After going vegan a couple of years ago, last October I decided that it was time for me to find a job in a place which reflected my ethical views. I was tired of selling leather jackets or having to recommend choices of steak (my answer always being ‘well, I would go for the vegetarian option — but that’s just me’). Even if the jobs were only part-time, I felt I couldn’t be the best employee if I didn’t believe in what I was selling. I wanted to be honest to customers and true to my opinions. And that’s when I found a job in a raw vegan restaurant in London and consequently, learnt a lot about food and the raw vegan lifestyle.

1. Nuts are your best friends

legume, peanut, cereal, vegetable, cashew, nut
Eliane Lindeque

If someone with a nut allergy was to walk into a raw vegan restaurant, I’m not entirely convinced that they would be able to find much they could eat. Nuts are the base for a huge amount of raw dishes: cashews and macadamias are the perfect replacements for creating vegan cheeses, whilst any type of nut can create a rich base for the best cakes. Almonds are also widely used to make delicious m*lk which can be used in your raw porridge or to accompany a raw brownie.

2. Everyone has an opinion about raw food

cumin, cereal, cinnamon, pepper, condiment, relish, herb
Eliane Lindeque

Working in the restaurant means that I get to meet a lot of different people — a large percentage of which are nutritionists (or at least healthy foods enthusiasts). Naturally, I hear so many different opinions about what raw food really means and how it can affect your body. "Some nuts are not technically raw", "raw chocolate doesn’t exist" — even how "cucumber inhibits the nutrients from any other vegetable it is served with"! I don’t know where the truth really lies, but I do know that you can't get it right every single time. My advice is always to do what’s best for your body.

3. You don’t have to eat only salads

Eliane Lindeque

I have tried so many different dishes while working at the restaurant. It's incredible how many different tastes uncooked food can have — raw wraps, raw sandwiches and even raw pastas! Everything is about flavour, and if you know how to get that right, you can make anything taste like you won’t need to use a stove ever again. 

4. Raw foods are expensive because they take time and creativity

avocado, salad
Eliane Lindeque

Raw foods can taste just as good as cooked foods — if not better — but here's the catch: you need to know how to do it. It takes skill and a little bit of creativity in the kitchen. Plus, some of the appliances — like the dehydrator — can be quite expensive and use up a lot of your time (we’re talking about hours to just dehydrate a few tomatoes!). The money you pay for it is truly worth it.

5. Raw desserts are the best on the market, hands down

sweet, berry
Eliane Lindeque

Once upon a time, I was all about spongy cakes and fluffy muffins. Now, I can’t walk past Planet Organic without grabbing a tub of Livia’s raw millionaire shortbreads. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they worth it? Hell yeah! Raw desserts are filling, delicious and they melt in your mouth. By choosing a raw vegan dessert, you avoid unnecessary refined sugars that will only make you feel worse after a while. Raw desserts, instead, tend to be sweetened with dates, which are incredibly beneficial for your health and won’t give you that sugar crash that everyone hates. 

And with that knowledge, I just changed your life — you're welcome!

pepper, vegetable
Eliane Lindeque

In the end, I don’t know if raw foods are actually better for you than any other cooked food. Personally, I feel better after eating a raw dish, but I am also aware that my body craves warm soups and a cheeky pizza from time to time. But as I encourage everyone to try it at least once, I invite you to do the same. I know vegan food can be scary — and I can only image what raw veganism sounds like! — but trust me on this one. I promise that you won’t regret it!