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Why All-Raw May Not Be Best

Last week, I shared the negative experiences I had with an all raw diet when I first adopted it over 36 years ago, along with the negative experiences others have reported when they attempted an all raw diet. Today I want to expand on that foundation.

Because of the negative results I had experienced in 1977 after being on a 100% raw, plant-based diet for a year, and the positive results experienced following that first year after adding some cooked, plant-sourced foods back into my diet, the diet Hallelujah Acres promoted right from the beginning included some cooked foods.

Hallelujah Acres began advocating a diet ratio of approximately 85% raw to 15% cooked, plant-sourced foods in 1992, which yielded the following results from those who tried it:

  1. The Hallelujah Diet is more feasible – We learned that most people who have been on the Standard American Diet are addicted to cooked food and that an overnight switch to an all raw diet was extremely difficult. By allowing 15% of the diet to consist of cooked foods it made the diet change much more feasible for the majority.
  2. Cheating stopped – We found that most people find it extremely difficult to go all raw, and that when they attempt to do so, have a tendency to cheat. This brought on a feeling of guilt. But when allowed to add 15% cooked to the diet, it eliminated the feelings of guilt.
  3. Detox symptoms abated – We also found that by allowing 15% of the diet to consist of cooked, plant-sourced foods, those people making the diet change avoided the severe detox symptoms I had experienced my first year and many others experience when attempting an all raw diet.
  4. Better results – The most amazing thing of all was that people were obtaining better results on the 85% raw, to 15% cooked ratio than I had previously personally experienced on an all raw diet and I had previously seen others experience when attempting an all raw diet.

Criticism By Others

One of the really sad experiences I observed while trying to help others adopt a 100% plant-based diet was the criticism and judgment by other raw foodists when that person ate some cooked food.

Why you would think they had just committed the “unpardonable sin!”

These who believed the only way was 100% raw had turned their dietary practices into somewhat of a cult. But the thing I found especially sad was that many of those who publicly promoted an all raw diet in private often cheated themselves. What hypocrisy!

Thankfully, The Hallelujah Diet has some cooked foods (15% cooked) built right into the program, and this takes away the guilt and usually the criticism.

Why Not All Raw?

What I want to do now is share with you a few of the reasons why I do not advocate an all raw plant based diet. All of these reasons are the result of my personally being on an all raw 100% plant based diet for a year, plus noting the experiences shared with me by thousands of others attempting an all raw diet.

  • Not Enough Calories – Many people find it very difficult to obtain enough calories from an all raw plant based diet to meet the metabolic needs of their body. If we do not consume enough calories, too much weight is often lost too rapidly, and they often find energy lacking.
  • How Cooked Food Helps Meet Caloric Needs – The following helps explain how the 15% cooked portion helps meet caloric needs: A glass of raw vegetable juice contains approximately 100 calories, while a serving of raw BarleyMax contains approximately six calories. One cup of chopped raw romaine lettuce provides eight calories, while ½ cup of raw broccoli provides 12 calories. Now note this: ½ cup of cooked broccoli contains 26 calories, while a ½ cup of cooked brown rice contains 108 calories, and ½ cup cooked navy beans contains 129 calories. These examples show the value of consuming 15% of our food in cooked form in order to meet caloric needs.
  • Protein Needs Not Met – When enough calories are not consumed to meet metabolic needs, protein requirements are often difficult to obtain. The 15% cooked starches found in The Hallelujah Diet make it easy to meet both the caloric and protein needs without having to consume huge quantities of food or adding lots of protein rich nuts to the diet (which are hard to digest).
  • Increased Energy – The cooked portion also helps increase energy, keeps people from losing too much weight too rapidly, helps keep people from feeling the cold in the wintertime, plus helps to stop the desire to cheat.
  • Decreased Energy – Quite often, after adopting an all raw diet, a person will experience low energy as the body goes through too rapid a detox. This detox may manifest in fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, pimple outbreaks, and more, as the bodies throws off toxins too rapidly. The 15% cooked portion will prevent most of these symptoms because it slows down the release of these toxins. The toxins will still come out, but because of the cooked portion, they will come out more gently and over an extended period of time.
  • Cooked Food Trade-Offs – There are trade-offs with cooked foods. Certain phytochemicals (such as lycopene and carotenoids), are activated by the cooking process, while cooking destroys a percentage of other nutrients such as vitamin C, along with all enzymes. Also, some proteins and starches are more readily available in cooked foods. This shows the advantages of making 15% of our daily food intake to be in cooked foods. Thus the Hallelujah Diet ratio of 85% raw to 15% cooked provides the best of both worlds.
  • Dr. Fuhrman Promotes Adding Cooked Foods – Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in his book “Eat to Live” encourages a large quantity of raw, plant-source foods but he does not encourage they all be consumed in their raw form. In fact, he believes that eating all raw is a disadvantage:

