In warmer months, I find myself eating more of a raw food diet.
Now you may say, “Whoooaaa, isn’t that a little extreme? Vegan is one thing, but raw?!?!?”
Sure, there are some folks who follow a 100% raw food diet. But for most people, myself included, it’s easy and enjoyable to integrate raw foods into your eating on a casual basis. For example, in warmer months, I tend to have at least one raw meal per day, in addition to a side salad and a smoothie or juice.
If you’re following a vegan lifestyle, it’s likely you’re eating a fair amount of raw foods already.
Why Raw Foods?
There’s an energizing quality to raw foods. Because they’re minimally processed and still ‘living,’ many raw foods can sprout or reproduce to create new plants. There’s a life force to raw foods that’s healing, sustaining and rejuvenating.
Following a vegan raw food diet generally means you eat fruits and vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds. To be considered raw, nothing is heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit in order to preserve the enzymes found in food.
Some raw foods like sprouted grains and legumes offer a better nutritional profile than cooked versions. And, sprouts are also more digestible than some cooked versions of the same foods.
What do you eat on a raw food vegan diet?
Fruit staples on a raw diet include avocados, bananas, berries, dates, citrus and young coconut. All of these have varied uses and you’ll enjoy them simply as is, or blended into raw spreads, sauces, dressings and desserts.
Typical vegetables on a raw food diet may include bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, garlic, ginger, leafy greens, tomatoes and zucchini. Salads are the obvious choice for raw vegetables, but many people add vegetables to smoothies, and pickling is also a great way to preserve and enjoy raw vegetables.
Commonly used nuts and seeds on a raw food diet are almonds, hemp seeds, flax seeds and pine nuts. Nut butters and nut milks are also high on my list. More recently, I’ve been getting into raw cheeses and ‘meat’ balls and pates made with nuts and seeds. Fermentation is also a simple way to make yogurt from nuts or other raw foods.
Beans and legumes can be soaked and sprouted in as little as a few days. The sprouts can be used in salads, spreads, sandwiches, stir fries and drinks.
Using a dehydrator, you can also prepare raw foods by drying them out with warm air. Think raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, seed crackers, fruit leathers and veggie chips. Sprouted grains like buckwheat can be used to make breads, including bagels, tortillas and raw granolas.
Oils are still used in raw food preparations. Some cold-pressed olive, coconut, and sesame oils are raw. Herbs and spices are typically raw, as are flavorings like vinegars, salts, some types of soy sauce and herbs. You’ll also find many raw sweeteners such as raw agave nectar, date sugar and stevia.
I also happen to be a huge fan of raw desserts. From raw chocolate puddings, to “cheese”cakes, there are countless options for raw sweets.
Why People Sometimes Have Issues with Raw Foods
- Too much chopping/prepping (But hey, at least you don’t have to turn the oven on!)
- If you’re going deep into a raw food diet, you may want to invest in some specialized tools like a dehydrator. It’s not necessary, but it does expand your options.
- When eating raw food, many people want their ingredients to be organic, which can be a bit more expensive
- Some people experience digestive issues with certain types of raw foods. This may be a temporary concern as the body adjusts to a different style of eating, but it’s something to keep in mind.
- Many prepared raw foods incorporate a lot of nuts and seeds, and some people aren’t comfortable with the higher fat content.
- Some vegetables like tomatoes and mushrooms offer more nutritional value when they’re cooked as opposed to raw
- People tend to miss out on their favorite cooked foods. For example, while you can have a ‘raw spaghetti’ made from spiral cut summer squash, it’s not always the same as your favorite pasta.
Adding More Raw Foods To Your Diet
Unless you want to, there’s no need to go 100% raw.
Consider going raw for one or two meals a day or adding more raw foods at certain times of the year when there’s an abundance of fresh, local produce.
You can also introduce more raw foods into your diet through simple recipes like herb pesto or tapenade, fresh salsa, guacamole, green juices, or a simple nut cheese or spread.
Going raw and how much is a personal thing, and it’s one of many ways to enjoy a vegan diet. Your habits can change based on how you’re feeling or the seasons. But anytime you’ll find simple, whole and nourishing options on a raw food diet.
What raw foods do you enjoy? Share in the comments below.