MOTIVATION, EXPECTATIONS, AND HONESTY IN RAW AND LIVING FOOD DIETS
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.
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
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
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.
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!