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The best perspective for your health

4 Types of Raw Food Diets

You can see from this article that there are many variations of a raw food diet. Don’t select a very rigid plan, at least initially. Learn as you go.

Many colorful vegetables in different containers on table. Vegan food incl. Herbs.© CC-0 1.0, Foto Rabe, Pixabay

The 10 articles relating to raw food were revised in 2014. All of the other articles are new.


This article deals with the various types of raw food diets. Some may appeal to you while others may not. Each of the authors provide reasons why they and others have chosen to eat a particular type of raw food diet.

People do not all have the same critical mind, but many can be persuaded to adopt the first best idea, and they then cling doggedly to these views. This is what makes it possible for sects to develop.

And we also have to remember that no matter what type of diet change you make, you will experience both positive and negative results.

But what all of the types of raw food diets do have in common is that they at least temporarily improve a person’s health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) understands health to be a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

If a person experiences this type of well-being when they change their diet, they, of course, will swear by it. And even if the diet they chose may later begin to cause problems, they won’t want to change over to something unknown.

You should strive to achieve effects that are as long-term and perfect as possible. But in reality, pretty much everything is made up of compromises. This is why the practical feasibility of a diet and your efforts to optimize it are more important than maximization at any cost.

Salad with green leaves, onion, tomato, cucumber, carrot and a black olive.© CC-by 3.0, Peng, Wikipedia

Be critical, and at the very least examine the different types of diets by reading relevant background information so that you can find the best possible option.

Your choice may well be different depending on your health condition and taste preferences. Success is often directly measureable. Don’t let anyone pigeonhole you. Learn as you go. Experiment.

1. Types of raw food diets

Just as with cooked food, we also find numerous and very different types of raw food diets.

Not included are the countless number of popular healthy diets and also diets that should be rejected.

  • Both in cooked and raw food diets, we should distinguish between short- and long-term diets. According to the definitions here, short-term diets serve a specific purpose and are separate from our regular diet.
Beware !

2. Description of diets based on ingredients

The terms that apply to cooked food diets also apply to raw food diets. But laypeople often don’t understand how raw food diets are different or they think that people on a raw food diet are all vegetarians. I will therefore focus here on the different types of diets that are eaten both in the cooked and raw varieties and come under an established, defined category:

2.1. Vegans

Raw food restaurant vegan in New York City: Tartar - with tomatoes instead of meat.© Courtesy of Erica Graff, Nicky Quinn, Pure food and wine

Vegans are actually “strict vegetarians” as they eat exclusively plant-based foods. Some even refuse to consume honey or don’t wear leather if they are eating this type of diet for strictly ethical reasons.


A subgroup of vegans are those who eat a macrobiotic diet. This type of diet exists only as cooked food since cooked rice is a very important part of it.


Since grains were introduced fairly recently — as compared to the dawn of humankind — some people avoid them altogether and instead focus on fruits and vegetables. You may find this to be over the top. However, a large number of people today live with some type of hidden intolerance to grain products.


Some people restrict their diet even further. Fruitarians (Frutarians, Fructariers, Fructaners, Fruitaners, and Fruganers), for example, eat only fruits, nuts, and seeds. Allergies can occur with this type of diet as well. Such a diet can easily lead to deficiencies of vitamin B12, selenium, calcium, zinc, iron, and iodine. However, this movement has existed since at least 1893.

Redaction comment

Certain fruitarians do not want to harm or kill plants by uprooting them or tearing off leaves. This is most likely not a balanced diet, even if it may seem to go well for up to a decade. But instead of just disqualifying such a diet, I’d like to collect people’s opinions about it. If you are on this diet, it would be great if you could send me some information about your personal experience.

I especially want to find out how the Jain religion (Jainism) has been doing this for more than 2'500 years and what the results are. Jains are not fruitarians. But they eat according to specific rules and protect living organisms to an extreme. Strict followers don’t eat anything from a plant that would kill it. Given the risk of deficiencies, this diet may indeed be feasible, but not at all optimal for the body in the long run.

Food intolerances ( for all diets)

2.2. Lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians

Lacto-vegetarians do not cut out all animal products. They don’t eat eggs, but they do include milk and dairy products in their diet. And the opposite is true for ovo-vegetarians. They don’t consume milk or dairy products, but they do eat eggs.

