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My experience with Raw Vegan so far

This all started after going on a trip filled with many indulgences.  I haven't taken a "relaxing" vacation to a tropical place in almost 5 years.  Since my honeymoon.  There were 11 of us that went to Ixtapa, 5 kids under the age of 5 and 6 adults.  Needless to say, meal time was a bit hectic.  Where we stayed, the dining hall had the most beautiful display of every type food imaginable.  The foods were fresh and tasty as well.  The dessert bar looked like something you would find on the Biggest Loser TV show as a temptation.  There was all you can eat ice cream, pastries, breads, cookies, pies, and they looked and tasted homemade.  It was not a good place for someone trying to eat healthy and stay lean.  Not to mention the make your own pizza bar, pasta station, sushi, and so many other types of goodies.  The first few days I was really disciplined and just reached for the vegetables, lean poultry, salads, and raw fish.  Then I would finish off with a large plate of fresh papayas and pineapple.  As the days went on and I watched everyone else enjoying all the goodies, I felt that maybe this is my chance to indulge.  When do I eat like this at home?  Never!  So from then on I ended up nibbling a little on the cookies, trying tastes of cakes, having an ice cream in the hot sun, and even had my share of fresh mojito's.  This place was an all inclusive resort that allowed you to have as much food and beverage, alcohol included, as you please.  I did what I felt was the right thing and indulged, but with control; well most of the time. ;-)  I continued to exercise during the day with activities such as kayaking, walking, barefoot sprints on the beach, and pull-ups.  So I wasn't feeling too guilty.  One thing I missed dearly was my fresh ionized alkaline water.  We had to drink lots of bottled water and I could literally feel and taste the difference. 

On the plane trip back home, I felt pretty sick to my stomach and bloated with all the horrible forbidden foods that I had eaten.  I probably put on about 4 pounds, which was the wrong way to go since I was running a February Fat Loss Challenge.  Since I don't normally eat like that my energy and body were really hurting from it.  I thought the best thing for me and my only option upon returning was to cleanse my body of all the sugar and junk.  That's when I decided that eating just fruits and vegetables would be the mildest, yet most effective way.  Starting Day 1, Monday, I went right for it.  It was also nice that Ben was on board with me.  My day consisted of tons of alkaline water with lemon, bananas, celery, cucumbers, lots of bell peppers, avocados, apples, and a green smoothie.  It felt good to be getting rid of the horrible food and putting in fresh fruits and vegetables.  I had some lethargy and headaches but knew this was to be expected. 

Day 2, Tuesday, came along and I was feeling good but not quite satisfied with all the fruits and vegetables.   Tuesday looked just like Monday, except I added a small amount of raw pecans and almonds, which made a world of difference.  My body started feeling really cold and I was getting the shivers.  I thought maybe it was just my body re-acclimating to the colder weather after being in the tropical climate for a week.  Then Day 3 came along and I was still waking up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. with lots of energy.  Normally I can't get out of bed until 6:30 or 7, so this was a surprise to me.  I had the same foods as Tuesday, but added some fresh young coconut and a few pistachios.   I also felt the need to try and add a few lentils to my raw salad.  Which actually didn't go so well with my stomach, so I nixed them.  My body was really shivering and cold.  I was actually shaking at times throughout the day and could barely hold a phone conversation since my teeth were chattering.  I figured it was a combination of my body detoxing from all the sugar and animal products.  I figured that I was also cold because I wasn't eating anything cooked.  I drank a few cups of Ginger tea to warm myself up inside and ended up taking a nap because my body was exhausted from all of the shivering.

