More Thoughts on Shifting Away from Raw Veganism

Hey guys!

Glad you liked the book recs, and thanks for chiming in with some of your own. Thanks to Shelby in particular for mentioning Sarah Kramer: La Dolce Vegan is one of my all time favorite vegan cookbooks!

Over the course of the last few weeks, a number of my readers have contacted me to ask what I think about an apparent trend within the raw world of raw vegans becoming high-raw omnivores or vegetarians. To be honest, I don’t know precisely what comprises this “trend;” maybe I haven’t paid enough attention. But last year at around this time, a number of raw vegans did begin to write about eating animal foods again. Instead of addressing this anew, I’m going to direct you to a blog post I wrote in January about the anti-vegan trend within raw foodism, and what my thoughts were. A year later, I feel comfortable saying that these thoughts stand.

On the whole, I think it’s unwise and unfair to extrapolate too much from people’s individual stories of dietary success (or lack of success). Human bodies are different, and no single story of what worked or didn’t is indicative of what might work or not work for another person. But I do think it’s fair to look at common facts and offer observations based on the patterns we see. The men and women who spoke out against raw veganism were nearly 100% raw; it’s hard to know whether that was the problem, or veganism was. For my readers who are curious about the adequacy of raw veganism, I’d simply say that a high raw veganism is workable for a lot of people. But if it fails to work, it’s worth playing with different nuances of veganism before you decide that it’s veganism, rather than raw foodism, that’s at fault.

Alright! That’s it for today, as I’ve got work to return to. I’ll see you all back here tomorrow with a raw soup recipe I’m excited about!


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  1. Phew! I thought for a second when I read this title that YOU were thinking of shifting away from raw veganism. I’m glad that’s not the case! I couldn’t agree more that all bodies are different. Maybe some former raw vegans do fare better on an omnivorous diet based upon their physiology. But others would surely fare better on a high-raw vegan diet; that is definitely the best diet for me personally.

  2. I wonder if some people who say raw vegan or vegan didn’t work for them was because they were going about it in an unhealthy way. Speaking as a former vegetarian who never met a bowl of pasta or a cookie that I didn’t love, it is very possible (and likely) to eat unhealthy vegetarian, vegan and even unhealthy raw vegan! If a raw vegan lifestyle revolves around raw desserts, or your vegan lifestyle revolves around processed foods, then chances of success go down significantly.
    That being said, everyone’s bodies are different and you just have to listen to yours to find the one that is right for you. Now I’m gluten-free, almost vegan except eggs, and as raw, non-processed and natural as I can be, and that’s what is working for me.

  3. Blame the user, not the tool. Insensitive, but I’m serious. There are millions of different combinations of hundreds of plant foods available to people in this part of the world, and somehow this plethora “doesn’t work for them”? Really?

    How about being honest and saying that YOU didn’t work for veganism. Good grief.

    Thanks, Gena.

    • Thanks so much, Chris, for this honest and brave comment. I appreciate it. I agree that there’s a ton of experimentation available to people who’ve committed to veganism. That experimentation may take a bit of work, but the reward–which is to live with consciousness and compassion–more than compensates for any effort spent.

      • I eat raw but get confuised. There are Raw people who will eat all the raw processed foods & sugars but, will not eat sprouted peas, lentals & beans???????

  4. not only are bodies different but the level of research a person does before making that huge leap varies as well. i’m sure that some (not all) suffered because they didn’t read/research enough and had poor nutrition based on their ignorance of the diet. perhaps they weren’t aware of the full spectrum of foods and thought they had to eat greens and seeds and that’s it? i don’t know the individuals or the scenarios but hey we all need food, let’s enjoy it!

  5. Excellent thoughts, you share. And…it is just too common that we begin and end things due to current trend and lack of desire to research, so it makes sense that a chunk of people will fall back/to something else. I’ve been slowly making my way to this point and while I feel best on organic, high raw, vegan food, I allow more (clean) cooked vegan food when I seem to crave it. So, I love that you’re a nutritionist sharing this info so factually. Great way, you have, of explaining all of it. Keep up the great work!

