The challenge? Accepted. For the first time in my life, I spent one week as a raw vegan. Oh golly gosh!
Most of you know my food philosophy and mantra by now – I eat real wholefoods, nothing processed. I am sugar free and gluten free. I treat myself to foods I love, and I don’t like to put too many limits on myself. I believe in the power of mindful eating.
So when I heard Aro Ha, the wellness retreat I recently attended, was totally raw vegan food – I was excited by this challenge. And perhaps a little afraid. So many JSHealth readers as well as my patients in clinic are vegan. And in all honesty, as a nutritionist I am truthfully not the biggest fan. Many of my patients suffer from not getting enough of the essential nutrients you would normally receive from eating a more varied diet.
But it was only for a week, so I took up the challenge!
This was me on 7 days of only raw vegan food.
How I felt:
- Fine! I was surprisingly energised!
- I wasn’t as full and as satiated after each meal – a consequence of not having any animal protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient.
- I didn’t fall asleep as quickly
- I felt bloated and more gassy (there’s the honesty, ha!)
What I liked:
- So many interesting flavours – truly incredible
- How creative you can be with vegetables and other plant-based foods
- It’s great for a seasonal, short-term cleanse – your can really detox from eating these foods
- In spite of bloat, I mostly did feel lighter
What I didn’t like:
- Lack of protein, animal or otherwise
- Less variety
- Not enough energy to keep my blood sugar stable or to feel full
- I got skin blemishes! I am genetically blessed with my skin – I rarely break out, and I started to get little bumps on my cheek. Remember, amino acids (found in proteins) help repair skin cells. I didn’t feel I was eating enough protein.
My final nutritional thoughts:
- If you suffer from digestive issues – raw vegan may not suit you. It could cause bloating and discomfort.
- I don’t believe it’s sustainable – being so strict can cause people to have a complicated relationship with food
- For some, it can cause complexion issues
- In the short term it’s great as a cleanser
- Long term, it may have negative effects on the body as you may miss out on certain vitamins and minerals.
I know that a lot of people choose to live a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons. I want you to know that I really respect those who make this choice, however as a nutritionist my advice is that it’s important to educate yourself in the right way to be sure you can get the nutrients you need from a plant-based lifestyle. If you are vegan, I truly believe you need to monitor your B12 and iron levels and supplement appropriately with the help of your physician or naturopath.