Full upfront disclaimer – I am not currently following a 100% raw vegan diet. However, I have more than dabbled and I still enjoy an abundance of high raw plant based foods.
Through my experience I definitely learnt how to navigate this lifestyle in a way that makes it easier on the body and the mind. This article will provide you with some of that intel so that you can go from eating meals like this…
…to nourishing raw vegan meals like this
There are a number of tips and tricks that are very simple to implement, and will make all the difference to your journey. A journey that is rarely linear, so allow yourself room to breathe.
A raw vegan lifestyle is about more than the food on your plate
In a world of indulgence, the mind is eager for instant gratification and this is often where the big struggle lies. In the beginning of starting a raw vegan diet, it can feel as though you are denying yourself all that you love (or that your ego craves). Any type of ‘restriction’ mindset will run you into trouble, so you have to be at peace with your decision.
Over time your mindset can shift to one of love. You will learn to use food as fuel and not as a means of filling an emotional hole (boredom, loneliness, pleasure seeking).
More and more people are becoming curious about the raw vegan diet and are wanting to make the shift in order to feel better. True health is a little more complicated than just switching up your breakfast bacon for berry smoothies, but it is a great start.
When coming from a more processed foods / animal product diet, you can expect to be hit with some pretty intense cravings. This means it is essential that you learn how to eat in a way that is satiating in order to be left feeling content after your meals.
How easy or difficult you will find jumping into a raw vegan diet is going to depend on how you are currently eating and have been over the course of your whole life.
If you have been eating a lot of animal products, grains, processed foods and drinking alcohol (which is true for most of us), a smart move is to take time to transition.
The cleansing powers of raw foods and fruits are no joke, so as the body cleans house it can feel rough. Although you might be excited to dive right in (like I was), if the body isn’t prepared you can suffer.
Maybe you won’t. Some people respond well straight away; digestion eases, the skin clears up and mental clarity reaches new heights. However, in a more toxic and acidic body, ditching all stimulating foods overnight can leave the body feeling depleted.
Make Simple Switches
Slowly reduce that which is not serving you and gradually add more raw foods and fruit to your diet.
If you are still eating cooked food, you want to have your fruit earlier in the day because of its quick digesting time. When foods come together in the body and digest at different speeds, you can be left feeling bloated and gassy due to fermentation. Food combining is definitely something you have to think more about with raw foods.
Make your first meal of the day a big fruit meal.
Instead of toast, have a giant smoothie. Instead of coffee, have a juice. You might experience some caffeine withdrawals in the beginning, but as the body gets cleaner you will experience the same energy from your fruit as you did from your cup of coffee. In fact, it will be more longer lasting and minus a side of acidity and dehydration.
When eating a raw vegan diet, you need to make sure you are getting enough calories to be energised and satisfied. The bulk of your calories will likely come from fruit, so again, get them in early with a big fruit smoothie.
If not a smoothie, try a mono meal of your favourite fruit. I was so satisfied during mango season to sit down to four mangoes with some lime juice squeezed on top. If I craved a smoothie I would add some cinnamon and ginger and blend it into liquid gold!
Either of these meals would keep me full for a long time. Then, when I am ready to eat again, there’s a high chance I will still be in a fruit mood and would have much of the same. Or whatever other fruits I’ve got on hand.
The point is, when I start my day with fruit I will likely continue to crave it throughout the day which helps to keep me on track.
I love my fruits, but I am a savoury gal from way back and I will always get hit with some cravings some time in the early afternoon.
When this time comes knocking, I’ll either make a salad, some raw nori wraps, or zoodles. It is all about the sauces and dressings. If you get them nailed, you can easily have yourself a meal just as satiating as any cooked dish. Yep, I said it.
When I am eating 100% raw, my intention is to keep it low fat. However, it is in this savoury meal that I will bring the fats in. That could be in the form of some avocado, or some sesame or sunflower seeds. They can really take your meal from satisfying to truly satiating.
My warning to you though!
You want to avoid the high fat trap when eating raw vegan. Many people (myself included) make the mistake in the beginning of relying too much on the fats to enjoy their dishes. Yes they can taste good, but often they can leave you feeling heavy and lethargic. The exact opposite of how you expect to feel on a raw vegan diet.