“To exclude all steamed vegetables and vegetable soups from your diet narrows the nutrient diversity of your diet and has a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables, in favor of nuts and fruits, which are lower in nutrients per calorie. Unfortunately, sloppy science prevails in the Raw-Food movement.”

Dr. Fuhrman is a medical doctor who personally consumes and promotes a diet very similar to The Hallelujah Diet. He has used this diet to restore the health of many of his patients. Dr. Fuhrman’s book “Eat to Live” is an excellent, scientifically documented book.

I trust the above will help you understand why we include 15% cooked foods in The Hallelujah Diet.

I find it interesting that when Hallelujah Acres had its beginning 20 years ago, we were the only organization I am aware of promoting a 100% plant-based diet that advocated 15% cooked food.

Below I share how a number of health advocates got together in 2006 to set up living foods standards. Most of them had previously promoted a 100% raw, plant-based diet, but at this summit were united in advocating a percentage of cooked food.

You will notice that both Rhonda and I attended that summit and were in agreement to the set of standards those gathered agreed were necessary to promote optimum health:

International Living Food Summit

This historic summit was held at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida on January 14, 2006. The summit convened to unify the leadership in the Living Food Movement, establishing scientifically based common standards for optimum health.

Leaders from eight countries (with a combined total of 434 years following this lifestyle) agreed on the following standards:

  • Vegan (no animal products of any kind, cooked or raw)
  • Organic
  • Whole Foods
  • High in nutrition such as vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients
  • Highly mineralized
  • Contains a significant quantity of chlorophyll-rich green foods
  • Contains adequate complete protein from plant sources
  • Contains a large proportion of high-water-content foods
  • Provides excellent hydration
  • Includes raw vegetable juices
  • Contains all essential fatty acids, including Omega-3 fatty acids from naturally occurring plant sources
  • Is at least 80% raw (the remaining to be Vegan, whole food, and organic
  • Has moderate yet adequate caloric intake
  • Contains only low to moderate sugar and exclusively from whole-food sources (fruitarianism is strongly discouraged)
  • Contains adequate amounts of unprocessed salts, as needed (depending upon your constitution)
  • Is nutritionally optimal for both detoxification and rebuilding

We also agreed that:

  • Deficiency of B12 is a global issue for mental and physical health, for anyone on any diet. Therefore, supplementation with B12 is advised.
  • The addition of enzyme-active superfoods and whole-food supplements is also advised.
  • Caffeinated and/or addictive substances (even in their raw form) such as cocoa/chocolate, coffee, caffeinated teas and alcohol are highly discouraged.
  • This way of eating can be further optimized by tailoring it based on individuals needs (within the principles stated).
  • Benefits derived by following these principles are proportional to how well they are followed.
  • We will remain open-minded, and this information will be updated and expanded upon if necessary, as new research becomes available.
  • Diet is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, yet not the entire picture. A full-spectrum, health-supportive lifestyle is encouraged. This includes physical exercise, exposure to sunshine, as well as psychological health. Avoiding environmental toxins and toxic products is essential. Paramount is pure water (for consumption and bathing), the use of natural fiber clothing, and non-toxic personal-care products. Also consider healthy options in home furnishings/building materials and related items.

All participating leaders agree that eating according to the International Living Food Summit Guidelines will significantly address the urgent issues of health, environmental sustainability, world hunger, and a compassionate respect for all life.

