The Definition of Practical Raw Living

Practical Raw Living is a term I use to describe my diet and lifestyle. So what does practical raw living mean? And could it work for you?

Practical raw living is what works best for me to maintain ideal weight and well-being. Practical raw living is eating a raw living foods diet practically all the time and enjoying life 100% of the time.

This can range from eating 50 – 85% raw vegan any given day of the week. For the most part around 75% raw– this is practical and what works for me:

  • 75 % Raw Vegan
  • 25%  What my mind/ body asks for (this currently includes cooked grains, beans, fish and hot soups)

Nachos are a great example of a practical raw meal. I make raw flax corn chips, a cashew cheese, with fresh tomatoes, jalapeño and onion, with cooked black beans and salsa. The meal is mostly raw and allows me to enjoy nachos without the guilt trip or CFC (cooked food coma) resulting from eating processed corn chips and cheese.

I don’t really care for  labels of ­­isms (for example veganism), and get  frustrated with%’s in the raw food world because of the way they divide people and imply the need to make a decision between one or other.  However they do allow for discussion- and I love talking about food.

In regards to eating habits, throughout the years I have seen (my digestive track) the whole gamut ranging from 100% raw vegan to meat and potatoes.

I remember when I was 100% raw vegan, I was very strict with my diet and eating raw was ALWAYS on the top of my mind. I was stressed over what my next meal would be, wanting to plan ahead and be prepared.

salad_dressingOne fine sunny day I was enjoying a nice sprout salad, with homegrown sunflower sprouts, mung bean sprouts, avocado and pine nuts among other things. I had made a fresh olive oil-balsamic salad dressing to compliment the sprout salad.

Half way through the salad I began to question if balsamic vinegar was a raw ingredient? Had I cheated? Was I not 100%? I did not know if balsamic vinegar was raw!!!

I felt stressed, I got up paced around the living room and then decided…IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THE SALAD DRESSING is RAW!!!!! I was stressing over a perception that one ingredient may or may not be raw….and the belief I had to eat 100% raw foods. I thought about it, the desire to eat raw food was such a strong belief that I was creating tension over salad dressing – how ridiculous.

Once I calmed down and realized I did want to finish my lunch, I decided to be practical and not stress over the dressing.

There was no REAL reason for me to feel as if I have cheated myself, had lost integrity for my diet or was consuming something that would cause significant negative effects to my health.

I had spent so much time researching labels to see if the ingredients had been pressed, fermented, or heat treated. I was definitely giving it my best effort.

In speaking with some raw foodie friends, they confessed the same dietary stress over eating 100% raw.  I started to seriously question if eating 100% raw foods for long-term is really the best dietary choice for long term health.

The real kicker came when a friend informed me that an Ayurvedic doctor told them wheatgrass was not good for their dosha type. Without getting into the details of Ayurveda, the point I want to make is – everybody’s bodies are different and run best on different foods. My friend’s body at the time needed solid grounding foods, such as yams. Wheatgrass was like kindling to his digestive fire and burnt out fast.

foodjournalwithcarrotReflecting on how different foods affect my mind and body, I observed something noteworthy.  During my periods of 100% raw, after two weeks I would feel flighty. By this I mean, having a hard time concentrating, a lack of focus. To dive deeper I started to document and track how the food I was eating made me feel with a food journal.

In my food journal I asked myself some questions to reflect on:

  • How does the food I am eating affect my mental state?
  • Does including some cooked grounding foods impact my ability to focus?

This worked out great, because I became very aware of how my mind and body was responding to the various fuels I was feeding it.

Now, I choose to eat practical raw foods for optimal health and longevity- it’s a maintenance diet. I absolutely recognize the benefits of eating 100% raw food as a healing diet.

Living a practical raw lifestyle means I can enjoy the benefits of eating raw food and allow myself the flexibility to include some cooked vegetarian foods and a little fish. This allows me to drink coffee (I love those roasted beans), have the occasional pita chip or go to lunch with friends and not feel limited to the raw food restaurants.

Everything in life seems to have a polar opposite. Up and down, right or left, black or white, hot or cold, day and night. All the dualities allow for an individual expression, and somewhere along that the continuum you find what works for you. I see this to represent itself in the raw food world as


The Radical side of the scale is an extreme. This would look like a health food nut, totally absorbed in everything healthy. Willing to try new healthy things, in-fact feels driven to get the latest, newest superfood on the market. Example of Radical is 100% raw food diet.

Practical is in the middle ranging from radical to whimsical but finding that middle ground. Example of Practical is 75% raw food diet.

Whimsical is the opposite extreme of radical. Example would be 0% raw food diet, eats whatever they can get pass the lips. Whimsical eating is impulsive act and not something you would do on a regular basis. Whimsical eating is often associated with comfort foods and holiday binges.

I can relate to the radical-practical-whimsical scale because it is easy for me to identify all three of those traits in my past behavior. Through food journaling and experimenting with my diet – I have concluded I feel the best with practical raw eating.

