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(An interview of Brother Nazariah - founder of the Essene Church of Christ - that discusses possible long term nutritional deficiencies that result from being on a raw vegan diet.) 

An Interview with Nazariah
Veganism and the Raw Food Movement



Iím 46 now and Iíve been a vegetarian since I was 17. At that age, I not only became a vegetarian but also a raw foodist. I included raw dairy into my diet because I had met an elderly Essene teacher who recommended that. Historically, that used to be the Essene diet. The Essenes, for the most part, were not vegans. They were vegetarians, and many of them were raw foodists, but they ate fermented dairy products ó yogurt and kefir. So that was my diet was for 7 years. During that time, I did great ó no problems at all.

Then, when I had moved to another location, I became very attracted to the vegan philosophy, because it is a beautiful philosophy. I then became a raw foodist.

After 5 years on a raw food diet, I lost the ability to walk. All of my extremities ó my hands, my fingers and my feet ó were in such pain that I couldnít move. I had central nervous system problems and I was B12 anemic. All of that happened after 5 years on a raw food diet.

So I switched back to eating the raw fermented dairy products. At that point, being as nerve-damaged as I was, I also included eggs. I healed myself by reintroducing those products.

At that point, I was wondering whether this was an experience unique to myself, or whether other persons had had problems on the raw food diet in the long-term. In the short term, you donít have those sorts of problems. Theyíre nutritional deficiencies that take several years to manifest themselves.

Lack of Success in the Raw-Vegan Movement
So I did some research. I put a call out on the Internet at different raw food chat boards. Because I was one of the speakers at raw food events when they were held, I got to hang out with the other noted raw food speakers. I started realizing that problems like Iíd had were rampant in the raw food movement, but donít get talked about.

When the people who lecture and write the books start themselves having problems on the diet, they hide that fact because they are earning their livings being a raw food lecturer/author. I hate to say that, but itís that way. Iíve seen it happen again and again, when I will personally know a famous raw food speaker/teacher, and because I personally know them, I know that they are going through anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, that theyíre having pain in their joints, theyíre losing their teeth ó things like that. And yet, Iíll see them speak at a raw food convention and they never mention any of the problems theyíre actually experiencing. They just praise how perfect the raw food vegan diet is. And what happens is any time people are having problems on the raw food diet, they get told that theyíre just experiencing detox and cleansing. But thatís just a pat answer.

(Comments by Frederic: There is often a big misconception in the raw food movement, where people will believe that anytime something goes wrong, it is because of ďdetox.Ē I keep reminding people that the intense period of detoxification is often something that lasts less than a few months ó often only a few weeks. If symptoms persist, they are often signs of nutritional imbalances.]

Deaths in the Raw-Vegan Movement
Here, in the Eugene area, where I live, a man in the local raw food support group died about two years ago. He was only in his forties. For two weeks before his death, heíd been telling the leader of that group that he was having bad chest pains, but she just kept telling him, ďoh, itís just detox, itís just cleansing.Ē

And he had been into this for a long time?
Yes, for a long time. He was one of the funding members of the raw food support group there. His doctor, when he died, told his wife (the manís wife) that her husband had died of starvation. His body just starved to death, even though he was eating raw foods everyday. He wasnít absorbing enough nutrients from it.

I was telling that story to a woman in Santa Monica who is part of a raw food support group there, and she responded by saying: ďOh yeah, we recently had a guy who died the same way, and he wasnít very old either. The doctor said that his body just starved for lack of nutrients.Ē Then I was telling another woman in Florida whoís member of a raw food support group there the same story about both these people, the one in Eugene and the one in Santa Monica, and she responded by saying, ďOh yeah, weíve had two die that way.Ē

Raw Vegan Fallacy #1: Protein
The more I got into looking into this, the more I found that a lot of the things that get preached in the raw food movement just arenít true. One has to do with protein. There is a real issue with getting enough protein. On a cooked food vegan diet, you tend to eat a lot of beans and grains, and that is a complete protein. But if a person is a raw food, beans and grains would be sprouted, and most people donít eat such a large amount of sprouts. Even if they do, as soon as you begin to sprout, the protein is converted into something else. So the protein content goes down. The vitamin content goes way up when you sprout, so there are some good things about sprouting. The vitamin content increases, but the protein decreases. So on a raw diet, you think youíre getting your protein from the little bit of fermented seed cheeses, but you canít eat very much of that because it really clogs you up. So over a period of several years, people become really protein deficient.

Protein is what rebuilds everything in our body. Everyday weíre losing billions of cells, and they have to be replaced. Well, itís protein that is used by the body to rebuild all those things. So what happens is that over a period of time, the body just isnít rebuilding all of that and you end up having nerve damage and different repercussions. That can happen even in the cooked-food vegan diet.

