Objective: Describe dietary practices of U.S. raw foods leaders, examine diet rationale, attitudes and health practices of raw foodists.
Design: Nonexperimental, descriptive, using semistructured qualitative interview data.
Participants: Purposeful (nonrandom) sample of 17 U.S. raw foods leaders, including 11 males and 6 females. Leaders were targeted to provide insights into practices modeled for larger community.
Phenomena of interest: Attitudes, practices, and beliefs of individuals consuming a raw foods diet.
Analysis: Text analysis and simple descriptive statistics.
Results: Subjects averaged 13 years on the diet (range: 3-32 years). Twelve subjects reported a diet at least 85% raw. All diets were primarily vegan. Primary constituents included fruits and juices, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and vegetable fats. Subjects consumed no dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, commercial sweets or alcohol in a typical week. Only one subject used a commercial, nonfood-based supplement weekly (vitamin B12). Six subjects consumed food-based supplements, and remainder used no supplements at all. On average, subjects met or exceeded recommended intakes of vegetables, fruits, and fats and did not meet recommendations for calcium-rich foods, protein-rich foods, and grains.
Conclusions and implications: Those counseling raw foodists must understand the rationale and practices that characterize this eating style. Further research is needed on larger populations to validate findings and determine the extent to which reported health benefits may compare to those from other vegetarian diets. Further studies should examine food-handling and preparation practices in relation to food safety and raw produce.