2.3. Lacto-ovo vegetarians (vegetarians)

Lacto-ovo vegetarians are people who do not consume any food products that come from dead animals. This includes land animals, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. The narrower terms given above serve to describe stricter groups. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are usually just called vegetarians.

Terms such as vegans and lacto-vegetarians put additional restrictions on a vegetarian diet.

2.4. Semivegetarians and pesco-vegetarians

People who eat fish are actually not vegetarians; at the most, they are pseudovegetarians. Nevertheless, some people still use the terms semivegetarians, part-time vegetarians, or near-vegetarians for people who avoid red meat, but occasionally eat fish or poultry, or who eat meat only very rarely.

If the “dead animals” aren’t warm-blooded animals, but are instead marine animals, then the terms pesco-vegetarian and pescetarian (pescetarianmism, lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarianism, and pesco-vegetarianism) are used.

The issue of the supply of vitamin B12 for vegans

2.5. “Pudding vegetarians”

On the topic: What is definitely the wrong diet?

Pudding vegetarian often eat food such as spaghetti, chocolate mousse etc. - so unhealthy.© CC-by 2.0, Collage Catalina Sparleanu, PhD, Foundation Diet and Health Switzerland

Several decades ago, vegetarians had a great desire to eat a lot of sweets.

Today, younger people may avoid eating meat for animal welfare reasons, but then they consume larger quantities of foods containing flour and sugar (e.g., pancakes and pudding). Such vegetarians may end up having an unhealthier diet than people who eat a “normal” diet.

Long-term studies show that vegetarians eat much healthier in many respects than people on a “normal” or whole foods diet, but because of variations in the different subgroups the results differ greatly. “Pudding vegetarians,” in particular, do vegetarianism a disservice; they harm the reputation it has of being a good health choice.

It has also been determined that a surprisingly large number of people who are vegetarian or are on a raw food diet give up smoking and drinking alcohol or they choose to only drink alcohol on rare occasions and then only in small amounts.

3. Famous vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists

As I have taken this list from the book "Warum ich Vegetarier bin" (Why I am a vegetarian) by Helmut F. Kaplan (Rororo Publications, nonfiction book 9675, 1995), I cannot guarantee its completeness, nor confirm that the people listed actually lived as vegetarians and if so, for how long.

Animals are my friends — and I don’t eat my friends. George Bernard Shaw (poet)

At the time I wrote this article, the German Wikipedia site contained only an incomplete list of prominent vegans, a historical overview of vegetarianism, and a listing of the first vegetarians. And the page about famous vegans has since been deleted! However, there is a much better description in English and an extensive list of famous vegetarians and famous vegans.

True human culture will only exist when not only the eating of humans, but also the eating of any kind of meat is considered cannibalism. Wilhelm Busch

I know that Mahatma Gandhi, who helped India to achieve independence, ate a raw food diet. Jesus is also said to have been a vegetarian or vegan (as an Essene, see sprouted bread or essene bread). However, we should distinguish between evidence and myth.

Vegan does not mean raw. Everything is probably cooked here. Showcase with finished food.© Public Domain, Zeetz Jones., Fickr

Famous vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists

4. Raw food diet

For me, a regimen is a short-term diet used, for example, to beat a disease. I believe that raw food diets are best when they are part of your preparations to change your regular diet in the long term.

Specialized hospitals and treatment centers

Try out different things; find out about the many advantages and disadvantages, and ask a wide range of people to explain their varying viewpoints to you — don’t just listen to and read about ONE VIEWPOINT!

I feel that raw food is so far removed from the ‘normal’ diet that sectarianism is unnecessary and counterproductive. A short-term raw food diet with special rules is only valuable in a few special cases.

As much as raw food can heal, returning to a “normal” diet will only result in the gradual recurrence of your old problems.

4.1. Vegan raw food diet

Raw Food Restaurant probably in California, Spring 2013, overview.© CC-by-sa 2.0, Ernst Erb, Foundation Diet and Health Switzerland

Entrance to a vegan raw food restaurant in California, Spring 2013.

The food and drinks offered and prices are written on blackboards.

The restaurant is relatively simple and clean.

Homemade foods are available for takeout.