[Comments by Frederic: The amount of protein needed is different for each individual. The problem is that those needing higher amounts of protein who go on raw vegan diets are often the ones who experience the most problems. Lack of strength, hair loss, and constant hunger are some of the symptoms that can occur.]

Longevity of Vegans
The biggest study on the true mortality rates of vegetarians and vegans was published recently, and the results were partly shown in Ahimsa Magazine, which is a vegan magazine. Even though the results were not good for the vegan movement, that vegan magazine said in an editorial that they felt that in fairness to the readers, they needed to publish the information.

The information was that even though weíve been led to believe that vegans live longer, they actually live less long than many other dietary categories. Vegans have a high incidence of degenerative brain diseases ó Alzheimer, dementia, and things of that nature.

In the past, all of the positive statistics about vegans, all the ďless thisĒ and the ďless that,Ē all the good things that were taught in books like John Robbinsís Diet for a New America ó all those statistics werenít from studies from large groups of people who actually died. They were just extrapolated information. It was like, John Robbins would say, ďOkay, fat is one of the things that cause heart disease. Vegans are eating 30% less fat, therefore they will die of 30% less heart diseaseĒ It was all theory. As it turns out, there are certain things that are good about the vegan diet ó such as less fat, less cholesterol ó but the problem is that there are certain deficiencies in the diet, even in the cooked-vegan diet, that actually cause vegans to have more of certain serious diseases, especially brain-related ones, because itís all having to do with the central nervous system.

Are there other studies to back up your claim that vegans live less long than meat eaters?
See, over the years, Iíve read many studies that have caused me to come to this conclusion. But Iíve also spoken to many experts, such as Gabriel Cousens, who have clinical experience with vegans. But it goes back to the 1990ís, when Vegetarian Times, which is a major magazine, published the results of a study that was geared to just women, and tried to see which ones lived longer, between meat eaters, lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegan women. It turned out that the lacto-ovo vegetarians lived the longest, the meat eaters lived the next longest, and vegans lived the least long. And that was in Vegetarian Times approximately in 1990. So as the years went by and studies were done, it just became sort of overwhelmingly obvious that a lot of the things that we believe in the raw food movement and the vegan movement literally arenít verifiable by science, and science actually discredits a lot of these claims.

The good news is that a vegetarian diet, which includes some dairy and eggs, appears to be very healthy. Thatís the good news, is that we can be healthy vegetarians. Itís extremely questionable whether very many of us can be healthy vegans. It might be possible, but that it doesnít seem possible for the majority. The majority of vegans are actually not healthy.

[Comments by Frederic: Actually, I havenít seen studies showing that vegans live less long than vegetarians.]

B-12 Deficiency
Most vegans are not getting enough B-12. Itís very important to take a B-12 supplement if youíre on a vegan diet, and a lot of vegans donít. A lot of the sources vegans have believed they were getting their B12 from actually arenít good. For instance, the blue-green algae, the spirulina, sea vegetables, all of those things are listed as having a lot of B12, but studies have shown that theyíre analog B12, which canít be utilized by the human body. Analog B-12 competes for receptor sites with the real usable B-12. It results that eating any of those things, itís not only that youíre not getting the B-12 you think youíre getting, youíre actually going to get less, because the analog B-12 clings to the limited numbers of receptor sites in the body for real B12 ó and then real B-12 canít cling to it, because itís already taken by the analog B-12. So, people who have been eating those things in the vegan movement thinking that itís a natural source of B12 and that they donít need to take a B-12 supplement, become very B-12 anemic.

Gabriel Cousens, a holistic M.D., has become very concerned about the B-12 issue and is now publishing the results of new research. He says that itís been demonstrated that 80% of vegans become seriously B-12 deficient. He then lists the problems that can be related to B-12 deficiency, and itís an incredible list of problems.

Vegetarianism Versus Veganism
Where I come out on all this, is that when we look at our own family lines, most of us have not had a vegetarian ancestor. The vast majority of us, living in America, have not had a single vegetarian ancestor, going back all the way to this almost countless line of generations. And certainly, there was not a vegan in that family line. Therefore, thatís a pretty radical thing to do, if you look at it that way, to all of a sudden become a vegan, when no one in your genetic line has been a vegan, going all the way back to perhaps thousands of years ago. Weíve been eating animal products for all that time, so the human system is expecting to get nutrients that way.

So what I advocate now is that people become vegetarians, not vegans. With that in mind, there are certain smart things that you can do. For instance, the problem with dairy products that most people have is the digestion of lactose. Lactose is what causes mucus. But in fermented dairy the lactose is pre-digested by the fermentation process. Even most people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate fermented dairy. Fermented dairy is yogurt, kefir, etc. You can also have some organic eggs from free-range chickens.

Fallacies in the Raw Movement #2: Cooking
Another one of the fallacies of the raw food movement is the idea that once you cook vegetables, you destroy all of the nutrients. The reality is that it simply isnít true, according to some tests that have been done.

