There was a time when raw food was considered a fringe movement for only the most extreme health obsessives. But those days are long gone, and raw food has now become a mainstream food choice for huge numbers of consumers. Raw foodism is really more of a movement or philosophy than a set of rules, in our 2015 Food & Drink Event Trends Report we noted that our neighbours in the UK have seen a huge increase in the popularity of raw food, we decided to explore the phenomenon.

In the past twelve months, Eventbrite has seen a 64% increase in raw food events taking place across the UK.

Who are the raw food-istas?

The trend towards raw foods is growing as consumers seek out ‘clean food’ options. But who makes up the driving force behind the raw food movement? Although a number of these people are raw foodists or enthusiasts, a significant group driving the trend are vegans and vegetarians, as raw naturally fits well with their dietary requirements and philosophy. But the biggest group embracing the raw food trend are ordinary consumers who are simply looking for health-orientated choices.

And going raw doesn’t have to be extreme – raw eating is something that many people are choosing to dip in and out of, as a way to detox over a set period of time, or even just for a day or two a week. Most people who try a raw food diet report having higher energy levels and an overall feeling of wellbeing, even when balancing raw with an ordinary cooked food diet. *

The raw revolution

The trend for raw food started in Europe in around 2010 but became established in the US in the 1990s. Since around 2010, the raw food movement has gone from strength to strength, to become a driving force in the UK food industry. The rationale behind the trend is that eating raw food better preserves its nutrients and enzymes, which can be destroyed by cooking. Generally, the foods eaten under a raw food diet are vegan with no artificial additives and are naturally sourced and processed, usually in an organic and sustainable way. *

Food can be warmed gently to around 40 degrees centigrade and still be considered raw (although the exact temperature ‘allowed’ for a food to still be considered raw is slightly contentious and varies among fans).

A UK-wide fiesta of oven-free food

London in particular is seeing an increase in the number of raw food cafes, and a whole host of raw food based events. But the rest of the UK has also fallen for the charms of raw.

Jay Halford is the owner of The Core café and restaurant in Cheltenham, which specialises in raw and vegan food. He regularly holds dining experiences and workshops. Commenting on the trend, he says: “Raw and vegan foods have really taken off recently with plenty of celebrity endorsement. Everyone is looking for healthier options. It’s seen as cool to eat healthy. It’s very evident in Cheltenham, there are a lot more healthy options on the menu in restaurants. In fact the town was named as one of the healthiest in the UK earlier this year.”

A wealth of uncooked optionsraw food diet

Preparing raw food is also a way to unleash your culinary creativity. When faced with the prospect of not using the oven, raw food fans are forced to get their thinking caps on to come up with new and inspiring ways to prepare tasty treats of the uncooked variety. And tasty they most certainly can be. From buckwheat granola to beetroot ravioli, raw foods can take you to new places on the flavour charts by unleashing tasty combinations and ideas that we’re not used to with our standard cooked and processed meal habits. And those with a sweet tooth can be kept happy as well, with chocolate now a well-known raw food option when made from raw cacao beans, and a huge variety of fruit based desserts on offer.

Celebrity endorsement = mainstream reach

You always know a food movement is on the rise when it picks up a host of celebrity supporters. As well as boasting various non-cookery celebrities as fans, raw food has been boosted by a number of its own health-focused chefs and bloggers including Ella Woodward, the author of blog Deliciously Ella. These well-publicised blogs help to spread the word to a wider audience about the virtues of eating raw, increasing the raw food movement’s reach to a mainstream audience.

Ditch the cooking, embrace the health benefits

Supporters of raw food report improvements in various health conditions following their adoption of uncooked diets. From skin conditions to digestive system complaints, raw food has been reported to carry a wealth of benefits, even as simple as an increase in energy levels. While it’s difficult to prove some of these claims, there’s no doubt that large numbers of people are firm believers in the power of the raw, and are feeling the benefits of its inclusion in their diets.

The juicing shortcut to raw redemption

An increasingly popular way to consume raw foods is through juicing. The simplicity of throwing your fruit and vegetables into a blender and ending up with a delicious blend of fresh juice is extremely compelling for those of us who struggle to find time to prepare a full-on raw meal every day. Some raw foodists may view juicing as the cheats’ way to work it into your meals, but the explosion in sales of juicing and blending machines shows that hoards of consumers believe this to be a no-brainer way of introducing the benefits of raw food to an everyday diet.

An appetite for learning

With growing interest in raw food lifestyles comes an appetite for learning more about how to prepare meals without cooking. For many people, the recipes and ingredients frequently used when eating raw are different to what we would normally pick up in the weekly supermarket run. Consequently, we’re unsure of how to prepare these foods or even where to find them.

This presents an enormous opportunity for those involved in the raw food movement to run cookery classes to educate those interested in learning how to prepare raw foods. In fact, in the past twelve months, Eventbrite has seen a 64% increase in raw food events taking place across the UK. Tasting events and supper clubs are also a great way to introduce the uninitiated to the wide array of flavours available through raw options.

This huge growth in raw food based events is a testament to the growing appetite for experimentation and learning among the raw-curious. From a raw vegan dining experience to an Italian raw food class, there’s an event out there to suit anybody interested in the movement.

To find out more about the growth in popularity for raw food based events, and the other big trends hitting the food and drink events scene this year, check out our 2015 Food & Drink Event Trends Report here.

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