Though the raw vegan diet isn’t new, it has been regaining popularity recently.
It combines the principles of veganism with those of raw foodism.
While some people may choose to follow it for ethical or environmental reasons, most do it for its purported health benefits. These include weight loss, improved heart health and a lower risk of diabetes.
However, a fully raw vegan diet may also pose some health risks — especially when it’s not well planned.
This article reviews the raw vegan diet — including its benefits and risks.
What Is a Raw Vegan Diet?
Raw veganism is a subset of veganism.
Like veganism, it excludes all foods of animal origin.
Then it adds the concept or raw foodism, which dictates that foods should be eaten completely raw or heated at temperatures below 104–118°F (40–48°C).
The idea of eating only raw foods has existed since the middle of the nineteenth century when Presbyterian minister and dietary reformer Sylvester Graham promoted it as a way to avoid illness.
A raw vegan diet is generally rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and legumes. It also tends to be naturally low in processed foods.
Those choosing to follow a raw vegan diet are often motivated by health reasons.
They believe that raw and minimally heated foods are more nutritious than cooked ones.
Alternative meal preparation methods, such as juicing, blending, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating, are used instead of cooking.
Some proponents also believe that a raw vegan diet provides all the nutrients humans need — which is why supplements are often discouraged.
The raw vegan diet is plentiful in nutrient-rich plant foods. It’s also linked to several health benefits.
May Improve Heart Health
A raw vegan diet may improve heart health due to its focus on fruits and vegetables — both of which are consistently linked to lower blood pressures and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
This way of eating also includes plenty of nuts, seeds, sprouted whole grains and legumes. Studies show that these foods may improve blood cholesterol levels and further lower your risk of heart disease.
Observational studies report that vegans may have up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
What’s more, several randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in scientific research — observe that vegan diets are particularly effective at reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Few studies have looked at the effect of raw vegan diets specifically. Yet, their high content of nutrient-rich plant foods may offer similar results — though more studies are needed.
May Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
A raw vegan diet may also reduce your risk of diabetes.
Again, this may partly be due to its focus on fruits and vegetables, which are linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, this diet is rich in fiber — a nutrient linked to lower blood sugar levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
One recent review study linked vegetarian and vegan diets to a 12% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, with vegan diets being the most effective (18Trusted Source).
What’s more, vegan diets contain good amounts of nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and legumes, which may further help lower blood sugar levels.
That said, few studies have looked at the direct effects of raw vegan diets.