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Will going raw, and waving goodbye to those "toxic" cooked foods, cure you of cancer, diabetes, autism, and all kinds of other ailments? Or is the truth slightly more complex?

Is raw veganism a great way to lose weight, the only natural way to eat, or the key to a long and healthy life? When you listen to raw food proponents, it's easy to conclude that going raw is the answer to your health problems. Reality is slightly more complicated, as always.

Why Do People Become Raw Vegans?

The reasons for which people are attracted to a raw vegan diet are surprisingly varied. Vegans in general are frequently motivated by a desire to, putting it simply, be kind to animals and the Earth — and raw food vegans are no different. Why take the step to say goodbye to cooked foods, though? 

Some common reasons for which people become raw food vegans are:

  • Health. Raw food vegans I spoke to say no to cooked foods because raw foods retain more nutrients. Some believe that uncooked produce offers the key to good health, preventing illnesses ranging from the common cold to diabetes, and even believing that eating raw can prevent or cure cancer. 
  • Spiritual growth. Some raw food vegans find that their dietary choices bring them closer to nature, offer spiritual discipline, and "feed the spirit".
  • Laziness. No, this isn't a put-down — it's probably the motivation that appeals most to me personally. Some raw meals take a lot of creativity and preparation, but creating salads, smoothies, and raw soups can also be really easy. What could be better than easy, tasty meals that are also healthy?
  • Weight loss. Commit to being a raw food vegan, and you have to wave junk food goodbye by definition. Eating just raw produce including fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds will make you lose weight if you previously consumed lots of bread, rice, and potatoes. 
While saving money may also be a powerful motivator for some people, a decent warning is in order here — looking at my own circle, I've noticed that people who eat a lot of raw foods tend to invest in organic produce as well as expensive appliances such as power blenders and dehydrators. Your oven may get a rest, but that doesn't mean your overall electricity use will go down when you're on a raw diet.

What Can Raw Food Vegans Eat?

You have a good idea of what kinds of ingredients raw food vegans use: vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and sprouted grains. What kind of meals do those things create, though? Actually, a rather wide variety. Almond milk, raw soups, raw cakes, green smoothies, salads, power balls containing flax seeds, shredded coconut, and dates, salsas, and raw pizza, taco and lasagna are just a few of the offerings.
Once you get into the world of raw food recipes, you are bound to be amazed by just how much you can make without cooking your food. 
Vegans, of course, stay away from any product of animal origin, including honey. You may presume that eating cold foods all the time gets boring, but some raw vegans think foods that are slightly heated are fine, as long as they don't get hotter than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Sundried tomatoes, fruit leathers, and other things processed in a dehydrator are also fine.
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