For about a year, I delved deep into the raw vegan lifestyle as a culmination of my attempt to improve my health and reach an even higher level of “cleanliness.” I was coming off a few years of a “detox” lifestyle, in which I embraced all things laced with green juice, kale, and avocado, with the occasional goat cheese, grass-fed beef, and ancient grains to boot. Then, looking to challenge myself even more and hopefully feel even more amazing, I decided to take it to the next level – I went totally raw vegan. For a while. Then, I stopped.
A raw vegan diet comprises of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, which are consumed in their natural state, without heating over 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea behind it is that uncooked plant-based foods retain their nutritional integrity and thus give your cells more bang for their buck.
After nearly a year of attempting the vegan raw lifestyle, I had to let it go. There were five main reasons why the raw vegan lifestyle (or any overly restrictive diet) wasn’t for me and why you may want to reconsider overdoing the health craze and sticking to what feels right for you, too.
1. Too Much Supplementation
Before starting a raw vegan regiment, I researched and discovered it was important to supplement with vitamin B12, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. I also made sure I was eating foods rich in iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron, which are nutrients a vegan lifestyle can lack. However, after awhile, it felt inherently unnatural to have to take supplements to fill in for my diet in key areas. Supplements didn't feel like a passive complement to my diet; instead, they felt like a vital source of nutrition. I am a huge proponent of probiotics and the occasional supplement for specific purposes, but as a daily ritual, it revealed a gaping hole in my diet.
2. Socially Isolating
This one goes without saying. Food is the centerpiece of most social interactions, and eating a specific diet can isolate you at the table. It also draws negative attention from others who are offended by your dietary choices or simply find them ill-conceived. I am used to being the girl with dietary specifications, but being raw vegan took my seclusion to the next level.
3. Interest Turned to Obsession
I always treated my health endeavors as enjoyable, fun, and creative experiences, but setting the bar to an uncomfortable high made me increasingly obsessed with my diet. The burden to be “perfect” was stressful and started to etch at my happiness and overall well-being, defeating the purpose of the so-called ideal diet, which was supposed to make me feel like my best self.
4. Not Convenient
The key to staying on track with a diet that requires special ingredients and has little room for flexibility is an environment that caters to your needs. While all may be carefree and easy in your natural element, once you travel or are taken out of your environment for a period of time, a raw vegan diet becomes supremely difficult. Planning can be exhaustive and finding on-the-go solutions is hard to come by.
5. Something Always Felt Missing
Despite eating a diverse raw vegan diet, I still felt like I was always missing some elemental nutrient, texture, or warmth in my system. My skin glowed, but from eating so many raw foods, I was often bloated, gassy, and unsatisfied. Comfort was hard to come by and even when my diet was as pure as could be, it felt plastic. I craved something cooked, and I started to realize that my body (and soul) actually needed it.
Raw Vegan Rolls Image from Shutterstock