  6. Add me to the side of agreeing with your post. I am a vegan who enjoys raw foods. I lost 60 pounds becoming a vegan. I love raw foods, but because of the nuts in many recipes which bump up the calories which I am still trying to reduce, I use them as special meals and not part of my daily routine. But my health has improved to no prescription meds, no more IBS, my eyesight his improved, and I have grown fingernails (not that this point matters – just odd) — hard to fathom giving up this Garden of Eden vibrancy. If it has a face — don’t eat it. Love your blog — thanks.

  7. Thank you for discussing this so rationally and open-mindedly. I’m new to these major diet changes, and while I am not a raw food person, I truly enjoy your blog, the recipes and the respectful way in which you discuss sometimes difficult topics.

    I started my vegan journey partly due to health reasons and partly due to ethical reasons. Because of those health reasons, my practitioner STRONGLY recommended I take some specific animal proteins. Blogging about it, I found many people condemn me for choosing to comply with that recommendation. Others were sad, but allowed me to find my own way.

    I believe that each person must find their own way on this earth, in terms of diet, ethics and lifestyle. I would never condemn or judge anyone for their informed choices, and I would hope that others would grant me the same respect.

    I’ve been reading for a while; this is my first comment, because I so much appreciate your respectful tone. Thank you.

  8. Thank you for voicing a much-needed theme; bodies are different and respond differently to different diets (how many times can you use the word different in one sentence?) I’ve seen cases of folks thriving on an all-raw diet, but I’ve also seen people hit their stride by incorporating more vegan and cooked vegetarian foods. I think that experimentation is necessary to find what’s optimal for your body, and steering away from extremism and trends – in any kind of diet – is always golden advice.

  9. while i’m not raw, i am vegan, and i have been saddened, upset, ad frustrated by the “back to meat” trend. i do understand that everyone is different (and that we should listen to our bodies and do what’s best for ourselves), but i totally agree that people should play with different nuances of veganism before they decide that it’s veganism. thank you, Gena!!!!! well said!!!!

  10. Gena, You know I am on the same page as you on this. For me, I went from a cooked vegan diet to a raw vegan diet. So the difference in animal products was not there. I felt like crap on the cooked vegan diet and the raw diet helped me. However I needed a change mostly due to feeling more hungry and wanting more variety. My body is accepting it and my energy is not worse–it remains the same as it was when I was eating all raw. I think sometimes it’s hard to eat enough greens to get enough iron and beans can help as an addition to the diet. It’s also possible that some people may not be getting enough CALORIES on a raw diet, especially if they fear eating too much fruit or fat. Eating some cooked food can help with this.

    Is is possible to get nutrition from animal foods? I suppose so, but you get side affects with it like higher risk of many diseases. I try to think of where the animals get their food (grass, algae, stuff like that) and eat lots of that.

    I agree with you that the trend is of people who are 100% raw. Some of them (Like the author of Life Food Factor) are in such fear of cooking food that they would rather eat raw flesh and raw dairy. I consider this dangerous and disgusting. Since I am fully convinced humans are herbivores, it makes more sense to pursue eating vegetable options than eat flesh.

    • That’s exactly what comes to my mind when I think about people going from high-raw vegan to eating animal products…not that I am knocking people for doing that and I don’t mean it in a judge-y way.
      But from the few incidences of people going from raw – not raw, (and I speak as someone who is not a raw foodist), on their blogs they don’t often document introducing beans, rice, pulses, quinoa, fats, oils etc.
      It seems to go straight to dairy and eggs, and often meat.
      I just wonder if there’s something I’m missing here?
      If someone could shed some light on this for me I really would appreciate it. 🙂

      • To be honest, it’s not something I can truly understand myself. Why eating animal foods would seem preferable to expanding one’s veganism is simply a puzzle to me. It seems that the newest trend among raw foodies is a paleo/animal foods model, or something a bit more akin to nourishing traditions, which is part of it. If you’re not eating any grains or legumes at all, and you’re vegan and semi raw, you may be cruising for a nutritional bruising, since it’s very touch to get the protein and iron you’ll need. But again, if veganism matters at all to you, why you’d go the route of animal foods instead of finding more vegan options (cooked or not) that work is truly a mystery.

  11. Great post! I completely agree that raw foodism should be evaluated before veganism. And Ms. Elaine Bruce (from the linked article) is mistaken isn’t she? I believe Pythagoras and his followers were vegan – and they were definitely alive more than just a few decades ago.

