raw food

A traditional vegetarian diet excludes meat whereas a strict vegetarian (vegan) diet excludes meat, eggs and dairy. Dedicated vegetarians often extend their compassion beyond what they eat. They also avoid wearing clothing made from animals, e.g., leather, wool and silk. Products with animal ingredients or products that are tested on animals may also be avoided. Vegetarians do, however, eat cooked food. Raw food vegetarians eat little or no cooked food. Some vegetarians drink raw milk, however, most do not. Raw milk is unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Raw milk’s safety is questionable.

Why raw? A raw food diet is usually chosen to preserve health, protect the planet from the environmental destruction that comes from raising animals for food and to show compassion for animals.

A raw food vegetarian’s diet consists of fruit, vegetables, germinated nuts and seeds, superfoods and sprouts. There are some variations on this; however, this is an optimum path to becoming a raw foodist. Raw food must always be cooked below 118 degrees. This keeps enzymes and nutrients intact as some are lost in the cooking process.

Raw foods can be eaten as is, dehydrated, fermented, frozen, juiced or blended. A dehydrator lightly cooks a food to give the flavors of cooked food without using a high temperature. Fermentation is the breaking down of foods by living microorganisms, e.g., enzymes. This can be done in something as simple as a glass container with a heavy lid. Freezing is usually reserved for desserts; however, produce can also be frozen.

Many fruits and vegetables can be juiced and blended. A good juicer will also juice wheatgrass and greens. A powerful blender like a vita-mixer will make nut milks and smoothies. Juicing and blending help break down the cell walls of vegetables making them easier to digest.

Superfoods are important sources of nutrients in a raw diet. What makes a food a superfood? Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods with high amounts of phytochemicals and as a result, may offer health benefits. Five of the top superfoods are:

  • Wheatgrass juice (70% chlorophyll, builds blood, cleanses)
  • Tibetan Goji berries (antioxidant, vitamin C, soluble fiber, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, 13% protein)
  • Maca (radish-like fruit from Peru, boosts immune system)
  • Hemp seed (perfect balance of omega- 3 and omega- 6 essential fatty acids)
  • Raw chocolate (antioxidant, high in magnesium, laxative)

Sprouts are also important sources of nutrients in a raw diet. Sprouts actually grow until they are digested and have a high bioavailability rate. The process of sprouting (germination) can increase a food’s nutritional content by as much as 400 percent. Sprouts can be grown at home quite easily.