They did a test for cancer purposes where they knew that there were certain nutrients in certain vegetables with anti-cancer properties. So they fed one group of people raw vegetables and they fed another group cooked vegetables. Then they checked their blood, to see which group had the highest level of the positive anti-cancer properties from the vegetables in their bloodstream, and it was the people on the cooked vegetables that had it, far more than the people on the raw vegetables.

The reason is simply because most people digest cooked vegetables better than they digest raw vegetables. More nutrients get in the bloodstream from the cooked vegetables.

Thereís an example that I give to a lot of the people that I know ó younger people, college students, old hippies, people like that ó who have at least at one time or another in their lives eaten marijuana brownies. The interesting thing about eating cooked marijuana is that youíll get high if you eat cooked marijuana, but you wonít get high at all if you eat raw marijuana. And a lot of those people can relate to that. They tried raw marijuana ó eating it, and nothing happened to them. Theyíve tried cooking it and eating it, and they did get high. Well, the reason is because only when the marijuana is heated does it break down the fibers enough to where the THC seeps out and can be absorbed into the human bloodstream.

What I point out is that itís the same thing with a lot of the nutrients in vegetable matter. A lot of times, youíll eat the raw vegetables and your body doesnít really break down the fibers enough to absorb certain of the nutrients. In a tomato, for example, you find lycopene, which is one nutrient that theyíve found which is really good for the human heart and has anti-cancer properties. Lycopene is not digested in a raw tomato. It is digested in a cooked tomato. So, there are some nutrients that are more absorbed in cooked vegetables than in raw vegetables.

If a person isnít defending a particular ďismĒ, but is just looking for truth, youíll find that the healthiest diet is one that includes a lot of both cooked vegetation, and raw vegetation ó because thatís the best of both worlds. Youíre getting the things from the raw vegetables that you canít get from a cooked vegetable and youíre getting things from the cooked vegetables that youíre not going to get from the raw vegetables.

The Healthiest Diet
That is the healthiest diet. A vegetarian diet thatís not a junk food vegetarian diet ó but one based good, whole, organic foods.

The healthiest diet would have one meal a day that is a raw vegetable salad ó a major vegetable salad, not a little iceberg lettuce, but with romaine lettuce, broccoli, etc. ó a real heavy-duty salad.

Another meal would be cooked and feature things like steamed veggies, or a stir-fry, so it would have a lot of cooked vegetation in it.

A third meal simply would be fruit, like a fruit breakfast or a smoothie.

In there, somewhere, youíve got to get your protein. So either with your salad, or with your cooked meal, you want to have yogurt or kefir, or hard-boiled eggs on your salad, or something.

Could that be beans?
It can some days, but if it were going to always be that, then that would be vegan, and the whole point of everything Iíve just told you is that it seems that the vegan diet isnít beneficial in the long-term. If a person were going to be a vegan, they could be having some tofu, tempeh, or some sort of a bean-type protein with their steamed veggies. That diet would be a healthy vegan diet, as far as vegan diets go. But what Iím saying is that the latest research is that the vegan diet itself is deficient in the long-term.

More Nutrients Lacking in the Vegan Diet

What about supplements? If someone takes B-12, vitamin D, etc., could that be complete? They keep on discovering certain little things that we didnít know, even three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. You really canít be sure that thereís something else that they havenít discovered thatís lacking in the vegan diet.

For example, we only found out a few years ago about the need for the omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important, and itís very difficult to get them on a vegan diet. Several years ago, when that got discovered, we got told that itís in flax seeds. So then people in the vegan movement started having a lot of flax seeds or flax oil, and stuff like that. Well, now, as recently as a year ago, they discovered that we only absorb something like less than 6% of the omega 3 in flax oil. So in other words, youíd have to eat an incredible amount of flax oil to get very much omega 3 from it, because most people donít absorb very much of it from flax oil.

And then, they discovered as recently as one year ago that thereís a long-chain fatty acid, which is really important to the brain and is not found in any vegan source of food. Then about a month ago, Gabriel Cousens said that this long chain fatty acid, called EPA, is present in this kind of wild plant called purslane. But hardly anybody knows that in the vegan movement, because that just got discovered a month ago. And most of them donít know that theyíre even missing this long-chain fatty acid.

What Iím telling you that for is that, even though the general idea is that you just combine some beans and grains and maybe take a B-12 supplement and youíre going to have everything that you need, actually, there are little things, like certain fatty acids that they keep on discovering that arenít in the vegan diet, until they figure out some way that you can get it from a vegan source. So I wonder, whether or not in the next five years, or 10-20 years, theyíre going to keep on discovering little things like that, that they didnít know before.

Itís certainly has been happening my whole lifetime. They keep on discovering ether new tidbits of information. So if a person were concerned about health, I wouldnít recommend a vegan diet.

