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Raw Vegan Diet vs. Vegan Diet

By Andrea Cespedes

People who follow a vegan diet eat only plant foods. All meats and other animal products, including milk and eggs, are off-limits. People choose a vegan diet for health, ethical reasons or religious beliefs. Some vegans restrict their diets even further by choosing to eat only raw foods, foregoing all foods heated above 116 degrees Fahrenheit.

Features

A cooked vegan diet includes fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, canned and dried beans, soy milk and yogurt, grains, tofu and other soy foods, nuts and seeds. A raw diet also includes fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. A raw vegan might eat certain types of beans and grains, specifically lentils, peas and quinoa, in their sprouted form. Soy products are always heated above 116 F, so tofu, seitan, soy milk and miso are not permitted on a raw vegan plan.

Preparation

Nuts and seeds are eaten raw, not toasted as they might be on a regular vegan plan. Frozen vegetables are par-cooked before freezing, so they too are not part of a raw vegan plan. While vegans use the stove to prepare their meals, just like meat-eaters, raw vegans use techniques such as sun-drying, dehydrating, blending, juicing and soaking when preparing meals. Raw vegans do not consume store-bought nut milks, as they are pasteurized, and instead make their own by grinding raw almonds, cashews or chia seeds with purified water.

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Nutritional Considerations

All vegan dieters are vulnerable to deficiencies in protein, calcium, zinc and vitamin B-12. Beans, grains, nuts and seeds are the primary sources of protein in a vegan diet. If you eat cooked foods, soy is also a complete protein source. Calcium is also available in soy products and pasteurized orange juice, but raw vegans must rely on almonds and leafy greens for much of their calcium. Zinc and vitamin B-12 are present in fortified cereals and breads, which may fit into a cooked vegan plan -- but will likely be heated over 116 F and inappropriate for raw vegans. Consider consulting a dietitian or physician for recommendations for supplements to ensure you get all the nutrients necessary if you follow a vegan or raw vegan lifestyle.

Sample Plans

A vegan plan might include scrambled soft tofu in a whole-grain wrap with avocado and sprouts for breakfast, steamed brown rice, black beans and salsa at lunch and half of an acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, pecans and dried cranberries at dinner. Vegan snacks may include soy yogurt, toasted nuts and granola with soy milk. A raw vegan diet, however, might begin with a smoothie made by blending a banana, fresh peaches, hemp protein and homemade almond milk. For lunch, a raw vegan could make a large salad with spring greens, avocado, jicama and celery topped with sesame seeds and dressed with cold-pressed olive oil and lemon juice. At dinner, a raw vegan might make “pasta” from ribbons of zucchini and summer squash topped with a cold-tomato sauce made from pureed tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Raw snacks include dehydrated crackers made from seeds and nuts, fresh fruit, raw nuts and smoothies.

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