As the vegan movement grows, ever more extreme forms of it appear, including people who only drink juices or eat all their food raw. However, sproutarians may have gone the furthest.As the vegan movement grows, ever more extreme forms of it appear, including people who only drink juices or eat all their food raw. However, sproutarians may have gone the furthest. If you are familiar with Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine, you must know the delicious bean sprouts often added to soups and wok dishes. They are mung bean sprouts, and it is far from the only type of seeds that can be sprouted – there are over 40 available varieties. For sure, sprouts are a good addition to the diet – but some people take their consumption a bit too far.
A treasuretrove of nutrientsEven among raw vegans (we have already written about them), sproutarians are considered radical, and there are not many of them yet, but the movement is growing. Their essential idea about the advantages of sprouts has a good scientific bases: indeed, a seed contains a great store of nutrients to feed the gentle seedling when it just comes out of the ground and before it develops enough roots and green leaves to feed itself. While a seed is dry, the vitamins, proteins, and lipids contained within are dormant, but they activate at contact with moisture. However, sproutarians’ ideas also contain quite a lot of pseudo-science and vague spiritual ideas.
Searching for the “life force”Sproutarians believe that when they eat something that has just begun living – a sprout – they can consume its “life force”. They claim that a diet of sprout expands consciousness, strengthens perception, opens up the mind to the universe (you can read more on their official website). Many sproutarians spend hours meditating; the rest of the day is spent tending to one’s own sprout farm – a battery of jars where different seeds are soaked and algae grow. Further, they claim that sprouts contain plant enzymes and growth hormones (which is true) that our digestive system desperately needs (which is not true). And while sprouts contain lots of vitamins A, C, and B6, many vital nutrients, such as B12, K, iron, and vitamin D, cannot be found in sprouts and have to be added via supplements, which shows the great inconsistency within the sproutarian diet: this way of life is unsustainable without artificial additives.
Should you consider sproutarianism?For sure, such a diet should only be tried as an experiment for a few days: in the long term it presents serious health risks. Humans have always been omnivores, and the invention of cooking may have been the stimulus for our brain growth (more info here). Besides, being a sproutarian means spending all your time soaking, rinsing, and harvesting sprouts. It is not a practical way of life; however, you should definitely try sprouting techniques to use this delicious food in your cooking
Sprout your own seedsFor your first try, take mung beans, alfalfa or chia seeds, or any brassica seeds (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) . Put them in a jar with some warm water and a bit of salt, cover with cheesecloth and leave for several hours, then rinse carefully with running water and leave the jar lying on its side for a while. Repeat this process until you get sprouts – it can take several days. Make sure to keep your equipment clean and rinse well, otherwise you risk a food poisoning with E.coli or other bacteria. Keep your sprouts in the fridge and eat them within 3 days.
While the sproutarian diet has no scientific basis and can be dangerous for your health, sprouts are defintely good for you and worth a try. With a very small effort, you can have fresh, crunchy,nutrient-packed sprouts on your table all year round – why not start to experiment right now?
Factors affecting adherence to a raw vegan diet – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Difficult to stomach: an interview with an extreme vegan – IsisMagazine.org.uk
How to grow sprouting seeds – WestCoastSeeds.com