Ethics and Health
If your main reason for being a vegan is the ethical concerns for the animal world and if youíre willing to take on the personal karma of being less healthy because of your ethical considerations for the animal world, then, thatís an okay reason to be a vegan, but not health, because it doesnít seem to be healthy in the long-term.

So you have to just decide, where youíre at on that. If you donít care about your own health, or if youíre willing to sacrifice your own health because of the ethical considerations for the animal world, then I donít have any problems with that. If a person knows that theyíre going to have an increased chance of dying prematurely, and having different health problems, but are choosing that path knowingly, because of their love for the animal world, well then thatís fine. As long as theyíre doing it knowingly.

My viewpoint is that I think that for the animal world, our generation is making a good step in the right direction by simply stopping eating animals. Weíre making a good step in the right direction for our species. After a certain number of generations of our family line actually being vegetarian, we could probably evolve from a vegetarian species into a vegan species ó the way evolution works.

But you donít just go from a meat eating species to all of a sudden being a vegan species without a lot of traumatic problems. So I advise a more intermediate step. Letís first evolve into being vegetarians for a number of generations, then letís evolve into veganism and let evolution happen in that way.

Raw-Veganism During Pregnancy
I donít think that itís wise for a woman who is pregnant to eat a raw-vegan diet, and the reason is that there are numbers of studies and view points that believe that there is an insufficient amount of nutrients comes in ó especially vitamin B12. If a woman were taking the vitamin B-12 supplement, and certain other supplements, then she probably could stay on a raw-vegan diet. However, a lot of the people that are on the raw-vegan donít believe in supplements ó they donít believe in taking vitamin B12. And according to the latest research from Gabriel Cousens, 80% of vegans are B-12 deficient. A vitamin B-12 deficiency in children leads to irreversible brain damage. So even if later in their life, theyíre eating plenty of B-12, thereís been irreversible brain damage already done.

I understand the reasons that a woman would choose to be a raw vegan herself and to attempt to raise her children that way, and even to attempt to maintain that diet while sheís pregnant. The reason is that she believes that itís good for her and that it will be good for her children. The problem is that actual scientific evidence shows otherwise. Itís very risky and dangerous for a pregnant woman to be on a raw vegan diet, and it is risky and dangerous to raise small children on a raw vegan diet.

Now, one might say, are there other problems besides the B-12 issue? Well, the B-12 issue is very important. There would need to be a B-12 supplement to be raising your child on a raw-vegan. But B-12 isnít the only issue. Many children who are being raised on a raw-vegan diet are suffering various nutritional deficiencies that affect them later in life. And even if a person believes that perhaps a child can be raised successfully on a raw-vegan diet, they owe it to their child to research the issue before attempting to actually raise the child as a raw-vegan. Itís not enough to research the issue by asking raw-food experts, because as Iíve pointed out in this interview, raw-food experts have been spreading incorrect information for a number of years. You have to actually get into talking to other sources of information, including nutritional scientists ó people who actually study nutrition.

Have you seen yourself children whoíve been raised on a raw vegan diet?
I know friends of the family of the infant that died recently in Florida, and they tell me that even the older children in that family were emaciated and looked like Nazi workcamp inmates.

Is 100% raw ideal?
Hereís what I think now: a person on a raw diet, including fermented dairy products or eggs, will do fine. But if a person was going for what the healthiest diet is, I think having one meal of cooked vegetables per day ó steamed vegetables or an oriental stir-fry, or something like that ó is actually even healthier than being 100% raw for this reason:

Studies have shown that certain important nutrients in vegetables are better absorbed and utilized by a human being from cooked vegetables. And other certain important nutrients are better absorbed and utilized by a human being from raw vegetables. So, the best of both worlds is each day to have cooked and raw vegetables in our diet.

So actually, as far as what would be the most healthy diet, I think it would be one meal each day that includes cooked vegetables, like some steamed veggies or stir-fry and one meal per day thatís basically a big, raw, vegetable salad, and, if thereís a third meal, that can be a couple pieces of fruit or fruit smoothie for breakfast, and that would be raw. So the diet that I just described would be two third raw. And then thereís got to be a good source of protein in that diet, which means that perhaps with the cooked meal, one might have some kefir, some yogurt, or perhaps, on the salad a couple of hard-boiled eggs.

Whatís Missing in the Vegan Diet
This leads me to question the protein theories that I have learned. The current RDAs for protein are 0.8 grams for every kilo of ideal body weight, which seems fairly easy to get on a raw-vegan diet. So where do you get the impression that protein is such an important element in the diet?

Where we get the impression is from the actual crippled people and people with nervous disorders on the vegan diet. See, on paper, like youíre saying, it all looks fine. But in reality, you have people on long-term vegan diets having real problems.

