The Pros and Cons of Eating Cooked Food as a Raw VeganNov 19, 2022
As I approach the 1.5 year mark of healing through a high-fruit raw vegan lifestyle, this topic is near and dear to my heart and healings. There is a lot of infighting or debate about cooked food in the raw vegan movement. You might immediately think –– cooked food obviously, inherently has NO place in raw veganism. And I would be inclined to agree, technically. What a clear conundrum! While I do teeter on that conclusion, I’d like to properly entertain both the pros and cons –– from my personal experiences –– of not writing off cooked food 100%, for the sake of a vulnerable discussion that I’m especially curious and aching to have.
If anything, this blog might be a necessary exercise in decision making for me. It seems I am always at a crossroads with this topic, hanging on the possibility and benefits of utter abstinence, but allowing cooked food as a possibility to honor my growth in other areas. Please do offer me your beautiful, welcomed and impassioned thoughts after reading. Let’s go.
It allows for some flexibility in socializing. When we get right down to it, it’s a simple truth that there may not always be raw vegan options at dinner parties, restaurants, holiday events, etc. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that - even though I simply don’t have to eat at a social gathering - I sometimes find solace, relaxation and a calming, slight surge of empowered subconsciousness when I can kick back and momentarily enjoy eating a little cooked vegan food. Immersing myself in the momentary flavors, appreciating the experience for what it is and moving on after that. For me it can feel like a lesson in ditching fear and allowing for flow and fluidity.
It trains my mind to not hyper-fear or shame the IDEA of eating cooked foods. I come from a more unique contextual/historical backdrop of food fears (both conscious and unconscious). I feared foods when I embodied disordered eating throughout my teens and twenties. Then food fear fully engulfed me when suddenly, in a pit of the swift onset of chronic illness symptoms, I reacted to almost everything I put in my mouth. I have a unique investment and personal manifesto in rising above insidious food fears. It was a big part of my initial healing - stripping away the meanings and the powerful holdings that certain foods held over me. When I occasionally eat cooked food I like to think I’m still contributing to the defiance of these inhibiting or controlling fearful feelings that may linger old breadcrumbs deep in my psyche.
It allows for a barometer, a measurement and a lesson in affirming what my body wants and needs. Eating the rare cooked food meal or side dish or taste/bite is an art in ultimate affirmation and appreciation. When and if I eat cooked food I am consistently left with the same lesson –– that cooked foods are not optimal for me. That choosing the high-fruit raw vegan lifestyle 95% of the time is my jam! That I am actively, experientially solidifying my place and my home in healing and living by fully feeling and evaluating the ultimate teachings from the duality of these moments while releasing any old shame shit.
It is a good “backup plan”. I’ve heard this referenced on the interwebs, especially in the context of responding to a few raw vegans going back to eating animals. I see value in this concept. As a “backup plan” for either cravings or pivots in new diet desires –– it might make sense to keep cooked food as an option in the sense of being your backup plan. My brain is absolutely positively 100% life-long committed to not eating animals or animal products ever again, so I can’t totally identify with this concept because that is not at all a desire or on the table. But I do think it makes sense and thought it was worth including.
It allows for a momentary experience of sensory pleasure that we may be craving. And that craving may not properly leave me alone until I have that cooked food meal. Sometimes I crave cooked food. Most of the time I can move past this craving with a raw vegan treat or a gourmet raw meal or by simply filling up on fruit. But a few times I have ended up eating guac or nuts or complicated dressings repeatedly, as if I’m in a holding pattern, rather than just satisfying the damn cooked food craving and moving on from it –– which can be less detrimental for me in the long run.
It has allowed me to navigate certain levels of self acceptance, banishing guilt and shame. I also come from the backdrop of binge eating issues. When I can have a little bit of cooked food without going overboard, without falling off my little wagon, without binging, without wild abandon –– I am actively proving to myself that I have a new level of control with food that I never truly had before.
I am grooming my body to accept a food or foods that were once “flare” inducing. At the end of the day if I eat too much cooked food I can feel the edges of old symptoms creep. However, I’ve also noticed a silver lining in that if I have a small amount of something –– I am okay. I am good. This was not always the case for me and it seems to confirm the levels of homeostasis and adaptability I am reaching in body and mind.
