A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (2023)

A raw food diet and a plant-based diet may seem similar, as many foods are eaten on both diets: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. One crucial component of the raw food diet, however, is only eating food cooked below 118 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, food will be either lukewarm or cold. Therefore, the raw vegan diet is a plant-based diet in which food is also cooked at no more than 118 degrees.

While many raw foodists posit that the diet is the healthiest way to eat, it’s important to note that food still contains nutritional benefits when both cooked and raw. What matters more is that a person receives the nutrients their body needs.

That being said, some cooking methods can lower the nutritional content of food. For example, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Zhejiang University on how different cooking methods impacted the nutritive quality of broccoli, found that every method except for steaming “caused a dramatic loss of vitamin C,” as well as a loss of soluble protein. Raw fruits and vegetables are more nutrient-rich, and so the raw vegan diet can be nutrient-rich.

A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (1)

History of the Raw Vegan Diet

Our diets have evolved throughout history. Prior to consistent access to fuel, humans ate many raw foods. However, regular access to fuel allowed humans to cook over fires, and eventually, to cook using grills, stoves, and microwaves. Widespread access to refrigeration in the early 20th century also impacted what we eat.

Also in the earlier 20th century, the raw food diet had a renaissance. One famous proponent, Swiss physician and nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner, believed that eating primarily raw foods was the healthiest diet. According to the New York Academy of Medicine, he wrote, “Fifty percent of the daily intake should consist of raw, unfired fruits, nuts and tastefully prepared vegetables…”

(Video) How to Start a Raw Food Diet!

Bircher-Benner and other supporters of the raw food diet believed that cooking foods destroyed nutritive qualities and believed that poor nutrition caused incurable diseases.

The writings of Bircher-Benner, as well as other advocates of the raw food diet, have led some to believe that it cures illness. In the present day, rumors persist that a raw vegan diet can cure everything from breast cancer to eczema. But, no scientific studies conclusively provide evidence.

Certainly, eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and nuts comes with benefits. Some cooking methods reduce the amount of nutrients in vegetables. For example, spinach and broccoli are both good sources of vitamin C. However, they lose nutrients through cooking. Boiling either of these vegetables can reduce their amount of vitamin C by 50 percent. In other words, you get the most vitamin C from raw spinach or broccoli.

A healthy diet, which includes getting adequate nutrients, is a factor in preventing many health conditions. But there is no evidence to support the claim that there is a direct connection between a raw food diet, or a raw vegan diet, and curing disease.

A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (2)

What Can You Eat on a Raw Vegan Diet?

A raw vegan diet is a plant-based diet in which only foods which have never been cooked are consumed. The raw vegan diet consists of:

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  • Fruits (juiced, dehydrated, and dried as well)
  • Vegetables (juiced, dehydrated, and dried as well)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds, like hemp and chia
  • Sprouted grains
  • Sprouted legumes
  • Tofu
  • Nut milks, such as almond milk or cashew milk
  • Nut butters containing no additional additives
  • Seaweed
  • Cold-pressed oils
  • Raw maple syrup, raw cacao powder, vinegar, and unpasteurized raw soy sauce
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso and kimchi
  • Nutritional yeast, which is used in vegan cheeses (as well as other uses)

On the raw vegan diet, food must not be cooked over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning it is not cooked, steamed, sauteed or roasted. Raw vegan adherents do not eat animal products; they also eschew baked foods, pasta, and coffee.

Some alcohol may be consumed, such as vegan wine. However, some wines use animal products such as gelatin or egg whites as processing agents. Distilled alcohol, including rum and whiskey, is not raw.

A note on sprouted grains and legumes: The word “sprouted” means the seeds have begun to grow but have not grown leaves or flowered yet. Sprouted grains include quinoa and unhulled farro. On the raw vegan diet, you can also eat sprouted legumes, such as lentils and pinto beans. Sprouting occurs when the grains or beans are soaked in warm water.

Additionally, some people may confuse the Paleo diet with the raw food diet by assuming that our ancestors primarily ate raw food. While it is true that humans ate many raw foods as a matter of practicality throughout most of history, these two diets are different. On the Paleo diet, you only eat foods that were believed to have been available to our ancestors during the Paleolithic area. But on the raw food diet, all foods can be eaten so long as they are raw.