So thatís where we find out that there are problems. So then the investigators say, ďOkay, even though we thought that there was plenty of these nutrients in a long-term vegan diet, we have these degenerative brain diseases and things like that happening to vegans: so whatís the problem?Ē Then they discover that there are certain long-chain fatty acids and other things that weíre not really thinking about when weíre just looking at how many ounces of protein is in this or that.

The real complexity comes in that thereíd be these things that we havenít factored in. And then even right now, thereís no reason to think that in the next five or ten years theyíre not going to discover more of those little things that we donít currently know about, because they keep discovering more. You have to realize that in the 1900s, nobody knew what B-12 was, nobody knew what vitamin C was, nobody knew what vitamin A was ó thatís all stuff that got discovered later. And as the years go by, they keep discovering more things. Rather than look at all the things theyíve discovered so far, and then look at whether or not you can get them on a certain diet, itís good to look at groups of people who have been following a certain diet and if theyíre healthy or not.

Long-Term Vegans Donít Look Good
One of the things that Iíve just noticed, with my own eyeballs, is that a lot of long-term vegans actually donít look healthy. They look kind of emaciated, their skin is kind of yellow, theyíve got bags under their eyes, their hairís not good ó itís splitting, their fingernails arenít good. So just looking at long-term vegans, like if you go to a veganís organizationís meeting and look at the people and youíll realize that they actually donít even look healthy, especially when you look at the people that have been on it for longer than 10 years. So then you start finding out that theyíre having really major health problems related to certain nutritional deficiencies.

I want to emphasize that I was a vegan. I was a radical vegan. I was in favor of the philosophy, and I still think itís a beautiful philosophy. I still think itís fine for a person, in spite of all that Iíve said ó to just knowingly become a vegan. But what they shouldnít be under is the false illusion that theyíre following a diet thatís healthier than other diets, which is what they thought. In fact, itís probably not as healthy as certain other diets. And itís okay to do it, as long as you realize that you are taking a risky dietary choice, and youíre doing it for ethical reasons, not health reasons.

[Comments by Frederic: I wouldnít generalize like that. Not all vegans are unhealthy. However, there are some people who definitely arenít doing well and do not look well, which can be attributed to their diet because their problems go away when they stop being vegans. ]

Raw-Vegan Fallacy #3: Enzymes
Youíre probably familiar with the very recent case in Florida, where a small child died on a raw-vegan diet. When that happened, there were a lot of newspaper articles in Florida about the raw-food diet. And those reporters were going around, asking different nutritional experts for their opinion on the raw-food diet. Well, some buddy in Florida sent me a couple of newspaper articles, and in those articles, there were a few nutritional scientists interviewed. They were pointing out, like Iíve mentioned before, that most of the nutrients get absorbed better in a cooked vegetable, and a few get absorbed and utilized better in a raw vegetable. Therefore, the healthiest diet would be one that included both raw and cooked vegetables, because then youíre getting the nutrients that are better absorbed in each way.

But there are other fallacies that nutritional scientists pointed out. One of which is the whole living enzyme thing. Only one researcher, in the 1940ís, that Dr. Howell, who always gets mentioned in the raw food literature, believed that there was a chance that, when you ate raw foods, those enzymes in the food would make it to the part of the digestion process where they could be helpful, before they got themselves completely fried. But, your other 99% of researchers donít believe that. And this is what people in the raw-food movement donít realize, is that the idea that the raw enzymes in food that you eat are going to help you digest your food is not believed to be true by 99% of researchers. The reason is because before food every gets to the point where the nutrients are being extracted, itís already been totally broken down by your own digestion process. When you eat food, it goes to a place in your stomach where thereís these incredible ďfiresĒ with acids, and stuff like that, and it totally breaks down your food before it gets to the point that those enzymes could help in the way that raw-foodists believe they help.

But, the other thing is that the enzymes of a plant are not the same as the enzymes of a human being, in our digestive tract. The enzymes of a plant are designed by a plant to help the plant digest its nutrients, its food. So the enzymes of a broccoli plant are for the broccoli plant to digest its food. If you look at them with a microscope, they arenít the same as the enzymes in a human digestive tract.

Now there are a few plant enzymes that have been found to help digest certain things, like for instance in papayas you have papain. There are a couple of plant enzymes that seem to have a beneficial effect in digesting certain things, but the idea that we have when we are eating our salads and our raw foods that all of those living enzymes in those plants are somehow going to aid our digestion process actually is not what science has found.

Underweight Raw Vegans
If we go to a raw food conference, you notice that a lot of men look quite skinny or emaciated. Some say itís detox and that the weight will come back, but then many have been on this diet for quite a while and still are quite underweight.

Thatís the big problem now, but there are a few exceptions to the rule: people who have amazing digestive systems and are able to digest nutrients properly on an all-raw diet. But the important thing is that those are the exception to the rule. The vast majority of people does not adequately break down and digest all the raw foods that theyíre eating. And thatís why they canít reach a healthy weight.

