Today, YouTube Channels and Instagrams advocating raw diets like FullyRawKristina and FreeLeeTheBananaGirl have become popular among health foodies. These two health enthusiasts advocate for a raw vegan lifestyle, consuming foods that haven’t been heated above 104° Fahrenheit.

After hearing about how beneficial raw foods are to a diet, some Spoon University members have even given it a shot.

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However, diet-seekers should take caution and educate themselves before going raw vegan and abandoning cooking altogether.

Why take caution before adopting a raw vegan diet? Cooking has allowed humans to maintain a smaller body size (compared to our gorilla cousins) while having more neurons, in fact, the most neurons of any species, in our brains.

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In a Ted Talk by Suzana Herculano-Houzel, ““What Makes The Human Brain So Special?” she talks about how unlike rodent brains, human brains do not increase in size with the number of neurons.

What this means is that humans are able to have such an immense amount, specifically, 86 billion neurons, without having their brains weigh a disproportionate amount compared to body size. Imagine hauling around a 15-pound brain all day.

So what does the amount of neurons have to do with cooking? The answer: Cooking supplies more energy than raw foods.

Because the human brain has the most neurons, it needs energy to fuel those babies, and because humans have been able to cook their food, they’ve been able to extract more energy from their food. 

Instead of consuming pounds and pounds of plant matter, humans can simply stir-fry vegetables with rice within a matter of minutes, providing them with insta-energy.

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While eating mass amounts of raw foods to accommodate the raw vegan diet provides ample vitamins and nutrients, consider that human beings are as advanced as they are today because they’re able to produce the most amount of food in the shortest period of time.

In a study done by Richard Wrangham, Harvard University Professor, he states that present-day humans need calorie-dense foods that raw foods cannot provide. 

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According to Wrangham, what’s crazy to think is that Homo erectus, one of our ancestors, would have had to eat consume 12 pounds of raw plant food daily to sustain himself. Say what?

That’s why cooking has come to play such a large role in human productivity. It increases energy supply, allowing us to move forward in society, developing new technologies, cures for diseases and even write for bomb AF websites like Spoon University. 

Since our basic level of needs, food, sleep, water and homeostasis are filled with the mass production of food, we can be productive and occupy ourselves with school and work since we’re no longer spending time hunting and gathering.

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So it may be this: that cooking is a purely a human advantage and privilege. We’re the only species on Earth that can do awesome transformations to our food! Just think, no other animal gets to enjoy slutty brownies or the multitude of ways to enjoy mac and cheese.

And this isn’t to say that if you enjoy eating raw foods you should stop — it’s just a wake-up call to your body saying, “Hey, feed me some cooked food every now and then.”

So what are you waiting for? Grab some pasta, left-over veggies, a frying pan and get cooking.

Photo by Megan Pendergast