  12. Hi Gena, thanks for sharing your thoughts and I remember that post like it was yesterday…where has a year gone?! Wow!

    I know nearly a half dozen women who recently have not felt their best continuing on with a raw/vegan or vegan path and have chosen for their health reasons to start eating animal products again. I applaud them for listening to their bodies and making choices that suit their health; albeit I know they are struggling with the ethical fallout of their choices. It’s a very hard predicament.

    For some people raw is the issue for some people veganism is the issue. I know that most often raw + veganism go together but it’s possible to be raw and not vegan. But that’s a whole other topic….

    Anyway I would say that veganism can be a challenging life path for some. You have posted that you dont find it challenging, limiting, etc nor do I but for some, it is. I think that then incorporating the raw factor can add just another degree of hardship for some. I would defi give up the raw part before the vegan part as you suggested looking at both pieces to the puzzle in this post…great advice as usual 🙂

    • Thanks for such a smart comment, Averie, as ever!

      I think whether or not veganism works for one’s body is a whole other topic — much more akin to what we all talked about in the Angelina Jolie post.

      I guess right now I’m just interested in reminding high raw/all raw eaters specifically that, if raw vegan isn’t working, you can try cooked vegan (or semi cooked vegan) out to see what happens, rather than jumping to the conclusion that veganism is to blame. If that isn’t the answer, well then of course other exploration may be in order, but it’s important to consider all courses of action, one by one 🙂


  13. Thanks for the shout-out girl! (:

    I totally agree, what’s right for one person, can be completely wrong for another. I flip back and forth between raw and cooked all the time depending on what time of year it is or how I feel. You just gotta do you!

  14. I truly take heart to your message that everyone is different. I find that many people are solely searching for some quick fix and see the success that others have obtained by doing X, Y, or Z. So, they follow those leads and may or may not end up at the same place. Regardless of what diet you choose, it’s important to understand that we’re all different and that each body needs different nutrients in different ways. For me, a raw vegan diet is really out of the question…my digestive system can’t handle all the raw, especially in the colder months (I live in Philly). But I enjoy transitioning my diet throughout the year. I do what works for me and it’s best to encourage everyone, as you have, do figure out what works for them before just guessing what the problem was and giving up.

    • It’s true that people search for quick fixes – maybe that’s why raw food has become so popular, because it does promise a quick fix. Of course, when it comes to health, there are no quick fixes!

  15. Hi Gena,
    Like Lauren it is hard to me to relate to the decision for people to include animal foods in their diet simply because removing them from mine was what healed me and allowed me to live without daily digestive pain. But that being said, it also why I would never tell someone else how to live. I can only speak from my experience of what works for me. I started eating a vegan diet more than two decades ago – and have fully embraced the ethics of veganism since. I don’t believe life is about being perfect – instead it is about making the best choices you can with the options you have (I don’t believe we can really assess the options that others are faced with). That’s the mantra I strive to live by.

    I loved your resource list yesterday. i hope those who are questioning how to eat a healthy vegan or raw diet will turn to Becoming Vegan or Becoming Raw for answers. Brenda Davis is a wonderful friend of mine. There is no one i trust more for nutritional advice – she certainly does her research.

  16. Brava! 🙂 I applaud this post. “But if it fails to work, it’s worth playing with different nuances of veganism before you decide that it’s veganism, rather than raw foodism, that’s at fault.”

    Right on sister..

    I’ve tone down my “raw” ways, but I would never give up veganism, it has healed my gut in so many ways. I am so grateful I discovered it. Not only that, but I could never harm an animal. I don’t care if it’s “grass fed, free roaming, free range” the animal still knows the pain and has fear. It’s been documented that these animals (especially pigs) know what is going on. If someone choices to eat meat, I am fine with that, I don’t push my beliefs on anyone, but don’t blame veganism as an excuse. Just say you felt meat would help you and you are trying it. No need to bash veganism when many others have thrived on it.

    Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now! 🙂

    • Lauren,
      I love your post on this! It is ALWAYS good to see people who are not extremists and very supportive of what works for any individual.

  17. Interesting stuff- I remember your post last year, and yes, it makes sense that 100% raw people would thrive on a less limited diet! But as you said, veganism is far less extreme than raw foodism. I’m amazed that people can actually eat raw meat!

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