I mentioned to you that several people have died on a raw food diet and that when they died; the doctor said that their body had starved to death. Those werenít people that were fasting; they were people that were eating raw foods everyday. But their body starved to death because these individuals had less effective digestive systems than the average person. So, even though the average person would not digest as many nutrients from the raw vegetables as from the cooked vegetables, people with poor digestion digest so few nutrients on the raw food diet that they can actually starve to death even though they are eating everyday.

And so, when one sees things like that happen and then try to bring that up and talk about it in the raw-food movement, then everyone gets really defensive and starts attacking you and labeling you in some negative way.

What raw-foodism has become is just another ďism,Ē that is defended by the true believers. And any information that Iíve provided you in this interview, what the true believers will do with it is that theyíll simply look at it and immediately start forming arguments and opinions to counter it, without ever being open to the possibility that it might actually be true. Just like a Jehovah Witness would defend Jehovaism, and a Mormon would defend Mormonism, raw-foodists will defend raw-foodism.

The Raw-Vegan Movement

When we talk to these leaders, people like Gabriel Cousens, theyíll acknowledge the B-12 issue. But you donít just recommend supplements but move away from the vegan diet completely. Why?

The thing is that Iím not so personally invested in having to defend the raw-food diet or the vegan diet. I simply got into all of this because I was a seeker of truth, and I was looking for a diet that was spiritual and healthy, and wherever truth has led me, I followed. The problem is that with most of these noted leaders of the movement are authors. Thatís how they got to be the noted leaders, because they were writing the books. And theyíre on the lecture circuit, they have clients, theyíre earning their living from being an authority on veganism or raw-foodism. If they completely just shift and say, ďI no longer believe that the raw-vegan diet is anything that should be advocated to the large number of people,Ē then the problem is that it pulls the rug from underneath them, personally, in regards to how theyíre learning their living. So I hate to say a thing like this, but from what Iíve seen with my own eyes, it seems to be part of the problem.

The leaders, the authority figures, are earning their living from being promoters of this particular diet. So therefore ó and even the best of them ó when they start to see some problems, their instinct is to just recommend a particular supplement, or something like that, and of course, usually they sell the supplements that theyíre recommending. Youíll notice that most of them do. So they sell those things, but if they were to simply say, ďGosh, you know even though I became a famous author on this topic, it doesnít actually seem to be valid anymore,Ē they would have to change their entire career. The thing that theyíre famous for would not be something that they arenít in favor of anymore. Itís a radical thing that they would have to experience and go through.

Look-Term Raw-Food Authors Eating Cooked Food

Are you saying that these leaders may actually not be vegans themselves but wonít come out publicly and say that?

Thatís not what I just said. But since you are saying that, on whether or not they are vegans or not, all I can say is that I have seen with my own eyes certain things... One incident occurred when I was one of the speakers at the raw-food convention in San Francisco, a few years back. Two of the speakers were really insistent that one has to be on a 100% raw-vegan diet and that 80% raw is not okay to get the benefits. They said out loud that you have to be 100% raw-vegan. And each of those speakers claimed to have been 100% raw-vegans for 20 years. They were the most aggressive, assertive speakers in the entire convention, really negative towards anyone that would just eat partially raw. Well, before the end of that weekend, I saw each of them sneakily eat cooked food.

I went for a walk and a few blocks away from the convention center and I walked by a pizza restaurant, and there was one of the speakers who had said those things, and heís eating a pizza. You can order a pizza with no cheese on it, but even then it would be cooked food and he was claiming that he hadnít eaten cooked food in 20 years. And it looked like it was a cheese pizza.

Then when I was leaving the San Francisco airport, and I was walking around that round concourse in the airport, with little restaurants and things like that, and there was the other speaker who had been so aggressive and assertive about having to be 100% raw. He was sitting at a table having a plate of spaghetti. I donít know whether that was vegan or not, but it was certainly cooked. And, as I was approaching him and he saw me coming up, he stuck up a newspaper and hid his face behind it. But I didnít embarrass him by walking up to him.

One of the real problems in that raw food movement with those experts and authors is that they have a lot of guilt because they get into this thing about having to be 100% raw. And when they themselves have a binge or sneakily eat some cooked food, they donít want to admit it because it would wreck their reputation as the great raw-foodist that never eats cooked food. So therefore they eat the cooked food on the sly and then have guilt about it. They start to get into a very vicious cycle psychologically. Yet, when you speak to them or when they do their lecture, they just still claim to have never eaten cooked food in all these years. They put on a fake front to the public. So I saw that with my own eyes with a number of the leading individuals.

So, are there some of those leaders who really are 100% raw-vegans through the years and are healthy? There might be. But, they also might not be. I mean, all I know is that the ones that I get to know, the more I get to know them, the more I see them eating cooked food on the sly, or having really severe problems like anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, teeth falling out, fingernails breaking, hair falling out. So Iím just not personally impressed with my experience of the raw food movement and the raw-food experts! Thatís just my own personal experience with all that.

