Raw Vegan Weight Loss

On Saturday, CNN Health ran a story about a woman who went raw vegan and lost more than half her body weight.  Angela Stokes reached a high of 300 pounds when she began a raw vegan diet.  In two years she lost 162 pounds.  Wow.  Way to go Angela.  And most impressive, she's managed to keep the weight off for four years.

Stokes says she went "cold cucumber," from the Standard American Diet to one that consists of uncooked and unprocessed vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

"To me, the thing with raw food is that it just makes sense. It's simple and natural, eating food straight from the earth. There's no rocket science, no mystery," said Stokes. "Once you understand the simple principle that no other animal in the wild eats cooked or processed foods. That's it."

On the other hand:

Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says everyone could stand to eat more fruits and vegetables. "The raw diet, specifically, the philosophy behind it is scientifically incorrect," Giancoli said. "Raw foodists believe that cooking food destroys enzymes that are essential for the body. While that's true, so does the gastric acid or juice in your stomach. "So those enzymes are broken down anyway in your gastro-intestinal tract."

Giancoli believes there's a nutritional downside to a vegetarian diet. People who eat no animal foods run the risk of nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of vitamin B-12, iron and zinc and the powerful Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, she said.

Source - CNN Health

Of course, just like with any diet, if you're getting the bulk of your calories from junk food, you'll be deficient in nutrients, which is why we advocate seeing a dietician before any planned radical changes in your eating.

While Jane and I are probably not going raw any time in the near future, we know that many of you are raw vegans, or are interested in the raw vegan lifestyle.  If you're simply interested in vegan weight loss, see our post "Combat the Obesity Epidemic - Go Vegan" for more information.  If you'd like to hear more of what Angela has to say in her own words, you can visit her site where she's currently offering a free raw weight loss pamphlet.

Click here for vegan weight loss books

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Comments

  1. I’m tired of all the people who say vegetarians run the risk of …

    So do all the people eating meat, dairy, and eggs! Just look at the obesity epidemic, not to mention all the risks associated with that: heart attack, cancer, diabetes.

    No one is saying vegans and vegetarians don’t have certain things they need to look out for; but so does everyone, and by eliminating the most fatty, high pesticide-laden foods, I’d say we’re starting off at a much better point in this race.

    That said, the healthiest diet is probably one that’s organic, local, and colorful! Anyone working towards a healthy diet should consider eating local – vegan or not.

  2. Excellent points Daniela.

    Notice how the registered dietitians never point out that cooking destroys 80% of the nutrients and 100% of the enzymes (and yes, there is evidence that those enzymes are important).

    I’m a little curious about the iron statement since spinach, beets, dark greens, broccoli, red greens, almonds, sprouts, and wheat all contain good quantities of iron. Oh yeah, and the ADA says that over half of our iron intake should come from non-animal sources. They also recommend that men not take iron supplements because they get too much from their diet already.

    I think I would rather risk potential B12, iron, zinc, and Omega-3 deficiency as a trade off for having a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, varicose veins, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high pesticide and hormone intake.

  3. While I think it is terrific that Angela lost weight, on her blog she posts what she eats and I say “eats” very loosely since Angela regularly consumes most of her food in liquid form.

    She also juice “feasts” living on nothing but juice for up to 100 days (taking in no solid food at all) and this to me sounds like someone who is STILL dealing with considerable food issues.

    I understand it on one hand because once you have lost all that weight (I have lost 80 pounds since becoming vegetarian and eating raw) you don’t want to take the risk at putting on a single ounce again, yet I find to disdain food so much that you liquefy it rather than eat to be a strange way to live as well as potentially dangerous in that it could lead to a different kind of eating disorder.

    From Angela’s website here is what she eats on a regular day:

    1 quart water
    2 cups ‘wild power’ tea
    2 cups veggie juice: celery, cucumber, carrots & carrot greens, ginger, spinach
    2 cups energy soup with flax crackers on the side, followed by a square of durian ice cream and a little raw chocolate
    1 quart water
    2 cups veggie juice: celery, cucumber, carrots & carrot greens, ginger, spinach
    2 cups orange juice
    2 cups water

    On this particular day (and most days) she consumes little more than a handful of solid food or a piece of fresh fruit.

