Vegan? Vegetarian? Raw Food? What's The Difference?

How We Eat - Vegan to Standard American DietThink of how people eat as a continuum. At one end is going out to the garden and picking and eating what you find right there. At the other end is a plate heavy with cooked meat and animal products with little or no vegetables (mostly cooked). Where does a vegetarian fall on this continuum?

Vegetarian is a term that has lost much of its meanings. People say they are vegetarian but mean very different things. Some eat fish (pescetarian), or will even say they eat a little chicken. For some people only “red” meat is really meat. Some eat eggs, cheese and other dairy products (lacto-ovo vegetarian). While dairy is often the last thing people eliminate on their way to veganism it really should be the first thing to go. Dairy has even more health problems associated with it than meat does. 

A Vegan is a vegetarian that does not eat ANY animal products. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, no fish, no chicken, nothing that was or came from an animal. This is, as Dr. Opare explains in his book The Rule Book And User Guide For Healthy Living, the natural diet for humans. We are vegan by design. We have adapted to some degree to eating other foods, but we pay the price with disease, disability, obesity and death.

It is possible to eat an unhealthy vegan diet. Twizzlers are vegan. Oreos are vegan. French fries are vegan. Pasta and breads are often vegan. You can eat a highly processed vegan diet and rarely eat fresh fruit and vegetables. 

This is why At Opare Integrative Health Care we recommend a whole food, plant-based, minimally processed diet for optimal health. This diet has been shown to prevent or even reverse disease.

A plant-based diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, seeds and nuts. These items make up most or all of the meal or snack.

Whole foods and minimally processed foods are as close to their natural state as possible. Processing takes a potential food source that has a complex set of nutrients and benefits and changes it into something else entirely, often taking a healthy food and changing it into a dangerous food.

Processing includes cooking, milling, pressing, chemically treating, irradiating, freezing, canning, etc. A tomato eaten off the vine or sliced and eaten in a salad is minimally processed. That same tomato canned is not. White rice, white flower, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup are examples of highly processed food or “food like substances.”

Cooking is a form of processing. It causes chemical changes to food. These changes create carcinogens, AGEs, and trans fatty acids, alter and damage the nutrients found in foods, and take a vital living food source that is full of life force and turns it into a dead, devitalized, nutrient compromised food.

Raw fruits and vegetables are minimally processed. A raw food or living food diet is a vegan diet where most or all of the food eaten is in its natural raw state. Gourmet raw dishes are prepared in such a way that the food never reaches over 115 degrees. These dishes help satisfy the tastes and desires we have developed today. 

A whole food, plant based, minimally processed diet is the diet our ancestors ate for thousands of years. We gathered and picked what grew around us. We ate it raw with little or no processing or preparation. This is how the rest of the animal kingdom eats their food. What makes us different? We have strayed far from our roots. And we are paying the price. 

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