If you’re lucky enough to be a raw vegan in California you’re better off than many across the nation. This is one of the few states that has a plethora of health food stores and restaurants without apology. Many of these places offer an array of decadent, filling, and beautifully crafted dishes. A friend and I recently sat down to eat at such a place, Peace Pies in Encinitas, and I was definitely not disappointed.
Check out that quesadilla (below)!
So what’s in this thing? Coconut tortilla filled with cheez, ‘sauteed’ mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and greens. The tortilla was perfectly sweet, and the mushrooms were hearty… we split it and I was full.
This would definitely be considered raw vegan junk food and yet it is still much healthier than a typical SAD (Standard American Diet) meal. But even raw vegans can be unhealthy. So if you’re interested in optimal health you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind at your next raw food restaurant outing.
Many gourmet raw food recipes contain nuts and some even use oil, which are both fattening. If you’re having a yummy quesadilla with avocados (also fattening but good for you), you might want to skip the raw cheesecake if made with nuts (as a lot of raw desserts are in vegan restaurants). One source of fat in a meal, or day, is all you need for the best digestion and also to stay healthy and trim. A great dessert to have instead is something made entirely of fruit.
Dehydrated foods dehydrate the body so if you’re ordering a dish with crackers or dried fruit, make sure to get enough water beforehand or afterwards. Hold off on drinking too much water during your meal as this will dilute your food and slow down digestion. Try to skip crackers and bread as much as possible and opt for extra vegetables and fruit.
But what can a raw vegan do if there are no raw food restaurants in town or if she’s invited out for dinner with friends who are meat eaters? Find out what restaurant in your area offers the most amount and/or variety of fresh whole foods and suggest that your friends eat there. If no such place exists or a place has already been chosen, plan ahead by finding out where your group is going and seeing what’s on the menu. If ingredients aren’t specified in detail, don’t be afraid to call and ask. Be clear about what you cannot eat, when asking questions; you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand what “no animal products” means.
If there are any cold soups on the menu, ask how they are made; you might be in luck! If you’re feeling bold and aren’t going somewhere extremely fancy, smuggle in your own raw dressing so you won’t be stuck eating bland salad. Raw hummus for carrot or celery sticks is another great idea to bring. And dates or some other sweet raw snack for dessert is yet another backup plan in the event you still want more.
If all else fails and there aren’t any raw vegan options, whatsoever, where you are going but you still want to go out and socialize, eat a plentiful meal before you leave the house. Keep extra food in the car if you’ll be out for awhile and snack in between places. This way, you don’t have to be antisocial and are still getting what your body needs to feel satiated and still have a good time.
If you’re eating at a friend’s house, politely ask if there will be any raw whole food items available. Also, make sure to bring an abundance of your favorite raw food to share. You can keep it simple with a fruit and veggie platter or go all out and whip up something tasty. When done well, raw food recipes tend to leave a lasting impression. Those who aren’t accustomed to eating a healthy diet, or one that doesn’t consist of meat or dairy, typically don’t expect fruits and vegetables to taste great. All you have to do is show them the way and if they aren’t inspired to begin eating healthier they’ll at least have a nice addition to their meal!
As long as you aren’t a frequent restaurant eater, splurging now and then won’t be the worst and you might quite enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty if you decide to eat that cheesecake, it is raw vegan after all. But it never hurts to keep in mind your end goal which is hopefully supreme health and happiness. I don’t know about you but when my stomach is settled and I don’t have any ailments bothering me, I’m at my happiest. And when we are in our happiest state, we are our most peaceful selves.
Photo Credit: Lola O Photography