The following leaders support these principles: (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Fred Bischi, PhD – USA
  • Tamera Campbell – Vision – USA
  • Rajaa Chbani  – Pharmacie L’Unite – Morocco
  • Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H) – Diplomat American Board of Holistic Medicine – USA
  • Brenda Cobb – Living Foods Institute – USA
  • Anna Maria Clement, CN, NMD, PhD – Hippocrates Health Institute – USA
  • Brian Clement, CN, NMD, PhD – Hippocrates Health Institute – USA
  • Carole Dougoud – Institute Haute Vitalite – Switzerland
  • Dorit – Serenity Spaces – USA
  • Kare Engstrom – Dietician – Sweden
  • Viktoras Kulvinskas – “Grandfather” of Living Food’s Movement – USA
  • Dan Ladermann – Living Light International – USA
  • Marie Christine; Lhermitte – Chem du mas Magnuel – France
  • George Malkmus – Hallelujah Acres – USA
  • Rhonda Malkmus – Hallelujah Acres – USA
  • Paul Nison – The Raw Life – USA
  • Katrina Claudine Richard – Naturopath – France
  • Michael Saiber – Vision – USA
  • Cherie Soria – Living Light International – USA
  • James Sheridan, ND – Health Force Nutritionals – USA
  • Diane Store – Raw Superfoods – UK/Netherlands
  • Jill Swyers – Living Foods For Health- UK/Portugal
  • Walter J. Urban, PhD – USA/Costa Rica.

Next week, the good Lord willing and if the creeks don’t rise too high, we will share an interesting and timely Easter message. Trust you will join us.


  1. I completely agree. I help to host a raw food meetup group in the area where I live but strongly believe that beans, a small amount of grains and cooked veggies be part of a healthy and sustainable diet. I have flourished on a diet that can get as low as 50% raw in winter, and more like 80% raw in summer.

  2. Diaakrisy March 27, 2012

    Thanks. I was always wondering about that.

  3. Barb Wohlbrandt March 27, 2012

    I agree fully with this email. 100% raw is just to much and might be hard on the digestive system also. I love the fact that we can include some cooked in the evening. It is a great diet and I lost 14 pounds the first 2 weeks on it.
    Barb Wohlbrandt

  4. Shelly Wason March 27, 2012

    I would like to know which foods are more beneficial cooked than raw.

    • L. Vandebrooke March 27, 2012

      Primarily root veggies. Some provide different and some more nutrients when cooked than when raw, for instance carrots. Fun to google and see the results, many sites contain accurate and trusted info.
      Great Fact: Cooking Garlic & Onions results in B vitamins becoming fat soluable rather than water soluable thereby staying in your system longer. We eat them raw and cooked/sauted in olive oil or coconut oil.

  5. Tlee429 March 27, 2012

    I have a question. What if, all of a sudden, fire (heat), was no longer an option for us to prepare our food? Would we all starve because we couldn’t get enough calories from raw food? I know we’ve grown accustomed to cooked food, but, it seems to me that if we could once survive on uncooked fruits, veggies, nuts and grains, we could once more.

    • Barb Wohlbrandt March 28, 2012

      I would suggest that you make up some meals ahead of time and freeze them. These will last a long time. Also don’t focus on that happening. Be positive.

    • LOL, that’s like asking the question – What if, all of a sudden, raw fruits and vegetables were no longer an option for us? What would we do then?

      When do you imagine not having fire would be the case?

      • I don’t think he was being serious in the sense of fire no longer being available, I think we was trying to prove a point that if we lived in raw foods before we can do it now and our bodies would take to it just fine once you got past the detoxing phase. We are just so accustomed to cook food and that is why it is difficult.

        • I definitely understand that part, it’s just always funny to me when people make such extreme statements as a reason why to go raw. Going raw (at least partially) definitely has it’s benefits, and that should be enough (and then we don’t have to create a world without fire) 🙂

  6. Healthylady3 March 27, 2012

    Every thing you said makes good sense thats what works for me 15percent cooked.

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