Do we need cooked food in our diet or can we live on a raw diet? In short, yes, we can if we can follow the biologically appropriate diet of humans!
The reason why a raw diet is often dismissed as deficient is that we have the common idea of a “raw diet” (see an example here), which ignores that the biology of humans is that of a frugivore, which is still adapted to a tropical high-fruit diet (read more here).
Where “raw” goes wrong!
We don’t know we are specialized fruit-eaters – that is where “raw” goes wrong!
Most raw diets cause deficiencies because of a misconception about our dietary biology: a raw diet has to be done according to our tropical frugivorous nature. But most people do not know we are frugivores! In fact, most people have never even heard of frugivory as a biological dietary category, as opposed to carnivory or omnivory – a circumstance that is odd in the light of our numerous biological traits of frugivores:
Unfortunately, most raw diets fail to focus on high-quality tropical fruits and other factors in a tropical habitat: the typically portrayed raw diet consisting of temperate plants like tubers, greens, and sour berries, which is nothing like the (raw) diet of a tropical frugivorous ape, with loads of nutritious tropical fruits!
Why do we believe that we need cooked foods?
The common believe that humans need cooked foods – and a raw diet cannot be halthy – is because raw diet studies are based on non-frugivorous raw diets!
Why are there people arguing that raw cannot sustain the human body, while others report that they have been living on a raw diet for decades? The hypothesis that humans are biologically dependent on cooked foods is based on one study, the Giessen Raw Food Study.
This study is a survey from 1999, which found that around 30 % of women have lost their period or partially lost their period on a long-term raw diet.
In fact, many articles on this subject (like this one) lean on the Giessen Raw Food Study!
Those articles generally suggest that cooked foods are the key to human development and that raw foods can no longer sustain us. The problem is, that the raw foods mentioned in the article are starchy potatoes and other tubers, not tropical fruits. This is a pivotal error, because tropical fruits are the primary food source (around 70% for chimpanzees) of frugivorous primates.
Sadly, most articles exploring human dietary evolution rarely mention fruits or the frugivorous characteristics of humans and other primates. Moreover, the same unknowingness is present in many people that adopt a raw diet. A raw diet only works for humans if it is a tropical, frugivorous diet – because humans are tropical frugivorous primates! We starve on raw greens, tubers, and temperate fruits only.
A raw high-fruit frugivore diet (similar to a chimpanzee diet) with abundant access to ripe tropical wild fruits, is very different from a usual, non-frugivorous, raw-vegan diet of someone living in colder climates! Those diets often lack a high portion of ripe tropical fruits!
The common opinion that humans cannot survive on a raw diet of this kind is more than justified. However, humans certainly can be sustained by a raw tropical species-appropriate diet.
No studies done on a frugivorous raw diet!
The hypothesized reason for humans’ inability to survive long-term on a raw diet was not tested thoroughly yet! Raw diets vary significantly, and there is a lack of awareness of the tropical frugivorous nature and diet of humans. The long-standing debate around omnivore vs. herbivore humans could likely be solved in the blink of an eye, with frugivory in the picture!
It certainly is time to start studying the long-term effects of a frugivorous raw diet on health!
Can we survive and thrive on a raw diet?
Yes, we can survive and thrive on a raw diet under the right conditions: eating raw only works long-term with frugivory in the picture! We must consider that our biology is that of a tropical frugivorous primate.
Humans do not have physiological or anatomical adaptations that indicate that we need cooked foods (read more here), but countless striking traits of tropical specialized fruit-eaters (read more here)!
Raw needs to be done right!
We cannot expect to obtain enough calories and the nutrition primates (humans) need from raw foods like greens, vegetables, tubers, nuts, and temperate, acidic fruits and vegetable fruits.
But the picture of a raw nutrition changes with a diet comprised of mainly fleshy, calorie-dense tropical fruits and nuts, greens, and maybe some animal-based foods in a friendly climate – inspired by the natural diet of chimpanzees in the wild!
To sum it up, we probably should learn more from chimpanzees and evolution, to know what a healthy raw diet looks like then by cultural confusion.
A raw diet has to be based on ripe tropical fruits to be sustainable and species-specific, because we are a tropical frugivorous species! If we cannot get enough ripe, high-quality tropical fruits, a raw diet is hard to stick to in the long run!
Unfortunately studies of raw frugivorous and biologically appropriate frugivorous diet do not exist! Fortunately we can be inspired by the wealth accounts reporting positive health-outcomes of a growing number of people that have adopted a high-fruit diet!
Read more about the frugivore diet here:
Go to How to do the Frugivore Diet