The tragic death of a passionate 40-year-old vegan influencer Zhanna Samsonova has shaken the world of out of its lazy and blind approach to fad diets. An ardent follower of a raw vegan diet, the social media star only relied on raw vegan fruits and juices to survive. It is speculated that she died due to starvation and exhaustion. Samsonova’s mother told a newspaper that the influencer died due to complete exhaustion because of following a vegan diet after developing a cholera-like infection.
While her journey was a testament to the power of compassionate living through the benefits of a vegan diet, it makes one wonder if following a raw vegan diet is a good idea. It also reminds us that we should not follow diets blindly.
Health Shots reached out to nutritionist Avni Kaul to understand all about a raw vegan diet and its side effects.
What is a raw vegan diet?
A subset of veganism, a raw vegan diet only includes plant-based foods. It focuses on the consumption of raw, unprocessed, and uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. While this dietary choice claims to have numerous health benefits, Kaul points out that it is important to understand that it offers both advantages and disadvantages. You should know the pros and cons of the raw vegan diet.
Side effects of raw vegan diet
Every diet has its cons too. Plus, it doesn’t suit everyone. Despite being a healthy diet, there are certain dangers involved that you can’t ignore. The nutritionist points out certain things you need to keep in mind:
1. Nutritional deficiencies
The raw vegan diet might lead to potential nutrient deficiencies, specifically in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products or fortified foods, and a deficiency could cause anemia and neurological issues.
2. Digestive issues
Some individuals might experience digestive discomfort, bloating, and gas when first switching to a raw vegan diet. The high fibre content and presence of enzyme inhibitors in raw foods might challenge the digestive system.
3. Restricted food choices
The raw vegan diet restricts specific foods, including grains, legumes and cooked foods. These limitations might make it challenging to obtain a balanced diet and adequate calorie intake.
4. Time-consuming food preparation
Preparing raw vegan meals generally involves intricate processes like soaking, sprouting, and blending. This can be time-consuming and may require planning ahead.
5. Social challenges
Adhering to a raw vegan diet in social settings and restaurants could be challenging. Limited menu choices and the need to explain dietary choices may lead to social discomfort.
Benefits of the raw vegan diet
The fact that people are drawn to this diet points to the health benefits of raw vegan diet. Avni Kaul explains some of these health benefits.
1. Nutrient-dense foods
Raw vegan foods are filled with essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Having a variety of raw fruits and vegetables can enhance overall health and bolster the immune system, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
2. Helps manage weight
Several individuals turn to the raw vegan diet for weight management. By taking out processed and high-calorie foods, and incorporating more nutrient-dense, low-calorie options, weight loss can be achieved and maintained more easily.
3. Enhanced fibre intake
The raw vegan diet typically contains higher fiber content compared to conventional diets. Fiber aids in digestion, promotes bowel regularity, and might reduce the risk of digestive disorders such as constipation, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer.
4. Boosts energy
Advocates of the raw vegan diet mostly report increased energy levels and improved physical performance. The diet’s high content of natural sugars and easily digestible foods could provide a quick source of energy.
5. Good for the environment
Opting for a raw vegan diet can contribute to a lower carbon footprint since it typically needs fewer resources, water, and land compared to diets centred around animal-based products.
The demise of Zhanna Smsonova comes as a reminder that you should avoid following extreme diets as it can lead to health problems. Surviving only raw foods might not work for everyone. The key is to maintain a balance when it comes to eating a raw vegan diet or following any diet. Make an informed decision when it comes to following a raw vegan diet.