Friday, November 9, 2012

Frederic Patenaude's "Six Types of Raw Foodists: Which One Are You?"

I'm a pretty big fan of Frederic Patenaude, a long-time Canadian raw foodist. I remember picking up his book, "The Raw Secrets" back in 2006 when I first learned about raw veganism. If there's one thing I love seeing in the vegan and raw vegan movement, it's the acceptance to grow and change without judgment. 

When I first learned about raw, all of the pioneers seemed to adopt a pretty militant "all or nothing" attitude. Today, this attitude has shifted considerably. It's my hope that we drop the correlation between our eating habits with our "purity," potential, and as an end result that guarantees happiness and enlightenment. 

Diets are vehicles, not a
I see one's diet like a car: it helps you get where you need to go, but at the end of the day, it's just a vehicle. Don't get me wrong--vehicles are critical. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and our experience in them often affect how we enjoy the rest of our day (just ask anyone driving in a clunker with no air conditioning during a 2-hour commute). If your diet sucks and you're worrying about your health, then it's as if you're one mechanical breakdown away from not being able to go anywhere or do anything you wish. So yeah: vehicles are important. But just as it's rather silly to spend one's life aspiring to own a Prius, I find it just as silly to "aspire" to become 100 percent raw. If you own a Prius and live a 100 percent raw lifestyle--that's awesome. I hope you have one sweet ride. But where is the car ultimately taking you? Is it to a great job, to visit a loving family, to help take you to a raw materials store to create beautiful art? Without these supplementary life goals and ambitions, aspiring to be 100 percent raw is not much different than coveting a gorgeous car in the garage and spending one's free time admiring it cloistered away from society. Things become even more dicey when other Prius devotees judge those for not buying the same car: They're viewed as selfish materialists, taking more than they need. It doesn't matter if the owner of a beater Volvo drives to work where she saves lives as a doctor--doesn't drive an eco-friendly Prius? Then she doesn't "get" it. She's part of the matrix: Ignorant or selfish, take your pick. 

Back to Frederic Patenaude's article written here, I'll give a list of the six types and insert my personal experiences with each. I still highly recommend reading his article because he injects more sharp, poignant commentary than I do below.

1) Raw Food Wannabe: Person who would like to be raw, owns the books and gadgets, but never takes the dive for whatever excuse. I've met people who view raw as an "all or nothing" proposition, and choose to go "nothing" when they mentally calculate the effort. As Frederic points out, people miss out on achieving markedly better health just by incorporating some raw foods into their diet.

2) The Yo-Yo Person: Goes 100 percent raw for a few months, can't stick with it, then goes back to mostly cooked and feels terrible physically/mentally. I empathize. Oh, do I empathize. For a while I would view going back to cooked as a failure of sorts. I would question why I don't seem to have the willpower to stick with 100 percent raw foodism, or why it's so dang hard when I find veganism so effortless to follow. 

3) Detox Girl: Only uses raw foodism as a way to detox for a reasonably short period of time. Like Frederic, I actually like this attitude provided the rest of their diet is reasonably clean and healthy. But no cleanse will help if the rest of one's habits aren't balanced by reasonable diet and lifestyle choices. 

4) The 80 percent'er: Eats mostly raw, most of the time... ergo the label, 80 percent raw. I relate most with this approach. If less than half of my foods are things other than fresh fruits and veggies, I don't feel like I'm performing at my best. I also don't look my best, either! I keep these percents as an abstract figure in the back of my mind, though sometimes I'll say to myself, "you might want to kickstart your diet to 90 percent raw for a few weeks to compensate for the past month of eating processed, oilier foods." 

5) The 100 percent'er: Those who eat only raw. Which is fantastic if it works for them. But if there's a surrounding attitude and peachiness about it, then it can be a bit problematic. It can also be problematic if keeping the label becomes more important than their health, causing the person to ignore health issues that may crop up. Instead of addressing their diet as a potential cause, the person will stick to the belief that their diet will remedy the issue. A fully raw vegan diet can lead to incredible, amazing health when done correctly. But Frederick is right when he asserts that those who do eat 100 percent should not claim that it's the best for others as well. It's perhaps more amusing when raw vegans judge OTHER 100 percent raw vegans because they're not following their particular raw diet plan (ie, 811'ers making fun of old school higher fat/greens vegans, and vice versa). That's as silly as Prius owners making fun of Honda Hybrid owners. Like... does it really matter? 

OMG it's 100% raw!1!!1

6) The raw VEGANS: This group is the equivalent of militant ethical vegans who tend to double as the self-appointed morality police. In truth, I find myself having to exhibit much more patience and restraint from judgment with this group of eaters more than I do with meat eaters. I remind myself to bite my tongue, and to remember that 99 percent of the time, their sanctimonious attitude comes from being relatively new to veganism.

Like Frederick, I too share a sense of jadedness and disillusion in the raw vegan community. I want to give everyone some sedating passion fruit juice and tell everyone to chill out. To gain some perspective about everything. To obsess about something--anything--other than the ratio of calories to fat in a piece of fruit. I recognize the irony in my plea, given that I spend a fair amount of my time reading about and discussing veganism. But spreading info about veganism is only half the battle: How the info is disseminated plays a great role in its efficacy and how it's received. 

So there we have it. Again, read Frederic Patenaud's article--it's well worth a look over. 


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