The Meal plan for raw food diet infographic should give you a good idea of what to eat each day when you are following a raw food diet plan. The meal plan is very simple because the main ingredient of raw food diet is fresh fruits and vegetables. So, you should try to eat more raw foods than cooked foods.
Raw Vegan Diet 101: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide
The raw vegan diet is a cross between the raw diet and veganism. It’s a so-called “clean” way to eat — instead of meat, animal products, and processed foods, the diet is filled with fruit, vegetables, sprouted grains, sprouted legumes, raw nuts, and seeds, says Summer Yule, RDN, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in Hartford, Connecticut.
A regular vegan diet can seem restrictive enough, so why might someone decide to make it even more extreme? “They may be motivated by varying health, spiritual, or environmental concerns,” Yule says.
How the Raw Vegan Diet Works
This diet is pretty straightforward. Take the vegan diet (which means animal products like meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and cheese are all off-limits) and then consume only foods that haven’t been cooked or heated above 118 degrees F.
That means all the foods you consume will be either cold, room temperature, or lukewarm and served in their natural state — no steaming, roasting, or sautéing is allowed.
What the Research Says About the Raw Vegan Diet
Few studies have focused specifically on the raw vegan diet, but there are several that have looked into the vegan diet and the raw food diet individually.
Research has shown veganism can improve weight management, cholesterol and blood pressure control, and the risk of heart disease.
The idea behind eating raw is to preserve as much of the foods’ nutrients as possible. “Some micronutrients are lessened or destroyed through cooking,” Yule says. For instance, up to 38 percent of vitamin C found in broccoli can be lost during the cooking process, notes previous research.
By eating a diet made up mainly of fruits and vegetables, you’ll pack your body with loads of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which may help prevent certain diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
On a raw-food diet, you should be able to source adequate amounts of vitamin A and high concentrations of beta-carotene, which is a dietary carotenoid that may reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Eating raw may also positively affect your heart. One study found patients at a cardiovascular center who followed a raw vegan diet for four weeks reduced their blood pressure, lipid levels, medication use, and cardiovascular disease risk factors including weight, waist circumference, and heart rate. The study was unable to determine whether those benefits were the result of specifically a raw vegan diet or just a vegan diet, however, so further research is needed.
Common Questions & Answers
What does it mean to follow a raw vegan diet?
It means you eat a vegan diet (no animal products, including meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and cheese) filled with foods that have not been cooked beyond 118 degrees. No steaming, roasting, or sautéing allowed.
A Food List of What to Eat and What to Avoid on a Raw Vegan Diet
What to Eat
- Raw fruits
- Raw vegetables
- Sprouted grains, such as unhulled farro and quinoa, that have been soaked rather than cooked
- Sprouted legumes, such as lentils and pinto bean that sprout in warm water
- Raw nuts, which means they were not roasted
- Raw seeds, which means they were not roasted
- Almond milk made with raw almonds
- Raw tofu (many people allow tofu, though it’s made with cooked soybeans; strict adherents to a raw diet will want to avoid it)
What to Avoid
- Cooked grains, including rice and quinoa
- Dairy products, including yogurt and milk
- Chips, sweets like cookies and cake, and other processed foods that come in a package
A 7-Day Meal Plan for the Raw Vegan Diet
Wondering what you’ll eat on a raw vegan diet? Here’s some meal inspiration, along with links to recipes from various blogs.
