Interested in Going Raw Vegan? Here is How To in Five Steps
Highest Form of Nutrition
If there’s one practice that can take your health to the next level, it’s going raw. But what does that actually mean on a practical level? Do you have to give up all the foods you love? What happens in winter when you’re craving something hot? How can you transition to a raw diet without the drama? I’ve tried and tested several strategies. I would love to transition to 100% raw, right now I am at 70% raw. Be flexible and try going raw until 4pm or raw for a day and build from there. Don’t be hard on yourself. Remember, this is all a journey to optimal health and you have to see what works best for your body. Here’s my guide on how to go raw in 5 easy steps.
What is a raw diet?
Eating a raw diet means that over 70% of your food is raw - meaning either uncooked, or heated to temperatures under 104-118 degrees F (40-48 degrees C). This diet is naturally rich in nourishing plant foods, which makes it helpful for reducing your risk of disease and losing weight. A raw vegan diet excludes all animal products like milk, cheese and meat, and is made up of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, soaked and sprouted grains and legumes, and cold-pressed oils.
Step #1: Information & Motivation
Failing to plan means planning to fail. One reason for not sticking to a raw diet is not fully understanding how it will fit into your schedule and life in general. Another reason is that motivation underpinning the desire to go raw isn’t strong enough. So, before you begin your raw diet, take a few hours to research which foods you can eat (more on that in Step #4), and the various benefits of a raw diet. Then, write down the top ten reasons why you want to go raw. Really get down to the nitty gritty - beyond looking better in a bikini. It could be that you want to improve your health so you’re there for your kids, or you want to feel your best and boost your confidence so you can go for that dream job.
Finding the reason that lights you up will make your journey into raw much easier - every time it gets tough, you’ll be able to refer back to this list, and remind yourself why you’re going raw. This sets a solid foundation for you to begin.
Step #2: Set Achievable Goals
Now that you are ready to welcome raw into your life, decide what that will look like for you. For most of us, going completely raw immediately just isn’t doable. If you aim for this, you risk stressing yourself out and giving up within a week. Set some attainable goals and manageable deadlines.
I suggest you start by pledging to go 40-50% raw in your first week. In practice that means half of every meal is raw - this is easily achievable. Here’s an example of how this looks:
Breakfast: smoothie- can include fresh fruit and veg, raw nut or seed milk, sprouted seeds, raw oats
Lunch: salad: include one or two raw vegetables, for example grated carrot or beetroot, shredded baby spinach, diced peppers, avocado, radish, alfalfa sprouts. You can also spiralize zucchini for a raw version of spaghetti pasta.
Dinner: include a raw side with your dinner, like a fresh salad made with spinach, watercress, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, fresh herbs.
Slowly increase the portion of raw on your plate week by week. The second week, aim to include sprouted grains to a few meals. This gradual shift means you’ll avoid getting overwhelmed, and will be able to create sustainable, long-term change.
Essential Tools: Dehydrator and Spiralizer
Step #3: Listen to Your Body
This is a key component many of us ignore. Each of us is different, and constantly changing. Everybody has different needs, at different times of life - even at different times of the month! So it’s important to tune in and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.
A raw diet is not for everyone. Some find it hard on the gut - this can happen because of a lack of certain digestive enzymes. Others crave warm foods, and find cold foods don’t offer the same level of satiety, particularly in autumn and winter. It’s therefore a good idea to cultivate a certain flexibility in your new raw lifestyle.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, or even to put raw on hold for a day or two. For example, if your body is craving hot food, you could make a miso broth with some very finely sliced raw vegetables. Remember raw simply means cooler than 118 degrees F - this gives you a little room to play with in terms of warming foods through and getting that cooked food feeling.
Step #4: Beyond Fruits + Vegetables
When I first started practicing raw veganism, I thought I’d have to give up everything that except fruits and vegetables. How wrong I was! You can make a raw meal as satisfying and interesting as a cooked meal if you know which ingredients to add. Here are a few foods to include. These will add texture, protein, healthy fats and flavor to your dishes, thereby making it easier to stick to your new raw diet mission.
Grains - soaked and sprouted wild rice, spelt, barley, oats, buckwheat. These sprouts are great in salads.
Nuts + Seeds - soaked and dehydrated, nuts and seeds add a crunchy satisfying texture to any meal, plus a good helping of healthy fats. You don’t need a dehydrator, simply use your oven on the lowest temperature to slow-roast them.
Beans + Legumes - Packed with protein, these need to feature in your diet. The quickest beans to sprout are mung beans, lentils, adzuki beans and chickpeas. An easy thing to remember is the larger the bean, the longer it will take to sprout. They can be added to salads or blended to make raw hummus.
Cold-pressed Oils - One of the risks of a raw vegan diet is a lack of calories, which can lead to amenorrhea (when your periods stop). It’s therefore really important to eat nutrient-dense foods every day. As well as including nuts and seeds, you can liven up your salads by making dressings with cold-pressed oils.
Raw Vegan Wraps - Are a great way to create easy snacks and meals.
Step #5: Add Pleasure
The pleasure factor - without this, any diet is doomed to fail. I’m not telling you to have vegan cheesecake every day. However, if you add a little indulgence into your routine, you will make going raw much more pleasurable, as well as effortless. Choose one or two of your favorite treat foods and find a way to make them raw. I have a sweet tooth, so when I am eating raw vegan I buy raw chocolates and organic raw vegan energy balls. It is easy to could grab something tasty without compromising. If your preference is savory, try raw crackers (you can make these using your oven on a low temperature) with sprouted chickpea hummus, dehydrated kale chips, or tamari glazed raw seeds.
Time to go raw?
Now you know how to transform your diet, how will you begin your raw food journey? What do you think about my five steps to go raw? How do you include more raw food in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!