Raw Spinach and Baby Greens Salad with a few lentils topped with Tahini and Lemon

Jicama topped with tomatoes and red onions and Mimi Kirk's Cucumber Dressing

Cucumbers, Bell Pepper, Pico De Gallo, Avocado, Hummus

My goal was to eat like this for 3-5 days, then slowly go back to my normal way of eating.  However, I started feeling so good that I decided to extend the raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds for 7 days.  The first few days were a bit difficult because of the detox feelings and not exercising at all, but the remaining days felt wonderful.  I ended up adding a scoop of Sun Warrior, raw sprouted brown rice protein powder, to my smoothies on Day 4 and my energy and mood improved ten folds.  Other than that, I had a very successful full week of being 90% raw vegan.  Mimi Kirk, Raw Vegan and winner of the Sexiest Vegetarian over 50, who is beautiful at 72, was driving 2 hours round trip to take my classes.  She is an incredible human being.  Mimi really helped me by providing me with some ideas and giving me the extra motivation to stick with the detox the first few days.  She also shared some wonderful recipes.  Mimi is releasing an amazing Raw Food book, called Live Raw, in May that you will not want to miss.  Even those who eat meat will benefit from adding more raw, fresh foods to their diet. 

I ended up making myself about 3 cooked meals total in the past 11 days, which I felt really good after eating.  So I have come to peace with myself that I like being more of a "High Raw Vegan" then 100% Raw.  I'm learning all the new terms with all the research I have been doing.  It's pretty amazing what people have been able to accomplish with their health by eating this way.  Asparagus is one that I learned I enjoy grilled.  Below are pictures of the other two.  So delicious that I don't think I need to eat these any other way, even if I do go back to an omnivore lifestyle.  These pizzas were made from Brown Rice Tortilla's, chopped walnuts very fine, light shmear of tomato sauce and lots of veggies.  I put them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and they were delicious and crispy.  I don't think that I'll ever need cheese again on a pizza when it can taste like this without it!

Vegan Gluten Free Red Pepper and Asparagus Pizza

Vegan Gluten Free Mushroom and Red Onion Pizza

Today is Day 11 and I am proud to say that I'm still 90% raw vegan.  I busted out my juicer and started making some fresh juices since I felt that I was getting a little too much fiber.  My favorite juice so far is a combination of Kale, Apple and Ginger.  Today I plan on making a Carrot and Ginger juice.  I could seriously live off of those!  SO good, but you don't want to over do it.  The few strength workouts that I've had since regaining my energy back on Day 4 have been incredible.  Even after taking 2 weeks off from strength training, I was able to jump back in as if I never left.  My plan now is to eat only fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, Sun Warrior Protein, and a small amount of grains when I feel it's necessary for a total of 30 days. The weight that I gained from the trip is completely gone.  I am back to my 111lb self.  I don't mind bouncing around between 109-113 since, depending on the time of the month, my body can be any of those numbers. 


The preparation that goes into making some raw dishes can take some time.  There's lots of chopping, blending, juicing and cleaning up.  My grocery bill has also increased quite a bit.  Fresh produce can be very expensive especially since I go to places like our local Farmer's Market, Trader Joe's, Henry's and Jimbo's.  With the amount of fruits, veggies and nuts I'm eating it really adds up. 

What I do miss, and maybe plan on adding back in after the 30 days, is a little bit of raw fish.  Eggs used to be my staple breakfast for most mornings a week.  So I do miss my eggs.  I will hold off as long as possible and see if my body responds better without them.  I may, however, end up adding a few of those back in as well.  But we will see!

Successes so far

Now this could be the results from actually having a vacation, but I have felt much more calm and peaceful.  I don't find I get upset over things as easily and my stress levels seem to be much lower.  I have just as much work to do if not more, but I'm not stressing over it much.  I just tackle one project at a time and take deep breaths.

People have been asking me about my cravings.  I hardly get cravings at all.  It's actually been very freeing.  I haven't even had one morsel of dark chocolate since doing this experiment.  I can honestly say I don't even miss it. Which is weird because I reached for 1-2 squares of 85% dark chocolate daily.  I know there is plenty of raw cacao which I haven't tried yet and I plan on it next week.  I just don't feel I need it right now. 