A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (3)

What Are the Health Benefits of a Raw Vegan Diet?

There are many benefits to consider before adopting a raw vegan diet. Here are some of them:

(Video) How to Eat a Raw Vegan Diet 🍉 Easy Transition Tips + Simple Recipes for Beginners

It’s high in nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of digestive problems, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. You can get the best benefits by eating a “rainbow” of vegetables and fruits, as nutritionists advise.

It’s low in processed foods

There are many different ways that foods can be considered “processed.” It may be helpful to think of a continuum. On one end are frozen meals, pre-made meals, and ready-to-eat foods like fruit snacks, cookies, or soda. These foods frequently contain preservatives, additives, or flavors, as well as added sugars and sodium. In the middle are foods that may have some preservatives, additives, or flavors added (such as pasta sauce). And on the other end are minimally processed foods, such as canned tomatoes and frozen fruits and vegetables. On a raw vegan diet, you’re likely to be eating only minimally processed foods, and avoid the sodium and added sugars endemic to more heavily processed foods.

You can get your protein from sprouted legumes

A raw vegan diet avails you of a key source of plant-based protein: legumes. Protein is a crucial component of our wellbeing; it is an energy source and it builds muscle and bones. Adult men need 56 grams of protein per day, while adult women need 46 grams per day. And, legumes are a good source of plant protein. On a raw vegan diet, you can eat soaked or sprouted legumes. (Sprouted black, green, or de Puy lentils contain 12 grams of protein per cup.)

Sprouted grains are low-carb

Many grains that are eaten in the typical American diet are high in carbohydrates. However, sprouted grains, such as quinoa, are low in carbohydrates. A long-term study of over 82,000 women found that a diet low in carbohydrates was associated with a lower risk of heart disease and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

It’s low in saturated fat

When you’re following a raw, plant-based diet, you won’t consume foods that are high in saturated fats. Eating such foods can raise your cholesterol levels, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Saturated fats are found in many processed foods, as well as meat and dairy products, including poultry with skin, beef with fat, pork, lamb, cream, cheese, and butter.

(Video) Why a Raw Vegan Diet is Not Healthy

A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (4)

Are There Any Complications From Eating a Raw Vegan Diet?

Here are some of the disadvantages to consider if you’re thinking of adopting a raw vegan diet:

Sprouted grains and sprouted lentils can cause foodborne illness

Sprouted grains and sprouted lentils are two foods you can eat on a raw vegan diet. Sprouting occurs when grains and legumes are soaked in warm water. You should be aware, however, that this moist environment can foster bacterial growth and lead to foodborne pathogens like salmonella, listeria, and E. Coli.

Cooking food kills bacteria, so eating raw foods carries a small risk

Remember that on the raw vegan diet, you are not eating food cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. However, cooking vegetables—one of the main components of a raw vegan diet— is known to kill foodborne illness-causing bacteria. Produce was by far the most common source of food poisoning between 1998 and 2012, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Vox noted, “…[T]he overall benefits of eating fresh produce massively outweigh the small risk of food poisoning.”

You need to find other sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids. These are called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends men between age 19 and 50 should get 1.6 grams of omega-3s per day, while women in the same age range should get 1.1 grams per day. Eating fish, such as salmon, herring, trout and sea bass, will get you these omega-3 fatty acids. But on a raw vegan diet, you aren’t eating fish, you will need to source your omega-3 fatty acids elsewhere. Fortunately, other good sources of omega-3s include kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.

A Raw Vegan Diet, Explained (5)

How Do You Start a Raw Vegan Diet?

Before beginning any diet, consult a nutritionist who can help you actualize your health goals. If you’re looking to begin eating a raw vegan diet, learn the foods you’ll need to eat in order to get the right vitamins and minerals.

(Video) The Vegan Diet: Everything You Need To Know

And once you get “cooking,” get creative! A raw vegan diet isn’t just handfuls of raw veggies and green juices. You can make some of your favorite—even decadent—foods, such as this chocolate berry tart, or these walnut and sriracha tacos.


What happens on a raw vegan diet? ›

A raw vegan diet consists of food that is eaten uncooked or heated at temperatures below 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is that cooking food destroys its nutrients, which is true in some cases—but not all. (More on this later.) Raw diets tend to be low in processed foods.

