Albert Einstein, best known for his famous, mind-bending E = mc2 equation, thought a vegetarian diet was the key to health for us and for the planet. He even went so far as to say, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Hippocrates is the Greek physician considered the father of modern medicine. His most famous phrase, and one that rings especially true today, is “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” With the great variety of the raw menu, we discover the remarkable healing quality of foods in their natural state.
A vegan diet which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is a decisive action towards a long and healthy life, and at the same time a powerful step towards a sustainable future. In a time when global warming and other environmental problems are so serious, it is heartening to realize that the same food choices that give you the healthiest body are also the most earth-friendly.
—John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100, The Food Revolution, and Diet for a New America
Lab tests show that consuming engineered foods can cause allergic reactions, increase mutations, and disrupt cellular development. Worldwide opposition has so far prevented the commercialization of engineered varieties of most crops, and biotech tomatoes and potatoes have been pulled from the market. Even some organic crops have been contaminated by engineered seeds and pollen. The best precaution is to be sure about where your food comes from.
—Brian Tokar, author of The Green Alternative: Creating an Ecological Future
The Least You Need to Know
* Every meal you choose to eat raw protects and conserves the environment.
* People who go raw do so for many reasons, including health, environmental, and ethical.
* Organic farming naturally protects the quality of the soil and provides a sustainable form of agriculture.
* The ramifications of eating genetically modified foods is still unknown; eating raw, organic foods eliminates any fears.
* Composting returns food back to the earth to create nutrient-rich soil.
The Great Weight Loss Secret
It’s a widely held belief in the raw community that eating raw has a built-in weight reduction mechanism. This has to do with the water content, fiber, and nutritional values of raw foods. Going raw also keeps you away from two of the main weight gain culprits—refined sugars and flours. These contain very little nutrition, and because they’re not filling, encourage the consumption of other similar foods. Whatever the reason, we think eating raw foods is one of the easier ways to lose weight because it’s simply so satisfying!
Water to the Rescue
The water content of raw foods helps support weight loss. When food is cooked, it loses its moisture and becomes more dense. Raw foods, loaded with water, fill you up sooner. You wind up eating less because you fill up on low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods. You may find yourself eating more frequent, lighter meals.
It’s been shown that a diet high in fiber helps increase transit time of foodstuff through the digestive tract, lowers blood cholesterol levels, and promotes less hunger due to the bulk it provides. A raw food diet is naturally high in fiber and is one of the many reasons eating raw helps you improve your health and lose weight. In short, a positive sequence of events is created. The healthier your food, the more satisfied you feel eating a smaller quantity of food, the quicker food leaves your body, and the more weight loss you will experience.
We believe eating raw foods paves the way to optimal health and the prevention of disease. Major national health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association recommend including fruits and vegetables to prevent illnesses. The World Health Organization estimates that a low intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
The Sweet Mystery of Life
Our favorite sweetener is the natural sugar found in fresh fruits. Dates are an awesome, nutrient-rich natural sweetener. Try them in smoothies, raw piecrusts, and other desserts. Many varieties of dates are available. Try the juicy Medjool or the smaller Deglet Noor or Barhi dates.
Here are some other sources of nature-provided sweetness:
Agave nectar or agave syrup is a popular sweetener from the famous agave cactus that gives us tequila. It has a mild taste with a consistency slightly thinner than honey. A little agave goes a long way—it’s four times sweeter than cane sugar with half the glycemic index (GI). Agave might be an acceptable sweetener for those with diabetes and hyperglycemia, but please consult your physician or a registered dietitian.
Stevia leaf is in the mint family and stems from Paraguay, South America. It’s super sweet—hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is purported to benefit tooth health, of all things, and it contains vital nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus. It’s calorie free and is being studied as an acceptable sweetener for diabetics due to its extremely low glycemic index. The dried leaf, which imparts a slight licorice flavor, is the most unrefined form available. Stevia also comes as a powder and in a tincture form.
Maple syrup is made from the sap of special maple trees. In the collection process, maple syrup is boiled off at temperatures far exceeding the live boundaries. It’s rich in minerals such as manganese and zinc and contains fewer calories than honey. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly and dramatically a food elevates plasma blood sugar. High-GI foods stimulate elevations in blood sugar more quickly than low-GI foods. People with diabetes and heart disease must focus on foods with a low GI. Because of the boiling off, maple syrup is not a raw food, although it’s commonly used as a condiment because it supplies a unique and wonderful flavor. We list it as an ingredient in several of our recipes. Feel free to substitute it with agave or a combination of agave and yakon.
Raw honey has an ancient history of culinary and medicinal use. Be sure you get the raw, organic variety, ideally from a local beekeeper. Raw honey also has antibacterial and antiviral properties. And because honey is an animal product, strict vegans don’t consume it.
Yakon syrup is an up-and-coming sweetener that comes from the yakon tuber, a distant relative of the sunflower. Grown in the Andean region of South America, it’s a lowcalorie sweetener with a dark brown color. Purported to be an acceptable sweetener for diabetics, yakon syrup contains antioxidants and nutrients like potassium.
Other sweeteners to consider for raw desserts or sweetening cereals or other dishes include dried fruits and berries. Each of these sweeteners has its own virtues.
Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw
by Mark Reinfeld, Bo Rinaldi, Jennifer Murray