What is a raw food diet exactly? Moreover, what is a vegan raw food diet?
Very simple, first of all, the diet includes only food coming from plant origin. This food includes a myriad of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, mushrooms and algae that are grown either in human-created conditions or found in the wild.
Second, this food is consumed in its most pristine state, meaning, with minimal physical processing and zero chemical processing.
Physical processing of food involves breaking it into smaller pieces – this changes how food looks, however its chemical composition stays the same. For example, if a pineapple is cut into two halves, the flesh of each individual half is virtually identical to the flesh of a whole pineapple that just existed. Why virtually? There are two reasons behind this.
Chemical reaction with stainless steel
Reason number one is – once pineapple is cut, its cut surfaces are exposed to a surface of the cutting medium, usually a blade of a knife made from stainless steel, which triggers a chemical reaction. This changes the original chemical composition of pineapple cut surfaces, although to a negligible degree, and thus, theoretically, that pineapple is no longer completely raw. To be specific, citric acid and ascorbic acid found in pineapple juice are compounds that react with stainless steel.
Sometimes kitchen appliances, including knives, are made of titanium, silver, ceramic or wood. However, all metals and alloy (mix) of metals will undergo a chemical reaction with food to a small degree. That leaves ceramic and wood; which are basically inert, that is, they will not react with food and therefore, theoretically, they are the optimal media to use in kitchen appliances.
However, who cuts with wooden knives these days or even ceramic? Not many. Those who do – either know the cons of cutting with metal, they are weirdos living in their self-created bubble or these knives were the only things they inherited from their Grandma (so, that is why they didn’t throw them out :)).
Chemical reaction with oxygen
Reason number two is – pineapple cut surfaces also react with air, specifically oxygen, in a chemical reaction called oxidation, turning a fruit brown. This reaction also changes the original chemical composition of pineapple cut surfaces to a small degree.
The two above reactions
The reactions of pineapple flesh with stainless steel and oxygen are both chemical reactions. Once again, that is because they change the original chemical composition of a pineapple, and while it cannot be said that a fruit undergoes chemical processing, still the original chemical composition of a pineapple changes.
The same chemical changes happen when food is blended or juiced, however to a much larger degree.
Therefore, in essence, to avoid any chemical changes of any degree and enjoy a truly raw food, washing is the only thing you can do with it.
However, some food is chemically processed before it even gets to store shelves
Before food gets on store shelves, unless it was organically grown, it might already has been subjected to chemical processing.
For example, apples are usually covered with paraffin, artificial wax, to slow down the ripening. Yes, those suspiciously shiny apples you see everywhere are all coated with paraffin.
On the other hand, some fruits, such as non-organic bananas, might have been treated with ethylene gas to speed up the ripening.
Moreover, the scariest one, non-organic food might have been irradiated. It means exactly what you think it is – food has been exposed to a real ionizing radiation, specifically x-rays and gamma rays. Yes, without your permission and without telling you that. The purpose behind, is to ward off mold, yeast, bacteria and other microscopic creatures that like to eat fruits and vegetables. It is the same type of radiation as the one used in X-rays and the one created during nuclear explosions. In Canada, for instance, non-organic onions, potatoes, certain flours and spices are irradiated.
Above I have just described chemical processing not intended by an individual interested to eat a specific food, meaning, that it is beyond your control and there is not a lot you can do about it.
Intentional chemical processing is what really makes food not raw and this is what you should try to avoid on a raw vegan diet
Chemical processing that could intentionally be done by you includes all heat processing that is above 48 °C (118 °F). Some examples are baking, boiling, steaming, frying, grilling, smoking and high-temperature drying. Also, all methods of food preservation that are heat-based – pasteurization, canning, bottling and others. Your goal is to avoid temperatures above 48°C as this is when enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients start to deteriorate.
In addition, chemical processing includes most methods of food preservation that are not heat-based. Specifically, preservation with the use of salt, sugar and vinegar as in case of pickling, curing and marinating, respectively. Notice, freezing, a common non-heat-based method of food preservation, is obviously an exception here.
To summarize, ideally, a raw vegan food diet should only consist of organic plant-based food that is washed and immediately eaten in the whole form. However, we live in imperfect world and thus, in most cases, this is not possible and therefore, if you eat plant-based food that has not been processed above 48 °C or preserved with salt, sugar or vinegar, then you can raise your chin up and proudly call yourself a raw fooder. No, just kidding, omit the pride part; it will not do you any good…
Feel free to leave your thoughts below.