For a little while I’ve been intrigued by the trend for ‘Raw Veganism’ which has been kicking around social media, and so I thought I’d do a little experiment and try it out for one week. In this week’s blog post, I want to explore the reasons for advocating a raw diet and some criticisms of it, as well as my expectations and plans for how it’s going to go. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming your way next Saturday where I will evaluate the whole thing and bring you some raw recipes too!
One of the main reasons that eating a raw diet is encouraged is that it is thought to be much higher in nutrients than a standard diet where 60-80% of what we eat is cooked. This is because it is proposed that heating certain foods to high temperatures can destroy essential enzymes contained within them. For example, sulforaphanes (the supposedly cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli) are reduced when broccoli is cooked. It is also thought that certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate, are destroyed by heat. Therefore, by eating food raw, it is proposed that the nutritional content is preserved and can be used by our bodies.
The raw food diet is also thought to contain less refined sugar and saturated fat than the typical ‘Western’ diet of fried and processed food. It is also lower in sodium and sugar and often high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fibre, vitamin A, antioxidants. These properties have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a diet low in saturated fat and refined sugar has also been shown to contribute to weight loss. Other benefits reported by people switching to a raw food diet have included clearer skin, increased energy and a boost to the immune system.
What should I be worried about?
A raw food diet might not be right for everyone. For example, pregnant women and children are among groups where a raw food diet is not encouraged, and it is likely that this is because we don’t yet have enough knowledge about how this type of diet might contribute to human development. Nevertheless, one of the main warnings associated with following a raw food diet is the possibility that it does not provide enough of the essential nutrients we need to be healthy. In particular, it is possible that the lack of consumption of certain food groups might lead to a deficiency in omega-3, iron, zinc and B12. This is definitely something I would consider if I was intending to adopt a raw food diet in the long term, but seeing as this is only a week-long experiment, I am happy to assume that eating a large variety of raw foods will keep me going ‘nutritionally’ for now.
Another consideration I want to make is making sure that I’m getting enough calories. Raw food is much less calorie dense than cooked food and so often we need to eat a much higher volume of the stuff in order to achieve the same calorie input. This can be a benefit to people looking to lose weight, however, being a pretty active person who isn’t looking to lose anything, I want to make absolutely sure I’m getting what I need. Therefore, I am going to be using MyFitnessPal for my raw week to track my calorie input and output and to keep an eye on the macronutrient content of my food (protein, carbohydrates and fats).
So, how am I going to do it? Plan. Plan. Plan! I’m going to plan all my meals and snacks for the coming week so that I’m not caught out. I’m going to do a massive meal prep on Sunday and spiralise a whole load of vegetables, soak a load of nuts and seeds, make some nut butter and nut mylks and maybe ferment some things too. I’m also going to make sure that I’ve always got some raw snacks on me in case I can’t find anything to grab while I am out and about. I’m also going to keep a diary of how I’m feeling day-to-day and of any problems I encounter on the way so we can get right down to the nitty-gritty of how this diet makes me feel.
And so, my shopping list for this week is going to look something like this:
– Butternut Squash
– Dried Pulses and Legumes
– Vegetable/Seaweed/Chickpea Noodles
I’ll do a proper breakdown of how much I bought and how much I spent in Part 2 of this post next week. I’ll also be sharing my favourite raw recipes of the week, so stay tuned!
This is going to be quite a learning experience for me and I’m not expecting to get it right 100% of the time (though I am damn well going to try!). If you have any tips, tricks or insights into what I can expect in my raw week then I would LOVE to hear them! Either comment on this post or on one of my Instagram posts next week (which are also where you can keep up with my progress).
Wish me luck team!!!! xoxo