real raw kitchen: HOW-TO: avoid the raw food cult

Friday, January 31, 2014

HOW-TO: avoid the raw food cult


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...

Wait. What?!

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:


  1. 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.
  2. 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!).
  3. 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. 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?

xo


22 comments:

  1. Love this post! The only meat I have eaten in the past 8 years is fish. I eat mostly vegetarian, but when I do eat fish, people look at me funny and say that "you can't eat that, you're a vegetarian!" I never claimed that myself, I just prefer veggie food instead of meat. I always hear how wrong I am, for eating the little amount of fish I actually eat, or how wrong it is to not eat red meat at all.

    I've been exploring the whole vegan world, the raw food world and the juice world for a while now. That seems to be even more annoying to people.
    But I also notice that lchf and GI and 5:2 and all those diets are as annoying as veganism is to people. Any diet that are good for you, or at least aim for the better and healthier, are annoying to people. I guess it makes them feel bad, because their own diet is crap.

    Also, sorry for my kind-of-crappy English, I'm Swedish and I just woke up ;)
    //Amanda

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    1. Yes! It can be so frustrating when you're trying to celebrate your gains and people are questioning you. Just stick with what your gut tells you! I'm so happy to have you here and so happy to have this community :)

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  2. Awesome post! Needed to be said! People always ask me how my raw food diet is going and I get so frustrated at being boxed. Ok I have my idea about what is nutritious and best for your body but like anyone I will eat other things... why do 'diets' or ideas about what is most healthy (like raw and vegan) have to box you into a diet where you are absolutely only ever allowed to eat those things. I then explain to these people I an not I a 'diet' I just have my ideas about nutrition and eat high raw- don't think they even listen because then they ask me the same thing again next time.

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    1. haha yes! The scrutiny is heavy in veganism and raw foodism.. sometimes I see the same thing happen to the Standard American Diet, as well, when someone chooses to opt for a salad instead of the SAD diet they are often met with lots of questioning .. which is absurd! I agree, we should just be celebrating health and wellness and not boxing people up :)

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  3. I love this ! I'm a vegan who occasionally (once every few months) has goat cheese. And I beat myself up for it. And that's insane. This post was liberating. Any break I can find from the constant guilt which clearly has something to do with strict religious upbringing is welcome. I'm glad I'm not alone.

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    1. I'm so glad you mention this point, Kay. The scrutiny doesn't just come from others, I find myself under my own scrutiny most of the time. Sometimes I feel so badly about eating quinoa with my salad and then I just have to take a step back and say .. "wait. quinoa is loaded with nutrition! relax!"

      You're not alone :) we have a fabulous community here!

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  4. I think you are doing GREAT with your raw food creations...one of my favourite sites to look for raw food recipes. Yes, yes, I do enjoy raw food once in a while. I am trying to leave out all the grains (it's dang hard as I love bread too much), sugar and oil. So I believe I can call myself a healthy foodie...but then you will very likely caught me in the kitchen eating a croissant or even some white bread.

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    1. Oh thank you so much for your kind words! I am so happy to have you here :) And I don't blame you on the croissants .. they may not be good for the body but every once in awhile they're good for the soul!!

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  5. Cool post! I'm vegan, but sometimes I can't help myself and fall off the wagon so to speak. So what? I don't understand why then I have to be so terribly judged by some. I like to eat vegan due to the health benefits I've experienced. ^^ Reading your post was reassuring , as it can be hard as there are truly so many elitists around. Thanks for sharing! ^__^

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    1. Thank you so much, I'm very happy to see this. It is hard sometimes but you know what? We can do our own thing and that's okay! We just gotta stick together and spread the love and show that we are happy and thriving!

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  6. I agree! I also started as a strict raw foodist and after about a year I would get depressed when I started craving cooked foods and then GASP! even ate some roasted potatoes. The depression I experienced from falling off the wagon bothered me. Then I realized even if I am not 100% raw, I am eating a whole lot better than SAD, some raw food is better than no raw food! I embrace the lifestyle of raw foodists and wish to educate and encourage those who want to eat healthier, embrace more raw and vegan products into their life and find more peace with their environment.

