Does a 100 Percent Raw Vegan Diet Work?

February 10th, 2010 by Tonya Zavasta

I received this email recently:

Some raw food leaders are “coming out” that they are a little non
vegan here and there or a bit “cooked” during the winter. I have
been trying this too. I am very happy with the couple of needed
pounds I put on and with my new level of energy. I would be
interested to hear if you have treated this ground as well, Tonya.
I will still love you if you have!

My correspondent seems to be doing very well. Yet, I’m aware that
some of you have grown disappointed and confused as a result of
following leaders who have in some ways altered their own 100
percent raw paths to address their immediate, individual needs.
Good, this confusion will lead to further learning. Very good!
This is the time to re-evaluate your position. You should not have
followed anyone in the first place. I’ve written about this in my
books, and I want to repeat it again here: Learn from everyone,
but follow no one.

Please, keep this in mind while reading what comes next.

Since the summer of 1997, not once knowingly did I consume cooked
food. After some adjustments, and even some step retracing, I’ve
developed a raw food plan that works very well for me.

I believe the raw food lifestyle is the best for shedding unwanted
pounds.

With every passing year I’ve gotten trimmer. During the twelve
years I’ve been following the raw foods lifestyle, I had to resize
my wardrobe downward and get alterations done three times! After an
initial loss of about 30 pounds, it’s surprising I’ve been quite
stable all along since then at about 110 pounds. But due to
practicing hot yoga, my weight and muscles are continually being
redistributed more effectively. When I stand next to healthy 18
year-olds of my height in hot yoga class, I have similar body
proportions.

The raw vegan lifestyle has been working for me. That said, I have
no dogma and no religious zeal when it comes to a 100 percent raw
vegan diet. The adjustments a person makes for his or her own
circumstances will be–must be–completely individual. Those
adjustments may also be temporary. In addressing a deficiency, you
may try one method, and then abandon it in favor of something else if
you find that works better.

There are people leading raw food lifestyles who have to make adjustments if
they develop a deficiency or find they’re simply not experiencing
the full measure of vibrant health they know is possible. This
doesn’t happen to everyone. It hasn’t happened to me. But it does
happen to some, and for a variety of reasons.

Deficiencies or imbalances may occur if someone starts out with a
severely compromised digestive system. I’ve found this to be one of
the main reasons people develop deficiencies over the long term. In
this case, a person’s digestive system might never–even on the best
diet in the world–be able operate to perfect capacity without a
little extra help.

Some people with digestive issues have a hard time absorbing
nutrients. They may make a personal choice to augment probiotics,
animal products, or other dietary additions that give them what
they need, whether these additions be raw…vegan…or even outside
the vegetarian camp altogether.

I have perfect digestion. I never use any digestive aids. My
problem is different. I have hips that were seriously damaged at
birth. I experimented with many methods until I found my ace in the
hole–Bikram yoga–and that works for me. I embarked on a 60-month
challenge of doing hot yoga 1½ – 3 hours every day. This, in my
estimation, is what was needed to make my hips “normal” again. Do
you have to emulate this “out there” practice? No. Absurd. To keep
your body flexible and fit, all you’d likely need is three or four 90-minute
sessions per week.

During our trip to Russia this summer, my mom (who hadn’t seen me
in ten years) told me, “You look as if you have taken a mold and
reshaped and sculpted yourself!” No mold required, I assure you.
Your body, when optimally nourished, is the best architect available.
It can make some pretty fabulous improvements all by itself–if you
give it the right materials to work with.

Personally, even for gaining weight, I would not go for cooked
grains and stir-fried vegetables. If you are having a difficult time
with the 100 percent raw vegan diet, consider an alternative that I
discuss in great detail in my book Raw Food and Hot Yoga. If you
need to rekindle your passion for raw foods, read or re-read my
books
. I stand behind every argument I made there.

If incorporating some cooked foods works for someone, who am I to
throw stones? For myself, I can’t imagine it. Not an option for me.
But it may be just the thing to bring someone else back into
balance. And once again I say: So be it! The point is to be
creative in our approach to health…always willing to learn…to
adapt…to try new things as our needs evolve. So long as we have
free will…and so long as our needs, goals, ambitions–not to mention
our bodies–are individual…so are our choices. May you make yours
wisely!

Here is an email I’ve just received and felt compelled to share with
you:

Dear Tonya,
I’m glad you’re addressing the matter of 100 % raw. I find cooked
food so wildly unaesthetic and ruined, I never want it. …It’s so
important to understand that doctors don’t study health. They study
medicine. Would a patient continue to visit his doctor if the
doctor had taught him how to be healthy? I’m so grateful to be
living free of doctors and their tests for the past 40 vegan years.

Amazing rejuvenation has happened since I no longer eat at night
since last February. It’s been a whole year. I’m more secure than
ever in the knowledge that healing happens if we just give it a
chance instead of eating and digesting at all hours as I used to
do. And I used to think that if it was raw, that was good enough.
Exclusively raw during the day is a thousand times better.

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