What I Learned Eating Raw
As most of you know, I participated in a 21-day Raw Vegan Challenge during the month of May. As a plant-based eater anyway, it wasn’t a total stretch for me, though there were definitely some challenges.
I got asked a lot of questions during this challenge, so I thought I would answer a few for you here today.
Why Did You Do this Challenge?
I eat pretty well most of the time, but I took on this challenge as a way to force myself to think about opportunities to sneak more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I found that always packing an apple for an afternoon snack works well when I’m on the go, but that I am tempted by the chips and salsa in the cupboard when I’m at home. This challenge urged me to think about other options like cucumbers and carrots, a few raw crackers with some cashew cheeze, or some extra fruit that I bought at the farmer’s market.
This challenge allowed me the opportunity to see which foods I rely on in a pinch (or just plain eat too much of) and encouraged me to think of some other options to replace these frequent go-to choices. It was a lesson in creativity and problem solving for sure!
What Was the Hardest Part?
Dinners were the hardest for me because it was pretty cool and rainy here in LA during the month of May. When the weather is cooler I crave soups and warm curries so making raw foods for dinner didn’t always appeal to me. However, once I got into a groove of some good dinner options (hello, zucchini noodles with cashew cheeze!) things got easier for me.
How Did You Feel?
Honestly, after 21 days I felt amazing. I was drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and consuming no caffeine. (The caffeine withdrawals subsided after two days by drinking a lot of extra water!) My skin looked better, I had more energy, and I was sleeping better (which is often a struggle for me).
What Did You Learn?
I learned to be even more creative with my food than I usually am! As someone who does not eat dairy or meat, I often find myself in situations where I need to be creative to come up with meals (Cookouts and family gatherings especially!) but adding a raw element to the table really ups the ante.
The first couple of days were more challenging, but I set myself up for success by planning my meals ahead of time. Smoothies were my go-to breakfast (and sometimes dinner!) and I packed my lunch and snacks the night before. The fridge was stocked with fruits and veggies so there really were no excuses.
I also learned to listen to my body. Some people who follow a raw diet do not consume nuts at all, but after a few days with no nuts, my body was craving the protein. I did some research and chose to avoid almonds because (in the US) they cannot be sold without any pasteurization. Instead, I stuck with cashews (mostly) to make my own nut milk, cheeses, nut butter, and dressing.
How Will This Affect Your Eating Style Going Forth?
Since the challenge ended I have tried to maintain keeping extra fruits and vegetables in the house for snacking and haven’t gone back to a morning cup of tea (I’m only a very occasional coffee drinker). In this now warmer weather, I have opted for some iced matcha some days and other days I just stick with water. I find myself thinking about what I’m choosing for snacks and asking myself if there is a better fuel for my body in the moment. Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it’s not, but at least I am thinking about it!
I don’t think I could be a raw vegan all the time, but I am excited about incorporating more raw meals into my regular routine especially during these warmer months when the produce is plentiful and it’s just too hot to turn on the oven.