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Why do people fail on a raw vegan diet

Why do people “fail” on a raw vegan diet? I’ve been asked this question recently at one of my local classes, and I find it very interesting and intriguing.

Have you ever found yourself trying to be 100% raw and really feeling some roadblocks there? These roadblocks will provide us with lessons at any point of a healthy lifestyle journey, and that is why I want to share them with you.

By the way, if you want to try a raw vegan lifestyle for 10 days, while being supported, sign up for my FREE 10-Day Learn Raw Vegan Refresh:

When you start eating raw food, it feels amazing. You feel like you have found the most perfect human diet on the planet. But after a few years pass, things start to change.

Why do people fail on a raw vegan diet? 5 Major Reasons

From all the people I have ever spoken to and discussed this issue with, here are some of the reasons why sustaining 100% raw for the long term can turn out to be difficult:

  1. Many people get to a point where they feel too limited by the foods available to them. This often happens after several years, when they continue to refine their raw food diet more and more, meaning they take out more and more foods from their diet because they are not pure enough. The idea behind raw food is eating a highly unprocessed diet, and when people do this to the maximum, they are left with an extremely simple fruit and vegetable diet, which is not satisfying and creative enough for many.
  2. A nutritionally-deficient raw food diet. When starting out raw, my family and I ate MASSIVE amounts of fat – probably over 50% of our diet! This was to mimic our previous heavy diet. We were not satisfied with just a simple plate of fruit or a salad. We wanted a salad DRENCHED in oil. My point is, many people do not make sure that they cover all of the possible nutritional pitfalls when they eat raw. They don’t pay attention to B12, vitamin D, eating low fat, getting tons of greens in, and the like. They just assume raw food is superior to all other food, and that this is good enough.

Raw food is pretty amazing and nutrient-rich, but this is not enough after a few years. In the beginning, when raw food helps your body eliminate toxins, eating ANYTHING raw in any proportion is good enough. But over the years, deficiencies might surface.

  1. Which brings me to my next point: Cravings for cooked food. Cravings can surface because you are not eating a nutritionally dense enough diet, or a diet that fits your specific body. But they can also surface just because. Because cooked food is comforting and delicious, and you are used to eating it, and getting away from it is too hard.
  2. Which, again, brings me to my next point: Disordered eating. Raw food eaters are more prone to disordered eating than vegan cooked food eaters. No, this is not according to research, but according to my own experience and what I have seen with others too. Why? Because so many of us are perfectionists. I have a video on this which you can see here. We try everything we can to stay 100% raw, until the point where it becomes unhealthy. Meaning, when we crave cooked food, and we might eat it, we get angry with ourselves and punish ourselves. Or we skip it and suffer crazy cravings, which we ignore because we obsess over staying 100% raw. And in general, we might obsess over food too often.
  3. Social situations. Yap, being a raw foodist is a definite roadblock to eating at almost every single restaurant. And it can be really tough to participate in family events. Cooked food is everywhere, and this is tempting. Friends want to go out to eat, and there are seldom raw options. It can become frustrating to plan every single outing in advance, and to always be the “weirdo” who is only eating 100% raw, and always has a problem with every single restaurant and meal. Read my article on eating healthy in social situations and outings here.

PS: Watch my video on this here:

Why do people “fail” on a raw vegan diet: what can we learn from this?

So no, I am not saying you should never be 100% raw under any circumstances. But I am also not saying that raw food is for everyone.

If you want to eat raw food, start slow. Especially if you want to keep it up for the long term. Also, never ever obsess over food, because this is the most harmful practice you can do. Read here about how obsessing over food can literally cause you to excrete nutrients, rather than absorb them.

Minimize your biases towards food, and read the research about it instead. Cooked food is not poison. Animal protein can be very harmful to the body, and I highly recommend getting rid of any animal foods from your diet ASAP. But whole, plant foods that are cooked can be very beneficial.

I also highly recommend making most of your diet raw. Does this mean you HAVE to be 100% raw? Absolutely not.

Also, we can learn WHAT we should borrow from raw food into our existing diet: whole, plant foods. Not super oily recipes that contain a ton of nuts and seeds. Lots of fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables should be the cornerstone of our diet, with a small handful of nuts and seeds, along with a portion of our diet cooked, if we so choose.

Do not neglect taking supplements like B12, getting out in the sun to get your vitamin D, and please, do not think that being 100% raw will save you from every single problem known to women and men in this world.

Raw food is AMAZING. I absolutely love and enjoy every bite of it. But I have learned over the past 4.5 years of being 100% (and often less) raw vegan that I should only eat as much raw as I want, rather than forcing it upon myself every single day and making it a struggle.

Enjoy your food, and make loving yourself the #1 priority.

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Marina Yanay-Triner is a wellness coach and recipe developer through Soul in the Raw. Marina creates easy and delicious vegan recipes and writes about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, focusing on evidence-based nutrition information. She loves to help clients go and stick to plant based eating through her powerful coaching program, combining nutrition and cooking education along with transformational mindset work. Marina adopted a whole food, plant based lifestyle over 7 years ago, inspired by her mother's incredible healing story of reversing a crippling bladder disease. She has reversed PMS symptoms and encourage emotional healing from trauma as a result of this transition. Marina is incredibly passionate about the vegan diet for human health, animal welfare, and the well-being of our planet, all of which she envisions as co-dependent.
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