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Opinion by: Tom Billings

The following material may be controversial. Please regard this entire article as opinion.

Over the years in raw foods, I have slowly come to the conclusion that certain factors are important in determining your total experience with the diet. Three important factors are motivation, expectations, and honesty. This article briefly addresses these topics.

I. Motivation

You should have a positive (or neutral) motivation for your diet. Examples of positive motivations for a raw/living foods diet would be: * if you are healthy, to enhance and maintain your health * if you are ill, as part of a healing program * you feel it should be part of your spiritual path * you think it is the right/best thing to do for the earth. Examples of neutral motivations would include: * your parents taught you to eat that way (rare for raw fooders) * it is your cultural eating pattern (of limited relevance to raw fooders).

You should avoid having a negative motivation for your diet. A partial list of common negative motivations include: * fear of mucus (ridiculous, but common in raw circles) * fear/hatred of cooked foods, and those who consume cooked foods. * fear/hatred of aging, weight gain, etc.

Note that the 3 common negative motivations above are expressions of fear and/or hatred. These are clearly not healthy emotions. If they form the philosophical basis for your diet, then when you engage in physical eating, you are also mentally "eating" fear and/or hatred. In the long run, a mental "diet" of fear and/or hatred will surely poison your mind and spirit. Meanwhile, a diet of mucus-forming/cooked food, if taken in a positive spirit, will only harm your body. It is much easier to detoxify the body, than the mind/spirit!

Other problems with fear and hatred: if fear is strong enough, the raw foods diet can turn into an eating disorder (similar to anorexia); if hatred is strong enough, one can become a hostile, intolerant bigot/zealot.

The negative motivation of fear/hatred of cooked foods, and those who consume them, has gained some popularity recently, and deserves special comment. The idea that the world's problems are due to consumption of cooked foods is not only ridiculous, but intellectually dishonest as well. Countries do not go to war over cooked foods, people do not kill or rape each other because of cooked foods. In contrast, this writer has personally been the target of real hostility from supposedly "compassionate" raw vegan/fruitarian zealots. Clearly, cooked food consumers do not have a monopoly on hatred and personal attacks!

Also, promoting fear/hatred of people because they are cooked food consumers is no different, in principle, from promoting fear/hatred of other people because of their race or sexual preference. Most raw fooders I know would never support a blatantly racist or homophobic campaign to promote raw foods, yet some raw fooders do support the promotional use of fear/hatred of cooked foods and those who consume them. Some of the excuses I hear in support of such zealotry are: 1) the hate is fake/it's a marketing approach - hatred is not a legitimate marketing tool! All hatred is real, when it hurts people. 2) it works/it brings people into raw foods - the ends do not justify the means. This will hurt the raw movement in the long run. Clearly, fear and hate are very powerful motivators: look at Nazi Germany to see the effect and ultimate results of a cult of fear and hate.

To close this section: have a positive (or neutral) motivation and attitude, regarding your choice of diet - whether raw/cooked, veg or non-veg.

II. Expectations

What do you expect from your diet? Do you think it will bring you "perfect" health, or will make your body "perfect"? If so, can you objectively define and measure what makes health (or the body) "perfect"? The reality is that we cannot even define or measure "perfect" health (or body); these are effectively "unknown ideals".

Assuming you have or adopt a "clean" diet, say one that is predominantly raw, what can you expect? Here's what you should NOT expect: to be free of disease, to be physically immortal, that it will cure any/all disorders you now have, or that it will make you "perfect" in any way.

Raw food diets are well known for their healing effects. However, healing is wherever you find it, so you might find the raw diet helps, or maybe it won't help. Of course, no diet can make you immortal, and no diet is guaranteed to give you longevity. A raw food diet does not make you immune to disease, as disease is a major cause of death in wild animals eating a natural, raw diet. Perfectionism in the diet may promote low self-esteem, or the opposite: ego.

So, my take on realistic expectations for a raw diet is that it may enhance your health, and/or be helpful in finding healing, provided you take care of the other factors in your life that impact health: stress, exercise, breathing, reducing environmental (home) toxins, take care of the mind and spirit, and so on. Of course, there are no guarantees in life. Raw diets are on a try-and- see if it works for you basis.

The major effect of expectations on success in raw diets is that if you start such a diet with unrealistic expectations, then the diet will not meet your expectations. When that happens, you may get discouraged and stop the diet before you realize any noticeable benefits.

III. Honesty

Whatever our diet is, we should be honest about it, and about the assumptions that are at its basis. Honesty here has many levels. First, if you are 100% raw, be honest about it. If you eat some cooked food, be honest about it. However, don't say your diet is 100% raw fruit when you are secretly binge eating candy because you are addicted to sugar! The first level of honesty is being honest with others regarding your diet. (Note: some famous raw food authors do not meet this standard).

The second level of honesty is being honest with yourself regarding your diet and lifestyle. Do your diet and lifestyle really work for you? Are you caught up in eating disorder behavior patterns? Do you have severe cravings? If the diet works for you, great. If not, try to find solutions. One approach, if raw veganism does not work for you, is to try some of the following: diversify your diet; eat cooked food; use supplements (like dried barley grass); use raw dairy; or consider instinctive eating if you have no philosophical objections to it.

The third level of honesty is being honest - and open - about the assumptions that underlie your diet. This is a very sore point for many raw vegans (you might be attacked by hostile zealots for merely raising questions in this area). For example, it is dubious at best to claim that fruitarianism (or veganism) is our "natural" diet when many large apes are omnivores (or folivores), and the fossil record says otherwise. [See the Ward Nicholson interview, in the "Health & Beyond" newsletter, 10,12/96 and 1/97, for discussion of this.] It is dubious to claim that cooking makes all minerals inorganic (nonsense!), or that wheatgrass juice is toxic. (Many additional examples could be cited here.)

So, I strongly encourage you to actively question the assumptions that form the basis for raw foods diets and veganism. You might be surprised to find that many of the "facts" of rawism are incorrect! When you find that an assumption is incorrect, the appropriate action is to drop it from your belief set (basis). Good luck with your diet and lifestyle!



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