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How to be Successful on a Raw Vegan Diet
By Don Bennett, DAS

There are some raw vegan diets that allow you to experience health improvement, but there is only one that also allows you to have optimal health... the best health your genetics will allow you to have... to thrive throughout your entire life. Discovering this version of a raw vegan diet is key if you want optimal health.


A Very Important Sidebar about Thriving

One of the most popular books on the raw vegan diet paints a very rosy picture of the diet, and there are a lot of wonderful things to be said about the diet, and the book does say these things and is a mostly accurate book. But the book also leaves out an important issue, and one that is a contributing factor to people not thriving when following the diet as explained in the book. An important thing for you to know about.

First, we must define "thriving" because this word is used throughout the book, and is often misunderstood...

To thrive as it pertains to health, means that you have reached a level of optimal health. It is as opposed to surviving. While there are many different levels of surviving – with one existing just below thriving – there is only one level of thriving, which is the best health your genetics can allow you to have (thus resulting in the best odds of never getting a diagnosis of something serious). So "thriving" is not the same as "surviving better than 95% of the general population". At that level of surviving, you can still get a degenerative disease, it would just occur a lot further on down the road.

Some quotes from the book and how they pertain to thriving

"Not only do fruit, vegetables, and greens contain sustainable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, they also contain them in the percentages, ratios, and forms that are optimum for human health."

Here, one metric is missing: "amounts of nutrients". Though elsewhere the book suggests that if you eat an all raw diet of fruits and greens, and you eat enough of them (are active enough), you don't have to worry about nutrition, implying that you'll get enough of all the nutrients the body requires for optimal health. But sadly, this is not true.

"People thrive on the raw diet, often telling others how it has improved their health and their lives."

While health improvement is almost always the case when transitioning to this version of a raw diet, improvement does not automatically mean you will one day thrive. I am not interested in improvement only, I am interested in thriving, and improvement is part of that journey. But to thrive, the book leaves out an important issue.

"When people integrate a proper raw diet with other healthful living practices, they rarely, if ever, develop ... chronic or even short term illnesses."

Yes, if a proper version of the raw vegan diet is adopted. But a proper version does not just address the foods of the diet, it also addresses nutrition, and does not make assumptions about nutrition. More on this below. And the phrase "rarely, if ever" does not square with reality. Given enough time, and not given enough of all the nutrients the body requires for thriving, ill-health conditions can and do develop. To dismiss this reality out-of-hand – as some raw vegan educators do – does a disservice to those they teach.

"For millions of years, most humans and their ancestors lived a gatherer lifestyle in a tropical environment, where large amounts of easy to pick fruit were readily available."

Yes. But we do not live that way today, and where we get our fruit and greens from today are not where we got them from for the longest period of time in our evolution, and the nutritional quality of today's produce is not what it was 50,000 years ago... it's not even what it was 100 years ago. But the way to compensate for this unfortunate but unavoidable situation is at odds with some educators' beliefs and teachings, which is why you don't get to read about it in certain books (but not the books that appear at the bottom of this page).

"We are biological designed to obtain our nutrition from uncooked fruits and vegetables."

Yes. But it must be from uncooked fruits and vegetables that are capable of providing us with "enough of all". We had access to these many millennia ago, but most of us don't today. But our bodies are essentially the same as they were way back then... actually, this is also not true. We as a species didn't just start eating a diet that we're not biologically designed to eat, and one that contains all kinds of chemicals; we've been doing this for a while. And this has resulted in DNA degradation over the generations. Add to this that we're no longer living in our natural environment where we didn't need to pay bills or keep track of time, so our needs for certain nutrients can actually be more today than 50,000 years ago.


Keep in mind, the following tips are the result of 45 years of research, 40 years on a vegan diet, 29 years on a raw vegan diet, and 20 years of working with raw vegans who didn't thrive by following the diet.

1. Remember why you're doing this, and that anything new can be difficult at first, and that this is an investment in your future health. So when you encounter bumps in the road, keep these things in mind.

2. Decide how important your health is to you. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst health you can have, and 10 being the best health your genetics will allow you to have, what level do you want to be at. If it's 6, you have a bunch of options when it comes to diet. If it's 5, now you can eat as much of that diet as you want. But if you want the best odds of never getting a diagnosis of something serious, that comes with level 10. And level 10 makes it easy to choose a diet because there are no options... you'd need to eat the diet that humans are biologically adapted to eat (along with making sure that you're getting enough of all the nutrients your body requires to be able to provide you with optimal health).

3. Base your health practices on the "Science of Health". Natural Hygiene is the scientific application of the principles of Nature in the restoration and preservation of health. More at health101.org/nh

4. There's no such thing as "the raw food diet"… there are poor, better, and best versions. So, there's "a" raw food diet. Choose the one that can allow you to experience optimal health (thriving), and not one that just allows for improved health.

5. "Diet" should be thought of as the foods you're eating. But there's also "Nutrition", and that's the nutrients those foods should be providing. So these are actually two separate issues, and both issues should be researched. In-other-words, don't assume that if you're eating the foods of the diet you're biologically adapted to eat, that you'll automatically get enough of all the nutrients your body requires for optimal health, because that would be an incorrect assumption.

6. Support. Make sure you have a support network. Join online forums, find some online friends who are doing what you're doing, go to raw food fruitlucks and events, especially an event like the Woodstock Fruit Festival... the premiere raw vegan event, with people attending from all around the world.

7. Treat any failures as learning experiences. Nothing wrong with two steps forward, one step back as long as you learn something from it.

8. Remembering these two important points can help reduce the potential for fails…

   * The most popular information is not necessarily the most accurate

   * If a book or program has a lot of accurate information, this does not mean
      that ALL the information is accurate

9. The importance of accurate information. There's nothing worse than transitioning to a diet that's supposed to be healthier, but your health starts to go downhill at some point. So I advise learning, not as a student, but as a researcher. The difference is that students don't tend to question what they're taught; they may ask questions of clarification, but they don't challenge anything they hear. Researchers question everything. And this is why "multi-source education" is the best way to learn because of all the misinformation in the raw vegan community. Remember, what can sabotage your efforts at eating the healthiest of diets is what you know, that isn't so.

There's a lot more info in the EDU section of this website.

For tips on transitioning to a raw vegan diet, click here.

And the BEST way to research something is this.