Raw veganism is a diet that combines the concepts of veganism and raw foodism. It excludes all food and products of animal origin, any food that is processed or altered from its natural state, and food cooked at high temperatures. Little is known about the raw vegan diet as it is not widely used.
In addition to the ethics of eating meat, dairy, eggs and honey, raw vegans may be motivated by health, spiritual, financial, or environmental reasons, or any combination of these. Believing that cooking above a certain temperature destroys food micronutrients, raw vegans may monitor temperature when preparing cooked foods.
Robert Hart practiced raw veganism from forest gardening as a food production system based on woodland ecosystemsincorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, and perennial vegetables. Forest gardens are a resilient agroecosystem.
Raw vegans must ensure that their intake of vitamin B12 is adequate, since it does not occur in raw plant foods. To obtain vitamin B12, vegans require foods fortified with B12 or use dietary supplements.
A raw vegan diet may be all or a part of a Mediterranean diet which is associated with reduced risk of several diseases. Raw vegan foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, supply the components of dietary fiber – fermentable fiberand insoluble fiber – which provide diverse health benefits.
The British Dietetic Association named the raw vegan diet one of the “top 5 worst celeb diets to avoid in 2018”, raising a concern that it could compromise long-term health.
Food-borne outbreaks of bacterial, viral or parasitic infections are caused by consumption of microorganism-contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, or other plant foods. As a 2018 example, rinsing may not sufficiently clean romaine lettuce of microorganisms, particularly when the water supply used to grow it is contaminated, with consequences that resulted in hospitalization and death.
The US Food and Drug Administration has established a list of foods which are rarely consumed raw, and so cooking is recommended to kill microorganisms.Therefore, not all plant foods on the market are recommended for eating uncooked. Likewise, the preparation and packaging of plant foods may introduce pathogens from industrial equipment, and should be subsequently cooked for food safety purposes (there are warning labels on some frozen and dried foods to that effect, although ready to serve desserts, like sorbet, could contain acid resistant listeria, and a box of chocolates could include salmonella). Raw herbs and spices, as common as black pepper, may also carry microorganisms.
Adulteration is a concern for spices that are imported from locations with substandard regulations for hygienic food preparation. Cooking may not eliminate adulterants, but may reduce microorganisms.
- Fontana, Luigi; Shew, Jennifer L.; Holloszy, John O.; Villareal, Dennis T. (2005-03-28). “Low Bone Mass in Subjects on a Long-term Raw Vegetarian Diet”. Archives of Internal Medicine. 165 (6): 684. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.6.684. ISSN 0003-9926.
- Robert Hart (1996). Forest Gardening. Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN 1603580506.
- Patrick Whitefield (2002). How to Make a Forest Garden. Permanent Publications. p. 5. ISBN 1856230082.
- Douglas John McConnell (2003). The Forest Farms of Kandy: And Other Gardens of Complete Design. Ashgate. p. 1. ISBN 0754609588.
- “Vitamin B12: your key facts”. Vegan Society. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from micro-organisms.
- Rizzo G, Laganà AS, Rapisarda AM, La Ferrera GM, Buscema M, Rossetti P, Nigro A, Muscia V, Valenti G, Sapia F, Sarpietro G, Zigarelli M, Vitale SG (2016). “Vitamin B12 among Vegetarians: Status, Assessment and Supplementation”. Nutrients. 8 (12). doi:10.3390/nu8120767. PMC 5188422. PMID 27916823.
- “Healthy choices on a vegan diet”. Vegan Society. Archived from the originalon 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- Davis, Courtney; Bryan, Janet; Hodgson, Jonathan; Murphy, Karen (2015-11-05). “Definition of the Mediterranean diet; A literature review”. Nutrients. 7 (11): 9139–9153. doi:10.3390/nu7115459. ISSN 2072-6643. PMC 4663587. PMID 26556369.
- “Fiber”. The Nutrition Source, Harvard University, School of Public Health. 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
- “Dietary fiber”. MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
- “Top 5 worst celeb diets to avoid in 2018”. British Dietetic Association. 7 December 2017.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) today revealed its much-anticipated annual list of celebrity diets to avoid in 2018. The line-up this year includes Raw Vegan, Alkaline, Pioppi and Ketogenic diets as well as Katie Price’s Nutritional Supplements.
