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Raw Vegetarian Food
-An Old View
-A New Look

Anand Gokani

Looking at this suggestion from both the philosophical angle and the scientific angle, it is clear that in Nature there is enough to maintain a good quality of life. If Nature created life on Earth it also arranged for its subsistence. This assumption is appealing because, in it, may lie the answer to a host of diseases.

Are we damaging our food unknowingly?
Are we depriving our bodies of the essential, vital ingredients which go to make a healthy body?

Cooking, freezing, preserving, drying, salting, dehydrating etc. are processes which take away something from our food. It is that 'something' that we may be lacking—which makes us prone to so many diseases. We know of so many of the essential elements that go to constitute the human body,but do we know all that there is to know. . . ? We can never claim that we know it all because new discoveries are being made every day.

With the ever increasing variety of illnesses and the grotesque statistics which show that diseases are ever increasing and life expectancy rapidly decreasing, it is clear that there is something wrong with our system.

There were times when reaching the late eighties was routine but now the approaching fifties bring with them diabetes, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease and so many other problems.

Can we stem the rot?
May be we can, with a volte-face in our attitude. Maybe in Nature itself lies the answer to our diseases.

A pilot study on the role of raw vegetarian foods (i.e. fresh fruits, nuts, and raw vegetables along with some other natural foods like honey, garlic and coconut) was conducted at the Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre. The cases studied were those of bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory disorders, abdominal problems like hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, constipation, piles and flatulence, infections of all kinds, metabolic problems like gout, hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease and peripheral vascular disease and malignancy (cancer).

These patients were advised to consume only the following foods:

  1. Vegetables and vegetable juices
  2. Nuts (dry fruits)
  3. Fruits and fruit juices
  4. Coconut and its constituents
  5. Garlic
  6. Honey
  7. Sprouted beans
  8. Wheatgrass and sprouted wheat
  9. Milk and milk products (in some cases only)

The above items were used exclusively and no form of cooking, preserving etc. was attempted.
The patients showed varied responses which can be discussed under the following heads:

A. Bronchitis, Asthma and other Respiratory Disorders

Young patients in the early stage of the disease recovered very well and maintained good health. Common colds and sinusitis could be completely eradicated. Older patients with more permanent damage and associated emphysema required supportive medications albeit in smaller doses. There was a uniform improvement in the quality of life.

B. Abdominal Problems like Hyperacidity, Peptic Ulcer, Constipation, Piles and Flatulence

While the patient was on this kind of diet the symptoms of discomfort subsided completely. But on resuming the original food habits, symptoms recurred in varying intensity, thereby demonstrating amply that these symptoms are largely related to the kind of food we eat and when we eat it.

C. Infections

Infections, however severe, improved very well on this diet obviating the need for antibiotics and, at times, even the need to incise and drain abscesses.

D. Metabolic Problems like Gout, Hypercholesterolaemia and Diabetes

These patients showed remarkable improvement in the control of the respective lab parameters and even subsequently on the re-introduction of cooked food (provided it was minimally cooked) along with a generous share of uncooked food. They showed good control of these metabolic parameters and required minimal medication for the control of the disease.

E. Hypertension, Ischaemic Heart Disease and Peripheral Vascular Disease

Patients on raw vegetarian food for these ailments showed easier control of hypertension, lesser anginal symptoms and in the early stages even improvement in effort tolerance. This could be attributed to the concomitant weight loss, improvement in constipation, diabetes, salt retention and maybe the reversal of the reversible aspect of atherosclerosis.

The toxaemia of pre-gangrenous conditions also reduced tremendously.

F. Malignancy (Cancer)

The results in this category can always be debated and will continue to be debated. However, in broad general sense, all patients with malignant disease consuming only raw foods had a better quality of life. There may not have been improvement in quantity of Life but quality certainly was far superior when compared to those having the same disease and consuming a 'normal diet'.

Those who received raw vegetarian food tolerated chemotherapy much better than those on a normal diet and those who had very early stage disease, and received no chemo- or radiotherapy, had an excellent qualitative and quantitative prognosis.

