Most people have heard of veganism now (and if you haven’t, have you been living under a rock?) but raw veganism is like a distant second cousin – you’ve heard their name before but haven’t a clue who they are.
So what is the more elusive and specific raw veganism? It has the same essential core ideas of veganism, in that no animal products such as meat, eggs or milk are to be consumed, but is taking it a step further as no food is to be cooked above 48°C.
This is not a new concept, many foods are in fact eaten raw anyway, such as some types of sushi and steak tartare (although these are not vegan!). The idea of raw veganism has, in fact, been around for perhaps longer than you might expect, with ancient scholars Pythagoras and Hippocrates rumoured to have mostly eaten raw vegan foods.
Raw veganism is a somewhat controversial topic as it so obviously differs from the diets of most people on the planet, and yet there must be a reason it has gained so much popularity recently…
“one of the main reasons which drive this particular diet is their belief that food is healthier”
Speaking to a committed vegan of nearly 9 years, Emily, Impact Food asked why people undertake a diet of this kind and whether there are any benefits. Emily, who embarked upon ‘Rawvember’ last November, believes that in eating only raw vegan foods, she became “leaner, less bloated, stronger and happier” and that raw veganism, for her, was a way to eat more healthily as you eat “fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in their natural state [which] are 100% great for you and what your body needs to thrive”. She also finds it a fun way to eat as it leads to being more experimental and open-minded in the kitchen.
According to other raw vegans, one of the main reasons which drive this particular diet is their belief that food is healthier when uncooked, as they claim cooking damages the nutritional value of the food. It is indeed true that cooking food does occasionally lead to the loss of some nutrients, such as Vitamin C and certain B vitamins. Cooking is also seen as unnatural as before fire was discovered, humans will not have cooked their food, and animals in the wild never cook theirs.
“perhaps we shall have to get used to the idea that people have different ideas when it comes to what is best to eat”
However, it has to be noted that as with most things, the raw vegan diet is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is important to remember that the evidence that this diet is good for you is somewhat lacking, and it is essential that vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly vitamin B12, are taken regularly as raw veganism cannot provide your body absolutely everything it needs.
Raw veganism is a controversial topic indeed, with many singing its praises and swearing by it, whereas others claim it has no health benefits or is even dangerous to people’s health. It is, of course, everybody’s right to choose how they eat, and with the ever-increasing number of diets such as vegan, paleo, fruitarian and many more, perhaps we shall have to get used to the idea that people have different ideas when it comes to what is best to eat. Besides, raw veganism is better than eating processed food and take aways all the time (probably).
Image: Ruth Pengelly