The amount of cooked food that you eat plays a much bigger role than the type of raw food diet you choose to followed. I call someone a raw foodist only if their diet consists of more than 90 % raw food. Studies on raw food diets should only include raw foodists who meet this requirement because the negative effects of occasionally eating cooked food are enormous.

Cancer prevention through diet

Now let’s consider the amount of time it takes for the two types of food to pass through the gastrointestinal tract.

Raw food stays in the stomach for 4 hours and in the intestine for 20 hours. Depending on the type, cooked food can stay in the stomach from 90 minutes to 3 hours and sometimes up to several days in the intestines.

Mixing of raw and cooked food can cause intestinal fermentation and/or putrefaction. Each fully cooked meal you eat can disrupt the system. If you eat raw food for a month or more without exception, you will definitely notice disruptions to your digestion and state of health if you include cooked food.

I will start out with the most stringent type of raw food diet, which avoids any kind of animal protein. Moderate consumption of honey is often excluded from this diet. You can find people in the "Giessen Raw Food Study" (see the book review) who hold to this most strict raw food diet. They do so for the health benefits and because they have concerns about the environment and the tragic treatment of animals.

For various reasons, more and more people want to limit these types of industrial farming that have been carried out to extremes and are harmful to us and the world.

"Milk sucks"
"Rawlicious" Raw Food Restaurant, New York City, menu of salads, main courses etc. 2013© CC-by-sa 2.0, Ernst Erb, Foundation Diet and Health

Menu from Rawlicious, a simple raw food restaurant in New York City.

This menu from spring 2013 includes many kinds of salads and appetizers.

Among vegans, you find the most sectarians in terms of diet (and perhaps even in regards to society). However, I also find this type of diet to be particularly healthy, even if I occasionally eat raw fish and therefore strictly speaking do not belong to the group. I would like to help you increase your awareness here so that you can form your own opinion and, if possible, avoid diets that are too limited or less advantageous in the long term.

The “living foods” movement by Dr. Ann Wigmore

There were also early proponents of a pure vegan raw food diet in Europe, who today are no longer well known because of a lack of followers of their specific type of diet. Successors base their diets in part on such teachings, but have developed and promoted their own personal diets under their own name.

Sonnenköstler and Urköstler

4.2. Extreme forms of a vegan raw food diet

Special types of juice cures or special diets based on only a few different foods are sometimes useful as a short-term diet (e.g., diet developed by Rudolf Breuss).

Juice cures

A healthy person can follow such a diet for up to six weeks without it posing a health risk. The body can get the fat-soluble vitamins that are lacking from its reserves. But this would be unhealthy in the long term. Two or three weeks would probably be the ideal length. And it’s important to remember that cancer is not simply wiped away as Breuss says, but that it can return if you go back your old lifestyle.

Breuss treatments

It does not speak well of a balanced and safe raw food diet if raw foodists eat exclusively apples or bananas. It may work for many months, but then health problems will show up. I will write more about this later.

Mono diets

Mono diets, which involve consuming only one type of food per meal, are another possibility. But it is unnecessary because our digestive system works much better than followers of this diet believe. Nevertheless, I will come back to the problem of digestion and will explain why it is important that we make sure not to eat too much and not to eat too many different ingredients at each meal.

I basically live by the motto “uncooked — unmixed — unseasoned” in as much as is possible [234-7]. I cannot recommend certain special types of vegan raw food diets that rely on certain types of foods, even if they have a large following.

Waerland diet

A typical vegan creation at the "Pure food and wine" raw food vegan restaurant, New York City.© Courtesy of Erica Graff, Nicky Quinn, Pure food and wine

A number of authors have proposed quite feasible raw food diets that are special in a certain way. But to claim that they are “the only healing raw food diet” of the many raw food styles is often seen as difficult and at the most results in just a small improvement — and often results in the opposite.

Types of raw food diets

I would like to focus here on just two common raw food diets along these lines so that you can get an idea of variations out there.


Urköstler believe that green wild plants are the very best type of food to eat. I cannot imagine a lot of people going out every day to look for the parts of the plants listed. It would be great way to add variety to your diet on occasion, and those who can do it for every meal should continue to do so.

Examples of such foods are hogweed stem, brooklime (European speedwell), comfrey (toxic) or symphytum officinale, borage, thistles (actually cotton thistles), some types of ferns, Galinsoga parviflora — in short, a long list of plants. It also includes the Jerusalem artichoke.

