For some reason there seems to be a cultism around raw food and this makes me so sad. I first started out raw because I was just having so much fun .. then I kept with it because of all of the benefits. It's a lifestyle that brought me joy around food and vitality in an otherwise very ill body.
What I found shortly after calling myself a "raw foodist" is that there were many people pointing out that no-maple-syrup-is-not-raw and that roasted-sweet-potatoes-don't-count.
Pff. So what?
I make every single item I eat from scratch and the vast majority of it actually is raw. Plus, I make pretty awesome raw desserts, so I must be a partial raw foodist, right?? It's true, I'm not 100% raw and I actually don't think I'd like to be. I eat mostly raw and I love the culture around it but is there a way that we can support it--and each other--without making it seem like an all or nothing commitment?
I find the same thing happen with the vegan community, as well. Self-proclaimed vegans that actually don't check the ingredient labels on their cosmetics for animal products (or testing) are shamed for being a shallow vegan and not truly fighting for the cause...
I'm all about passion and even more about romance, but is there really such thing as a "bad" vegan?? It's a slippery slope that many diet dogmas find themselves in and quite frankly is something I'm embarrassed by as a self-proclaimed raw foodie. It's off putting not only to anyone that isn't already a part of the culture but even to those of us within it. I find myself staying slightly away from the 100% raw lifestyle mainly because I don't want a guilt trip for the one cooked meal I actually did eat. (Oh the horror when others find out that the raw food blogger ate a cooked veggie burger!!)
It's an elitist dogma that further separates us from mainstream dieters and deters people from trying it on for size in the first place. And that is the exact opposite reason why I fell in love with it to begin with! I fell in love with the creativity, the growth (both physically and spiritually), the freedom (how good it feels to eat in abundance and not be pained by it!), and the overall allure of such a different lifestyle than the mainstream eats. But when others begin shaming me for not being a fully committed, fully raw "raw foodie" then that's where I draw the line. At that point this lifestyle is more alienating for you if you cannot congratulate a person for making gains in their own personal growth rather than discounting them as a credible community member.
Luckily, the major figures in the raw food community that I have interacted with and look up to have not shunned me or anyone that I know of. I think this is partly due to the semi-celebrity status they hold among us regular folk, but also because more-raw-food is better than no-raw-food. What I have found, however, is that in some small circles there are discussions of whether or not something is technically raw and whether or not spices should be used in a raw dish ..
Let's all just agree that any savory dish with a little cumin sprinkled in it tastes infinitely better than with no spice at all, alright??
So here are some of my own pointers that I return to when I find that I am getting too sucked into the dogma:
- Relax. Seriously. Are meal times becoming stressful? Are you becoming increasingly worried with what is "raw" and what is "processed"? Then take a step back and just relax. If you are more disturbed by whether or not your meal is pure than you are basking in the deliciousness of it all then this lifestyle is not working. It's supposed to open doors, not close them.
- Celebrate the progress. Whether it's your own progress or the progress that others make toward a plant based lifestyle, it is always worth celebrating. Avoid being a raw food snob and instead rejoice in the fact that someone is making a healthy choice (and the same goes for any dogma!).
- Share your secrets. A lot of times this lifestyle can become secretive, almost like you're hiding out so you can just eat in peace. When this happens your life becomes very isolated and this only distances you from other, potential enthusiasts. Rather than acting as if this lifestyle is yours and yours alone, share your meals with others. This can be tricky at times because you also don't want to push people away for sharing too much information, but if they have questions, offer answers. If you want to eat out with your friends, then go for it and stay as raw as you are comfortable with. Be open about your choices and show others that it is an approachable topic, not an elitist club. 4. Give thanks. Take a look around at your current situation. How incredible is that? Very little of the total world population is so blessed enough to pick and choose what kind of diet they have, let alone nourish themselves in abundance. Take a moment to feel good and grateful about that.
5. Be creative. If you’re eating out then get creative with the menu. Many people get frustrated at the limited options on some menus and that can sometimes come off as snooty. Instead, roll with it and piece together a meal that works for you.
What do you think? What are your tips for avoiding a dogma or label?