What is a raw vegan? ›

A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed, raw plant foods that have not been heated above 40–49 °C (104–120 °F). Typical foods included in raw food diets are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains and legumes. Among raw vegans are subgroups, such as "fruitarians", "juicearians", or "sproutarians".

Do raw vegans drink coffee? ›

Yes. Black Coffee will, inevitably, be your best option if you're vegan. Less so, admittedly, if you're a raw vegan, however, seeing as it's most commonly served hot. What's more, whether you're choosing Black Coffee, Cold Brew Coffee, Iced Coffee or any other variety, the beans must still be roasted.

Do raw vegans eat bread? ›

A raw vegan flax bread recipe made with flaxseeds and sunflower seeds, this raw version of classic Italian focaccia bread is as comforting, delicious and prone to overeating as the original. The flavor is a live ringer and goes great with salads and raw soups.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
3 more rows
Feb 17, 2022

How do raw vegans get their protein? ›

A raw vegan diet avails you of a key source of plant-based protein: legumes. Protein is a crucial component of our wellbeing; it is an energy source and it builds muscle and bones. Adult men need 56 grams of protein per day, while adult women need 46 grams per day. And, legumes are a good source of plant protein.

Is Peanut Butter raw vegan? ›

Good news: most peanut butter is vegan. Most peanut butter is made with just dry roasted peanuts and salt. Some might add oil and a little bit of sugar, too. In addition to classic peanut butter, there's also powdered peanut butter.

Do raw vegans drink? ›

Raw foodists also drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices and include herbal teas. Most people who follow a raw vegan diet include a limited amount of foods that have undergone some processing, as long as the processing does not involve heating up the food above 115 degrees.

Do raw vegans eat hummus? ›

In a word, YES! Humus as a food category is generally classified as vegan, because it does not contain any animal products. All you need to do to make sure your choice is vegan is scan the ingredient list.

Do raw vegans eat tofu? ›

Is it suitable for a raw vegan diet? Since tofu is cooked during processing, it is not considered strictly 'raw vegan'. That being said, many people are happy to include it as a healthy, nutritious, and protein-rich addition to an otherwise predominantly raw diet.

What do raw vegans lack? ›

Raw vegan diets are likely to lack many important vitamins and minerals – namely vitamins B12 and D, selenium, zinc, iron and two types of omega-3 fatty acids. This is because many of the foods that contain high levels of these vitamins and minerals come from animals – such as meat and eggs.

Can raw vegans eat oatmeal? ›

Overnight oats

While typical breakfast standbys like eggs, pancakes, and even plain toast are eliminated on a raw vegan diet, there are still some options for morning meals on the plan. Oats can be prepared raw by soaking them overnight in water or a milk substitute like almond or oat milk.

Can raw vegans eat eggs? ›

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.

What should I eat for breakfast on a raw diet? ›

Quick and Healthy Raw Food Breakfast Ideas
  • Peanut Butter and Fruit Smoothie. ...
  • Moong Beans Sprout Salad. ...
  • Kerala's Aval Nanachathu. ...
  • Berry Almond Overnight Oats. ...
  • Granola and Greek Yoghurt Bowl. ...
  • Fresh Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad. ...
  • Sattu Drink. ...
  • Protein Shake.
May 9, 2022

How do raw vegans get B12? ›

The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 (including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals) and B12 supplements, such as our very own VEG 1. Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from micro-organisms.

What is 100% raw vegan? ›

The diet includes foods that are plant-based, raw, and unprocessed. Raw vegan diets exclude animal products, such as meat and dairy products, and foods that need cooking. People may choose to follow a raw vegan diet to try and improve their health.

Do raw vegans cook anything? ›

First, a primer: Raw veganism is a plant-based diet that involves no cooking. No food is heated above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Foods are eaten fresh, dehydrated with low heat or fermented.

Can you lose weight eating raw vegan? ›

A raw vegan diet seems very effective at helping people lose weight and keep it off. In fact, studies consistently link raw food diets — including raw veganism — to lower amounts of body fat ( 21 ). In one study, people following various raw diets for over 3.5 years lost around 22–26 pounds (10–12 kg).

