A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle

DenaAugust 14, 2017

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

I have so much to say on this topic that it’s overwhelming. I’ve been wanting to write it for ages, but it is such a difficult thing to share. I have thousands of feelings on this topic and I don’t know if there is anyway to give them justice with my words; but I’m going to try.

Before I get started, I’m sure that most people are familiar with the term “vegan lifestyle” (no animal products or byproducts), but the term “raw lifestyle” is not yet as popular, so I have an old post explaining what I mean about a raw lifestyle here.

The first thing that was holding me back from writing this post, was the fact that I had not yet started to live the lifestyle completely. For years, I have known that a raw, vegan lifestyle would be the very best thing for my health — for anyone’s health — and yet, I was never willing to commit to it. In complete honesty, I wasn’t willing to give up so many of the foods that I loved.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

  • Although I knew that things like red meat, bacon, candy, and cheese were actually slowly killing me, I didn’t want to to give them up because they tasted delicious.
  • Although I knew that most animal-based food products in the United States come to be as a result of brutal, inhumane factory farming practices, I didn’t want to give them up because they tasted delicious.
  • Although I knew that all of the foods I just mentioned contain dangerous chemicals, preservatives, and environmental toxins that contribute to the cancer cells growing inside of me, I didn’t want to give them up because they tasted delicious.

What I was experiencing, and what the vast majority of people in our culture experience, is called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance occurs when we hold two conflicting thoughts in our mind at the same time. Here are a few examples:

  1. My husband is abusing me. But my husband loves me very much and it’s better for our children if we stay together. So one stays in the relationship.
  2. Smoking causes cancer. But smoking is the only thing that keeps me sane in this crazy life. So one continues to smoke.
  3. Mother pigs spend most of their lives in individual “gestation” crates. These crates are about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide, too small to allow the animals even to turn around. In crowded conditions, piglets are prone to stress-related behavior such as cannibalism and tail-biting, so farmers often chop off piglets’ tails and use pliers to break off the ends of their teeth, without giving them any painkillers. For identification purposes, farmers also cut out chunks of the young animals’ ears, again without painkillers. Male pigs are routinely castrated, again without painkillers. But bacon and sausage are delicious. So one continues to eat bacon and sausage.

These are just three examples of cognitive dissonance. You can see how easily it is to hold two conflicting beliefs in the mind at the same time. Even if you know that something is inherently wrong, you can very easily justify it, especially when you live in a society that condones and rewards the behavior. This is cognitive dissonance.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

I could write an entire novel on the evils of factory farming and on the science that explains how dangerous the Standard American Diet is, but I will save that for another time. Today, I want to focus on the four reasons why I have decided to, finally, begin living a mostly raw, vegan lifestyle. There are four primary reasons and I will explain each of them below, briefly. While there is so much to say, I don’t want to make this first post overwhelming, so this is just a start.

Health Reasons (Cancer)

You can read all about the story of my brush with cancer here. Long story short, last year my doctor found precancerous cells in my body. The reality is that female reproductive cancer runs in my family. My paternal grandmother fought a long, painful battle against ovarian cancer and eventually she lost.

When my doctor found these cells inside of my body, it was a difficult thing to say the least. However, while cancer can be hereditary to a degree, it is also true that there are natural ways to prevent and cure cancer — despite genetics! I realize that this is a very controversial statement, but whether we want to believe it or not, it is true.

Organic plants, fruits, and vegetables in their raw state are scientifically proven to have immense cancer fighting properties. I am going to speak briefly about the science of cancer and diet and then I’ll move onto the next topic.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

Cancer generally develops over a long period of time and is divided into 3 stages: initiation, promotion, and progression. Initiation occurs when chemicals or other agents attack the genes of normal cells to produce genetically modified cells capable of eventually causing cancer. Promotion occurs when the initiated cells continue to replicate themselves and grow into cell masses that eventually will be diagnosed. This is a long growth phase occurring over months or years and is known to be reversible. Progression occurs when the growing cancer masses invade neighboring tissues and/or break away from the tissue of origin (metastasis) and travel to distant tissues when they are capable of growing independently at which point they are considered to be malignant.