A bunch of dandelion in the vegetable store.© CC-by 3.0, Usien, Wikipedia

The dandelions you can buy at the grocery store are usually not wild.

In winter, Urköstler eat blackberry leaves by first scraping the prickly spines off the inner ribs and then bite the fruit off from the leaf piece by piece [230-521]. Blackberry leaves are also available as caffeine-free tea (e.g., as a breakfast tea) and for medicinal purposes.

The next food group that is part of this diet is green organic vegetables such as avocados, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, borage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, which are to be grown in as close to their original form as possible. After that comes fresh fruit like mature pineapple, apples grown in as close to their original form as possible, oranges, and actually the entire list of the many fruits and tropical fruits (exotic fruits, also see this list of culinary fruits).

This is followed by root vegetables such as fennel, squash, carrots, and beets. Everything should be as fresh as possible so that the biophotonic radiation is highest. For example, a walnut is said to show almost no or absolutely no biophotonic radiation after two months of dry storage.



This raw food diet focuses mainly on products that are exposed to the sun. We might assume that this would largely coincide with the diet of the Urköstler. But no! This diet consists mainly of fruit.

Snack for several people: mango, pineapple, kiwi and freshly squeezed blood orange juice.© CC-by-sa 2.0, Ernst Erb, Foundation Diet and Health Switzerland

Snack consisting of mango, pineapple, and kiwi.

Accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice made from blood oranges, which is a popular variety (enough for multiple servings).

It would be better to eat the oranges as slices.

Helmut Wandmaker (1916–2007) is Germany’s most popular advocate of this form of raw fruit diet. In "Willst du gesund sein? Vergiss den Kochtopf!" (Do you want to be healthy? Then forget your saucepan.), he writes: All other foods burden the body in some way. This could even be said of vegetables since vegetables do not provide all of the necessary nutrients immediately, in particular, glucose and/or fructose.

Wandmaker - the exclusive fruit diet

In the same year of Walker’s death, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond introduced a similar concept called "Fit for Life". In contrast, Drs. Wallach and Lan wrote in their book "Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures" that people will “experience” an early death if they do not consume 90 “elements” in sufficient quantity. Dr. Kraft made do with 64 “essential elements.”

Wandmaker writes: If you consume these essential minerals in addition to vitamins, you will be covering all of your bases. I get these mineral supplements in liquid form from the United States. Such mineral complexes from the U.S. are now also available in Germany.

Why are they consuming so many artificial products if they want to eat as naturally as possible?

If we eat a large enough variety of foods, then our food is grown in many different types of soil. I therefore recommend that you also eat tropical and subtropical fruits, even if — depending on the region and method of transport — this may result in more of an ecological burden.

But then we can be sure that we are getting all of the essential minerals, such as iodine, in sufficient quantity. Selenium is one mineral that is definitely a problem with these extreme diets.

Selenium deficiency

4.3. Vegan raw foodists (basic diet)

A low nutrient density is common of vegan diets and this requires a good digestive system. If you observe certain rules, a vegan diet can provide you with sufficient amounts of all of the necessary substances. You just need to make sure that your calorie intake is adequate. As described elsewhere, there is still the problem of getting enough vitamin B12.

But no matter what type of diet you eat, you need to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency is caused by insufficient sun exposure and in the north by the low position of the sun. Both of these conditions are relevant for older people and also for people who eat a “normal” diet.

"Pure food and wine" raw food vegan restaurant, New York City. No dairy here!© Courtesy of Erica Graff, Nicky Quinn, Pure food and wine

We can live on plant-based foods alone

We will come to the “certain rules” that must be adhered to a bit later. But right now we are looking at “secondary substances.” The media deals with new findings in a very black-and-white way in that they speak of the good qualities of one substance and the bad qualities of another substance even though these are often found within the same food.

Secondary substances

Some people live on the edge of physical subsistence with their diets, which in experiments on rats and/or mice has resulted in a significantly longer life expectancy. Strict vegans should set a weight goal that is no less than 20 BMI and check their weight at least once a month.

