Teenagers, Young Adults and the Raw Food Lifestyle: Their Decision

Gabriela and Mom- Raw Living Expo 2013
Karen and young adult daughter, Gabriela

Children raised on raw vegan foods may begin experimenting when they become adolescents. I never recommend isolating children from activities in which they would be confronted with conventional foods, and I donʼt recommend isolating your family.

What is perceived as “peer pressure” in the teen years seems intense. Children often feel a strong desire to “fit in” with their teenage friends. Food choices are a very important part of “fitting in.” Children who have been living a healthy raw food lifestyle from a young age are aware that what they put into their bodies will determine their future state of health, but good health just doesnʼt seem that important an issue at this time of their lives.

When children are young, we as parents are the center of their universe, and they believe the messages we give them. From ages 3 and 5 until 11 and 13, my children enjoyed preparing raw food dishes and loved the taste of natural foods. Over the years, they delighted in all sorts of fruit and large green salads with delicious homemade dressings, green juices, and special raw vegan treats we prepared together. They thoroughly enjoyed preparing food and eating the results. But as the teen years approached, it became more and more difficult for them to feel comfortable with their peers. I also think they grew gradually tired of some of the raw foodistsʼ obsessive talk exclusively about food.

One thing I have learned after living a raw food lifestyle for many years is health involves so many different aspects; raw vegan foods are definitely important, but family togetherness, a low stress environment and fun are right at the top with nutrition.

Whatever my children choose to eat away from home, I know Iʼve provided them with the knowledge of what causes illness and what creates health to keep with them for the rest of their lives.


I think most children will eventually become influenced by the cultural values they perceive. The goal of creating raw and living foods communities around the world would be the solution to raising children healthfully and with support. I always dreamed my children could grow up in a raw vegan intentional community where they could have adult and peer support for living a healthy lifestyle. Since most of us donʼt have this kind of support for a healthy live food lifestyle, we must realize at a certain age, our children may stray due to cultural pressures. As time goes on, there is a developing awareness and growth of the raw food movement within the civilized world that should positively benefit families attempting to live a natural life. By increasing public awareness that disease need not be fought with drugs but prevented through healthful eating and lifestyle, I hope eating raw foods will eventually be considered normal. Today, with loads of new books extolling the benefits of the raw food lifestyle, itʼs easier to proclaim the choice.Iʼve come to believe once weʼve taught our children the powerful information about raw foods, we need to let them make decisions for themselves, no matter how painful it might be for us as parents. As much as we want to lead them to do what we feel is best for them, they need to be in control, or it wonʼt work for them in the long run. It is their path, not ours, and living in a culture in which chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries and chips are portrayed as healthful foods, teenagers will still need to find their own way without us guiding them at every step. We must nurture our childrensʼ decisions while continuing to make our homes as healthful as we possibly can. It is sometimes a hard balance and frustrating to a parent who believes strongly in the raw vegan lifestyle for a healthy future.

If spouses do not support each other on eating raw foods at home, this can create significant stress in everyday family life, and there will be a much greater chance the children will want to experience the foods of the other parentʼs diet at some time. It would be important to discuss these lifestyle beliefs prior to having children, as friction can arise when parents donʼt see eye to eye on nutrition.

Cover-3d of raw vegan recipe fun for families for website

Children who are raised to taste real fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden or organic farm and learn to forage for wild foods will usually return to this food from Nature even if they should stray for some time. My daughter remained vegetarian but experimented with cooked and processed foods for eight years before she realized the impact of her choices on her body, her mind and her environment. She began to listen to her own inner wisdom rather than simply following the crowd. She compared how she felt on raw foods when growing up at home to the standard dietary indoctrination surrounding her away from home. Her return to feeling wonderful on raw foods has given her a deep insight – fresh fruits and vegetables are the optimal “species specific” foods for humans.

Copyright December 2013  Karen Ranzi

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6 Responses so far.

  1. Carissa says:
    Hello:) I’m. A teenage senior in high school that would love to live a raw food diet, but im still at home and my family, mostly my larwnts, are very skeptical. I want to prove to them it will work. I tried it this summer using doug grahams book, but i was prettysickand not feeling myself when school time came around. I need guidance and some sort of proof that fruits will not hurt me. Im so hungry for it but since i most likely have candida overgrowth my mom freaks out whenever i talk about bananas or any fruit. Anyexperience with candida overgrowth? Ive been very sick for two weeks now and i feel raw food would help. I want to get back in school and activities again. Please help me convince my parents its the right thing to do! And any adviis for candida and ibs and
    Migrainrs? Thanks.


    • karen says:
      Hi Carissa,
      I understand your frustration. I do believe that a high raw or totally raw food lifestyle can be a big help to you. I also had candida 20 years ago when I came to raw living plant foods. I was able to heal my candida with fruit in my diet. My son healed from asthma and chronic ear infections by going to the raw food lifestyle. I don’t think fruit will hurt you but it depends on how you’re eating it, with which combinations. I also believe in very high green. It’s great to see a teenager who wants to help herself get well. It would be great to work with you if you are able to do some coaching. Even a one hour talk would get you on the road. Perhaps your parents would be more open to working with someone who has a lot of experience. I’m the author of two raw food books and have been living the raw vegan lifestyle for two decades. I would like to have a one week food diary from you and get responses to my health questionnaire. Let me know if this is something that you could do. The symptoms you discuss can be related to candida but not definitely.

      Hope to hear from you,

  2. Abigail says:
    Hi Karen, my name is Abigail and I am 15. I am really interested in the raw food lifestyle but I don’t know where to start. I was mostly drawn to it because I have a lot of issues with acne. I am a vegetarian right now, and I don’t eat any dairy, but I do eat eggs. My mom wants me to keep at least one source of animal protein, which I guess I could understand. She is also worried about hormones and how the diet will effects my hormones. My old neighbor loves raw and she has told me a lot about it. Being at school and sports, I don’t have much time to eat a meal every 2 hours and I am definitely constricted with money. I am willing to prep and do what it takes if it helps me. I want to try the diet out for 2-4 weeks before I commit, just to see how my body responds. Do you think you could give me some advice?

    Thank you.

    • karen says:
      Hi Abigail, Definitely try this wonderful raw food lifestyle for 2 weeks to a month and you will see how wonderful you feel and how much energy you have. Your mother is concerned about hormones but you will be getting way more hormones from animal foods. A health study done at Harvard University showed that eating just one egg a day puts one at significant risk for heart disease and stroke as well as breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer. There is no animal food that is meant for humans. The hormones in animals and their products are only meant for their young, and growth hormones are added to most animal foods to make the children of today grow bigger, and unfortunately much wider than they were meant to me.
  3. destiny says:
    hi karen,
    i have been wanting to try the raw food diet, but my dad says that it won’t work. i really want to prove him wrong. do you have any tips that i could use to try to convince him to let me try the diet?

    sincerely, destiny

    • karen says:
      Tell your dad you’d like to try the raw food diet for just two weeks. If you have any health goals you may just begin to see a difference in even a short time, and certainly if you’re eating healthfully. Some raw food diets are not healthy so you want to make sure that your diet is fresh whole foods.