It’s possible that simple cooked foods cause less inflammation for me than nuts and seeds. Still exploring this. And not willing to explore it too much, because I do not wish to eat cooked food. But I do still have unpleasant responses to certain raw gourmet or other heavy nut/seed meals. Compared to simple cooked vegetables I think the blowback is less.
I have experienced an immense amount of truth with all the above points. That’s why I wrote them. But they are not always this cut and dry and sometimes the above feelings and justifications can transform into total outright bullshit and slippery excuses that don’t serve me. Below, the invaluable cons, are supporting extensions of and sentiments for this.
It’s a slippery slope. Really slippery. Loren Lockman tells a notorious story about a raw vegan woman who had fasted with him, she was very solid in her post-fast healing and her commitment to healing on high fruit/raw veganism. She decided to try some cooked food one day and five years later admits she was never able to stop eating cooked food again. These stories are extremely common in this community. I have felt the honesty in this slippery slope and it has led me to swear off cooked food before.
It allows for flexibility in “socializing”. But wait, socializing with who and for what? Why would we make the choice to bend over backwards –– invite uncomfortable symptoms, blowback, slippery slopi-ness –– just to feel like we fit in? Or to adhere to a social norm that we no longer necessarily subscribe to? Typically, I want nothing more than to say fuck that. And when I do, I feel like I am truly standing up for and honoring myself. This kind of discipline and choice is next level self advocating and it’s what ultimately makes me feel my best –– in every sense.
It is dehydrating. If I eat cooked food in a more sufficient quantity I become clearly dehydrated. I get acute edema, increased heart rate, swollen veins, a feeling of increased temperature, etc. The next day I’ll typically have bags under my eyes, my cuticles seem a bit brittle, my stools are harder and I feel fatigued.
Cooking food is not natural for the human body. Look no further than how the human body reacts to eating cooked food. Eating cooked food causes the body to launch leukocytes (white blood cells), an acute defense response mechanism that only happens when there is some sort of injury or foreign invader from infection, trauma or poison. It’s also worth noting that no other species cooks their food except for us, cats and dogs (the domestic animals that we care for, go figure). We also happen to be the only few species dying from devastating disease rates. I personally believe this is not a coincidence. Loren Lockman’s YouTube channel is a great resource for learning more about this topic. I especially love this video.
It holds the potential to reverse my healing. If I eat some cooked food on more than one or two occasions I get stiff, achy, chilled and may experience fatigue and “illness” (quick detoxification) that lasts for about a week. I can feel the invitation for chronic illness symptoms to come walking back into my life. That’s not a gamble I take lightly. Eating cooked food has demonstrated to me, time and again, that it can hold my healing hostage.
It allows for others to question, probe and poke at your seemingly fluid boundaries. This is something Lissa at Raw Food Romance eloquently references. And it rings absolutely true for me and my experiences with other people. When I am not 100% staunch and solid in my commitment to raw or high fruit I start to get the assumptions and the confusion and the unknowing pressure from others - “But you can eat that though, right? … So what are you eating right now? … But you ate that last time and I thought it went okay for you?” It makes sense to stand your ground for yourself but for others too. When we invite the pressure, confusion and questioning from other people it has a subconscious effect on our own decisions and commitments. This one is a powerful reason why I like to stay in my lane with my commitment to this lifestyle.
I am still on the fence between total abstinence vs. allowing the option for cooked food to be available in my diet. One of the top reasons I have not fully landed on this is because I know the detrimental feelings of shame and guilt that I have worked to overcome, in general in my life. If I did commit to abstinence and ate cooked food one day, I do shudder to think of the ways my mind might punish me for that. Keeping cooked food as an option, not villainizing it, not fearing it, not putting it on an accidental pedestal, makes sense to me. But it barely makes sense. I’m fully open to considering all these points more deeply and continuing to learn from them as I go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and what you’ve learned in the cracks of the cooked food lessons –– in healing and in living your best life.
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I took a number of supplements during my worst symptoms between 2015-2018. These were always the most impactful, gentle, least invasive, and I rotate many of them now.
Here is a list of items that have made this lifestyle much more feasible and convenient for me.
And these beautiful, transformative books have been absolutely essential in learning/doing this important self-healing work.