Breakfast Two homemade date energy bites with a serving of berries
Lunch Raw tacos with cabbage, carrots, avocado, sprouted lentils, and cashew dressing
Dinner Pizza on a flaxseed crust topped with tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil
Snack Grapes and two raw vegan cookies
Breakfast Smoothie made with fruit, rolled oats, chia seeds, raw almond butter (made with raw almonds and not roasted almonds)
Lunch Raw zucchini noodles with creamy garlic cashew sauce
Dinner Thai-style raw peanut zoodle salad with sliced veggies
Snack Two homemade energy bites, fruit salad, and a raw vegan brownie
Breakfast Banana with two spoonfuls of raw almond butter
Lunch Chilled cucumber soup with avocado slices and sprouted quinoa
Dinner Lettuce wraps stuffed with raw sprouted lentil patties, sprouted quinoa, diced peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado
Snack Trail mix with dried fruit and raw nuts
Breakfast Smoothie made with fruit, rolled oats, chia seeds, and raw almond butter
Lunch Spiralized carrots with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, basil, and cashew dressing
Dinner Raw vegan lasagna with a side of gazpacho and slices of avocado
Snack Raw vegan brownie
Breakfast Raw overnight oats with a spoonful of nut butter and banana slices
Lunch Spinach salad with raw sprouted quinoa, raspberries, walnuts, edamame, and avocado dressing
Dinner Kale salad with diced veggies, raw sprouted lentil patties, and cashew dressing
Snack Spoonful of raw almond butter and raw seeds, and a bowl of mixed fruit
Breakfast Smoothie bowl with rolled oats and topped with sliced banana, raw nuts, coconut, and chia seeds
Lunch Salad topped with broccoli, sliced carrots, sprouts, and lentil patties
Dinner Cauliflower rice with smashed avocado, mushrooms, and sprouted lentils
Snack Two homemade energy balls, and a slice of raw carrot cake
Breakfast Acai bowl with fresh fruit, sliced banana, nuts, seeds, and raw nut butter
Lunch Greek salad with tomato, cucumber, onion, olives, olive oil, and sprouted quinoa
Dinner Spiralized zucchini with fresh tomatoes, basil, and creamy cashew dressing
Snack Smoothie made with banana, raw vegan protein powder, coconut water, and nut butter
Potential Health Benefits of a Raw Vegan Diet
By eating this way, you’ll tap into the proven health benefits of fruits and vegetables, as noted above.
You’re also likely lose weight if you have previously been eating a traditional Western diet — a plus if this is one of your personal goals. One study found that men who stuck with a raw food diet long term (three-plus years) lost an average of about 22 pounds, while women lost about 26 pounds.
Possible Health Risks of a Raw Vegan Diet
That said, there’s a risk of losing too much weight. In the same study, many of the participants became underweight, and about 30 percent of the women under age 45 experienced amenorrhea, which is when menstruation halts, sometimes as a result of low body weight.
Although some foods are more nutritious when eaten raw, others actually improve with cooking. Tomatoes are one example. The body absorbs lycopene, a type of carotenoid found in tomatoes, more easily when tomatoes are cooked.
Asparagus and squash also offer more antioxidants when cooked.
There are other downsides that’ll affect your everyday: The diet is so restrictive that you’ll end up significantly reducing the amount of food you’re “allowed” to eat, including some good-for-you cooked foods, such as roasted vegetables. As a result of the restrictive nature of this diet, it should be avoided by anyone who has a history of disordered eating behaviors, or is at high risk for them.
This diet can also sometimes lead to nutritional deficiencies. Yule says people who follow a raw vegan diet are at increased risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12, calcium, and iron. You may also miss out on protein, vitamin D, and iodine.
“People on a raw vegan diet are also not consuming the fortified foods that people on a regular vegan diet may be consuming, such as fortified alternative plant-based milks and fortified cereals,” she says. “This lack of fortified foods may heighten their risk of deficiencies.”
In the aforementioned study involving patients at a cardiovascular clinic, following a raw diet reduced these individuals’ intake of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, protein, and some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and sodium. But they also increased their intake of other important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
You also need to be sure you’re getting proper amounts of the omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which you can supplement with microalgae, according to a previous study.
The Raw Food Diet: 7-Day Meal Plan for Beginners
A diet plan that involves zero cooking? Anyone who struggles in the kitchen is likely saying “sign me up!” The raw food diet combines veganism with raw foodism, supporting weight loss, improved heart health and a healthier lifestyle overall. It’s a healthy, energizing way of eating, and with the right recipes, you’ll love following this eating plan. Ready to learn more about the raw food diet? Check out our 7-day meal plan for beginners!