Simplicity really is key and over time trust that your tastes will change. I used to have my smoothies full of nut butters, oats, coconut shreds and cacao and now that sits like a rock in my stomach. Four mangoes with a little lime and ginger or a zoodle meal with a simple tomato based sauce… both are much easier on digestion and still rock my raw vegan world.
Most of us are drawn to raw for the promises of more energy and better health. Going to town on fats and complex combination meals will likely just defeat that purpose.
If you are still in a period of transition and not quite at 100% raw yet, use steamed veggies and sweet potato to hit the spot instead. This is an amazing way to curb cravings away from unhealthy foods while still offering a deep level of comfort.
Personally I am currently enjoying more of these types of meals. I have been cleansing a lot and intuitively feel as though I need some more balance in my body and mind. This path is not linear and each of our journeys will look different and this is just where I happen to be sitting. For now.
Always just, ‘for now’ – and my point here is to be flexible.
How to Stay on the Wagon
When trying to navigate a raw vegan lifestyle, a few curve balls will likely come your way to try and knock you off the wagon of health and wellbeing.
There are those rare few, who can make the commitment to adopt this lifestyle and they have no problems…
‘What cravings’ they say…
‘A moment on the lips, a lifetime clogging up your lymphatic system and adding obstruction in your colon’ they yell at me…
Ok. They never said that.
For those who do transition with ease, their conviction in putting their health first and foremost and ability to not get derailed… Well, this needs to be commended…
…(perhaps they don’t have such demonic, egoic cravings calling the shots as some of us experience)
Regardless, well played to them. If you are in need of a little more hand holding and support though, I hope this article informs you that you are not alone!
In order to stay on track you want to;
Carry snacks, keep your health goals in mind, reach out to others on the same path and avoid alcohol. Drinking is a sure fire way to sabotage your best intentions… I have danced with this devil too many times and more often than not it ends in tears and a literal pile of bread crumbs.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
It is important to know yourself and your boundaries when you are wanting to navigate a raw vegan lifestyle. You need to know what situations are going to trigger cravings and if you’ll be able to stick to your convictions. If you feel as though you won’t, sometimes the smart move is to stay home.
Just don’t end up isolating yourself in order to stick to your diet.
Raw veganism is about so much more than the food on your plate and YOU are also SO much more than your dietary choices.
When you fall down the raw vegan rabbit hole, you will find that you will naturally stop gravitating towards social situations that don’t align with your health goals, and that is fine. It’s amazing actually.
But if you feel as though you are having to isolate yourself in order to eat a certain way and this feels restrictive and unnatural, you will only suffer.
If you can navigate temptation maturely then there is nothing to stop you continuing on with life as you know it. Bring your fruit, be THAT guy. I am that guy so often.
If I’m juicing, I’ll bring my juice to the party. If I’m on a fruit cleanse, I’ll bring my mangos. If I am eating raw, I’ll spend way too many hours making raw vegan pizza and brownies and take those with me (I’ll be damned if I don’t feast with the rest of them).
Dates are also a great snack to have on hand. Chuck them in your bag, or in the car. Snacks for the drive! So important.
Take Home Message
Diet is the wrong word. It is a lifestyle change that occurs when you move into raw vegan town. Usually the driving motivational factor is health. To be healthy, to thrive or to heal. Raw veganism can offer you all of that and more, but my take home message is to be flexible. Don’t let your food choices become your identity.
Enjoy food and eat in a relaxed way. The mind has to be on board, otherwise all you best healthful intentions will be in vain.
Take time to transition and make sure you are eating enough high water content fruits! Eat simply to avoid poor food combining consequences and don’t be so heavy handed with the fats. You don’t want to end up missing all the benefits that raw veganism has to offer.
Comprehend that the process is not linear and if you fall off the wagon, who cares! Simply jump back on. Don’t torture yourself with guilt, just move forward.
Don’t forget about those steamed veggie meals while you are transitioning!! There is so much dogma in the raw vegan realms about raw being law, but for me I’m better off eating some vegetable meals when cravings hit to stop me going to other extremes. Trust that you will get there.
Allow yourself the fluidity and flexibility to eat in a way that is satisfying for the body AND the mind. If you ever find that you are forcing yourself to eat a certain way and you are not enjoying it, stop.