POINT LOMA. If you are curious about vegan food, there’s a good chance you have heard about vegans who only eat raw foods. And if you are like me, you have questions. What are the parameters of raw vegan diet? Is raw veganism healthier than the typical vegan diet? How difficult is it? Do you have more energy on a raw vegan diet? Before answering these questions, however, I want to make sure everyone is on the same page. So let’s start at the beginning…
What is a Raw Food Diet?
Raw food is food that has not been heated above approximately 118 degrees. Why would you not want to heat your food, you ask? Raw foodists argue that important enzymes and nutrients are destroyed when they are heated and, thus, the nutritional content of raw food is typically greater than its cooked counterpart.
Also, many raw foodists describe their diet as a lifestyle choice. And this lifestyle includes eating “mindfully.” The concept is simple. When you are eating, just eat. In other words, they discourage multitasking with television, talking on the phone, driving, etc. – it diminishes the connection with the food.
Whether or not you are interested in adopting a raw diet, eating mindfully is a small, healthy choice we could all make for ourselves. If you want to learn more about mindful eating, here is a link to great article on the subject:
Tracing the boundary of raw food is tricky. Proverbial “gray area” is everywhere. Can you take supplements? What about coffee and tea? Are frozen foods included in a raw diet? For answers to these questions and more, take a look at the comprehensive FAQ page produced by Rawpeople.com:
How do Vegan Food and Raw Food Intersect?
Often, raw food is also vegan. But not always. For example, some raw foodists eat things like sashimi (raw fish without the rice) or raw cheese.
In general, however, raw food restaurants are trending in favor of raw vegan food. Ingredients include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, sprouted beans, spices, and herbs. If that list sounds short, don’t fear! If there is one thing I’ve learned about raw foodists, it is that they are CREATIVE. They make cheese out of nuts, bread out of seeds, and desserts out of almond meal and dates. Amazing! To learn more on the basics of the raw vegan diet, click on the link below (and don’t miss the “Recipes” tab!)
The Go Raw L.I.F.E Center
Tucked away in a quiet corridor between a fitness studio and a fitness club, you can find Go Raw – a 100% vegan, organic, raw food restaurant. Actually, they don’t call it a “restaurant.” Rather, it is a L.I.F.E. Center—Living Inspiration For Everyone. And for me, it has been an opportunity experience the surprising creativity of the raw food community. The L.I.F.E. Center makes a variety of delicious juices, smoothies, snacks, appetizers, and entrees. The juice and smoothie selection remains constant, but the food options evolve throughout the year based on the shift in seasonal ingredients.
Go Raw built its name creating and distributing healthy raw snacks. Some of you have probably seen their energy bars or granola in specialty stores like Co-Ops, Jimbo’s, or Whole Foods. They distribute products nationwide – including online – but San Diego is lucky enough to have the only L.I.F.E. Center.
I started out by picking up a snack or juice at the L.I.F.E. Center every once in a while. One day, however, I read a handout explaining the raw food meal “program.: I became curious. Go Raw would prepare all of my food for the day and all I had to do was pick it up? I had to try. How could I not? I wouldn’t have to shop, cook, or think about what I had to eat. So, I signed myself up for the 6-day program. After extensive documentation – and eating! – it is now time to share my experience with you . . .
How Does the Go Raw Meal Program Work?
Go Raw offers 1-day, 6-day, 21-day, and 90-day meal programs. You can sign up for these programs in person or by phone. Call two or three days ahead of when you want to start, and Go Raw will add you to the list! There are three different sized meal packs: small, original, and large. (I chose the original.)
The Original Program includes: 1 specialty entrée, 2 salads, 2 fruit bowls, 1 snack, 1 dessert, 1 small Go Raw bar, 1 oz. of Go Raw Cookies, and a smoothie or juice of your choice.
If you decide to participate in the Small Program, you will receive 1 fruit bowl and 1 salad (instead of the 2 you receive in the Original Program). If you decide to participate in the Large Program, you receive 3 fruit bowls (instead of 2), 3 salads (instead of 2), and 2 small Go Raw bars (instead of 1). If you are not sure what size you should pick, simply ask someone at Go Raw! They will walk you through all of your options and answer all of your questions.
Two options for picking up the food: (1) Visit the L.I.F.E Center on the morning of your program (opens at 7am) or (2) Come the day before, anytime after 3pm. Either pickup puts a full day’s supply in your arms – including the drink of your choice!
Those who are on programs that are longer than 1 day also get a 6-day membership to the Point Loma Sports Club, located next door to the L.I.F.E. Center!
So let’s get started . . .
DAY 1 MENU
I showed up my first day hungry and ready for some raw food! First impression: everyone is in high spirits. Despite the early hour, the person behind the counter was excited to walk me through the process: (1) a big bag of my food emerges from the back; (2) I pick out a small Go Raw bar (any flavor that I want, and I choose a new one each day); (3) I pick out two large packages of raw cookies (these will last me for the entire 6 days); and (4) I order any juice or smoothie (even the Sunbutter smoothie!). I walked out of there with a full arsenal.
I drank my Sunbutter Smoothie on the way home. It is made from raw sunflower seed butter, banana, raw cacao, carrot juice, coconut oil, and dates – officially on my “favorites” list. I never would have thought to pair sunflower seed butter with carrot juice and cacao, but I’m glad someone else did! The smoothie is rich, creamy, sweet, and filling. I could drink one every day. Forever.