What is the Raw Food Diet?
The raw food diet is just what it sounds like- a diet based on eating mostly raw, unprocessed whole foods. Supporters of the raw food diet believe that eating raw foods is beneficial for health and weight loss since you’re cutting out high calories, sugars and processed foods. Also known as raw foodism or raw veganism, the raw food diet consists of consuming mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Some people also consume raw eggs and dairy, and even raw fish and meat, although this is less common.
Food is considered raw if it has never been heated over 104-118°F. It also shouldn’t be refined, pasteurized, treated with pesticides or processed in any other way. Alternative preparation methods such as juicing, blending, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating are used as an alternative to cooking.
The idea behind the raw food diet is that cooking food destroys natural enzymes and nutrients found in foods. Raw food dieters believe eating raw food makes them healthier, increases their energy, and helps them lose weight.
Can You Lose Weight on the Raw Food Diet?
Although weight loss is not the main aim of a raw food diet, raw food diets are low in calories, high in fibre and based primarily on healthy whole foods. Due to all these factors, weight loss is common when you follow a raw food diet.
7 Pros and Cons of the Raw Food Diet
3 Pros of the Raw Food Diet
1. Nutritional Perks
Most of the foods you eat on the raw food diet will be high in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. The raw food diet is typically a low-sodium diet, free from added sugars, preservatives and other additives, which increases your overall health.
2. Weight Loss
You’re pretty much guaranteed to lose weight on the raw food diet since it’s very low in calories. It also urges you to cut out foods that typically lead to weight gain such as processed junk foods and added sugar, focusing on the consumption of healthy, whole-foods. The combination of these things help people on the raw food diet to lose weight.
3. Can Improve Heart Health
Since the raw food diet is so rich in fruits and vegetables, it can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The eating plan also focuses on nuts, seeds, sprouted whole grains and legumes, which can improve blood cholesterol levels and further lower your risk of heart disease.
4 Cons of the Raw Food Diet
1. Low in Certain Nutrients
Although you’re consuming certain nutrients on the raw food diet, you’re also missing out on other essential nutrients such as protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B12. And contrary to the claims that cooking eliminates nutrients from food, cooking can actually boost certain nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene, and it also kills bacteria.
2. Some Foods Are Toxic When Raw
Before you get started on the raw food diet, it’s important to know that some foods can be toxic when consumed raw. These foods include buckwheat, kidney beans, alfalfa sprouts, parsnips, eggs and meat.
3. Bloating and Gas
Bloating and gas are a side effect of the raw food diet. Many raw vegetables are rich in insoluble fibres, which we can’t digest and get fermented in the gut by bacteria, leading to gas. Cooking helps soften the fibres. People with irritable bowel syndrome find the raw food diet particularly tough on their gut, causing digestive distress.
4. The Diet is Restricting
Adopting a raw food diet is restricting, to say the least. It’s fine when you’re at home and are able to prepare food for yourself, but issues arise when you’re out at a restaurant with friends, have a lunch meeting at work or at an event like a bridal shower. You’ll likely have to bring your own food to certain events so you don’t end up hungry.
The raw food diet: Should I try it?
A raw food diet involves eating mainly unprocessed whole, plant-based, and preferably organic foods. Some sources say that when following this diet, raw food should make up three-quarters of the diet.
People who follow the raw food diet believe that eating raw foods can improve their health, well-being, and possibly reduce the risk of medical conditions.
Weight loss is not usually the main aim of the raw food diet, but switching to raw food can lead to weight loss.
This article provides an overview of the raw food diet, including what to eat and avoid, how to prepare raw food, and the benefits and risks of this diet.
Types of raw food diet
Most people who follow the raw food diet eat only plant-based foods, making it a type of vegan diet. However, some people eat raw animal products or raw or dried meat, too.