In general, all malignancy cases treated without surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy showed very good improvement as far as quality of life was concerned. Only time will tell how much influence this treatment has on quantity of life?

Whatever the problem be—be it a common cold and sinusitis or be it cancer, there is definite respite to offer with raw vegetarian foods in the diet.

Though no concrete proof is available as to how this therapy works it could, by logical deduction, be.summed up in two points:

  1. Improvement in general nutrition in terms of vitamins, minerals and co-factors of metabolism.
  2. Improvement in the general functioning of every organ as a sequelae to the above point (the immunological apparatus inclusive).

Table I shows the effects of cooking on various nutrients present in food. It is small wonder that people who consume only cooked and overcooked food develop deficiencies of these elements which are vital to normal body function. Raw vegetarian diet consists of all these substances in abundance and maybe more substances which we yet don't know about.

Table 1

Starch Fat Proteins Vitamin A
& Carotene
Vitamin C

Thiamine Riboflavin Niacin Vitamin B6 Pantothenic
Acid &
Vitamin B12
Cooking in excess water Gelatinisation and formation of paste No Effect Denaturation Slight loss Moderate Loss (Heavy Loss if excess water is rejected) Heavy Loss (Heavy Loss if excess water is rejected) Nil Nil Slight loss
            (Heavy Loss if excess water is rejected)
Cooking in Steam Gelatinisation No Effect Denaturation Slight loss Moderate Loss Slight Loss Nil Nil Slight Loss
Cooking in Pressure Cooker Gelatinisation No Effect Denaturation Slight loss Moderate Loss Moderate loss - Nil -
Dry Toasting Bursting of Granules - Decrease in nutritive value Moderate loss Moderate Loss Moderate to Heavy Loss Slight loss Nil Slight to Moderate Loss
Deep Fat Frying Bursting of Granules Short Periods (upto 30 min) (no effect); Long periods (1 hr or more) Toxic products are formed Decrease in nutritive value Heavy loss Heavy loss Heavy loss Moderate loss Nil Moderate to Heavy Loss
Shallow Pan Frying Bursting of Granules No Effect Slight decrease in nutritive value Moderate to Heavy loss Moderate to Heavy loss Moderate Slight Nil Moderate loss
Effect of Addition of Cooking Soda to Cooking Water No Effect No Effect Decrease in nutritive value Nil Heavy loss Heavy loss Heavy loss Nil Moderate to Heavy Loss
Baking, bread Gelatinisation of starch No Effect No Effect Slight loss Moderate Loss Slight loss Slight loss Nil Slight loss
Baking, biscuits Gelatinisation of starch No Effect Slight decrease in nutritive value Moderate Loss Moderate Loss Moderate Loss Moderate Loss Nil Moderate Loss
Puffing Gelatinisation of starch No Effect Denaturation - - Slight loss Nil Nil Slight loss
Germination Slight Hydrolysis to Dextrins No Effect No Effect - Slight Increase Slight Increase Slight Increase Slight Increase Slight Increase


Hence we can conclude that raw vegetarian food has a deEnite role in the promotion of good health and the prevention of disease. We do not claim that the use of raw vegetarian diets can cure all diseases but certainly there is evidence that it improves quality of life.

It is impractical in our present society to live only on raw vegetarian foods on a permanent basis. But one can always follow the middle path, i. e. the incorporation of both cooked and uncooked food in one's diet. The observations only go to show that a vegetarian diet in its natural form has a lot to offer in health and disease and using a fair amount of raw vegetarian food in our daily diet goes a long way in keeping us healthy in mind, body and spirit.


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  2. Ballentine, R. Diet & Nutrition. A holistic approach. Honesdale: The Himalayan
    International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, 1984.
  3. Carroll, K.K. Experimental evidence of dietary factors and hormone dependent cancers; Cancer Research, November, 1975, 35:3374.
  4. Nolfi, K. A Doctor's Victory Over Cancer: My Experience with Living Food.