Perhaps one of the most popular diets in the vegan space is the raw food diet. The movement came from the idea many years ago that simple, whole foods in a non-processed state were best for our bodies. The idea also concluded that foods heated to extremely high temperatures were less nutritious since cooking can deplete some of the vitamins and minerals, along with the natural enzymes food contain that assist with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Specifically, strict raw food eaters don’t eat foods heated at temperatures above anywhere from 104-118 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take depending on the eater). There are simple raw recipes to more exotic raw gourmet options. Some can take minutes and others can take larger amounts of prep, and there is certainly not one way to approach the diet and lifestyle.

Flash forward to present day and the raw food diet is more than just a stance on a healthy way to eat; it has become a phenomenon that’s been side-swept by the dieting industry, with many claiming it’s the ultimate way to lose weight, detox, etc. We’re sure you’re familiar with this, right?

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Like any style of eating, marketing can put a spin on anything to make a profit, including the raw food diet. That doesn’t mean it should be avoided or that everyone should try to eat an all raw diet. There are some benefits of eating more raw foods when we can, not just for nutrition but also for simplicity, but what do we do when we crave cooked foods? Is it right to deny our bodies of this? No, certainly not, however most people that stick to a raw food diet for the long-term prefer to eat raw to maintain high levels of energy, and because they find it fits with their lifestyle.

So, if you’re on the fence about if you should eat a raw food diet and are looking to transition into one, here are some things you can ask yourself to see if it’s the right choice for you:

1. What’s My Reason?

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Any time you decide to change your nutrition plan, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why you’re making the decision. Just doing it to participate in a fad likely won’t provide many benefits (if any) and certainly isn’t a way to create a healthy mindset around food. If you’d like to try out a raw diet just to see if it works for your body because someone you know is, by all means, that’s a different story. But fads can make you feel like you’re dieting and might lead you to not give your body the calories or wide variety of nutrients you need. To eat a raw food diet healthfully, be sure you seek out a highly qualified raw food expert to see what foods you should be eating, instead of just being part of a trendy fad.

2. How Much Time do I Want to Spend Prepping Meals?

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As mentioned, there are simple raw recipes and there are more gourmet options. Some gourmet recipes use a dehydrator (in place of an oven), lots of kitchen equipment like mandolins and food processors for raw desserts, and might require some soaking or sprouting that can be time-consuming. Though these recipes are delicious, they might not work for you if you have a busy schedule. You can also eat a more simple dishes on a raw diet that include options such as: salads, smoothies, raw or room temperature soups, raw energy bites and bars, or simple fruit and veggie-based meals that don’t require much of any equipment at all. So first decide how much time you’d like to dedicate to meal prep so you can pick the best option for your lifestyle and schedule.

3. What are my Health Needs and Concerns?

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A raw food diet can supply the body with plenty of nutrients, but a few key things regarding your health should be kept in mind. First, do you have a sensitive digestive system? You may want to stay away from heavy nut dishes that are often enjoyed in the gourmet cuisine, which can really do a number on your stomach (and might lead to weight gain if that’s a concern). Or, if you have blood sugar issues, you might not want to eat a large amount of dried fruits or other fruits all day long, but may need more greens, green vegetables, non-starchy veggies, and some nuts and seeds in your diet for a balance.  These are just two examples that should be considered when approaching a raw food diet. Your health isn’t anything to play around with, so be sure it’s a priority anytime you make a change in your nutrition plan.

4. How Much do I Have to Spend?

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Just like with time, money is flexible when it comes to making a raw food diet work for you. Avoid lots of dried fruit, nut, and seed recipes because those ingredients can get expensive in bulk. Stick with the basics like fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, avocados, and include minimal amounts of nuts and seeds if you’re on a tight budget. There are many ways you can balance out more expensive items throughout the week and still enjoy them, but perhaps shouldn’t base all your meals and snacks off of them. Set a budget and give it a try to see how you can make it work. Go with frozen fruits instead of fresh fruit if things are a little more tight. 

5. Will I be Willing to Make Changes When Necessary?

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Many people eat a raw food diet for their life and thrive, while some will integrate a little cooked food in the evening later on as their bodies tell them it desires to do so. This can also provide a balance to the body holistically speaking, since raw foods are very energizing and cooked foods can help us relax and rest a bit easier (which is perfect for dinner). So whatever you decide to do, decide if you’re open to making changes as your body needs to so you don’t become obsessed with only eating raw. There’s a version of raw for everyone, whether that’s 100 percent or less.

To explore our raw options on One Green Planet, see all of our raw vegan recipes and even get our Raw Vegan Weekly Meal Plan.

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If you eat a raw food diet and thrive, what are some tips you would give to someone looking to eat raw, stay healthy, and succeed?

Lead Image Source: How to Transition to a Raw Vegan Diet With Success