There are three broad types of raw food diet:
- a raw vegan diet excludes all animal products, focusing only on plant-based foods
- a raw vegetarian diet includes plant-based foods plus raw eggs and unprocessed dairy products
- a raw omnivorous diet includes plant-based foods, raw animal products, and raw or dried meat
What can I eat?
People interpret the raw food diet and what it means in different ways. Some people will eat some cooked food, while others eat none. For some people, it is a way of life, and for others, it is simply a dietary choice.
The following foods are suitable for most raw food diets:
- raw fruits and raw vegetables
- dried fruits and vegetables
- freshly made fruit and vegetable juices
- soaked and sprouted beans, other legumes, and grains
- raw nuts and seeds
- raw nut butters, such as peanut butter and almond butter
- nut milks, including almond milk
- coconut milk
- cold-pressed olive oil or coconut oil
- nutritional yeast
- dried fruits
- green food powder, such as dried wheatgrass or algae
- fermented foods, including kimchi and sauerkraut
- purified water, but not tap water
- other organic, natural, or unprocessed foods
Depending on the type of diet, a raw food diet may also contain:
- raw eggs
- raw fish, such as sushi or sashimi
- other raw or dried meats
- non-pasteurized and non-homogenized milk and dairy products
Foods to avoid include:
- all cooked or processed foods
- refined oils
- table salt
- refined sugars and flour
- coffee, tea, and alcohol
Olives are usually too bitter to eat raw, and olives in tins have undergone a cooking process during manufacture. People on a raw food diet can eat olives if they are sun-cured.
How to prepare food
When preparing food in a raw food diet, people tend to follow certain strategies, such as soaking, dehydrating, and juicing foods. The diet allows for chopping and blending foods.
The diet excludes any food heated beyond a certain temperature, usually 104° to 118°F, though figures may vary between sources. The only heating allowed is with a dehydrator, which is a device that blows hot air across food.
People can eat many fruits and vegetables with no preparation, while others need some additional steps. Common methods for preparing raw foods include:
- soaking beans and grains in water
- eating sprouted rather than whole grains
- drying or dehydrating fruits
- juicing fruits and vegetables or making smoothies
Examples of nutrient-rich meals suitable for the raw food diet include:
- Breakfast: “Rawnola” is a raw version of granola made from walnuts, pecans, dates, flaxseed, chia seeds, and old fashioned oats. Finish with a variety of colorful fruits, such as blueberries, mango, and kiwi. Try adding juices, nut milk, or cold-pressed oil.
- Snack: Raw green smoothies are a versatile choice that people can customize. Common ingredients include bananas, kale, spinach, blueberries, and many other fruits and vegetables.
- Lunch: Raw cauliflower “fried“ rice with cauliflower, broccoli, edamame beans, and peppers.
- Dinner: Raw pad-Thai salad with peppers, peanuts, and zucchini.
People can also make many desserts using raw ingredients, such as raw vegan lemon cheesecake using dates, coconut butter, and cashews. Raw chocolate chip cookies are a popular choice, made from dates, cashews, and cacao nibs.
Many people on a raw food diet believe that it makes the body better able to prevent and fight diseases, especially chronic conditions.
A 2019 reviewTrusted Source reports that following a plant-based (but not necessarily raw) diet has significant benefits for physical health and disease.
Following a raw food diet can have a range of benefits, including improved health and weight loss. The next sections discuss some possible benefits.
High in nutrients
A raw food diet tends to be high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, all of which are staples of a healthful diet. Eating a range of these foods will provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and healthful fats, and protein.
Cooking destroys some nutrients, such as water-soluble vitamin B and vitamin C, so eating food raw ensures a better supply of these.
Fewer processed foods
Processed foods tend to be higher in salt, added sugars, and unhealthful saturated fats. They can lead to inflammation of blood vessels and cardiovascular disease. Reducing or eliminating processed foods can, therefore, have significant health benefits.
If a person wishes to lose weight, eating mainly uncooked foods can help. This is because raw foods are usually low in calories, and plant-based foods are high in fiber, making a person feel full for longer.
