July 30

Forbidden Raw Foods I Now Eat

Filed under Raw Food & Health by Frederic Patenaude

Enjoying date lemonade with pine nuts at Lebanese restaurant

I used to be known as a more militant raw vegan. And when I look back and some things I wrote over 10 years ago, I admit that some of my writing was a bit over-the-top and militant…

Perhaps it was the enthusiasm of youth. Perhaps it was my passionate nature.

But I did enthusiastically rage against certain foods that I now eat today.

Although I do admire the consistency of certain health advocates who have been saying essentially the same thing over the last 20 or 30 years, in many cases this can be combined with a bit of stubbornness as well. I try not to be too stubborn, and overtime I’ve changed my mind on a number of topics.

Here are a few foods that I’ve previously tried to eliminate or spoke against that I now consume.

Protein Powder

I wrote about protein powders and condemned them in some articles I published in the past. In general, what I wrote about them is true: they’re refined, of low quality, and most people do not need more protein in their diets.

However, in the world of vegan or raw vegan nutrition, I find them useful. I’m talking about well-designed protein blends from plant-sources, such as hemp, pea, rice, and so on (not soy).

A raw vegan diet can be especially low in absorbable protein — in fact too low — which makes these supplements particularly useful. People who find that their morning smoothie just doesn’t sustain them for very long can add a scoop of protein powder and find that miraculously they are satisfied for much longer without many added calories.

I have tried a few and personally like the Vega-Sport brand the best, as well as Raw Power. I use it in my post-workout smoothies, along with almond milk and a couple of bananas.


I’ve never been against nuts but I’ve been against eating too many nuts, which is often too common in raw-foodists. I still think that eating more than one or two ounces of nuts a day is excessive.

When I first became a raw foodist (a long time ago, in 1996), I avoided all nuts, believing them to be unhealthy in any amount. I then over-consumed them for a few years, and later eliminated them again or tried to get my fat from avocados instead.

Nuts are extremely healthy when eaten in moderation (about one ounce a day for most people). In spite of the fat content, they won’t make you fat because they keep you satisfied for a long time, especially if you take the time to chew them. My favorite nuts are currently almonds, but I also consume and enjoy other nuts.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits can be dangerous for raw foodists, because they tend to overeat them easily. They can also get stuck on the teeth and cause decay if one is not careful about carefully brushing teeth after.

The reason why most people on raw food diets tend to eat too many dried fruits is because the raw food diet is low in calories. So anytime the body comes across a concentrated source of calories the mind says is “raw” and “okay to eat” it goes a little crazy and sends signals to fill up.

I find that eating a more varied diet now allows me to eat dried fruit without overeating. I love prunes and figs the best and will eat them whenever I need a snack, or during exercise when I need extra energy. The normal amount to eat is something like 3-5 dried prunes or figs or a small handful of raisins. Eating significantly more than this can cause excess gas.

Fruit in Salads

According to typical food combining rules, fruit should always be eaten alone. However, through experimentation, I have found that fruit combines well in salads. It also tastes great. So I don’t hesitate to throw in some peaches, berries or other fruits in salads, even when the salad contains fat like avocados or olives.


Natural Hygiene is generally against spices. I used to be against spices (garlic, hot peppers, dried spices, etc.). I now find that this is just the wrong enemy.

There are a lot of things that can really harm your health and cause disease, and spices are just not one of them.

Let’s talk about lack of exercise, excess calories, processed foods, and other nutritional evils. But spices?

Many spices, such as turmeric, are actually loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants. They also make a bland diet much more palatable!

Some people are sensitive to the “heat” in certain spices, such as hot peppers. In this case, avoid or minimize them. But otherwise, there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about consuming some spices.

I do make an exception for raw garlic, and I’ll explain why later.


I used to be generally against all supplements but this naive phase didn’t last very long. Certainly, blindly consuming supplements is not a good health practice. But it’s also not advisable to ignore common nutritional deficiencies that can occur on raw vegan diets, that can easily be corrected or prevented with the right supplement.

Vitamin B12 is something everyone should take. And for most of us not spending all of our time wrinkling our skin in the sun, some form of reasonable supplemental vitamin D intake is advisable.