It is the promotion stage that especially responds to nutritional factors. For example, the nutrients from animal based foods, especially the protein, promote the development of the cancer whereas the nutrients from plant-based foods, especially the antioxidants, reverse the promotion stage.

There are thousands of of peer-reviewed scientific studies that back this theory — I repeat thousands. However, they are not yet commonly shared and further, there are multi-billion dollar industries (including factory-farming, pharmaceuticals, fast food, etc.) backed by enormous lobbies, which fight to keep this information from becoming common knowledge.

Again, I could go on about this topic for ages, but I will leave it here for now. If you would like to learn more, this article is a good place to start.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

My Babies

The next reason that I have started to live the lifestyle has to do with my babies. Knowing what I know, I truly believe that it would be irresponsible to feed them the Standard American Diet. A diet filled with meat, processed food, refined sugar, and so on, is plain and simply dangerous. As it is now, one out of every two Americans will get cancer or heart disease and die from it. Starting in the year 2000, one out of every three children who are born have developed diabetes—a, disease that for most sufferers is largely preventable with diet changes.

I struggle to share this information. I struggle because I realize that it can sound judgmental. I struggle because I, myself, do not feed my children 100% clean all of the time. But I want to say that I am not judging anyone, not even myself. I believe that there is room in our diets for going off course. I believe that we do not have to eat cleanly 100% of the time. Still, however, I do believe that a plant-based, whole food diet is the best thing for my children and for all children and that as parents, we have a responsibility to do the best that we can.

It is really easy to bury your head in the sand. Let me tell you as someone who has spent a lifetime doing it. It’s easy, indeed! But I don’t believe that it is the right way to live. I truly do not. Do I judge anyone for living a different lifestyle than mine? No, I don’t. How can I? I lived a different lifestyle for thirty-three years — even after I learned a lot of this information in my early twenties. I allowed cognitive dissonance to take over and I gave in to what was easy and what tasted good. I may stumble again. I have no business judging anyone. I am only sharing here, that’s all.

Taking care of my babies in this regard, and feeding them this diet, is not enough. I must also live it and model it for them. I must take care of myself and try to reverse the cancer that appeared in my body.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com


Overall wellness for myself is another one of the primary reasons that I have set out on this journey. I’ve written a lot about my struggle with mental health and obesity over the years.

The crux of it is simply that I have struggled with these things all of my life. It’s always been a roller coaster. From right around the time that I became a teenager, straight through until my early twenties, I battled with obesity, anxiety, and depression. I overcame it all and got healthy from roughly age twenty-two until my late twenties when I got pregnant for the first time. Since becoming a mother, my struggles have returned on and off, and with a vengeance.

I am finally at a place where I feel strong and confident enough to face my demons head on, once again. There is no doubt in my mind that a mostly raw, vegan lifestyle is the fastest and best way for me to achieve the physical and emotional wellness that I desire.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

Ethics & Environment

Finally, the last reason that I am living this lifestyle has to do with ethics and the environment. When it comes to the environment, I will quote a reliable source since it has all been said before, better than I am able to say it. Factory farming is a major contributor to water and air pollution as well as deforestation. Factory-farmed animals produce more than 1 million tons of manure every day. The animal waste often contains undigested antibiotics which are given to the livestock to prevent the spread of disease in their confined living conditions. This waste is usually stored in large open air lagoons which are essentially lakes full of animal waste. These lagoons can leak and spill, often during times of flooding, and have actually spilled over into other water bodies, contaminating them and killing their fish populations. The lagoons are often emptied using a spraying system in which the waste is applied to nearby fields. This can contaminate local water supplies, reach neighboring populations physically and in a sensorial capacity, and emit harmful gasses.

Likewise, livestock release methane gas during their digestion process. For this reason, factory farms serve as concentrated sources of methane gas emissions that pollute the air. Land and rainforests are cleared to allow livestock to graze and be raised. There is also the need for land to be used for crops to feed the animals raised on factory farms. There is a major draw on our water supply to grow these crops, to provide the animals with drinking water, to clean the farms, slaughterhouses, and transport trucks. (Source.)

