In celebration of our participation in the City of Santa Monica’s “Meatless in March” campaign, we sat down with JJ, our raw vegan chef at Erewhon Venice and asked him the top 10 reasons to explore a raw diet:
CHEF JJ: I am sharing this top ten list from the enlightening and life-empowering education I received at Living Light Culinary Arts Academy. I am forever grateful to them and happy to share it with you!
1. Look and Feel Your Best with Raw Foods
Raw foods are high in nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemical, vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats and therefore, maximize health and vitality. A raw food lifestyle, unlike a traditional diet, does not lead to counting calories and food deprivation—it is quite the opposite! You can eat as many vegetables and fruits as you like. They will help you build a strong immune system, increase your energy and optimize your health. Raw foods are available in abundant varieties, flavors, textures and offer delicious food choices. I have lived a “high raw” (80% raw) lifestyle and have never been bored or felt deprived. Everyone can benefit by incorporating raw foods into your diet.
2. Reduce Health Risks and Heal from Disease
The fact is that a raw vegan plant-based diet leads to lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. Many chronic illnesses that Americans face can be reduced, and even reversed when animal products are eliminated from the diet. A raw plant-based diet is low in saturated fats, has no hydrogenated fats or cholesterol. You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from flax, chia, hempseed and nuts!
3. Avoid Premature Aging and Promote Longevity
With the consumption of nutrient dense raw foods, many raw foodists look years younger than people the same age who eat cooked foods. Antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamins protect the body from free radicals, which attack your healthy cells. A raw vegan diet helps stave off the effects of aging; it also will help you to maintain a healthy body weight.
4. Achieve an Ideal Body Weight
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water, so you will feel fuller faster. Often, people continue to feel hungry after eating because their diets are filled with empty calories—so their nutritional needs aren’t being met. Without the proper nutrients, your metabolism will slow down, you will stop burning fat and you will still be hungry and crave more food. If you, like many people, have an addiction to sugar and fat, those will be what you reach for first to try and feel full. Raw, fresh, organic produce doesn’t create cravings and you can eat as much of it as you would like, without counting your calories. After eating a mostly raw vegan diet for a few weeks, your body will begin to self regulate and it will turn off the hunger-response system when you have reached the level of nourishment your body needs.
5. Increase Energy, Vitality and Stamina
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables because they don’t slow you down, unlike heat processed oils. Fruits and vegetables will keep you feeling light and full of energy. Raw foodists usually sleep between one and three hours less and still have more energy than people who eat heavy cooked foods. Several hours of sleep time can be used digesting heavy foods if consumed before heading to bed.
6. Enhance Memory and Mental Clarity
Your brain thrives on nourishment and omega 3 fatty-acids. You can get all the omega-3 nourishment you need from walnuts, flaxseed, chia, hemp and dark leafy greens. Your brain also needs plenty of water, magnesium and organic sodium. Whole plant foods offer an abundance of these nutrients. Put down the nutrient and water deficient foods (like traditional pasta and pizza) and pick up some delicious healthy plant foods (satisfy that craving with a spiraled vegetable or kelp noodle and delicious gourmet raw pizzas—like our Be Kind pizza pictured above). We have a wide variety of raw vegan gluten-free dishes in our cafes, I hope you will come and explore our offerings!
7. Reduce Colds, Flu and Allergies
A raw food diet has no hidden ingredients. You can prevent and speed up recovery from seasonal ailments by replacing toxic, unhealthy foods with nutrient dense, health sustaining plant food!
8. No Greasy Cleanup
Whip up soups, smoothies, juices, sauces and even desserts in a flash without having to worry about cleaning the greasy pots and pans. Feel light and have a light clean-up to boot!
9. Be Kind to Animals
Factory farming is bad for animals, bad for our health and bad for the environment. Unlike the bucolic images shown in ads, animals on factory farms are raised in horrible conditions and bred for unnatural rapid growth. Antibiotics are used extensively to combat diseases caused by close quarters.
10. Protect the Environment
Reduce your carbon footprint, support sustainable farming practices and protect the watershed. You are also protecting against deforestation that is inherent in the meat industry when practicing a raw vegan diet. 20% of all energy in the U.S. is used by the dairy and meat industries. Raw food is packaged by nature, so you also reduce the waste of plastic and chemicals. Support and protect the earth and her inhabitants by eating a plant-based diet whenever possible!
THANK YOU, JJ! Keep an eye out for special Meatless Monday dishes and enjoy our raw vegan gluten-free dishes like our Be Kind Pizza (available in all cafes)!