There's No Such Thing as
"The Raw Vegan Diet"

By Don Bennett, DAS

And that's because there's more than just one raw vegan diet. And some are healthier than others, and one is the healthiest, and at the other end of the spectrum are the ones that cause people to fail-to-thrive over time. How do I know this? From decades of researching and counseling raw vegans who've failed to thrive.

This is one of my most important presentations that I give when lecturing at an event, because if a person's first exposure to a raw vegan is one of the less healthy ones, they are likely to crash 'n burn at some point, finding their health going downhill after the usual initial improvement (from what they stopped eating: animal foods, cooked foods, etc). And with no guidance or knowledge of the other versions of the diet, they then blame the diet, and their friends say, "See, I told you it was a whacky diet." I've seen this scenario over and over, with some people even going back to their former typical Western diet. And this is sad because it's all because of a lack of proper education on the part of the raw vegan educational community.

In a nutshell, here are the seven different versions of the raw vegan diet (not in any particular order)...

• Ones with too much or too little fat or a very unbalanced ratio of 6s to 3s

• Ones that include harmful foods

• Ones that are less than 100% raw (60/40 raw/cooked)

• Ones with no attention to food miscombinations

• Ones with no worries regarding nutrition

• Ones with no attention being given to the other “basics of health”

• The healthiest of the raw vegan diets

Ones with too much or too little fat or a very unbalanced ratio of 6s to 3s

I've seen new raw vegans having more fat in their diet than when they ate the typical Western diet! This is thanks to avocado, nuts, and/or coconut pulp (all technically unnatural sources of fat for humans, but all heavily promoted). The "raw gourmet" raw vegan diet is famous for too much fat. More on this subject in the reference at the end of this article.

Ones that include harmful foods

Not everything in the produce section of a large market is "our food". We're led to believe it is (as long as you don't have to cook it), but there are some fruits and veggies there that have both beneficial and harmful properties, and my philosophy is to eat only those foods that have beneficial properties. Now we're not talking about a lot of foods, just a handful. But if optimal healing and optimal future health is the goal, it's wise to steer clear of them. They are: The Nightshade foods, the cruciferous veggies, and the avocado (more on why the avocado in the reference articles at the end of this one... and if you assume that I can't know what I'm talking about because I dare to say that the much beloved avocado is unhealthy, then you'll not be able to appreciate my articles and almost half a century of research).

The Nightshade foods that raw vegans would eat are tomatoes and bell peppers. They contain a substance that is inflammatory to the body. Some people are super sensitive to this and react acutely, so they know not to touch them because they can't, but for the others it can take many decades to see the negative effects, usually in the form of arthritis.

Cruciferous foods like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower contain a substance that interferes with the body utilizing iodine (an essential nutrient, and one that most people are deficient in because they're not getting enough). So it's also wise to stay away from these.

And the beneficial properties attributed to the above mentioned foods are not just in those foods... they are in all fruits and greens, including the ones that have no detrimental properties. So why eat the ones that also have harmful effects? Because you love them? But they, unlike the other foods, don't love you back.

Ones that are less than 100% raw (60/40 raw/cooked)

I have lots of articles on the downsides of eating cooked food... even a small amount of it will cause continued autoimmune reactions in the body. And that's something to be avoided if optimal future health is the goal. The "Raw Till Four" diet is based on a raw vegan transitioning tactic and was never meant to be a diet in and of itself. But two charlatans (in my opinion) turned it into a diet (complete with T-shirts) and had the nerve to imply that it was just as healthy eating their diet as the all raw diet (that's what should make people suspicious).

Ones with no attention to food miscombinations

The best most easily digested meal is a mono meal (a meal of just one item), which is how all the other animals on this planet eat... except us. But when we start mixing together at one meal foods that, if eaten on their own, would have different digestive environments, digestion will not be easy-peezy, and you will not get the most out of the foods eaten as far as their nutritional value. And since those foods are already grown in nutritionally sub-par soil, we need all the nutrition we can get out of the foods we buy from the store. And the more difficult the digestion, the more "nerve energy" it will require, leaving less for healing.

Now, I'm not saying that when changing over to a raw vegan diet you have to start by eating mono meals... this can and should take time to get to, even years. But if you're not taught about the benefits of mono meals, habit will have you continually eating meals of multiple things. This is again where the raw vegan educational community has failed people, by not teaching the value of mono meals, even occasional ones. And at least teaching about food miscombinations should be done so that decent combinations can be made when eating more than one thing at a meal. Article on this at the end.

Ones with no worries regarding nutrition

This is a biggie, and maybe the number one reason raw vegans fail-to-thrive over time. A popular raw vegan educator still to this very day says, "Once you start eating enough fruits and vegetables you don't have to worry about nutrition", but this is incorrect. And this is not an opinion. All this info is squarely in the realm of objective fact. So while what he said was true a very long time ago, it isn't today. Article explaining why at the end.

Ones with no attention being given to the other “basics of health”

Yes, there are educators who teach about the diet. But diet is just one of the "basics of health", and since many people come to a raw vegan diet because of health challenges or because they are forward-thinking enough to want the best future health they can have, shouldn't any talk about diet also include the other "basics of health"... even a brief mention? Of course! But this also does happen enough in the raw vegan educational community. And you could be eating the best most perfect diet containing the most perfect foods, but if you're not paying equal attention to the other equally important "basics of health", it is physiologically impossible to be as healthy as your DNA can allow you to be, which is super important if you never want a diagnosis of something life-threatening.

The healthiest of the raw vegan diets

This is what I seem to specialize in... but this is what all raw vegan educators should specialize in, no? Of all the different versions of the raw vegan diet, logic dictates that one will be the least healthy and one will be the most healthy. So if optimal healing and future health is the goal, wouldn't people want to know about the healthiest version, or at least know that there are different versions? I think so. And that's why I talk about it, so that if a person's first exposure to the raw vegan diet is to one of the less healthy versions, at least they will come to now this, and can decide – based on how healthy they want to be – which version of the diet they want to stick with going forward.

Articles that get into all of the above, are here.


There are also 3 different categories of raw vegans

1) They became a raw vegan for their health, to deal with existing poor health

2) They became a raw vegan for their health, to prevent future ill health

3) They became a raw vegan because it's the most counterculture diet there is, and their health is not necessarily a priority (they consume alcohol, do recreational drugs, don't exercise, etc)

Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author, and health creation counselor who uses the tools in his toolbox like logic, common sense, critical thinking, and independent thought to figure out how to live so we can be optimally healthy.