    To me it is irresponsible to taut a raw vegan diet when the truth is Angela is on a raw LIQUID diet and consuming mostly WATER as well as around 800 calories on most days (this is taken from an average on most of her daily food listings) which is far less than a 140 lb person should be consuming.

    I drink green juice and have a smoothie on nearly every day but I also make sure to eat actual food and stay within appropriate calorie guidelines so I am not starving.

    Angela’s daily diet is just a couple of packs of cigarettes and Starbucks skinny latte’s short of a supermodel’s.

  4. I was so happy Dr. Gupta presented Angela’s inspirational story in such a positive life-affirming segment, and that it has fast become the top health story of the year on CNN with over two million hits!

    I don’t see Angela’s raw food lifestyle as “strange,” “potentially dangerous,” nor in any way resembling an “eating disorder.”

    Since consuming raw, living foods for well over six years now and cleansing her cells of toxins, Angela’s body is functioning like the finely tuned machine it was created to be. I see a vibrant, youthful woman in optimal health!

  5. Hi Daniela,
    Yes there are a number of people out there who don’t understand that cutting out meat doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. But you also do have to pay attention to a few nutrients that aren’t readily available in your diet, at least until you have a vegan eating habit down pat.
    I agree that we’re likely to be healthier than meat eaters… it’s why we switched! But I really don’t agree that eating locally ads anything to your own personal health. It definitely helps the environment.

    Hi J,
    As I don’t have a background in nutrition and I’m not a doctor, I usually try to cite an expert. The medical expert cited in the CNN article, Andrea Giancoli, is a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. I have to believe she knows what she’s talking about. If you’re not willing to take it on faith, you could probably contact her thru the ADAs website.

    Hi Nikki,
    I had a good laugh at your ending remark. However, many of the females I know don’t seem to eat much food.
    It’s interesting that CNN would point to Angela as an icon of raw vegan health, if indeed, that list is her typical daily intake. But it’s not really a liquid diet if she’s eating solid food.

    Hi Earthmother,
    The fact that it was so positive and in such a major publication is exactly why I blogged about this story.

  6. The food is blended not out of disdain or because of eating issues but because it is easier to digest the nutrients that way. If you look at how chimpanzees eat, they chew green leaves to a creamy pulp. We 21st century humans just don’t have that kind of chewing power or patience so juices and smoothies help to chew our foods for us.

    The raw community claims that the lower amount of calories is because our bodies get all the nutrients they need from fewer calories when our food is nutrient-dense and well-absorbed.

    I have started drinking raw green smoothies daily (I’m not raw as about 30% of my food is still cooked and the guidelines set at the Raw Summit were that a raw lifestyle is comprised of 80% or more raw foods. I may be transitioning to a raw lifestyle; I honestly don’t know at this point. I’m just kind of following what my body is asking for right now and sometimes that’s cooked beans or grains and sometimes it’s raw fruits and vegetables.) I have noticed that the higher my raw intake, the fewer calories I need to feel satisfied and not-hungry.

    So the raw community may be correct when they say that raw fooders eat fewer calories because their bodies get the needed nutrients and require fewer calories. I don’t know. It runs against what I’ve been taught all my life but there seem to be an awful lot of people living that way . . . (And eating vegan runs against what most folks were taught all their life but that hasn’t scared me away from a vegan lifestyle . . .)

  7. Lane: I didn’t mean to pick on Andrea Giancoli. What I meant to get across was: there are people with credentials who have done scientific research on the raw foods lifestyle. Studies on enzyme absorption and function, the toxic and carcinogenic effects of high temperatures on foods, changes in body chemistry and mental and energy levels due to raw foods, the cleansing power of raw greens, etc. One notable author, who cites a lot of this research in his books and interviews, and has conducted his own (specifically on diabetes and depression as they relate to a raw food diet) is Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D.

    The thing that bothers me is that CNN had a chance to ask Angela Stokes for scientific references that support her lifestyle. Angela is a leading voice in the movement. She knows who the power players are and could have pointed them in the right direction. But it seems they didn’t ask. And so, a person reading this article may easily dismiss her results as anecdotal.

    For the record, I am not currently a raw foodist, but I have done a lot of reading on it and would be interested in becoming one someday.

  8. vegan for 40 years…

    i’m living proof that no one knows what they are talking about.

    most professionals in their feild are clueless scammers.

    i am not defecient in anything.

    they are being paid to “do their job” and most times it’s to lie.

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