Retaining enzymes in food
According to some sources, the cooking process may destroy or alter the natural enzymes in foods, as well as some essential vitamins.
The idea is that nature has given each food its unique perfect mix, and these vital enzymes allow a person to digest their foods fully. Proponents claim that only raw food, therefore, is “live” food.
However, these enzymes present in food are mostly denatured by the acid in the stomach. Our bodies contain the enzymes needed to digest foods.
Some people believe that the raw food diet will lead to the following benefits, though these are not scientifically proven:
- more energy
- clearer skin
- better digestion
What are the risks?
Some foods are not safe to eat uncooked. The cooking process breaks down toxic chemicals in some food, and others carry a risk of food poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)Trusted Source, uncooked animal products are most likely to cause food poisoning. This includes:
- raw and undercooked meat, including chicken
- raw or lightly cooked eggs
- raw (unpasteurized) milk and products made from it
- raw shellfish
People can also get food poisoning from raw fruits and vegetables. This is less likely with cooked fruits and vegetables because the cooking process kills bacteria. The CDC recommend always washing produce before eating it.
Nutritionists and dietitians suggest that people following a raw food diet should consume the following foods with caution:
Buckwheat: Buckwheat greens may be toxic when raw, though there is little research about its effect on humans. Juicing or eating buckwheat in large amounts may cause toxic effects, such as a sensitivity to the sun, or photosensitization.
Kidney beans: Kidney beans contain a chemical called phytohaemagglutinin. Raw kidney beans and kidney bean sprouts may be toxic. Most legumes contain phytic acid, which can block the body’s absorption of some essential minerals. Cooking reduces the level of phytic acid.
Sprouts: Sprouted seeds, such as alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts, canTrusted Source harbor Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria bacteria and cause food poisoning.
Cassava: Cassava, also known as yucca or gaplek, can be toxic when raw. People should peel, slice, and cook this vegetable thoroughly to ensure it is safe.
Raw eggs: Salmonella bacteria are present in some eggs, which can cause severe illness and even death. Cooking eggs kills the bacteria. The CDCTrusted Source recommend using pasteurized eggs when using recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs.
Seafood and shellfish: Raw, seafood and shellfish can pass on harmful bacteria. The CDCTrusted Source recommend that people avoid raw seafood.
Milk: Raw milk may contain Listeria, bacteria that can cause serious infections and has links to pregnancy complications. According to the CDCTrusted Source, pasteurized milk contains the same health benefits without the risks.
Should I try it?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people on the raw food diet may experience clearer skin, more energy, sustained weight loss, and a reduction in cholesterol and lipid levels in blood tests.
However, the diet has some disadvantages:
- Cooking makes some foods safer. The cooking process kills some toxins, bacteria, and harmful compounds in food. People should treat raw animal products and some produce with caution.
- People should research which foods, including beans and vegetables, are safe to eat raw before trying them.
- Cooking may help release valuable nutrients, such as lycopene and beta carotene, from raw vegetables.
- Digestive problems can arise, such as gas or cramping, but this may improve after a while.
- Weight loss may not be healthful for everyone, and some people will have to work hard to keep up the number of calories they need.
- As with other diets, following a raw food diet requires organization and preparation to ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients.
People following any plant-based diet must take care to get all the nutrients they need, as some nutrients are much more common in animal products.
Essential nutrients that people should consider include protein, vitamin B-12, iron, calcium, some omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. Followers of the raw food diet often discourage the use of supplements.
One small-scale study from 2005Trusted Source found that people on a raw food vegetarian diet had lower bone mass, although their bones appeared to be otherwise healthy.
Another 2005 studyTrusted Source found that although a long-term raw food diet can reduce overall cholesterol and triglycerides, it may also lower the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, and raise levels of homocysteine (tHcy) because of a lack of vitamin B-12.
High levels of tHcy can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Females who followed the raw food diet for over 3 years experienced irregularities in their menstrual cycle.
Dietitians agree, however, that an increased intake of fruits and vegetables and a reduction in processed food would benefit most people.