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