- “Foodborne illnesses”. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, US National Institutes of Health. 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- Erickson, Marilyn C.; Doyle, Michael P. (2012). “Plant food safety issues: Linking production agriculture a one health approach: Workshop summary”. US Institute of Medicine; Washington (DC): National Academies Press. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- “Editorial on Romaine E. coli Outbreaks”. Food Safety News. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- Uhlig, Elisabeth; Olsson, Crister; He, Jiayi; Stark, Therese; Sadowska, Zuzanna; Molin, Göran; Ahrné, Siv; Alsanius, Beatrix; Håkansson, Åsa (2017-09-20). “Effects of household washing on bacterial load and removal of Escherichia coli from lettuce and “ready-to-eat” salads”. Food Science & Nutrition. 5 (6): 1215–1220. doi:10.1002/fsn3.514. ISSN 2048-7177. PMC 5694878. PMID 29188050.
- “Rarely Consumed Raw Produce. Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR 112)” (PDF). US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- “What the Produce Safety Rule Means for Consumers”. US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- “Bad Bug Book”. US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 15 December2018.
- Beuchat, LR; Komitopoulou, E; Beckers, H; Betts, RP; Bourdichon, F; Fanning, S; Joosten, HM; Ter Kuile, BH (2013). “Low–Water Activity Foods: Increased Concern as Vehicles of Foodborne Pathogens”. Journal of Food Protection. 76 (1): 150–172. doi:10.4315/0362-028x.jfp-12-211. ISSN 0362-028X. PMID 23317872.
- “Risk Profile: Pathogens and Filth in Spices”. US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- “Code of Hygienic Practice” (PDF). United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- Kumar, Pradeep; Mahato, Dipendra K.; Kamle, Madhu; Mohanta, Tapan K.; Kang, Sang G. (2017-01-17). “Aflatoxins: A Global Concern for Food Safety, Human Health and Their Management”. Frontiers in Microbiology. 07. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.02170. ISSN 1664-302X. PMC 5240007. PMID 28144235.
TEXT UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Short term, this regime can be excellent, great for detox, caloric restriction and more. But long term, there can be risks.
Raw foodism is the philosophy that most or all of one’s diet should be uncooked foods. Raw foods diets are usually vegan and vegan raw foodism will be the focus of this article. As I understand it, the trend in raw foodist circles in recent years has been to emphasize eating at least 80% of your food (by volume) as raw, rather than 100%.
The diet simply made sense. Since humans are the only animals who cook their food, we’d have to be better off eating a more natural diet of raw foods…wouldn’t we?
But some people dont do well with 100 percent vegan raw diet. loss weight, infection…teeth…
History of Cooking Foods
Some raw foodists say that humans have only cooked food for a relatively short period of our history. In their 2003 article, Cooking as a Biological Trait, Harvard University anthropologists Richard Wrangham and Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain cite research that indicates, in their words, “Cooking is therefore widely accepted back to at least 250,000 years ago.” (3) Some evidence points to 1.6 million years ago. They also argue that it takes only 5,000 years or less for the human body to adapt to different methods of eating. The implication is that humans have been cooking long enough to have adapted to a diet of cooked foods. This could explain why many people who try raw foodism fail to thrive.
Richard Wrangham’s theory that cooking food is what allowed early ancestors of humans to grow large brains is discussed in the June 15, 2007 issue of Science (Food for Thought: Did the first cooked meals help fuel the dramatic evolutionary expansion of the human brain?). By cooking food, we were able to make it more digestible (by breaking down plant fiber and muscle tissue) and therefore eat more calories with less digestive effort, resulting in a smaller digestive tract and more energy for developing our brains.
A 2010 article Chew on this: thank cooking for your big brain, also discusses Wrangham’s work. They suggest that the smaller molar teeth in Homo erectus and Homo sapiens might be a result of cooking food.
Is Cooked Food Toxic?
Some raw foodists claim that cooked food is toxic or poisonous. A good article examining this question is, Is Cooked Food Poison?, by Jean-Louis Tu, which concludes:
Cooking creates some toxins, neutralizes others. All plants contain at least some amount of “nature’s pesticides.” There is no such thing as a toxin-free diet. Within a normal range of consumption, toxins resulting from conservative cooking techniques can be safely handled by the body’s normal mechanisms, and do not seem to increase the incidence of degenerative diseases.
Cooking has both negative and positive effects. Cooking, especially for long periods, can damage some vitamins. Boiling and steaming causes some vitamins and minerals to seep out of the food. Chemicals thought to cause cancer are formed when food is burned or oils are heated above the point at which they smoke. Deep-frying foods causes trans fats to form.