To clarify the labels commonly used when describing plant based diets:

  • Raw foodism – Nothing cooked above 115° F to ensure enzymes and nutrients present in food remain intact. Typically raw foodies practice veganism and exclude all animal products. However, some raw foodies consume raw animal products such as raw honey, bee pollen, or raw non-pasteurized dairy products such as raw milk. A small group of raw foodies eat raw meat such as sashimi. A raw food diet consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant oils, herbs, sprouted grains and legumes that have undergone little to no processing between harvest and consumption. A high speed blender, food processor, and dehydrator are common kitchen equipment used to prepare gourmet raw food dishes.
  • Veganism – Excludes all animal products from diet. Veganism is a plant based diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant oils, herbs, sprouted grains and legumes.  Vegans have no limitations on the processing of food; therefore rice, pastas and cooked beans are welcomed on the vegan table. Just keep that butter at bay.
  • Vegetarianism – Excludes meat from the diet, but can include dairy products such as milk, ice-cream and eggs.  Like vegans, vegetarians may include cooked vegetables, beans, rice, bread and processed cereal grains in their diet.

I have considered myself a vegetarian for most of my life and have known other ‘vegetarians’ who ate a little fish.  They advocated a vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons and then would sneak in smoked salmon cream cheese or something.  I always found it entertaining. Why label yourself a vegetarian then have to justify eating something random?

wagonIt is not like you have to come clean and confess with your food choices and admit you fell off the wagon. What wagon? There is no idealistic farm wagon bumping along the trail that you are either on or off.  Forget the wagon… blaze your own trail… a practical path….

Are you tired of falling off the raw food wagon? Get practical and stop trying to pigeon hole yourself with a label.

We don’t need to fit into tightly defined boxes all the time. I think this expresses an underlying need for control.  And perhaps you need that control in your life right now to create balance.

Practical raw living allows me to move on the radical-practical-whimsical continuum and never feel guilty. I don’t have to feel bad when choosing  to not be part of a RAWligion.


I still have the benefits of the raw food diet:

  • maintaining ideal weight
  • lots of energy
  • restful sleep
  • clear skin
  • supplying my body with maximum nutrition

AND I can have my toast with a cup of tea – guilt free! I have given myself permission to live outside of labels and eat what I feel supports me the best.

What do you think about practical raw living? I would love to hear your thoughts or answer questions you have.

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What people are saying:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Livia Taravella January 6, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I tried a 100% raw diet and I found that I didn’t have the knowledge to eat complete meals daily. I began feeling tired, and lifeless. I didn’t feel that natural HIGH that other 100% rawies felt. I tried it on and off for about a month. I tried it exclusively for two weeks. At one point, food became my life, just like a person with an eating disorder. I thought about food more than anything else – I was obsessive. Not only was this unnatural (which was totally against the raw food movement to begin with) but it was unhealthy in the long run.
I found out that I was depleted in some essential vitamins – B’s and E. I was eating completely raw, but not eating the right amounts of food.
Now I strive for balance in everything in my life, including my diet. I eat a mostly raw food diet, but I do not deny myself cooked foods. I am so much happier this way.
Nevertheless, I do respect those who choose the 100% raw path. I think that no one knows their body better than the owner. Do what feels right 🙂

Thanks Sue!


Kimberli Sword-Mandel January 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Your philosophy and written rhythm…is appreciated…don’t stop.


Leah January 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I agree! I was stressing out and fighting against myself over 100% raw. Then I found that at 85% raw you can still achieve health benefits… I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off me. 🙂
During the winter months 85% raw is effortless for me, and during the warmer months I tend to eat a higher % of raw naturally. Releasing the perfectionism brought so much balance and peace, I think I make better food choices now than when I was constantly worried about very single ingrediant…


Chris Hein January 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Thank you for sharing this Suzanne! This is the way I have maintained my eating habits since turning to raw foods to heal my body and lose the tremendous amount of weight I gained with my last pregnancy. I have learned that my body works best if I try to eat “as raw as possible”. Therefore, when asked I often say “I’m about 90% raw”. By that I mean I eat raw almost all the time, however, on occassion I will have some poached or baked fish without butter or cream sauces, an occassional coffee or some sushi. These are things I love and feel that at times my body wants them. They are treats and I do not feel negative after having them because they are still foods that have positive benefits in a daily diet.
I have never used the term “practical” raw before, however after reading your article I think I just might answer along those lines when asked in the future. We have enough stress in our daily lives, why add food stress to the mix when you are working towards a healthy eating program.
Thank you for your insight and I wish you tremendous success with the launch of your blog!


Cera January 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm

This is exactly how I view my diet at the moment. It is refreshing to hear your views and to realize that someone else has the same types of thought processes I’ve had. I am glad you shared, and I’m glad to have self-verification that I am doing what I am doing for the good of me and my health. Here’s one of my favorite quotes, and I think that it can apply to emotional, physical, and mental health and happiness as well.

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. – E. Gilbert

Thank you for your article. I am happy to hear someone striving for healthy raw lifestyle like me without compounding the stress of “this isn’t 100% raw” ontop of it.
Many blessings to you Sue!


Kimberli Sword-Mandel January 6, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for sharing your empowering quote…I just love empowering quotes.


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