Forbidden Foods That Are Still Forbidden

There are a few foods that I condemned a while ago and still are on my “do not eat” list. I won’t talk about the obvious unhealthy foods, but a few foods common in raw vegan circles.

Raw cacao

I don’t trust raw cacao. I’m not saying I never eat chocolate. I just won’t touch raw cacao. To me, it’s nothing more than a fad. I’ve gotten sick more than once eating raw chocolate concoctions (including one memorable event after a raw food event where I gave a conference. After the event, I was driving back home and did so right after consuming a raw cacao cake. I got so sick with horrible headaches and nausea that I had to sleep in my car after quickly finding an exit on the highway. I was too sick to drive any further and find a hotel room even), and know too many people who also did.

If I eat chocolate, I want it to be regular, old-fashioned chocolate. And I acknowledge that it’s just a treat. Although chocolate (and raw cacao) is loaded with antioxidants and certain nutrients, it’s also loaded with saturated fat and typically some sweetener. It’s also a stimulant, like caffeine.

For some reason, I just don’t trust the people who promote raw cacao and where they are sourcing it. Being a fermented product, I sense that there’s a quality control issue there that can lead to potential problems. I won’t touch raw cacao with a ten-foot pole now, but an occasional (cooked) chocolate treat is okay with me.

Raw garlic

It’s supposed to be healthy. And some raw foodists love it (except the natural hygienists!). I spoke against it before, and I still don’t like it today. Every time I eat raw garlic, I feel horrible after. It seems to want to come out of every pore of my skin. It gives me a horrible aftertaste in my mouth, and even disturbs my sleep (with mysterious nightmares). Yogis have stayed away from garlic for hundreds of years (possibly thousands!), calling it a “brain toxin.” According to the enlightened, it disturbs the mind during meditation.

I have no problems with cooked garlic, as long as I don’t use too much of it. But some minced garlic sautéed in a pan can give almost any other food a great taste. Cooking probably dissipates the irritating oils in garlic.

For some reason, raw onion doesn’t give me the strong negative effects of raw garlic.

What about you? What are the forbidden foods you now eat?

24 Responses to “Forbidden Raw Foods I Now Eat”

  1. kim says:

    I love all your info I do learn a-lot. Any info on alkaline water??

  2. Barbara Lowell says:

    Frederick, you are always amazing. I have found most of this to be true myself. However I am still militant against those times we eat cooked food that we not use packaged or canned versions. Being a vegan is NOT convenient and I am alarmed to see that lots of what is showing up in the Vegan world is catering to convenience and fast food mentality … like all those packaged kale chips and raw goodies ok for treats I guess (not for me) but it is not helpful to think they are healthy. I love that you expanded your views as it has come out of experimentation, which everyone needs to do to find their own way. We are all a work in progress. Thanx for sharing so much with us. I admire and respect your openness.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Great post! Like you, I’m adding back in a little celtic sea salt… I’m not sure about what salt is best, which is loaded with heavy metals, etc. (so much controversy/information) but I find that a few grains of celtic sea salt go a long way without that too-salty after-effect. I’m also eating cooked starches much more than I have since my growing-up years (read Dr. McDougall’s “The Starch Solution” and it made sense). I have loved brown rice– especially brown basmati– for eons but virtually cut it out when I was mostly raw.

    I use carob powder vs. cacao. Raw Cacao actually seems to have cured my husband and I from craving chocolate, but you are right about the not feeling well sometimes after eating it. I’m just happy to seem to “be over chocolate”.

  4. Charmaine says:

    Hello Fred,

    I own a few of your books. Can you please explain why coffee is better than raw cacao? I am confused, as coffee has way more caffeine. Thanks.

  5. Au naturel says:

    Hi Fred,

    Thank you for this very interesting article! What does a typical day’s diet consist of for you now?

  6. Mindy says:

    Thanks for your honesty Frederic
    I do eat dried fruits and use spices sometimes.
    I do stay away from garlic, like you, it doesn’t agree with me and also onions. I am not a fan of salt and like seaweed powders, such as kelp and dulse, I stead.
    I agree on the cacao and use carob powder instead
    I am not against supplements, but am not taking any right now.
    I agree on the nuts and personally like seeds better, such as chia, flax and hemp.
    I lovefruit in my green salad and also a fruit/sweet sauce/dressing instead of a savory one, sometimes.