Since "detoxing" I have completely eliminated all caffeine.  I was a black and green tea drinker.  Now it's just herbal teas in the evening and I feel more energetic.  I still feel the natural tiredness in the late afternoon and if it's available I will lay down for a 30 minute rejuvenation.  My sleep at night has been INCREDIBLE!  I haven't slept this good in years.  I used to fall asleep okay, but wake up easily throughout the night from any noise around me, then toss and turn until my thoughts would take over my brain and keep me up for hours.  Now as soon as I hit the pillow my body just flows into a deep, peaceful sleep.  Then I wake up early ready to take on the world.   Let's see how long this lasts.  Maybe it's just a honeymoon phase.

All in all I look forward to eating this way and continuing my journey.  I will post a recap after the full 30 days are over.


Michael Lauro said…
just curious Lauren....why you decided to go raw vegan ? was it just for experimental purposes ? I myself eat a Paleo diet. Definitely have seen a differnce in lower body fat, even though I am eating a ton of food. From all the research I have seen....there is no instance of an an ancient human population that was totally vegan. AlthoughI totally agree eating a ton of veggies is great for you....Phytonutrients, fiber and alkalizing benefits, I'm just not convinced that a vegan diet is the way humans were meant to eat.
Lauren Brooks said…
Michael, The fact that humans were always meat eaters is not necessarily true. Some studies show that most populations were actually plan eaters. Here is a link that even shows our anatomy is more designed for being plant eaters. There is a bit of contraversy when it comes to this matter. My reasoning for temporarily doing this is in the first paragraph. You can't "detox" your body with foods that stay in your stomach for long periods of time. Animal proteins such as meat take a long time to digest. I'm not saying it's wrong to eat them, I merely want to cleanse my body of all animal products and just eat fresh organic produce to see if my body runs better temporarily. So far so good. I'm thinking some cooked foods are good for many people, which I may be one of them. That's why I didn't stick to full raw. I've studies the paleo diet for many years along with the primal diet. I experimented with both and didn't feel very well on either. All humans are designed differently so I don't feel Paleo is meant for everyone. I felt tired and very moody. I feel much more at peace and just feel cleaner on this. I know it's weird but I also feel like I appreciate people more and feel love more. Anyway, hope that helps.
Lauren Brooks said…
Here is the link
Franz Snideman said…
Hey Lauren,

Interesting post and thanks for the detailed update. I was a vegetarian for a season when I was in my 20's and I do admit that I felt peaceful, calm and less aggressive. However, I was weak, lost a lot of muscle mass and got sick quite a bit. Definitely was not the diet for me long term. I do agree that we all have to experiment and find a way of eating that works well and keeps us functioning well.

That being said, the laws of human physiology basically are the same for all of the end of the day the human being needs nutrients to live so however that is be it!

keep us posted!
Lauren Brooks said…
Hey Franz,

Thank you! I bet in your 20's when you tried being vegetarian you didn't have the vast knowledge of strength and clean nutrition like you do now. I am confident that if you built a vegetarian diet with good sources of protein and didn't eat any fake veggie meats, along with the strength philosophy training you currently have, your gains would be massive. Even vegans that obviously don't eat eggs or dairy such as Mike Mahler and John Hinds have built an amazing amount of strength and lean muscle mass with an all vegan diet.

Like you said we are all different. I absolutely don't think eating an all vegan diet is for everyone. Especially for those who are not willing to seek out the whole food way of doing it. It's way too easy to eat the processed soy burgers, tofurkey, etc... and live off chips, crackers, soda's, and cereals.

The problem I have with being all vegan is the fact that we need to supplement with B12. That makes me feel that eggs and wild river fish would be the perfect addition to a plant base diet. Either way, different stroked for different folks.

I am truly confident that you could stay strong and continue to build mass on even a heavy plant and fruit base diet with very little meat. Ever care to experiment for 30 days? I'd be more than happy to help. ;-) xoxo
michelle dk said…
Hi Lauren, sounds great so far! I am just wondering if you needed a dehydrator or if the almost 100% raw is doable for 30 days without a dehydrator? And does Mimi's cookbook require a dehydrator? Are you preparing normal meals for the kids or are they mostly following along? Maybe i will try post preg, sounds delicious and all the benefits you post are definately worth the effort! All the best from Denmark :o), Michelle
Lauren Brooks said…

It has been great. To answer your questions Mimi's book Live Raw isn't even out until May, but look out to it. I just purchased the deyhdrator so I have barely touched it other than experimenting with some zucchini.

