It seems like, one by one, raw food gurus have been changing their minds about what we should eat. Some have gone paleo, some declared they now eat “real food,” and others claim a raw food diet actually damaged their health.
So what’s the deal with raw food gurus turning away from raw food?
1. Many of the early raw food diet promoters still eat 99% to 100% raw vegan foods, and have done so for many years, because it works for their health and their lifestyle. They may not be as vocal or as present on social media, but they’re easy to find with a quick online search. (You can start with the beautiful Karyn Calebrese.)
2. There are lots of different ways of eating raw. What works for me might be damaging for you and vice versa. Raw doesn’t necessarily equal perfect, and if a former raw food expert claims his version of a raw food diet did him some harm, I have to believe he’s telling the truth.
3. The extreme of the raw food diet—100% raw, vegan foods only—is ridiculously difficult for most people to follow over time. Unless you live in a pretty progressive place, dining out and eating with friends can be a challenge. Once your choice of food becomes a source of constant stress, it may be doing more harm than good.
4. There’s not a single study or example of a traditional culture that demonstrates that you have to eat 100% raw to enjoy maximum nutrition. Some of the gurus have started to factor that into their food philosophy.
100% raw can be a fast track to weight loss. It can offer an opportunity for healing certain diseases or illnesses. It can even be a diet-style for a lifetime.
But if you’re struggling to stay 100% raw, or even 100% vegan, take heart in the fact that those two extremes may not be right for you—and that’s okay. Try making raw, vegan foods the foundation of your diet, with leeway to enjoy cooked vegetables and a small amount of whatever animal products fit in your moral code.
The paleo diet, so famous for its focus on meat consumption, still includes lots of vegetables, raw and cooked. Even a commercial weight-loss diet like Weight Watchers lets followers eat all the veggies they want. And food writer Michael Pollan famously advised, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Sounds doable for most people, doesn’t it? Most of those plants can easily be eaten raw.
Raw food isn’t a fad, nor is the raw food diet dead. But hopefully, raw food as a religion or a standard of perfection is.
Live the difference!