  7. lola says:

    I never gave up salt because I love it but make sure it’s real sea salt. I never gave up vegan protein powders because I like how they taste in fruit smoothies. I had given up nightshades but now I eat them sometimes, I try not to eat them everyday since they bother me. I love garlic but I find it puts me right to sleep. I know its cheating but I eat spirulina to get my greens.

  8. Alecia Jones says:

    I have a question. When you say Raw Cacao are you referring to the powder form? I use the powder sometimes in different recipes and have never had a problem. You might be more sensitive to it.

  9. RACHEL says:

    Frederic, Thank you for your honest statements. What you stated is
    exactly WHY i take raw “experts/guru’s” opinions with a grain of salt.
    There is so much diversity of opinions out there about what is best
    how much is best and so on. Do what is best for each one of us.
    During the raw chocolate craze that happened a few years ago I was
    consuming it and it was stimulating and never felt right. The same happened with the craze about agave syrup, o matter how many times I
    used it my body felt wierd and strange afterwards. I was also into
    consuming several avocado’s at a time and at one point tried raw garlic.
    Both choices did not feel right in my body so I changed.
    If some believe things are healthy for them its’ their choice to consume
    that. I actually believe that very small quantities of anything are ok but most of us overdo what we consume. In addition when we flavor something TOO much with too many spices or condiments we are not able to taste the food we consume, yet many people do exactly that with very spicy foods and even raw chocolate.
    I was raw on and off for several years (I have been vegan or vegetarian
    for 25 total years). I kept finding even though I was eating enough I felt
    too skinny to exercise and expel calories. I admire those who can stick
    with 100% raw and everything feels right with their body however, like you, I am now comfortable allowing myself the addition of healthy cooked food. namaste’, rachel

  10. Charlotte says:

    Hi Frederic
    I was wondering about the water issue, how much water you´d recommend?
    Some advice 3l plus a day…3l is my maximum

  11. Abakash says:

    Hoping for a reply to a question I asked earlier.
    Your comments on raw coconuts were quite troubling.
    Drinking pasteurized coconut water is better than water from fresh coconuts ?

  12. Hi!: ) I’ve been following you and receiving your emails for the last 5 years and never commented. I can also say that I’ve found so much truth in what you’ve said, regardless that my diet has changed over the years immensely. When I first discovered your blog, I was about 98% raw, and unfortunately, very underweight with terrible digestion. After reading something you wrote years ago about eating fruits and fats together, my digestion improved greatly. I almost did the raw thing too perfectly, and was down to such a low weight I won’t even say how low it became, and I was avid about getting in the right nutrients. Luckily, now, I eat forbidden foods I wouldn’t have eaten in my former high raw days and I’m so glad you made this post above because it implies to me, that we all have to make adjustments as needed for our health. The forbidden foods I now eat are nondairy milks that have no sugar for added calcium, protein powders ( which I used to think were garbage too!), and I now eat more cooked foods such as root veggies, salsa and sometimes hummus if I’m feeling adventurous. Nuts don’t sit well with me, but I love chia and flax. Dried fruits are awesome but don’t digest well for me like they used to. So, I’ve learned as you have, how to adjust my diet overtime to increase my health, so thank you! I love your advice and think it is awesome what you do!:)

  13. Amy Torres says:

    Hi Fred,
    I really enjoyed your article. A forbidden food I now eat guilt-free is white rice. Brown rice doesn’t agree with me, and intuitively I always feel drawn to white. The Japanese wrap sushi in white rice and Indian food is always served with basmati rice. Thai food has fragrant jasmine rice and delicious sticky rice.

    According to Linda Prout, “Brown rice can lead to digestive problems including gut heaviness after eating, an undesirable damp condition, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Plus, “The dark side to brown rice is its anti-nutrients, like phytic acid, which binds with magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc so they can’t be absorbed. Any extra magnesium in brown rice becomes irrelevant.” And, brown rice may have a high arsenic content.

    I’ve found that as long as white rice is eaten in sensible portions, it’s perfectly okay.