But Iím sure some people will come to you and say, ďOh, I know this guy whoís been a raw-vegan for 30 years, and heís muscular and heís really healthy.Ē

Yeah, and what I always think of when I hear that is those speakers that I saw that said that they had been 100% raw for 20 years and that very weekend of the raw food convention both of them ate cooked food. So, I take it all with a grain of salt. In other words, those people might believe they know somebody thatís been raw-vegan for 30 years and is in great physical condition, but whether that person really has been or not, or whether that person really is healthy and isnít suffering some things behind the scenes, one doesnít know. And so, I remain open to the possibility that there are some individuals whose particular body type has permitted to be a raw-vegan for thirty years and be in good health. I admit that possibility, but my own experience tells me that that would be few and far between ó it wouldnít be most people.

Lack of Honesty in the Raw-Vegan Movement

Thereís not much honesty in the raw movement, as youíre saying...

See, thereís a definite problem there. And itís not, a ďproblem of the raw movement.Ē The problem is just human beings. Whether youíre talking about politics, whether youíre talking about sports, whatever field youíre talking about, you find that there are a lot of things that are done for the profit motive. That individual people are usually looking out for how theyíre earning their income.

Now we see that and criticize it, in things like the oil industry and the munitions industry, but the same exact thing is true in the health food industry. Itís true in health movements, raw-food movements, and things like that. There gets to be certain groups of people who are earning their living from it and feeding their egos by being the authority figures. The human species seems to, in general, still have a problem struggling with basic honesty.

In the raw-food movement, you sort of set yourself up for the worst of human nature, simply because you get into a one-upsmanship thing where, ďwhat percent raw are you?Ē, ďHow long have you been 100% raw?Ē You get into this sort of like ďraw-food one-upsmanship,Ē which cultivates the worst in human behavior patterns.

Supplements

Many of the authors in the raw-movement, who used to recommend really simple, basic raw-vegan diets, are now getting into all these supplements and super-foods. It seems that theyíre noticing that this basic raw-vegan diet seems to be deficient. Why is that?

There are two reasons for that. One is because of what you just said. Thereís an interesting thing about the raw food movement, which is different than other field. In the raw-food movement, if you come into it and are a raw-foodist for a fairly short time ó like two or three years ó you tend to start writing your books.

In the raw-food movement as a whole, people get into the idea of the pristine version of the raw-food diet, which wouldnít include supplements. They do that for a period of time and write a book or two while theyíre on that version of the diet. Then, all of the sudden in their own lives, they start having the problems of the nutritional deficiencies, and then they start looking for the answers. At first, the idea is that the answer is like some simple fix, like, ďGosh, if I just take a B-12 supplement, or if I just eat this algaeĒ or something like that. So then, they start looking for the answer in that direction. So, thatís one reason why all these raw-food guys end up getting into pitching supplements.

But the other reason is that once youíve become a raw-food author and are getting to speak at the raw-food events and are earning a bit of money being on the lecture circuit, you quickly realize how much more money you could make if you were selling supplements. It just becomes really obvious that if all of these people who are attending your lecture had the opportunity to buy from you some vitamin C or buy from you some fatty acids or something like that, well, youíre going to walk away from that event with more money in your pocket. Plus, you can only be in so many places in a year, you can only do so many lectures, you can only earn so much money from that. But the amount of money that you can make over your webpage if youíre hulking supplements is astronomical óthereís no limit to it. So, once a person is viewing their career as being a raw-food teacher, they soon learn that theyíll make a lot more money if theyíre also selling supplements.

But that first reason that we talked about, which was, they themselves start to experience nutritional deficiencies and are looking for answers ó thatís in there too. So thereís these two.

Then, the question is, would that be possible to go on a raw-vegan diet that wouldnít include supplements?

Iíd recommend Gabriel Cousensí latest information. Itís not in his book. Itís in his e-mail bulletin, and he actually contradicts whatís in his book ó he admits that. He says that what he put in his book is what he believed at the time. He now believes that problems with B-12 in the vegan movement are much more severe. Before, he was saying you could get B-12 from certain sources, like spirulina and blue-green algae and certain sea vegetables. He now does not believe that. He believes that those are analog B-12 that canít be absorbed by the human body. And so now heís advocating that people take a B-12 supplement. He says that maybe 20% of human beings could do a vegan diet without having to take a B-12 supplement, but at least 80% canít. And people shouldnít just assume that theyíre in that 20% category, because the odds are against them.

He believes that 20% might be able to go without a B-12 supplement simply because when he tests vegans, 80% of them are found to be in serious B-12 deficiency. But to me, that doesnít necessarily mean that 20% of the people can go without B-12 supplementation on a vegan diet. Because in fact, of those 20% people that heís testing that right now, arenít deficient ó how do we know that three years from now, 10% of those people wonít have become deficient? In other words, a best-case scenario, which is what Gabriel is talking about, is that maybe 20% of the people on a vegan diet wouldnít need the supplement.

