I had to admit to myself, as I made my way through a small mountain of crisps one Sunday night, that this had not been a healthy weekend. That, a bucket of salted caramel frozen yoghurt, and chocolate. It’s true the working week I had stuck to my resolution: no junk food, no alcohol. But in the end denying myself the food I wanted only made me more likely to binge when I did allow the indulgence. The healthiest way is everything in moderation.
This certainly does nothing to explain why the satisfaction I got from my my mostly-milk decaf latte would have to last me the following five days.
Until Saturday morning I would be raw vegan. That was the plan at least.
I had tried to make up for my junk-food-extravaganza by pre-prepping breakfast for the following morning. But as I tucked into my overnight oats with kiwi and balsamic vinegar, I realised I had already failed; balsamic is not raw…
In fact, after a little googling I discovered that some raw vegans claimed that vinegar contained toxins produced in the cooking process which built up in the body, supposedly causing cancer, and that this is common in most cooked foods. My strange breakfast combination had come about because I had read an article claiming vinegar is good for stabilizing blood sugar. I was at a loss but not yet defeated.
I tackled lunch with enthusiasm: sliced apple and carrot drizzled with tahini. It was simple but tasty. Dinner too was easy: fresh peas, lemon juice, black pepper and tahini blended into a “gazpacho soup”.
Soaked oats attempt 2, this time topped only with fresh fruit. Lunch was a repeat of dinner the night before since it was easy to pack away and take to work. By dinner I was feeling bored and uninspired. I began to look up raw vegan recipes. I have meandered through these numerous times in the past and it struck me that the majority are cakes and biscuits rather than meals. These recipes also seem to be made up of the same ingredients every time…coconut, dates, maple syrup, oats, cashews… not only are these expensive, but surely the wonderful variety of recipes hides the fact they must all taste the same.
That night I was hosting a movie night, so alongside the normal snacks, I tried my hand at some raw vegan cookies:
They were fine but they were not cookies. Blended together, my ingredients formed an unappealing brown dough. This was to be frozen to set, which worked, but half an hour after coming out of the freezer the sludge had returned.
This also has me wondering: is cocoa raw? I had initially planned to make a carrot-pasta sauce for dinner with some tomato puree, but this too is surely not raw. In fact, what in my kitchen was raw? I had only being trying this diet for two days and I didn’t even know whether I was succeeding. I had begun this challenge thinking that the main issue would be craving cooked food. Instead, it was boredom from the lack of variety and confusion as to what I was even allowed to eat.
I can’t fault recipes such as these wonderful Nori wraps from thekitchn (link here). But, though the recipe claims to be raw and vegan, most of the Nori I have come across is toasted and for hummus (also in these) chickpeas need to be cooked.
Day 3: I made a tactical retreat.
I realised that this diet was a lot more than I had bargained for. I didn’t have a dehydrator: an apparently essential appliance in a raw vegan kitchen and so many recipes require significant pre-planning. I’m fine with dehydrating something for several hours or soaking overnight on the odd occasion but not for every meal.
Only two days on a raw vegan diet was not long enough to feel any effects but it didn’t feel healthy. My new loyalty to the gym (let’s see how long that lasts) means I am looking to up my protein intake and it seems that the main raw vegan protein sources are also high in fats. Nuts and seeds are great and full of good fats but “good” does not mean you can eat as much as you want without worrying.
It felt to me like this diet was about cutting out all “bad” foods so that you can gorge yourself on those few “good” things but that’s not what a healthy diet is about. My initial belief that most things in moderation is best still holds.
I fully intend to make a second attempt at raw veganism but this time with research and planning by my side. Yet what I know so far has not sold the diet to me in any way.