Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Response To "Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater"

This article on the Daily Raw Inspiration had me vigorously nodding YES!

You don't have to give up being raw just because you got a little derailed!  More and more raw food personalities are stepping up and saying it's okay if you aren't 100% raw and vegan, 100% of the time.  Some are even admitting that they occasionally eat cooked food.

I feel rather impassioned about this because when I first discovered raw food, I was under the impression that being raw meant being at least "high raw" all the time.  Every day.  Forever. Sort of like a life sentence.  I encounter non-raw people all the time who think that being raw means I eat a weird diet and can't eat with them without the experience being awkward for everyone.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

There are people in the world of raw food who feel that you can't really call yourself a raw food enthusiast unless you live the raw lifestyle 100% of the time, every day.  I disagree with that.  It makes me sad when people who enjoy raw food feel like they have to completely "leave" the movement because they've found they have to make some adjustments to their diet.

For foodies, the obstacle to being 100% raw might be about experiences.  If a new restaurant, recipe, cuisine or food trend  looks intriguing, it might be hard to think that we will never have that experience because it isn't raw or vegan.  Never eat a freshly baked croissant while in a Paris cafe?  Never eat beignets in New Orleans?  For some, this is unthinkable.  True, there are raw adaptations of every type of food, and true, many raw food enthusiasts think that raw gourmet foods rival that of gourmet cooked foods.  Some of us think that raw food tastes far better than cooked food.  Generally speaking, I tend to agree.  Still, for some, the very thought of a food being "off-limits" will make it more appealing.  So, go ahead.  Eat some cooked food if you want to.  You can go back to raw, again and again. 

There is a saying, "When in Rome. . . "  Some raw foodists think it's fine to make an occasional exception and eat the local cuisine while traveling, avoiding only specific foods.  Other raw foodists cannot eat anything that isn't on their diet without severe health consequences.  Each person should decide this for himself.

For some people, family and social occasions can be tricky.  John Kohler, whom I admire, posted a video a while back about how he goes to wedding receptions.  He eats raw, participates in the occasion, and does all this without anyone noticing that he isn't eating exactly the same thing as everyone else.  However, I think most raw people understand that this isn't for everyone.  In my case, it's often not doable.  Sometimes, it's all I can do to make sure my sons leave the house with clean shirts and tied shoes, without packing a cooler of raw food too.  Despite the rumors, I do not have superpowers.  So when I go to wedding receptions, parties and the like, my family and I often eat what is being served, unless we know that the food will cause distress.  Recently, a friend who happens to be an amazing cook said, "I would invite you over and cook for you, but I don't do raw food."  I replied, "That's why we aren't 100% raw!"  Because, seriously, I love my friends and I won't let a little thing like food come between us. 

Time is another thing that can derail raw foodists.  If a person is on a crazily busy schedule, and isn't in circumstances where raw food is easily accessible, it can seem practical to just grab what everyone else is eating.  It's called convenience food for a reason.  Of course, convenience food is usually not healthy, unless it's a piece of fruit or a carrot.

For some it might be challenging to maintain a raw lifestyle for very long without becoming deficient in some type of nutrient.  If they take the time to carefully analyze their nutrition intake and research which foods contain the nutrients they need, they can learn to maintain a raw lifestyle indefinitely.  Being 100% raw and healthy definitely takes time and commitment.  Sorry if this is controversial, but I don't agree with the folks who claim that as long as you eat plenty of fruits and veggies with a small amount of nuts and seeds, you'll naturally get everything you need without having to think about it.  In my opinion, this is true of a short-term raw food lifestyle such as a two or three week cleanse, but in the long term, some nutritional analysis is a safer bet.  And no, the potential concern is not from insufficient protein, but from vitamins B12 and D, minerals zinc, selenium, and iron, and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

During those times when time is tight, if you can, I recommend taking advantage of the support and assistance available from the raw food community.  Eat at your local raw restaurant.  Hire a raw chef.  Sign up for a healthy meal plan, so that all you have to do is shop and prepare, with all of the nutritional research done for you.

Another thing that can derail a raw lifestyle is cost.  Not all of us can afford a raw meal service from a local raw chef.  But there are many things that we can do.  We can join fresh produce co-ops, we can buy certain conventional produce rather than organic when we have to, we can grow some of our own food, and we can skip highly priced gourmet super foods.  It is possible to be raw without eating goji berries and pine nuts.

If you have a weak moment and eat the nachos at a party, or if you just can't bear to say "no" and resist the offer of freshly baked cookies in church, it's okay.  You can be raw one meal a week, or one meal a day, or every day but Saturday, or raw in summer and cooked in winter, or 99% raw with occasional exceptions, or mostly cooked with periodic raw cleanses, or 100% raw with no exceptions for the rest of your life.  Bottom line:  If you want, you can have the best of both worlds, raw and cooked. Whatever works for you.  Go for it!

Remember, it's not healthy to feel guilty and dwell on those non-raw moments.  Just take in the nutrition you need, do your best to avoid the foods that are harmful to your body, love yourself wherever you are in your process, and above all:  BE HEALTHY! 

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So what do you think? Have you tried raw vegan food?