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    1. Yes, you and I share a very similar experience! It's just a strange concept to think about the amount of guilt a cooked meal can bring onto a raw foodie. It shouldn't be that way and we shouldn't held to such strange, obscure standards. Plant based, cooked or raw, 80% or 100% is better than SAD no matter how you look at it!

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  7. I agree. I have been eating mostly raw for about 8 months now. I thought I'd give it a go as I had been vegetarian for about 30 years and then - I had a heart attack. It was actually genetic but although active I was over weight and had been wanting to cut out bread and cheese for some time as they were easy when time was short but not a good choice. I found this suited me and was easy - still quite lazy about preparing in advance so I eat a lot of salads. I thought I'd go for maybe 80% but find I am naturally much higher. But it's all my decision to eat better and I still have one trim flat white coffee per day. I've tried nut milks but it just doesn't do it for me. If I go out with friends I have what's on the menu. If friends come round I introduce them to some things to see if they like them - and they usually do. I wouldn't give them anything that wasn't delicious. I also prepare some cooked food and my grandchildren tell me what they would like. They do like my apple and carrot juice but don't give them spinach! They very quickly tell you what they like and don't like. Life is all about balance and if you are labelled or label yourself a 'raw vegan' you have to live up to it. So just enjoy more raw and include some in your daily meals.

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    1. Hi Daryl! Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is such a valuable look into the veg world. It's easier to be inspiring to others when you are an approachable and likable person and it sure is hard to be likable when you are stringent about these rules! I consider myself a raw foodie simply because of how much I enjoy it, but I don't subscribe to the label "raw vegan" for the very reason you mentioned: I want the freedom to have a cooked meal or have some goat cheese if I'd like :) I think you are an incredible inspiration to your grandchildren and they are lucky to have you!!

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  8. I love this post! While I don't necessarily define myself as raw, I think the fact that I cook most of my food from raw ingredients should count for something! We should celebrate each other's successes in whatever direction is best for them, and not judge them for what may not be in line with some arbitrary definition that someone declared! Thanks for this :) xo

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    1. I feel the same way! I make everything from scratch and it's completely plant-based ... I'm not a bad guy at all :) It does become a bit arbitrary after awhile. So I'm glad to have some support and share this perspective with others!

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  9. This is my first time on your blog, and I totally loved reading this post, so thank you!!! I agree that food is about passion and romance, and if we are feeling stuck with food, let go of the whole 'thing' in your mind, and try something new! It's especially interesting in my home because I have a 4 year old and an 18 month old. Luckily they are both totally keen on fruit and vegies. I really like the inspiration from books and bloggers like yourself, with creative recipe ideas, that help to keep my little ones keen to eat. I personally eat raw dairy (goat mostly), raw eggs and we do eat organic chicken broth and meat sometimes. I totally feel like my growing littlies really need this, especially the animal fats, and the choline from the eggs (for brain development).

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    1. Aw thank you, I'm so happy to have you! Yes I love the flexibility in "diets". While I do not prefer to consume animal products I'm sure I'll feel differently once I start creating life. I'm not sure I'll feel comfortable with meat, but I do know that eggs and raw goat milk have a lot to offer the body and baby brains need a lot of extra fat and nutrients that are readily available in these products (also breastmilk, which is what I plan on providing on demand). I haven't made a decision yet how I'll raise my kids mostly because I think it's a bit unfair to make those judgement prior to ever having children! But it's SO important to remain open and flexible where possible.

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  10. Amazing post! I am vegan and I am trying to incorporate more raw food in my diet, because it makes me feel good, not beacuse I want a label :)
    Very good post - I will be following you and if you don't mind I will reblog this

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    1. Thank you so much Ines! That is exactly why I love raw food, because I just love the way it feels. The label makes me iffy. And sure thing you can reblog if you don't mind linking back to this site :)

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  11. Love this post! And I agree completely. We all get enough flack from people following traditional diets, so within out circles can't we just be supportive of the fact that we are trying rather than demand perfectionism?? The number of times I have been called out for using honey is crazy!

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    1. Oh my goodness, the great honey debate! It's hard and pretty crazy to me that these definitions can be so controversial, but I've had such great feedback that I'm comforted in knowing there are a lot of us that are also pretty laid back and welcoming in it all!

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let's get the discussion going