It is definitely possible and easy to be almost raw vegan without a dehydrator. For the first few days I didn't even touch dehydrated foods. Now I eat raisins and some kale chips I buy locally, but you don't need it. I have always wanted one even before I decided to try this. Good luck, I hope you get the same wonderful benefits I do.
Unknown said…
I am curious as to what your workout regimen has been like since you started this vegan detox. I too tried vegan diets in my 20s and 30s because I don't care for meat in general and they did not provide me with enough energy. It seems to me that the low caloric intake of the vegetables, etc. would be problematic for someone who does intense workouts five to six days a week. I know your workout schedule is intense and you mentioned you didn’t work out the first couple of days. I am curious as to the other adjustments you’ve made if any at all.
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts about this Lauren. I tried a vegan diet and felt great. So good that I began playing sports and getting really active and I didn't have the knowledge to support my activity level with vegan foods. After tinkering with other diets (ugh, no more egg whites or whey protein shakes please!) I'm puffy, my skin is broken out and I'm working my way back to being an athletic vegan. Thanks for this post!
Lauren Brooks said…
Christa, I completely understand about not feeling as if you are getting enough calories. For someone as athletic as yourself you need to make sure you are eating very nutrient dense foods such as raw walnuts, almonds, sprouted nuts, coconuts, seeds, and healthy oils. You can easily get to a healthy calorie intake with those foods along with an abundance of fresh fruits/veggies. I do enjoy vegan protein powder on a daily basis or before a workout. My workouts are mostly strength based with a small amount of conditioning and I've felt really great. I just need to make sure I'm eating large amounts of these foods. It does take more work to eat this way but so far I'm still feeling great, loads of energy, and don't even feel as if I need as much sleep. Your workouts might be much more intense than mine and would require more prep. Many soak quinoa and oats and find that a great addition to their weekly diet.
Dale Buchanan said…
Welcome to the raw food world. Many people do not know that I have been mostly eating raw food for about a year. it's been up and down and so profound for healing my body I am creating another company based on raw foods. I will send you more info. If you need any help let me know. I beleive I have found what works best for raw foodist who are strength athletes. If fact that is what my new company will provide.
Anonymous said…
Hi Lauren, It would be a great idea if you can share your Raw Vegan menus in your 30 days Raw Vegan diet :).BTW, what is your height?.You are such an inspiration :)
Lauren Brooks said…

I'm 5' 2 1/2 and may post a few more things. But really I don't have a set menu. I'll have a 30 day update.
Anonymous said…
I have been an advocate for years that there is no ONE diet that is perfect for everyone. Many people back vegan / vegetarian diets and others the Paleo and Primal because they feel so good on them. But that doesn't mean it's going to hold true for someone else. There is an institute in Chicago that does "Metabolic Typing" and they have also published a book, "Metabolic Typing Diet" that actually has a lengthy test to help people determine which end of the spectrum of carbohydrates vs. protein they should lean towards. Once you know where your body stands, then comes in the calculation of activity level, and eating clean within those guidelines. It just bothers me when people take a look at someone's body, and decide, "I want to look like that, so that's how I'm going to eat." I've even heard someone say they liked the way a HORSE looked, and figured they should be a vegan! Society HAS to get away from this mentality & accept our individuality. So thank you all for the wonderful insights and ideas on food and prep! Let's all continue to be advocates of the idea that "one size DOES NOT fit all" when it comes to food, and make sure people get that message first. That being said, thank you Lauren and everyone else that is sharing your journey of discovery with us all!
stacy said…
Hey Lauren did you forget about bringing your TRX along on your vacation. Maybe just too busy with all those kids.
Iris said…
Pleaaase, share the recipe for the pizza dough!
Lauren Brooks said…
Hi Iris, The crust for the vegan pizza is a brown rice tortilla that I picked up from Trader Joe's. I didn't make that from scratch. Hope you have a place where you can purchase them, they are amazing!

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