The raw meat diet: do you have the stomach for the latest celebrity food fad?

And now Britain has its first all-raw food restaurant. By Steve Bloomfield
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cavemen may have thought nothing of eating the raw flesh of a slaughtered animal, but things have progressed since. Boiled, baked, griddled and grilled, almost everything we eat - except sushi - has been cooked in some way before it reaches our lips.

Cavemen may have thought nothing of eating the raw flesh of a slaughtered animal, but things have progressed since. Boiled, baked, griddled and grilled, almost everything we eat - except sushi - has been cooked in some way before it reaches our lips.

But all that is set to change. The raw-food revolution has swept the US - and now it is coming to Britain.

Forget the GI diet and the fry-up friendly Atkins. The only rule for the raw-food diet is that nothing is cooked - be it beef or beetroot, lamb or leeks.

Actresses such as Uma Thurman, Demi Moore and Natalie Portman, left, are devotees, while in Britain Gordon Ramsay last week called for more people to turn to raw meat. And the country's first raw-food restaurant has opened in London.

A plethora of "cook books" are also being published to promote a raw-food lifestyle, and several nutritionists and food experts have started courses on how to make the switch to raw.

The fad became mainstream in the US after a raw-food restaurant appeared in Sex and the City. There are now more than 30 eateries without ovens across the US.

Just because the food is not cooked does not mean that meat is off the menu. Veal, beef and venison can all be eaten safely providing they are prepared correctly.

"A lot of people are a little bit intimidated about eating raw meat and fish," says Ramsay, "which is a great shame, because I think they are really missing out - it is a very healthy and natural way of doing things."

The health benefits of going raw, claim its proponents, are numerous. Raw food has live enzymes which help to give you more energy. If food is cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, the enzymes die. According to those who eat only raw it will also reduce the amount of sleep you need.

Gillian McKeith, who presents Channel 4's You Are What You Eat and has written several books on healthy eating, says more people are beginning to include raw food in their diet. "When you eat only cooked food, you do not feel as alive.I have seen people who have complained of headaches and digestive disorders. They have started eating raw food with their cooked meals and suddenly realised such a difference in their health."

The first raw-food restaurant in Britain has opened in London's Primrose Hill and more are planned. Katia Norain, the co-owner of the Little Earth Café, was converted to raw food after spending time in Hawaii with friends who ate nothing but uncooked. "It is an amazingly interesting way of preparing food, it is good to have live enzymes in your system and, most importantly, it is yummy," she says. "This is not carrot sticks."

Dieticians are not all convinced that a 100 per cent raw diet has health benefits. Dr Frankie Phillips, a registered dietician with the British Dietetic Association, says: "The jury is still out on whether they make a difference to people. It will provide plenty of fibre but people should try and have a variety of raw and cooked."

There are food safety concerns about raw meat, "but venison and beef can be safe to eat raw if prepared safely", she says.

Karen Knowler, director of the Fresh Network, which promotes raw foods, says interest has risen as awareness grows of the dangers of obesity. "The best thing is you do not need to fuss about calories - you can eat as much as you want," she says.

Food for thought

Carpaccio of beef, using thin slices of finest Aberdeen Angus seasoned, chilled for 30 minutes, and garnished with fresh parsley. Accompanied by a mixed wild green salad with fennel, avocado, cucumber and seeds.

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