What is a raw vegan diet?

raw vegan diet means eating raw foods in their natural forms while also adhering to the rules of a vegan diet. To clarify, foods in their "natural forms" means foods that aren't processed or cooked. A vegan diet excludes animals or animal by-products, such as cheese, eggs, and milk. I’m an on-again, off-again pescatarian, so I have a decent amount of self-control when it comes to food. I haven’t been strict with my diet this quarter, so I wanted to challenge myself by eating raw foods for 5 days.

I spent a fair amount of time googling what foods were considered raw vegan. I ran into issues because a raw vegan diet isn’t as popular as other diets, so often times, there weren’t definite answers. For example, oatmeal is only raw if it isn’t cooked with boiling water. So if I wanted to eat oatmeal, I would have to pre-soak my oatmeal ahead of time.

The Dining Halls

UCLA has 4 sit down dining halls and 5 to-go restaurants. The to-go places have little to no raw vegan options, so this article only discusses eating at the dining halls, which are B-plate, Covel, Feast, and De Neve. UCLA has the best dining halls in the nation (not to brag) so I wasn't too worried about starting my diet. 

The Diet

I decided to tackle a new dining hall every day. I usually eat a banana for breakfast, so I only needed to alter my lunch and dinner diet. I tried to eat food that only came from the dining halls because I wanted to see if someone could survive from solely eating dining hall food. However, I caved by Day 4 and ate cold oatmeal and chia seed water, which were foods not taken from the dining halls.

Day 1: B-plate

Since B-plate is my favorite dining hall, I ate both lunch and dinner here. The two meals were basically identical and included a huge salad and several portions of fruits. The dining halls allow each person to take out one piece of fruit, so my friends helped me take out enough fruits to make a smoothie for the next day.

The only possibly non-raw vegan food I ate was kale vinaigrette dressing. The other dining halls don't have this dressing, so I deemed it an acceptable cheat in the diet because I believed I was suffering enough. 

Day 2: De Neve

I didn't have time to make it to a dining hall for lunch, so I packed a smoothie made with fruits taken from the dining halls.

I decided to tackle De Neve for dinner. The flex bar mostly has cooked food, but I was able to pick out the avocados from a flex bar option. I had an hour to eat before a club meeting, so I only had time to eat one salad. I was pretty hungry at night, so I ate several apples and bananas. 

Day 3: Feast 

I had B-plate for lunch and Feast for dinner. I ate a salad and fruits (surprise surprise) for dinner, but the highlight of my meal was that one of the meal stations had avocado. I asked nicely for a bowl of avocado slices, which was a huge upgrade to my salad.

Day 4: Covel

I had a smoothie for lunch, and Covel for dinner. I'm a pretty slow eater, so I didn't have time to eat my fill before the dining hall closed. 

Because I was so hungry after dinner, I decided to make chia seed water and cold oatmeal. Though I didn't want to eat non-dining hall foods, I gave in because I couldn't concentrate on homework due to the hunger pains.

Day 5: Last day!

Because B-plate is my favorite dining hall, I had both lunch and dinner there. I was overjoyed to be done with the diet, and I ordered a ham sandwich from a to-go restaurant once it turned midnight. 

Final Thoughts

I learned that I needed to set aside more time to eat because I had to eat double the amount of food I normally ate. I was mostly hungry not because of the lack of options, but because I didn't have time to eat two large salads. I also learned how to better hack the dining halls, such as asking for avocado slices. Overall, eating raw vegan was more challenging than I expected, and I would not recommend this diet on a meal plan. The raw vegan diet would definitely be more sustainable if I were able to cook my own food. On the bright side, my bowel movements were the best they had been in months.