Can vegans eat honey? ›

As a food produced by insects, honey is by definition not vegan. Bees gather nectar from flowers, partially digest it, and then regurgitate it once back in their hives. Worker bees then seal it into beeswax honeycomb, much of it for the purpose of storing food to enable the hive to survive through the winter.

Is raw vegan healthier than vegan? ›

A raw vegan diet has pretty much the same benefits but advocates of the raw food diet claim that eating their food raw is healthier because eating food raw completely preserves the nutrients and enzymes in it.

Can raw vegans eat rice? ›

Do Raw Vegans Eat Rice or Beans? Because raw vegans avoid foods heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, they don't eat rice or beans that require a higher temperature to make them edible. However, humans may safely eat some types of rice and beans if they sprout, rather than cook, them.

Is popcorn raw vegan? ›

Yes, popcorn is vegan. Popcorn is a type of corn kernel.

Can I have coffee on a raw food diet? ›

Caffeine is not permitted on a raw food diet, which eliminates coffee and many teas. Herbal tea is not considered raw because tea leaves are usually heated during the manufacturing process.

Can a raw vegan diet be healthy? ›

The raw vegan diet is a nutritious diet that includes many healthful plant-based foods. Eating these foods may decrease a person's risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. However, if a person does not carefully plan their diet, they may not get all of the calories or nutrients they need.

How long does it take to see results on a raw vegan diet? ›

It typically takes about 2-4 weeks to notice changes when following a raw vegan diet. You may notice improvements in your energy, skin, as well as changes to your body composition.

What are the benefits of raw diet? ›

Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, says incorporating raw foods, specifically vegetables and fruits, into your diet can have numerous health benefits. “You will likely have more energy, better skin, improved digestion and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease once you get used to eating raw food,” she says.

Why am I gaining weight on raw vegan diet? ›

Eating a vegan raw diet won't automatically result in weight loss. In fact, you can actually gain weight while eating vegan and raw. When your diet skews toward high-fat and high-sugar foods, you might pack on the pounds. Eating too many avocados, nuts, seeds, and similar foods can result in too much fat intake.

What is vegan face? ›

Simply, vegan face is a name for a slack, wasted look that is caused by an absence of protein in your diet. The skin is dry, sallow and flaky. Protein literally props up the face: it makes it look plump (in a good way) and fresh-faced and wakeful.

How do you start a fully raw vegan diet? ›

Below you can find what you can basically eat on a raw vegan diet:
  1. fresh, dried, juiced, or dehydrated fruits.
  2. raw, juiced, or dehydrated vegetables.
  3. raw nuts and seeds.
  4. uncooked grains and legumes, sprouted or soaked.
  5. raw nut milk.
  6. raw nut butter.
  7. cold-pressed oils.
  8. fermented foods like kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut.
Jul 29, 2021

What are the disadvantages of a raw food diet? ›

A raw vegan diet devoid of supplements can be low in vitamin B12, iodine, calcium and vitamin D and may provide too little protein and too few calories, leading to an array of health issues. It may also cause tooth decay and fertility issues.

What are the healthiest raw foods? ›

Yet, in other ways, certain raw foods can be a better source of nutrition and function as helpful prebiotics.
Foods that are healthier raw:
  • Broccoli.
  • Cabbage.
  • Cucumber.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Green Peppers.

Is raw vegan better than vegan? ›

A raw vegan diet has pretty much the same benefits but advocates of the raw food diet claim that eating their food raw is healthier because eating food raw completely preserves the nutrients and enzymes in it.

How do raw vegans get high protein? ›

The following healthful, plant-based foods have a high-protein content per serving:
  1. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Share on Pinterest Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame are among the richest sources of protein in a vegan diet. ...
  2. Lentils. ...
  3. Chickpeas. ...
  4. Peanuts. ...
  5. Almonds. ...
  6. Spirulina. ...
  7. Quinoa. ...
  8. Mycoprotein.

Can you eat hummus on a raw vegan diet? ›

In a word, YES! Humus as a food category is generally classified as vegan, because it does not contain any animal products. All you need to do to make sure your choice is vegan is scan the ingredient list.

How to lose belly fat as a vegan? ›

Maintaining healthy gut bacteria, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and eating plenty of fiber all help reduce belly fat. Another key factor is weight loss. Reducing overall calorie intake and increasing exercise significantly helps reduce overall body fat.


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