You might not know that you may not feel hungry even if you aren’t getting adequate nourishment. This is the case for all types of diets. But oleaginous fruits (e.g., nuts and seeds) such as avocados are ideal regulators. The same also applies to thirst. Older people, in particular, often don’t feel thirsty even if their liquid intake is inadequate.

4.4. Vegetarian raw food diet

Raw food vegetarians may consume milk and dairy products and/or raw eggs, but not meat or fish. But what these vegetarians eat is in most cases no longer a pure raw food diet. The intensive preparation required often wins out.

As with cooked food, we distinguish between ovo-vegetarians and lacto-ovo vegetarians (vegetarians) as basic terms. If you are transitioning to a raw food diet for reasons other than health problems, I can understand this type of diet, but over time it may lead to similar lifestyle diseases that we see with cooked food.

Raw food restaurant vegan only: Pure food and wine, New York City: Rose Cake.© Courtesy of Erica Graff, Nicky Quinn, Pure food and wine

I am not going to deal with this type of diet as I don’t have enough relevant sources and information. I do however know that this type of diet leads to a lax attitude regarding raw food and even to extremes where people say thing like, Since I eat a salad every day, I’m a raw foodist [217-195].

The risk of getting a lifestyle disease most likely increases proportionally with the increased consumption of animal products.

And 8 % of the participants in the "Giessen Raw Food Study" felt that the main feature of a raw food diet is that the food eaten is still “mechanically intact.”

4.5. Raw food diet including fish and meat

People on a pure raw food diet rarely eat meat or fish. I must reiterate that with a raw diet, I am referring to people who at the very most would make the exception of eating cooked food, for example, if they get invited to a party or are in a restaurant.

If you are as sensitive as I am, you may experience negative physical reactions after such an exception, especially if you are eating cooked food for dinner. I would like to hear more about your experiences with this.

If you don’t experience any negative physical effects after eating a meal of cooked food that includes meat, fish, or dairy products (e.g., cheese), then your body has probably not yet fully adjusted to a raw food diet, or am I wrong?

Eating raw fish occasionally as sashimi in a Japanese restaurant, possibly accompanied by sushi (and some cooked rice), does not seem to have much of an effect. I lack experience with raw meat.

Raw fish

There are more raw seafood dishes than is generally known. Perhaps you have tried gravlax at a party, served on a bun. Actually, it means “buried salmon.” The fresh fish was traditionally fermented for at least three days buried in a hole in the ground or on the beach. Today, it is cured for a few days in a marinade of salt, sugar, and dill.

However, this is nothing compared to Surströmming, which is a main dish in traditional northern Swedish cuisine. Even the southern Swedes run from this dish as it stinks so badly. Thanks to the long fermentation process, this “sour herring” does however taste very good, I discovered this in the early 1970s when I was invited to dinner in Sweden. It is only available in cans because it has a strong smell.


Abalone sashimi from Asian raw food cuisine. Haliotis japonica on white plate.© Public Domain, Abendstrom, Wikipedia

There are a number of reasons to abstain from eating sea food. A major reason is the environment.

Raw meat

Nevertheless, meat as part of a raw food diet does need to be addressed here. Steak tartare is probably the most famous raw meat dish in the West. It is also known as “filet américain” and “tatarský biftek” and is made of high-quality, tendon-free ground meat from beef, erroneously also called steak tartare.

Meat has been a taboo for me

Cold-smoked ham and bacon are other options. But I doubt that smoked meat is very healthy for us as it contains smoke particles and other carcinogens — and also because of the curing substances (nitrites).

Beefsteak tatar (tartar, tartare) on plate: raw meat and a raw egg yolk. Raw food.© CC-by 3.0, Rainer Zenz, Wikipedia

Mett is prepared in a similar way, but from pork, and is usually served on buns for those who eat cooked food. It is a minced pork dish that is popular in Germany and Poland. If it is specially seasoned with onions, it is called onion mett. Ham mett is considered to be a special quality of mett. With a cold buffet (cold plates), it is also served as Mettigel (pork hedgehog).

Raw meat sausage

I can easily imagine that true raw foodists no longer enjoy meat. Here I simply wanted to give you a listing of the possible types of food you could eat on a raw food diet. At least at the beginning,, fish and meat might help a somewhat reluctant partner along. It would be great if you could share your experiences with me and also the other readers.


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