It is so interesting to me to hear all of these self-proclaimed raw food gurus coming out and saying that they eat cooked food, too, or that they are abandoning the raw food diet. I’ve even seen some who have decided to give up raw veganism so totally that they are eating meat. Kevin Gianni has just published an article declaring the death of the raw food diet.
A lot of the disenchantment with the raw food diet began to come about when Doug Graham published his 80-10-10 Diet book, appealing to the low-fat diet crowd.
The main problem with Graham’s idea has always been that we need fats in our diet, if only to build healthy cell walls. Fats in the raw vegan diet are good fats. (Even the AMA has started back-pedaling from the low-fat diet concept) Raw extra virgin olive oil is nothing but good fat. Raw nuts and seeds provide good fats made naturally and invented by God. Fat-phobes find themselves with tasteless food, unless they begin adding sugars (My favorite example is Duke’s Mayonnaise, a natural sugar-free mayonnaise produced in the South. When the low-fat craze began, Duke’s put out a low-fat version, but, if you check the ingredients, you will see that, while they removed fat, they added a boatload of sugar to compensate for the flavor, so, ultimately, the elimination of fat called for excess sugar/carbs, and calories. I had to educate my Mom on this). Raw foodists on low fat diets risk getting weird health issues: I am a sparing eater, and I don’t always throw oil or nuts in my food, and I have found that, if I am not careful, I get all sorts of skin rashes – no applying skin cream on the outside doesn’t help. (Interestingly, in a recent issue of Women’s World, they addressed just this issue, only, instead of suggesting that people include more good fats in their diet, they suggested an Omega 3 oil supplement). Fats, such raw nuts and seeds, or simple extra virgin olive oil, will deliver your omega-3s. Flax seed is loaded with Omega 3. Fats also tend to head off cravings.
Many of the so-called “gurus”, who have since announced that they are eating cooked food, have touted fancy, complicated, multi-ingredient raw dishes. Of course, these multi-ingredient, complicated=to-create dishes can be created by personal chefs, but most folks do not have the luxury of a personal chef to come and prepare their food.
Recently, I reviewed a book called Raw Food for Busy People, by Wild Bill Gun. The book was widely panned by readers because the recipes were so simple that the readers missed the prep instructions “Blend”, “In the Food Processor”, or “Mix”.
I am from the old school, before designer raw food recipe books. I collect vintage raw food recipe books. In the old days, people made simple raw food recipes. They had no blenders, food processors, or juicers. Back in the early 1900s, the only “food processor” was a good knife.. People really ate natural raw food preparations, only processed insofar as the vegetables and/or fruit were cut/sliced/minced with a knife.
With the Internet, it is possible to grow a business quickly. He who shouts loudest receives the most attention. Folks have been touting their concepts, their methods, and their recipes on-line (or advertising how to get said items) for the past 10 or so years.
Multitudes have signed up to receive raw food information, and, yet, the numbers of people who claim to be raw foodists are dropping.
I would venture to say that the first reason for the drop in interest is that, when your guru is exposed, you lose faith. Those who believed in Viktoria Boutenko’s schtick have lost faith since she admitted she was eating cooked food (I mean, why should I eat raw if the lady who told me to do it is not doing it?). Frederic Patenaude, with his multitude of followers, has said he eats cooked food (so why should his followers do any different?) Kristen Suzanne published a number of raw books, and, then, abruptly announced she was going paleo, that raw and vegetarian weren’t working for her, and she was going to eat meat (some folks might want to throw out those poorly formatted books she cranked out)
I am glad that these folks who have been selling their systems are finally telling the truth about their own dietary habits (a while back, I was a member of a raw food group in New York City, in which we reveled in discovering what local “guru” was eating what where)
At the same time, I am not ready to say the the raw food diet is dead. I became a raw foodie before it was fashionable, actually, even before I had seen a raw food recipe book: it just seemed like what I should be doing. I found my first raw food recipe book in the mid-70s. The recipes were simple, healthy, diet-savvy, and easy to prepare.
I did not know about modern recipes until I was given a recipe book in 1999. Yes, the recipes there-in were glorious, but what I tended to eat from day to day were the vegetable salads and fruit salads that I had been doing since graduate school, i.e. simple vegetable dishes that I had thought up myself or that I had found in Live Foods, by the Fathmans; Eydie Mae’s Natural Recipes, by Eydie Mae Hunsberger;and Ann Wigmore’s Recipes for Longer Life.
Since I do still follow a raw vegan diet, I cannot agree with Kevin Gianni’s pronouncement that the raw food diet is dead. What I believe he means is that the market is over-saturated with self-proclaimed gurus who have come out about eating cooked food in order to head off negative commentaries by people who have discovered that these folks eat cooked food, while touting the benefits of a raw food diet.
It is true that the market is oversaturated with these folks who send you the email equivalent of the TV commercials that announce “But wait! There’s more” and charge exorbitant prices for their short books of recipes. At some point, people begin to be able to read the first few lines of such ads, and know that they are being suckered into paying a lot of money if they click yes. At the same time, one must consider that there might well be folks who are silently following a raw food diet without laying out major cash to buy into whatever the “gurus” are selling.
Meanwhile, I am still here, eating a raw vegan diet. I do not advertise myself as a guru. People who come to me for nutritional information find that I am knowledgeable about a number of different possible diet ways. Raw food is the one I practice, and it is very good for healing purposes. On the other hand, I am well-versed in other weight management and health management diets, and, as such, I can suggest what seems to be appropriate with each client.
So, just because Kevin Gianni, Brenda Cobb, Viktoria Boutenko, and Frederic Patenaude, and Kristen Suzanne are now cooking, that doesn’t mean that I have to call the power company and ask them to turn my stove back on. I will stick with raw food because it has been good for me for many years. (I will admit, I have gone off raw from time to time, but I have always come back, primarily because it feels right, and when I have stopped, I have not felt as good as I did on the raw diet).
If you have newly come to the raw vegan diet, or if you have just heard of it, and have been considering incorporating its ideas in some way into your life-style, please ignore Kevin Gianni’s “make-money-quick-scheme” pronouncements on the raw food diet, as well as those of others who publish the “but wait! there’s more!” raw food diet plans. The raw food diet should never be about “how to get rich quick”, but, rather, about how to eat in such a way as to enhance your health, prevent illness, and/or enhance your possibilities of healing from illness.