All of the food this week was organic and it was all consumed whole (no juicing, no blending, as usual):
4/8 – tomatoes, zucchini, dates.
4/9 – tomatoes, zucchini, dates.
4/10 – zucchini, dates.
4/11 – zucchini, dates.
4/12 – zucchini, dates.
4/13 – tomatoes, zucchini, dates.
4/14 – tomatoes, zucchini, dates.
I’m 100% raw vegan, and have been so for the past 5 1/2 years. But why? After all, I grew up on the Standard American Diet, really enjoyed eating that food, and never had any major health problems. Initially, I changed my diet in the hope that it would lead to improvements in my exercise (specifically running) performance. And, it did. But now, I haven’t run a race in years. And this diet is obviously socially isolating. Why continue to eat this way?
Why stay vegan? Three answers: for the animals, for the environment, and for my own personal health. The evidence backing up these reasons is vast, and there is an extensive literature on all three of these subjects. So, I’m not going to dwell on it.
But why stay raw? Here are some reasons:
- I feel great when I eat this way! I’ve noticed that there has been a gradual increase in my overall happiness throughout my adult life. This may or may not be partially a result of my diet, but I’m hesitant to make major changes to it since I feel so well now.
- Eating uncooked whole plant foods has been the majority of what our ancestors have eaten for most of our evolutionary past. Anthropological evidence (mostly dental) indicates that fruits and vegetables predominated in the diet of early hominids, and that grains and cooking extensively are relatively recent additions to the human diet. Humans are the only species on Earth that cooks their food. And, humans are one of the great apes. The vast majority of the diet of the other great apes consists of raw plant foods (http://www.clemetzoo.com/apetag/aboutApes.html
- A raw vegan diet may be even better for the environment than a cooked vegan diet. After all, raw fooders are not consuming the Earth’s resources in cooking their food. Furthermore, I’ve heard the argument that an acre of fruit orchard can yield more calories than an acre of grain, although obviously this varies somewhat with the specific fruit & grain. In addition, while grain crops lead to depletion of topsoil, orchards pull their nutrients from deep down in the subsoil, which may aid in nutrient recycling. Also, trees protect the soil from erosion. Fruit trees also last for decades, unlike grain crops, and thus tend to be less labor intensive. However, I don’t consider the environmental argument for a raw diet to be really persuasive, because for most of us not living in the tropics, we are burning fossil fuels in transporting our fruit. On a cooked vegan diet, more local fare can be consumed (However I think I do pretty well eating mostly local fruit. In the summer I eat California peaches, California zucchini, and California tomatoes. In the fall I eat California persimmons, California pomegranates, California grapes, California zucchini, and California tomatoes. In the winter / spring I eat California dates, Mexican zucchini, Mexican tomatoes, and a few pineapples from further away…usually Costa Rica). So, in comparing the environmental costs of a cooked vs. raw vegan diet, which one wins? It’s not clear. It would actually require some sort of calculation to determine which habit uses the least resources for the average consumer (and this calculation hasn’t been done, to my knowledge). So what's the moral? Well, I think it is that, while environmental arguments work great in converting people to veganism, they may not work as well in convincing them to become raw fooders. In my opinion, the stronger argument is that raw food is the more natural choice. Humans are natural fruit eaters; they are appealing as is, off the tree. Grains are very unappealing (and essentially inedible) to humans in their raw natural state. By and large, raw grains are bird food. And tubers? Is it instinctive for humans to look under the ground for food? Nope. We’re closely related to monkeys, not moles.
- I’ve found it easier to maintain an ideal body weight by eating raw vegan foods. I love to eat, and as a raw vegan I can eat as much as I want without unwanted weight gain. I know a couple long-term cooked food vegans from The Gentle Barn, the farm animal sanctuary, who are vegan for ethical reasons, and who are obese. It is definitely possible to be a fat & unhealthy vegan if you’re diet consists of soda, French fries, potato chips, and vegan desserts. When you go raw vegan, you are automatically removing from your diet the vast majority of the unhealthy vegan fare which is out there.
- I love fruit. The tastes, colors, and smells of fruit appeal to me much more than grains, tubers, or other cooked vegan food (which generally aren’t pleasurable to eat unless salt and other condiments are added).
- I’ve always disliked cooking and other food preparation. This is seriously a reason for me. Don’t expect me to be teaching any classes on food prep at the Woodstock Fruit Festival anytime soon, because I detest that stuff. The entirety of my food prep consists of using a knife to cut the fruit into bite size pieces before I eat it (unless it’s already bite-sized, like grapes, cherry tomatoes, or dates). In general, raw foods in their natural state are less calorically dense than prepared cooked foods (but there are exceptions, like nuts & seeds…which I think are especially important for growing children eating a raw vegan diet). In addition, unblended raw foods generally require more chewing than cooked foods. These two observations lead to the fact that more time is spent eating on a raw diet than on a cooked-food diet, in general, unless the raw foods are put in a blender. However, raw fooders spend a lot less time on food prep, and so the time factor may even out in the end. But, if you’re a person who enjoys time spent eating more than time spent on food prep, a raw diet may make sense for you.
- And last, but not least, there is some science indicating that a raw vegan diet is superior to a cooked vegan diet in regards to human health. The evidence on this is less compelling than is the scientific evidence backing up the superiority of a vegan diet (when being compared to an omnivorous one), but it’s still enough for me to stay raw, so I’ll go into it a bit next week.
Any other reasons for going raw that you can think of?
I heard about Harley getting his youtube channel deleted. Although I don’t agree with him on everything, I consider this deletion to be a bad thing. I’m a staunch supporter of free speech. You can sign a petition here to help get him reinstated: http://www.change.org/petitions/youtube-please-re-instate-youtube-channel
Women may be better off without bras, according to this new study: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/every-bra-youve-ever-encountered-has-been-complete-lie
This is how wars are sold: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnsPG5FSjZA
I commented a few weeks ago about how Americans seem to be more afraid of Iran than North Korea, despite the fact that North Korea is the greater current threat. In that comment, I attributed it to one word: “oil”. Naturally, there is more to it than that (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/why-do-we-laugh-at-north-korea-but-fear-iran/274680/