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

When it comes to the ethics of eating meat and animal products, again, I could write a novel. Personally, it is something that I have struggled with all my life. I know that many people are able to eat a cheeseburger and not think at all about the cow that the meat came from or the cow that produced the milk that was made into the cheese. But I have never been one of those people. These thoughts have always occurred to me, all my life, each time that I ate meat. Later in life, when I started to learn about the horrific atrocities behind the factory farming industry, it became even more real to me and more difficult to eat meat and support that industry.

I am not going to get into the details, but I do believe that every person should educate themselves about what happens to food before it goes into their body. You can easily go to YouTube or Google and do a quick search for unethical factory farming practices. You, too, will be shocked and appalled at what you witness. Again, surely it is much easier to turn your head, but I do believe that at least educating yourself so that you can make the best decision for your life is a worthwhile endeavor.

Perhaps I will talk more about all of this, and about ethical farming practices — because yes, I do believe that they exist — in the future. However, I am still struggling with it. There are options like free-range, organic, ethically farmed meat products, however, even these options are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). All cooked meat products are carcinogenic — even organic options! So ultimately, we are talking about the lesser among evils and I am still struggling with this topic myself. Again, maybe a topic for another day.

Now that I have gone through the primary reasons as to why I am making this lifestyle change, I want to take a moment to explain why I am “mostly” adopting this lifestyle, and not adopting it entirely. First, at this point in my life I cannot imagine never eating cooked food again. I love cooked food way too much. I also believe that eating a bulk amount of raw food and a small amount of cooked food is an extremely healthy way to live. There are many in the raw community who advocate for a 60/40 approach (a diet made up of 60% raw food and 40% cooked food). I am personally striving for an 80 raw/20 cooked approach, but it will depend on the day.

As for my kids, I am a lot more flexible with them and their diets. I want to instill healthy habits and choice-making into their lives now, but I also want them to be happy and to experience the joy of a variety of foods. I also want them to know that when they can start making their own decisions, I will support them no matter what path they choose.

Also, there are a few animal products that I will continue to eat on occasion, including wild caught fish and cage-free, organic eggs. I will also eat “other” foods on special occasions, like holidays and birthdays. I do not plan to eat these things, regularly. I will not purchase them weekly or support the industries that produce them, but I am not going to live rigidly or set unattainable goals for myself — and I do not believe that anyone else should either!

I believe that we all have an obligation to do the best that we can every single day of our lives, in every area. I don’t believe that there is any such thing as perfection. I don’t condemn anyone for the decisions that they make and I will not beat myself up when I make a “bad” decision.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

Even if we each make small, incremental changes over time, I believe that it would do so much good in the world and in our own lives. If you’ve gotten this far in this post, then I give you credit! I realize that it is a lot to take in, but I thank you for reading and for giving consideration to these thoughts.

Finally, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Is this something that you would like to read more about? Do you want to hear about my progress as I move through this journey? I realize that it is a bit of a sensitive subject, so I would really love to know what you think as I consider sharing more.

Wishing you love, light, and health always! Thanks for reading. xo

Further reading and exploring:
Raw, Vegan Recipes
A Cure for Cancer?
Peer-Reviewed Research on Plant-Based Diets

Documentaries on Netflix
What the Health
Food Matters
Food, Inc.

A (Mostly) Raw, Vegan Lifestyle // livelovesimple.com

Comments (7)

  • Amber Gregory

    August 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I think this is a great way to handle it! And thank you for talking about all of this! I am pretty much exactly the same with my diet 🙂

  • Veronica

    August 28, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    I enjoyed this blog post and hope to see more in the future. I recently have struggled with my own journey on adopting a plant-based life style. When you talked about how you’ve always thought about the meat you’ve eaten and how it was produced but still continued to eat it, I have felt this way for quite some time. I struggle with how to find a balance. As a working mother of 2 under 4yrs, I can completely relate to your busy schedule and would love to read more about the meals you are preparing for your family!

    1. Dena

      August 29, 2017 at 2:35 am

      Thank you so much for sharing, Veronica. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with it. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. I would LOVE to share more about how we do it over here. Look out for some more detailed explanations here on the blog soon. If we’re not connected on Instagram yet let’s connect there too because I’m often sharing our meals and some prep in my stories. ❤️❤️

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    October 28, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    I have been plant based since June 1, 2019. I recently decided to explore the raw vegan lifestyle and your approach is so reflective of my heart. Thanks

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