A person who eats only unprocessed, unheated, and uncooked food, especially organic fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains. adj.
The shared belief, as articulated on the many and growing Web sites dedicated to the practice, is that cooked food is poison — "dead food" — that we primates were never designed to eat. "In nature, all animals eat living foods," wrote T.C. Fry, an early raw-food advocate who nonetheless passed away six years ago at the relatively early age of 70...This health regime goes beyond mere Veganism: For the Rawist, even a simple baked potato has been rendered not only less nutritious, but carcinogenic by virtue of its time spent in an oven.
—Karen von Hahn, "Raw raw," The Globe and Mail, November 23, 2002
Pick up an enthusiasts' book on the subject and you will read that the diet can cure a host of ills, from obesity to aging to cancer. But read an article in a publication like the journal of the American Medical Association, you'll be told that any benefits of a raw-foods diet are pure fantasy. Where does the truth lie?
The cornerstone of the "rawist" philosophy is simple: Nature is perfect. Proponents say that raw foods are nutritionally complete, and that cooking food is not only unnatural, but detrimental to its nutritional content. They shun baking, boiling, sauteing, steaming, microwaving, frying and pasteurization—in short, any method of food preparation or processing that requires heat. "If you can't eat a food in its fresh, natural state, you shouldn't be eating it at all" is a popular rawist mantra. "Man is the only animal who cooks his food" is another.
—Jack Rosenberger, "Can a raw-foods diet be balanced?," Vegetarian Times, May 1996
A rawist is more traditionally (!) known as a raw foodist (1979), although the terms raw foodie (1996) and raw vegetarian (1997) also apply. Most rawists try to eat a balanced diet, but there are three main subtypes that eat mostly food of a specific type: fruitarian (1971), sproutarian (1992), and juicearian (1998). See rawist.com for lots of raw food recipes.