The Raw Foods Trial: Introduction

Today begins a blog series about my seven day trial experimenting with a 100% raw food diet.

Why raw? Well, first, raw foods fits well with one of Casual Kitchen's cornerstone ideas: the concept of embracing first-order foods, which are foods that don't contain embedded processing, branding, packaging or transport costs. If you embrace a diet rich in first-order foods, you can eat extremely well for surprisingly little money. In many ways "going raw" is an extreme example of embracing first-order foods.

Furthermore, the logic behind the raw foods diet makes a lot of sense: after all, a million years ago our ancestors didn't eat any cooked, canned or processed foods. Of course, they also didn't have dehydrators or Vitamix blenders, but that's a separate issue entirely.

All kidding aside, a diet centered around raw foods may very well be significantly healthier for our bodies.

Over the past year, I've discovered quite a number of other bloggers who have experimented with or converted to this diet. Almost all have reported strikingly positive results, including successful weight loss, improved health, increased energy--and even greater mental and emotional clarity. And recently, on a trip to Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to meet several raw foodists, and what I learned from them made me decide to try the diet out myself.

Finally, I relied heavily on Victoria Boutenko's book 12 Steps to Raw Foods, which covers in great depth how to approach a raw food diet. This book is widely considered to be the key resource for raw food beginners, and it's a fascinating and instructive read even if you don't intend to go fully raw.

What do I expect from this trial? Well, first of all, I do not expect to become a full-time raw foodist. After this trial is over, I'm planning to go right back to regular old cooked food. My goal is simply to test out the diet and see what it feels like. I also hope to figure out answers to some key questions, including:

1) What are the logistics of eating 100% raw?
2) Will it be expensive?
3) Will I end up running to the grocery store every day to buy insane amounts of fresh produce?
4) Will it make me feel healthier?
5) Will the diet be satisfying, or will it leave me with food cravings?
6) How challenging will it be to stick to the diet?
7) Will I experience any difficult detox symptoms?

I hope to get insights into all of these questions and more over the next several days.

Other than this big change to my diet, I'll live my (relatively) normal life. Sure, I might be cuddling up with our blender a bit more than I normally do, but other than that, I intend to exercise the same amount, sleep the same amount and do pretty much the same things I usually do each day.

Last of all, just as I don't intend to convert permanently to an all-raw diet, I also do not intend to persuade my readers to do so either. My goal is simply to try it out for a brief time and share my experiences.

Tune in tomorrow, when I'll begin with Day 1! [See the full archive of posts on my raw foods trial]

A quick postscript to readers: The posting frequency is going to be quite a bit higher than typical over the next week--at least one post per day, compared to CK's typical posting schedule of 2-3 posts per week. After the trial I'll get back to my normal schedule.

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kittiesx3 said...

I wondered why you were considering a raw diet; good luck in this test. I did a fairly restrictive diet about 20 years ago, the Pritikin diet which advocates no salt, no sugar, no fat and very little animal protein. While I did feel healthier, the logistics of living with that restrictive of a diet ended up being too much.

I still eat relatively small amounts of meat, guess that's a hold over from my experiment. And I bet you will find similar things you end up keeping from yours.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

Wow...raw food. Better you than me.
*Can I count sashimi or carpaccio?

**Kidding! I can't wait for the rest of your posts. I'm interested to see how this works for you.

After your experiment, if you'd like to read about the opposing argument, try this book: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. It's a fascinating view from a biological anthropologist. I really enjoyed it.


Amanda on Maui said...

I'm sorry, but the logic behind the diet doesn't make sense. Our ancient ancestors only lived to be about 30 or 40 years old, and they did eat meat. They ate the raw marrow from bones, the flesh from animals, and the hooves and heads of those animals as we were scavengers. The meat we ate is what allowed us to develop the brains found in the anatomically modern human. Cooking helped us to avoid bacteria and parasistes in those meats and vegetables, and this helped us to live longer. Cooking also allowed us to get enough calories out of the plant and animal matter to help us develop into the amazing beings we are today.

I support your choice in eating what you'd like to eat, but the logic you suggested is faulty.

Daniel said...

Hi KX3: I'm wondering myself whether or not I'll have any "holdover habits" once I finish up the trial. You can bet I'll let everyone know.

Mike: you and most of our non-vegetarian friends asked the same question! Hey, technically, sashimi, capaccio, steak tartare, they all are raw, right? But I haven't yet met a raw foodist who wasn't also at least a vegetarian, if not a vegan. And I'll be sure to check out that book you mentioned, thanks for the idea.

Amanda, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You may very well be totally right, and I'm sure there are lots of experienced raw foodists out there who can respond to your statements better than I can. All I can say is follow my trial and perhaps we'll all learn a few things!


The Diva on a Diet said...

Dan, I find myself fascinated and completely riveted by your impending journey! You can bet I'll devour every word of your experience. How long do you intend to try the raw food diet? Is there a prescribed amount of time within which you might expect to feel any potential benefits?

Daniel said...

Diva, thanks so much for the feedback, and I'm so glad you are interested! I'll be doing the trial for seven days, and I think any benefits are probably going to depend on the person. I wanted to try it out and also test what the logistical issues might be of an all-raw diet. After these seven days are up, we'll see! There are other examples of people who did 30 day trials of raw, but I wasn't ready to do that right away. Stay tuned!


Alex said...

Dan, it's fantastic to see you're doing this trial! I assume you're doing this as a Raw Vegan? I know of a fellow raw foodist who eats meat, he gets it from a farmer minutes after the animal is killed. I suppose, if you have to eat raw meat, it's the safest way... but I'm waiting for him to die.

I suggest you prolong your trial period to a week after the initial detox. I'd hate to see you finish your trial during the worst part and before you get a real glimpse at the lifestyle and feeling.

Amanda, our ancestors healed wounds with dirt and spit... and for super quick healing, ate their 2nd child. Here's a link to a popular raw food site. The FAQs might clear up some confusion.

Diane said...

Good luck!

For me, I do NOT do well on an all-raw diet, even when just for short periods. I have digestive issues and generally feel worse. I do well with a cooked diet with lots of veg, rice, beans and some meat or fish. An apple or some yogurt is about all I can handle raw. Basically, South and SE Asian cuisine suits me to a T.

I'm a big believer in doing what you body tells you, and for me it tells me that raw is bad. You of course are different and may have a completely different and positive experience. I'll be interested to hear.

Janet C said...

I'm still mulling over why you admitted to having been in Las Vegas recently, and not called so I could cook Pav Bhaji for you..:-)

But seriously, I agree with those who say that a raw diet is not totally what our ancestors ate. As soon as they discovered fire, they took advantage of it....

Daniel said...

Alex, thanks for the input! Actually I'm doing a seven day trial for two reasons: First, simply to test the logistics, and second, if I can make it through any detox periods then I'll know I can do this again. So it's unlikely I'll extend the trial (this time) beyond seven days. But if it goes well, I'll probably run another, longer raw trial in the future.

Diane: your point is valid, and I myself don't know how my body will react to going raw--Perhaps it will be a disaster!

Janet: don't worry, I'll probably be back to Vegas in the coming year. Regarding our ancestros using fire and therefore not eating raw, here's a question for you: what did their ancestors do?