Long-Chain Fatty Acids

But that just B-12, though.

Yes, like I was was indicating, and itís really complex. What we know, based on that article, the research published in the American Vegan that I cited, is that vegans die more of degenerative brain diseases. Now, then the question is why? And this is new information; it didnít used to be known that vegans get more of these brain-wasting diseases. Now that that is known, people are looking for the answer. And theyíre coming up with certain answers, like that thereís a particular long-chain fatty acid that is not available in a vegan diet.

What I stick on there as an extra is that we donít even know right now what brain nutrients might be lacking in the vegan diet, because theyíre just barely discovering this. They barely discovered this long-chain fatty acid that isnít present in the vegan diet. So for us to now buy a supplement of that one thing and think that weíve solved the problems with the vegan diet, I donít think that would be valid.

How do we know that two years from now, six years from now theyíre not going to be discovering other little things that we didnít know existed before that are lacking on the vegan diet? What we do know is that there are some sorts of nutritional deficiencies in the vegan diet, and weíre starting to discover what some of those deficiencies are. For instance, David Wolfe and Gabriel Cousens want to develop a supplement for that long-chain fatty acid.

DHA?
EPA. Thatís a long-chain fatty acid and one of the things it protects against is depression, which is one of the reasons vegans also have a higher incidence of suicide, clinical depression, anxiety attacks and panic attacks. It may be because theyíre not getting enough of this EPA long-chain fatty acid. So Gabriel and David Wolfe are interested in developing a supplement they would sell that would be a vegan source for EPA. Right now, thereís one plant source that some people can get their EPA from. Itís an herb that grows wild like a weed and is called purslane. The thing about that is that only people with good digestion can absorb the EPA from the purslane. People with good digestion can do that. But people with less than average digestion canít.

If you were a vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs, would you get EPA from the animal products that youíre eating?
Hereís what we know: we know is that vegetarians who eat a bit of dairy and some eggs live longer and healthier and have less nutritional deficiencies. Youíve got the possibility to eat some dairy and/or eggs, but since some people have problems digesting dairy, eggs are a good option. Eggs seem to have some nutrients that dairy doesnít have, and it seems to me that eggs seem to have everything in them that meat has, but the dairy only has most of what meat has. So I think that the person who eats dairy will be helping themselves nutritionally, but not as much as much as if they eat eggs. So then the thing is to get organic eggs from free-range chickens.

I guess this is my point: rather than try and figure out what exact supplement or what exact fatty acid we need to take to be a vegan, it seems to me that by far the safer thing to do is just be a vegetarian who eats some eggs and a bit of dairy, because of that point that I keep coming back to. They keep discovering these different things that are deficient in the vegan diet every couple years. So even if right now you take a particular supplement thatís supposed to handle some particular problem now, you donít really know that in two years or eight years theyíre not going to discover that vegans are still dying of these problems and so, we still are lacking something. We donít know how this is going to come out. So, the safest thing to do is to simply start eating some organic eggs.

Is Fish Healthy?

But then, if we take your arguments further and someone was just interested in health, would that be healthier not to be a strict vegetarian, and have fish occasionally?

If a person doesnít have the ethical considerations, then the healthiest diet might be to include some fish. However, I do have myself the ethical problems with that, so thatís not what Iím recommending to people. I feel that if we can make the step to become vegetarian, this generation, that weíre doing a great thing. We are making a giant step in the right direction of ethics. Just becoming a vegetarian is doing a good thing. But to answer your question, if a person didnít have the ethical problems with eating fish, would that be healthy? Well the answer is probably yes, as long as it wasnít fish from a polluted source that has mercury or something like that.

Raw Versus Pasteurized Dairy Products, Eggs

Here in Canada you donít find raw dairy products, except cheese. You only find pasteurized dairy milk. So what would you recommend?

What I would recommend is going to a health food store and buying the health-food store variety of yogurt or kefir. The reason is that those are live-foods, because of the fermentation process and the culture, even though theyíre not raw.

So that still would give you the benefits?
You see, even though we all hear about all the problems with pasteurization, we shouldnít forget the problems with non-pasteurized dairy. For instance, dying of the worst case of diarrhea you can possibly imagine! Because when you drink raw milk, thereís the possibility that itís contaminated with E-coli. So there are the pros and cons of unpasteurized dairy products. If a person is not concerned with things like E-coli in a raw egg, they could simply put a couple of raw eggs in their smoothies, if they are trying to be raw-foodists.

Just the yolk or the whole thing?
I would say the whole thing, and the reason is because the egg white has the protein, but the yolk has certain fatty acids that seem to be important for the brain.

(reprinted with permission)

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