What do you think about when you think of raw foods?
Someone munching on tomatoes and lettuce? Maybe some oranges and apples?
All those things are good of course (except for lettuce, get some real greens!). But we’ve all heard the stories of people who jump in whole hog without doing the proper research.
15 year vegans who have to go back to fish, well intentioned parents that almost go to jail when malnutrition sets in for their kids, there’s all kinds of horror stories about what can happen when you don’t do your research.
That’s why the green smoothie is the number 1 best way to transition in my view. You get hardcore doses of greens and vitamins, and you can take your time researching how to go about getting all the things a body needs before cutting out your ‘normal’ foods.
Got your green smoothie going? Good. Here’s where to start researching before you give up meat in lunch and dinner too:
Bee-12 and other Bee vitamins
You’ve all heard of the B vitamins.
Out of all the different deficiency’s, B-12 is the number one that’ll come back to haunt a well intentioned vegan. It’s an insidious one too, since it can take up to a decade before your body reserves finally run out.
The result? You go a little crazy. It’s not good.
You can get some B6 from a lot of different foods. As long as you’re getting enough calories and enough variety, it’s likely you’re set. If you want a boost though, the single highest source of the B vitamins (excluding B-12) is Bee Pollen and Propolis. You can pick up some bee pollen for fairly cheap ($6 a pound) at health food stores, or you can always order some online. It tastes a little foul, so if you find any good recipes for getting some of that down every day, let me know. I’ve just been taking a spoonful like a daily cod-liver oil dose.
The B-12 is still an issue though.
I’ve heard that leaving your veggies unwashed is enough, because of the microorganisms growing in the dirt.
I’ve heard that nutritional yeast has some, but that’s turned out to be false as well. (you CAN get nutritionally fortified yeast that has B-12. Look up Red Star yeast).
I just heard David Wolfe, and he’s researched this more than anyone else I’ve ever heard of. He hasn’t found any natural vegan sources. If the raw poster child hasn’t found any reliable unprocessed B-12 sources, I don’t think they exist.
His solution? Insects. More Bee stuff in this case. He’s got a no-killing rule, but if ants and bees happen to fall into his honey and die before harvesting, he just leaves them in when he eats it. Turns out insects are a way more plentiful source of B-12 than any animal, so you don’t even need that much. Who knew?
What about the Protein?
This one’s a fun one.
This is the one you’ll be asked constantly when you go raw. Worried parents, concerned friends, and dubious strangers will all wonder where you’re getting your protein.
Many people new to raw food get this wrong. I’m getting to be more and more anti-soy as time goes on, but I won’t tell you it’s bad for you. That’s for you to research and decide for yourself. What I will tell you though, is that jumping straight to soy without doing the research is an easy way to miss the boat on some really amazing superfoods.
I think I’ll do an article on this one soon, but in the meantime, here’s what I do.
Algae. I drink spirulina in my morning smoothies. Between that and some of the other foods and superfoods I’ve selected, I easily average 80~100 grams of protein a day. The algae by the way? 3 times the protein content of beef, and it’s much easier for your body to absorb and utilize. Good stuff.
Oh, and unlike soy? The protein in my superfoods is really easily digested, and it comes jam packed with a whole boat-load of other vitamins and nutrients. Who needs beef?
The silent deficiency: Calories
There are plenty of other nutrients I should talk about at some point. K2, DPA and EPA, vitamin D, but I wanted to stay simple for today. The last deficiency to worry about is not getting enough fuel in general.
If you switch to raw, it’s really easy to eat in a way that makes you hungry all the time. The hungrier you are, the less likely you’ll stick to the diet.
Easy to see why too. A cup of rice? 240 calories. A cup of spinach? SEVEN CALORIES.
In the morning, I do about a quart of green smoothie. You know how many servings of greens and fruit is in that thing? Maybe ten. I literally eat for breakfast more fruits and veggies than the average American child does in a week.
Course, then I’m hungry again two hours later. Those 7 or 8 servings of greens in there hardly pull up the calories at all. If it wasn’t for the fruit, I’d be hanging around 50. Altogether, my quart of nutritional goodness isn’t much more than 200 calories at most.
When switching to raw, I highly recommend grabbing a free account at dailyburn.com, and tracking what you eat for a day or two or five. Before I did it, I had no idea I was only eating 1,500 calories a day. I’ve since fixed things, and I do maybe 2,500 a day. (I like to exercise, so I aimed a little high).
I lost close to 10 pounds doing that 2,500 a day. If you’re overweight at all, you’ll be really, really hard pressed to not lose weight if you go raw. For God’s sakes don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be.
Don’t count calories, and (at first at least) eat until you know you’re full. In time you’ll learn more about your body, and you’ll naturally start eating closer to what your body really needs. Long life does go hand in hand with eating less at each meal, but you can move towards there as you get an intuitive feel for what you really need.
Stay safe my friends. This doesn’t need to be an instant change, but when you do switch over make sure you’ve done your research first.
Peace and Love,