On the plus side, cooking can break down food components that would otherwise bind minerals and prevent their absorption. It can soften fiber, which allows more food to be eaten. Cooking liberates some nutrients, such as beta-carotene and other antioxidants, for easier absorption. It denatures proteins, essentially flattening them out, which can aid digestion. Cooking destabilizes toxic components of some foods, such as goiter-promoting properties of broccoli. It makes many foods more edible. Cooking can reduce the allergic reactions caused by certain foods (5).
While fiber is a good thing, and most Americans should eat more of it, some vegan diets can be too high in fiber. Fiber provides very little energy while filling you up, and vegans with high energy needs might benefit from having a high percentage of cooked foods. On the other hand, people who want to lose weight could help themselves by increasing their intake of high-fiber, raw foods.
Digestive enzymes aid in breaking the molecular bonds in food. Some raw foodists claim that eating raw foods will extend lifespan because raw foods contain digestive enzymes that digest the food and prevent the body from using energy to create its own digestive enzymes. Some say that the body has a limited capacity to produce enzymes and once that capacity has been used up, you will die.
Stomach acid destroys most of the enzymes in raw food before it can do much to digest the food. For more details about enzymes and raw foods, see Do “Food Enzymes” Significantly Enhance Digestive Efficiency and Longevity?.
Rather than saying people will die from a lack of digestive enzymes, it’s probably more accurate to say that their ability to digest food will diminish over time as their ability to produce digestive enzymes decreases. At the link in the paragraph above, the author mentions that there are other physiological processes that have more to do with the body aging than a lack of enzyme production.
Is Raw Foodism Healthy?
Not much research has looked at what proportion of raw foods will prevent the most disease, and there have been no studies measuring the disease rates of raw foodists. Some thrive others dont.
Raw foodists should make sure they get enough vitamin B12, and not rely on natural sources such as seaweed or fermented foods. Studies showing raw foodists to have poor vitamin B12 status
A significant concern about raw foods diets is regarding bone health. The most important study to date on vegan bone health found vegans to have a higher rate of fracture if they did not consume at least 525 mg of calcium per day. I highly recommend that vegans, including raw foodists, get at least 700 mg of calcium per day (the DRI is 1,000 mg for adults under 50; 1,300 mg for adults older than 50). In a 2005 study, raw foodists were eating an average of 579 mg of calcium per day and they had a lower average bone mineral density than a control group of non-vegetarians (2).
In addition to calcium intake possibly being an issue for bones, raw foodist women often have such low body fat that they do not produce enough estrogen to continue menstruating, a condition associated with poor bone health. A 1999 study showed that 30% of raw foodist women in their study had partial to complete amenorrhea (1). Raw foodist women should make sure they are eating enough calories to prevent amenorrhea.
Protein might be an issue for many raw foodists. The amino acid lysine is quite limited in plant foods other than legumes and legumes are generally not eaten in large amounts in raw foods diets. The idea that protein is important is often scoffed at in vegan and raw foodist circles, but long-term, mild protein deficiency could have an impact on bones and possibly other important tissues. If you are a raw foods vegan who eats less than 100% raw foods, you might want to include plenty of legumes as your cooked food.
Finally, 1999 study found that raw foodists had significantly more dental erosions than did a control group (4). By not eating extreme amounts of dried or citrus fruit, and paying careful attention to dental hygiene, this problem could possibly be prevented.
Orthorexia is a concern for people who consider cooked and/or processed foods to be toxic. Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD, to describe an eating disorder characterized by excessive focus on eating healthy foods. In rare cases, it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death. Here are two clips from a 20/20 story on orthorexia that should be viewed by anyone considering raw foodism or even a 100% whole foods diet.
For people who want to be raw foodists, an excellent source of information is Becoming Raw by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS RD.
1. Koebnick C, Strassner C, Hoffmann I, Leitzmann C. Consequences of a long-term raw food diet on body weight and menstruation: results of a questionnaire survey. Ann Nutr Metab. 1999;43(2):69-79. PubMed PMID: 10436305. (Abstract)
2. Fontana L, Shew JL, Holloszy JO, Villareal DT. Low bone mass in subjects on a long-term raw vegetarian diet. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Mar 28;165(6):684-9. PubMed PMID: 15795346.
3. Wrangham R, Conklin-Brittain N. Cooking as a biological trait. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2003 Sep;136(1):35-46. Review. PubMed PMID: 14527628.
4. Ganss C, Schlechtriemen M, Klimek J. Dental erosions in subjects living on a raw food diet. Caries Res. 1999;33(1):74-80. PubMed PMID: 9831783. (Abstract)
5. Verma AK, Kumar S, Das M, Dwivedi PD. Impact of Thermal Processing on Legume Allergens. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2012 Dec 7. (Abstract) | link
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