Raw vegan is healthy alternative

Located in the heart of the Belmont Village, Rawlicious is one of the first raw vegan restaurants of the franchise to be opened outside of the GTA.  With over eight stores in the GTA and one in Guelph, the Rawlicious franchise is becoming increasingly popular as consumer tastes shift towards healthier alternatives from traditional, high-calorie fat and sugar restaurants.

Everything is made in-house, daily, from scratch, using organic fresh produce, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, clean oils, fresh herbs and spices. As the “raw” in Rawlicious suggests, everything is uncooked or at most under 40 degrees celsius in order to retain the nutrients of the ingredients they serve. Unsurprisingly there is no wheat (gluten-free), meat, dairy, nor refined sugars in anything they serve.

The Belmont Village is also an interesting place to visit and extremely pedestrian-friendly. A replica of a small town main street, there are a variety of small businesses and a rich scenic history dating back to the 1930s.

The first thing I noticed when I entered Rawlicious was its cleanliness. This place is like a medical clinic, not a single germ would survive for a day with the excellent cleaning job they do. The bright lighting and light colour palette helps to accentuate a feeling of sensibility and stylishness.

To prep my tastebuds I ordered the chocominty: a smoothie consisting of nutmilk, banana, cacao, agave, and peppermint. It was badly blended and there were still solid chunks of ice and chocolate. However, the chocolate was smooth and rich, and I was certain this was no powdered chocolate mixture.

Next came the nori rolls, a seaweed wrapped sushi with fresh alfalfa sprouts, marinated mushrooms, and avocado. The rolls were interestingly colorful and dainty. The fresh crispiness of the vegetables complemented the soft buttery avocados really well. However, without the soy sauce by its side, it tasted very bland.

The waitress recommended the daily pizza, served on sprouted buckwheat and flax seed crust with cashew nut cheese and marinara. Toppings change daily; this time I had the Mexican pizza topped with avocados and tomatoes. The crust was surprisingly crunchy given there was no cooking or baking involved. The waitress explained that each pizza crust takes 6 hours to make, from the preparation of the crushed buckwheat and flax seed mix to the most crucial stage of where its crunchiness came from drying.

The raw pad thai was also an interesting dish: zucchini and kelp noodles, shredded romaine lettuce, carrots and bell peppers mixed in a tangy Thai sauce topped with green onions and crumbled cashews. The zucchini’s moisture made the noodles too watery, severely diluting the flavour. Also, the dish was overwhelmingly crunchy and airy; I knew I ate a lot, but it didn’t feel like much once it went down my stomach.

As inventive and creative as these meals are, I’m still quite skeptical to the purported life-changing healthiness of the “raw” lifestyle. In addition to the hefty mark-up these places usually charge, I find the cost-benefit analysis weighing towards a regular balanced diet of meat and vegetables to be sufficiently healthy. Otherwise, this is a great novelty restaurant that successfully promotes their cause.