Matthew Kenney learns that life is greener on the raw diet side

Matthew Kenney followed his raw food passion in creating the world’s first raw academy in 2009. And it’s hope that in future years, raw food is as normal as people ordering a McDonald’s cheeseburger. He breaks down the diet and why, in a very non-preachy way, you should think about it for your family.


I love cooked vegan food, but I will also say, many people do not know how to make good raw vegan food. It seems to be hard to find ANY raw food. The flagship Whole Foods down the road from where I attended the University of Austin ended up closing its fairly good raw cafe shortly after I discovered it in 2005 because nobody ordered it. What is the solution to both of these problems?

Education. It’s the reason we have produced so many books, launched onsite and online culinary academies, and post our recipes on a regular basis.  If people know how to prepare healthier cuisine, and understand the benefits, they won’t choose convenience and they will stop supporting businesses that don’t support their health.  We travel a lot and see more and more plant-based and raw options showing up because people are changing the way they think about food.

People think raw food means each meal is a salad, and yet, it isn’t. What are delicious foods resembling “normal food” eaten by meat eaters or veggie lovers who love warm food?

We have some classic recipes that mimic classic dishes, our heirloom tomato lasagna was one of my first raw dishes and remains a favorite for traditional eaters to this day, you can also always win people over with raw desserts – we have a pumpkin thyme cheesecake that stuns people around this time of year- they have no idea it’s raw and think it’s just a very high quality pumpkin pie!

If someone following a raw diet is stuck in a very raw-unfriendly town – let’s say, a road trip stop in West Virginia – is it better to buy local groceries and make something raw than go to a local restaurant and be forced to eat a poorly done salad?

I think the best thing to do when traveling is make sure you bring some quality, nutrient dense items you can add to salads if you’d planning on eating out (dried seaweeds, sprouted and dehydrated candied nuts), we also like to travel with something like the easy sprouter and our own organic seeds.  Most quality restaurants will be able to produce a really beautiful fresh salad for you and if you can find information on local farmer’s markets, the South is lush with farmers, and people’s connection to nature means you can even find pockets of communities into raw and natural living.

I’m aware of the argument that raw food contains more nutrients than cooked food. What other positives are there for the lifestyle?

I find it to be much easier on digestion, and proper digestion really does make life so much more pleasant and enjoyable.  I’m fairly active, and I find my recovery time to be much shorter, even now that I am 50, than it was when I ate a more standard diet.

I don’t like drinking alcohol. People I know do drink it however because it isn’t a meat product. Are you for or against alcohol in the raw diet, and why?

I love white wine, and I truly enjoy having it with dinner, but of course, I believe it should be used in moderation, I also know raw foodists who don’t feel their best if they have even a bit of wine, you have to tune in and experiment on yourself to find the formula that allows you to feel your best.

You’ve given two TED talks! What advice do you have for people who want to speak at TED conferences, or any major conferences in general, and in preparing for the most awesome speech ever?

It’s been several years since my TedX talks. I actually would love to give another one!  The first talk I had, I had someone guide me through it, and I wasn’t as happy as I was with the second where I was my most authentic. I think that was a major lesson in feeling comfortable that authenticity will always be rewarded and felt.


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