Inherent Risk of Eating Raw

Recently, media reported that adopting a raw vegan diet might improve one's immunity and overall health. What is "raw vegan diet"? And how does it affect our health?

Raw vegan diet is the dietary practice of eating mainly plant-based food that is uncooked or only cooked at low temperatures and without processing. Proponents of raw vegan diet believe that raw food provides vital enzymes and nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed during cooking or processing.

However, it is worth noting that produce/crops may be contaminated with parasites and harmful microorganisms (such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, E. coli, etc.) when they are grown in the field. Washing alone may not be able to remove these microorganisms totally. Consumption of the contaminated food can result in food poisoning. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of microorganisms, common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. More severe or even life-threatening symptoms such as renal failure, septicaemia and meningitis may be developed, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women, infants, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. To ensure food safety, susceptible populations and those who wish to reduce their risk of foodborne illnesses are advised to pay special attention to raw products. Vegetables and fruits to be eaten raw should be sourced from reliable suppliers, thoroughly washed with clean water, and consumed as soon as possible after preparation.

In addition, certain food (e.g. bamboo shoots, bitter apricot seeds, soyabeans, green beans and red kidney beans) may contain natural toxins which could be potentially harmful to our health. The level of toxins in these foods can be reduced to safe levels through proper preparation and cooking. To render them safe for consumption, bamboo shoots, bitter apricot seeds and beans should be thoroughly cooked.