  14. Jocelyn says:

    I agree with most of this article, like I usually do when it comes to Frederic. 🙂
    The only thing I don’t agree with at the moment is the portion on raw garlic. I haven’t done research on the negative effects of raw garlic or anything like that. All I know is that it has a ton of vitamin C. When I’m feeling sick, a little bit of raw garlic feels like what I need. It tastes terrible, but I wake up the next morning feeling more awake, less goo in my eyes and my stomach feels cleaner and flatter. Maybe if I ate it more often and more long-term I would experience negative effects, but right now, my body craves it. Maybe it needs the vitamin C to help ward off the cold, I don’t know. I’m not trying to discredit Frederic but I’m just offering my personal experience.

    What about you guys?

  15. wgamaud says:

    Great post.
    I find dried fruit convenient for travel. However I do not consume them dry.
    It is easy to soak them overnight in my hotel room to rehydrate them and lower the sugar content and spare my teeth. I also like to use the sweetened water to make an electrolyte drink for my workouts, blended with celery for sodium and lime juice.
    Thanks for your great advice.

  16. Charmaine says:

    Hello Jocelyn, it’s the antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties of garlic that made you feel better. Garlic does the same thing to me. My blood has been candida-free since I went raw more than 7 years ago and I attribute this to garlic and coconuts. I don’t eat raw garlic often though. I usually just add it in my raw soups. Blessings!

  17. Bibi says:

    I sometimes”cheat” on my favorite salad dressing: Dijon mustard, honey and apple cider vinegar. Because I sometimes want my salads to be fruit free and savory.

  18. Jill Gallaher says:

    I love your passion however wonder what differences in view you will change in a few years time? We are all on a journey and people like you help us to learn which is great and commendable but I hope people will look into it for themselves also and what you share will only serve to spur people on to more searching and learning of their own as none of us ever have all the answers and our bodies vary too in what they can tolerate. Thanks for your inspiration, I enjoy following you 🙂

  19. Eva says:

    Hi Frederic,

    have you tried to eat garlic with fruit?
    I also find it myself worse digestible while eaating it with vegetable or simply at evenings.
    But it works wonderful together with fruit in the morning. Usually, I eat it with an apple. One apple and few cloves of garlic. I feel it cleans my mouth and teeth.
    Try it and let us now your results:-)
    I find it as very good mean of detoxification when someone is a newbie in raw. Of course, first, it really stinks because of all the toxins coming out through skin. The higher weight person has, the more garlic is recommended because it destroys fats.

    And about the yogis, I believe it is meant for cooked garlic. Cooked one can really be a toxin.

    All the best,

  20. Tania says:

    Thanks for your email with link to this article. What do you think about salt alternatives, for example green salt made from dried celery? It became highly popular in Russia (yes I’m from other side of the globe), but I’m still doubting if this salt will be a “cheat” or each day spice…

  21. apac says:

    a little bit of raw garlic is OK with me.

  22. Arleen says:

    Celtic brand sea salt is amazing for the body! You can order it from Walmart. As for protein powder, stay away from anything that is “isolate”, it is not digestable. Tumeric is a gift from the Lord as far as spices go.

  23. Cindy says:

    Thank you Frederick for your articles. Regarding raw cacao, i tried it and did not like it at all and i heard that it is a stimulant which i do not agree with. I will not eat raw cacao ever again even if they add raw vegan sweetner to it. I prefer raw carob it tastes great with almond milk. I am currently a vegan and am very happy being vegan and suffer no physical health problems in fact my thyroid was overactive when i ate s.a.d (standard american diet) and when i went 100% vegan my thyroid went back to normal. I am slowly transitioning to raw vegan which is my goal. As far as rice i like white rice once in a great while it is delicious with black beans to me. I learn a lot from your articles and keep up the great work!

  24. Cathy Starke says:

    Hi All & Frederic
    What do you think of kefir? I’m thinking of adding it to smoothies for the good intestinal flora. I’m not vegan and do eat dairy for the B12, but mainly ’cause I love feta. Almond milks etc are all lovely & maybe if I was on my own I’d use & make them, but right now, too time consuming and expensive for me and the big family I have to cater for. So ya, whatever works, but constantly trying to eat more raw, more veggies, more fruit, instead of the refined rubbish that is so easy to buy and prepare, but just makes you sick! I have glandular fever at the moment…thanks to too much stress & not watching my diet. I’m a runner and love excercise & perhaps I overdid that too. So, my message…moderation and do the best you can with what you have. Love Cathy (South Africa)

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