(Editor’s note: I don’t know if drinking the smoothie while driving home is “mindful” eating. But I challenge anyone to possess a Sunbutter Smoothie for an entire ride home without taking a sip. Not easy.)
Go Raw doesn’t have rules about when you are supposed to eat what. After my smoothie, I decided to try sample some fruit. I tried the grapefruit. It was farmer’s market fresh.
I was feeling so good that I went for a run. I came home hungry and ready to try a salad. I opened up the Sorta Caesar salad made up of red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, cucumber, red pepper, tomato, spicy chia chips, and “Is This Caesar?” dressing.
I liked all of the different types of lettuce in this salad and loved the dressing. As a vegan, I don’t usually get the chance to eat Caesar dressing. This one tasted creamy and smooth and like a lighter version of the not-so-good-for-you traditional version.
The salad was good but, like I said, I was hungry! The Flax Snax with Nut-Cho Cheese caught my eye. I first tried a flax cracker, which was shaped into a convenient bite sized circle. On its own, the cracker had good crunch but didn’t taste like much. But with the cheese, this snack came alive. The Nut-Cho Cheese was rich and spicy with a slight barbecue flavor. It disappeared fast!
Later in the afternoon, I tried the juicy looking honeydew. Again, super fresh.
It was also time for the next salad – That’s Amore – made up of green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, arugula, red bell pepper, cucumber, celery, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and Italian dressing.
All of the ingredients were fresh, and the salad was chock full of vegetables. Not my favorite meal of the day – because I am not a fan of Italian dressing – but it’s hard not to feel healthy eating all of those veggies!
So what did I do next? I dove into the small, apricot Go Raw bar that I had picked out that morning. It was small but surprisingly full of flavor. It also took the edge off of my hunger.
I saved the Teriyaki Bowl for dinner. (Usually, I lack this type of discipline.) The bowl includes cucumber, red bell pepper, portabella mushrooms, and teriyaki sauce, layered over a tasty bed of butternut squash rice. Yes, “rice” made from minced, raw butternut squash! Pure creative genius. In addition, the mushrooms were firm, the flavors were bold, and the bowl proved filling.
I love chocolate. Choosing the Chocolate Super Cookies that morning at Go Raw had been an easy decision. The cookies are made from organic coconut, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic dates, and organic cacao. They were crunchy and had a good chocolate flavor. I always appreciate a food that helps satisfy my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty!
Finally, it was time for dessert – the daily piece of raw chocolate. It has a consistency like fudge, and this particular piece tasted like a Peppermint Patty. A great way to end my first raw day!
The Next Five Days…
The next 5 days continued much the same. I can ruin the surprise about my future juice/smoothie orders. I had the Sunbutter Smoothie EVERY morning for 6 days. Each day, I knew I should order something else, so my blog post could have more variety. And yet everyday the words “Sunbutter Smoothie, please” came out of my mouth. It is good. Really, you should try it.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the salad dressings Go Raw provided. Some of my favorites included Sesame Ginger Dressing, Rawzy Ranch Dressing, Honey Mustard Dressing. They made eating salads more fun.
The fruit continued to be fresh and exceeded my expectations. I also appreciated the variety.
Go Raw Bars and Super Cookies:
The delicious Go Raw Bars come in a variety of different flavors sure to keep anyone from becoming bored. During my 6 days I tried the apricot, pumpkin, banana bread, and spirulina flavors. The Carrot Super Cookies also turned out to be just as delicious as their chocolate counterparts.
What continued to be extraordinary were Go Raw’s “specialty entrées” and “snacks” included in the meal packs. Below I am sharing the menus and pictures of these items for each day.
DAY 2 MENU:
Tex Mex Bowl:
DAY 3 MENU:
Rise and Shine Cereal:
DAY 4 MENU:
Chocolate Granola With Sprouted Almond Milk:
DAY 5 MENU:
Not Ahi Spicy Sushi:
Butternut Bread and Spread:
DAY 6 MENU:
GuacaKhan Flax Snax:
Thank you Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center for making raw vegan food accessible. And for six days, I did not have to think about grocery shopping or cleaning dishes. I did not have to worry if I was tipping a server too much, or too little. I did not have to debate whether to go back for “seconds.” So much of my day can be spent on answering the question, “What am I going to eat?” The absence of this question for six days lowered my stress level considerably.
Go Raw did a great job of providing creative dishes. Sushi with no fish (or rice) that tastes like sushi? I didn’t even know such a thing was possible!
I was hoping I would notice a noticeable increase in my energy. Although I felt good on the raw vegan diet, I did not feel a difference in my energy. I did, however, appreciate that I could continue my normal exercise program during the entire six days.
Although the salad dressings were great, by the final day, I was ready to take a break from eating salads. I was also ready to eat something warm. Personally, I think my body might benefit the most from a combination of raw and cooked foods. But the investigation is ongoing – probably for a lifetime.
I would recommend trying the Go Raw meal program to anyone curious about the raw vegan diet. But even if you’re not ready to take that step, try one of the raw juices, smoothies, snacks or entrees to see how you respond! And when in doubt, start with the Sunbutter Smoothie.
2751 Roosevelt Road, #103
San Diego, CA 92106