raw vegan vs. whole food plant based diets

I finally saw Forks Over Knives this afternoon and it was as good as I expected it / wanted it to be! It provides a good balance of scientific research and clinical evidence, statistics and human experience, fact and practical advice that illustrate the benefits of a whole foods plant-based (WFPB) diet. I don’t want to give a complete synopsis as it has been reviewed to death, as has it’s source book, The China Study, but needless to say I’m feeling extra good about the health benefits of my high-raw vegan diet right now, particularly in the wake of my aunt recently being diagnosed breast cancer and this bringing cancer one generation closer to yours truly… more to follow on this.

“Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.” They discuss the linkages between the animal protein casein and the development of cancer cells (and the surprisingly small percentage of cancer that is actually hereditary – most is environmental); the impact of animal-based foods on heart disease (and impotence, men!); and show that changing to a WFPB diet actually reverses many diseases and ailments including diabetes, heart disease and obesity while improving energy levels, mood and overall well being.

I really love the concept of a WFPB diet. I mentioned in my ‘about me’ dribble that I was initially deterred from moving from vegetarianism to veganism because I knew so many sickly looking vegans. But as I discovered in my vegetarian phase, cutting out animal products doesn’t make you healthy. So much of what is on offer in the supermarket is non-food, pumped up with high fructose corn syrup, refined / bleached / enriched flours, artificial flavors and fillers that leads to obesity, diabetes etc… and you can can eat a lot of this and still be ‘vegan’. What attracted me to the raw food “diet” was the fact it ruled out processed foods and ensures that everything you eat is from whole foods.

In all honestly though, I do sometimes struggle (still!) with my desire to be 100% raw. There is something to be said about the comfort and satiation provided by hot food, particularly in a winter that drags on for as long as these New England beauties!! While I’m not giving up on the raw aspect, I do think I’m going to start exploring in the broader ‘whole food plant-based’ world, i.e., including quinoa or cous cous and lightly cooked vegetables in dishes when I want something warm, and also in an attempt to move my boyfriend further from animal products with the allure of filling warm vegan meals given raw food isn’t always appealing to him. Given the evidence, I don’t think cooked WFPB dishes are going to do any harm to the health benefits I’m realizing with the raw food so if it makes life a little easier, or a little more comforting, or a little more communal, who’s to judge?!

Would love to hear your thoughts on raw vs. WFP as I look into it further…

PS. If you’re ever in Boston, MA, make sure you check out a wonderful little cafe called Life Alive in Cambridge. A raw foodie friend and I went there for lunch today before the movie and loved it! They focus on organic whole food dishes and have a great range of filling dishes that look super-tasty. We were a little disappointed they have cheddar cheese and eggs on offer but despite that, I can’t wait to go back again… and try to replicate some of their stuff at home :)

9 Comments on “raw vegan vs. whole food plant based diets

  1. Hi! I am trying to figure out what diet I want to follow. I’m currently doing a juice fast and it’s amazing how difficult it is for me to decide what I will begin eating after I finish. I am curious about the raw food diet mainly, I would prefer that I believe. There is no argument against using oil like with WFPB is that correct? I do not have any signs of heart disease but I believe I am insulin resistant. I’m trying to figure out what the best way is to handle delaying or preventing diabetes. I know in the movie a diabetic was healed on the diet, and that is very encouraging. I am reading as much as I can to help make this decision!

    • Big decisions Amanda! Hope you find something you love – and remember there is no harm in trying something and deciding it’s not for you, and trying something different. There is no one way that suits everybody. I would also suggest you get professional advice, from someone who is familiar with these eating choices and their benefits (if you can find one!) I believe the risk factors for diabetes generally include abnormal cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and not exercising, so getting tested for and managing blood pressure and cholesterol would be a good start (raw vegan and WFPB diets do make this easy) and find something you love to do to keep fit!

    • Amanda WFPB recommends that you cut out oils as the are stripped of there water, vitamins, minerals and fiber as nature produced them. This leaves nothing but processed pure fat. However there are great recipes you can make yourself in just a few short minutes from Whole Foods In a blender as many Whole Foods have natural oils in them and are very nutritious.

  2. what is the difference between vegan and a whole foods diet?

    • great question jenny! my understanding is that the difference between a whole food diet and a standard vegan diet is that they don’t have processed foods, i.e. bread, white rice etc. (I’m not sure about pasta…) The difference between raw vegan and whole foods is the cooked vs. uncooked … happy for others to provide their interpretation too though!

  3. Hi! For a little bit after watching Forks Over Knives, in addition to a couple other docs, I started focusing my efforts on the not-eating-meat part, and not so much the processed part. My husband got a bunch of those Morningstar frozen foods, and I ate them for awhile. But then I read the book ‘In Defense of Food’ by Michael Pollan, and learned more about not eating the processed stuff, and actually decided if I were to eat organic whole foods/ dairy, (still thinking for the most part I’ll cut out meat) anyway it would be better than eating a substitute that had more stuff added to it to get it to taste like the real thing. I think I’d be just as well eating portobello mushrooms instead of fake burgers. Thankfully, I love mushrooms! So I’m just wondering, if I should drink organic whole milk with nothing added to it instead of almond milk that does have stuff added to it, for example. Same with cheeses. For all of these, I’d like to find them at a place where nothing was added to them. We still haven’t gone to a farmer’s market yet.

    At any rate, I haven’t had any fast food or soda in a month or so, and have been eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than pretty much ever.

    • How exciting Marissa! Have you noticed any changes since you’ve cut out meat and processed foods??

      I would definitely recommend cutting out all dairy – The China Study is a good reference if you wanted to read more about it… pleased you found my almond milk recipe – home made is the only way to go!!

      Keep us posted on your adventures xx

  4. Pingback: Raw Food Diet Vs Vegan | kscfood

  5. I’m a raw vegan nutritionist. My take is that for most people it’s a little to strict for them and I’ve found that the WFPB life style is a great way to help them get healthy and it definitely moves them to a healthier lifestyle, if they chose to go raw vegan then that’s up to them I never push them towards being raw vegan it’s all about helping them get better results and ending their suffering and a WFPB diet can do that.

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