I’m not crazy. Well…maybe not THAT crazy.
3) I get to avoid wheat! Wheat, I love you, but my body doesn’t. Eating you more than once or twice a week is bad news for me. There are entire communities and blogs devoted to bashing all grains, so I won’t get into all that here. I’m not entirely convinced they’re made of pure evil, but I think that GMO, anything highly processed, plus eating certain types of foods in levels we really shouldn’t IS bad for you. And like corn, soy, and dairy the food industry puts it into EVERYTHING and I doubt it’s in its purest, undiluted form, AKA non-processed, non-GMO, etc.
4) More veggies and fruit = greater health. Seriously.
5) Because I get awesome superpowers due to 90% of my brain isn’t taken up by wheat, gluten, and roasted things…
My next goal is to get myself a travel-sized juicer so I can start juicing at work. This will help me IMMENSELY. I will probably never be 100% raw, but the more options I have, the easier it’ll be.