We all know that vitamins and minerals are the key to being fit, healthy and beautiful (yep, there’s a bunch of other factors, nope, I’m not going into them). What better way to get vitamins and minerals than to blend them into an easy-to-drink smoothie? I’ve been collecting photos of my smoothies for this article for about 6 months (I never knew it was so hard to get a remotely interesting picture of a smoothie). I’ve been drinking one smoothie a day (apart from during pregnancy) since I bought my Kenwood 2Go Smoothie Maker about half a year ago (it’s AMAZING and the plastic cup goes in the dishwasher. Even when I left it a few days it was really easy to clean). This is literally the best £12.99 I ever spent on a gadget! Most days I just have blueberry and banana (see recipe 4, use water instead of coconut milk) or strawberry and banana (see recipe 1, omit lime), but in addition to those, here’s my favourite recipes that are a little bit more exciting for days when I’ve got lots of fruit in the house:
Strawberry, banana and lime: Ingredients: 1 banana, about 100g of strawberries (or by volume, slightly more strawberry than banana) and 1tsp of lime. I fill my pod blender with the fruit and lime juice, then take it to the tap and pour water in up to the top of the highest piece of fruit. It’s not an exact science and the consistency varies. Blend for about 40 seconds.
Banana, blueberry and cantaloupe:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80g of blueberries (their flavor is stronger than the strawberries). I put the fruit in, then I top up with water to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Usually this comes out like a light smoothie. Blend for about 60 seconds as the blueberries need lots of blending so you’re not just drinking huge pieces of blueberry skin. Drink it fast or it separates!
Blueberry, banana and coconut milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, about 80-90g of blueberries, pour coconut milk into the container to the top of the highest piece of fruit. For a thinner smoothie, use 50% water and 50% coconut milk instead. Blend about 60 seconds. If you don’t use enough liquid this makes a very tasty yoghurt!!
Carrot and orange:
Ingredients: 1 carrot, chopped finely. About 200-300ml of orange juice (depending on size of carrot). You can add ginger to this to make a really perky drink, but ever since I was pregnant I’ve been unable to stand the smell, sight or taste of ginger!
Mango, papaya and orange:
Ingredients: 1 mango, chopped into cubes, 1 papaya, chopped into cubes. Add orange juice to the top of the highest piece of fruit. Blend for about 60 seconds. Optional: For a thicker smoothie with less mango/papaya flavour, add a banana.
Raspberry, cantaloupe and banana:
Ingredients: Raspberries, cantaloupe (melon) and banana. Blend for 30-40 seconds. The only thing I don’t like about this one is the ridiculous amount of raspberry seeds. But it tastes sooooo gooood!!
Banana, black grape and almond milk:
Ingredients: 1 banana, a generous handful (maybe 2 hands if you don’t have freakishly large man hands like me) of black grapes (take them off the vine thingy and if they’re not seedless, you’ll have to de-seed them too), put in blender and top up with almond milk (coconut milk also does a nice job). 60 seconds usually does it but expect to chew some grape skins anyway.
If you want or need added protein and minerals from any of these smoothies, why not make it crunchy and drop a table spoon of chia seeds or poppy seeds into your smoothie (poppy seeds are MUCH cheaper to buy, and they have similar nutritional content to chia seeds). Other nuts blend but the result is a crunchy yoghurt-type foodstuff. A yoothie??
What are your favourite smoothie recipes? Let me know in the comments!
My table of comparisons between the diets discussed in this series, using vegetarianism and macrobiotic as baselines for comparisons, click to enlarge:
In this series, I examined raw veganism, fruitarianism, sproutarianism, juicearianism and breatharianism to find out what they were, what the advantages and disadvantages were, and, as per my table above, whether they were nutritionally sound. I also produced this handy infographic:
In conclusion, there are a lot of restrictive diets out there, many of which are founded on religious or philosophical concepts. Whilst researching this article I found out about The Creationist Diet, which I will discuss in a future post – Creationist vs Paleo diets. Of the diets discussed, I would strongly suggest that anything below a raw vegan diet is not fulfilling all of the basic nutritional requirements of a person. Raw veganism sounds really interesting as a concept (I actually think the concepts behind sproutarianism and fruitarianism are also pretty interesting) but obviously you would have to spend a lot of time researching and finding out about how to get the exact nutritional requirements from these foods without eating too much “filler” (fruit sugars, chlorophyll etc) in the process.
The 75% concept is a good idea – I would like to see more people in all these different sects of veganism advocating following 75% (their diet) and 25% (to take it up with nutrients). I would be particularly intrigued to follow a 50-50 diet between fruitarianism and sproutarianism to see what the effects were like, because their nutritional deficiencies do complement each other although I would only want to do this for a short while due to it being extremely difficult to get enough protein from fruit and sprouted seeds by volume (and I have had a protein deficiency in the past, I don’t want to go through that again). I have future plans to road-test raw veganism, fruitarianism, sproutarianism and 50-50 fruit-sprout-arianism, to be able to give a full and detailed review (and just to have experienced these things; in case you hadn’t noticed I’m all about getting the experiences). I will not be including juicearian and breatharianism/ineida, however, because they are just bloody stupid, and I can live without the experiences of abdominal pain, diabetes or death.
I also found out that some people use the term aquatarian to describe a water-only diet (and some people use it to describe pescetarians, presumably because they want it to sound nicer). Personally, I would like to see a water-organisms-only diet (fish, sea vegetables, seafood and water) and I would describe that as aquatarian. Presumably that would have too many nutrients for anyone to actually sell it to people. I would guess the water-only drinkers don’t live long enough to design or make a website, as none of them have one, just commentary hints about how “only water is pure” and how water has all the vitamins you need (which is absolute rubbish).
I’m going to offend someone with this; this entire paragraph is specifically talking about breatharianism: The breatharians with websites are obviously lying. If you can’t see that we need to eat and drink to live, you are either extremely gullible (possibly raised within a strict dogmatic faith), or you’re a spoilt middle class or upper class idiot with too much money and not enough sense, because anyone who has genuinely gone hungry or been surrounded by hunger in a situation beyond their control knows they need food to live. Find a real religion or spiritual system (or devise your own that works just for you) which will give you a sense of fulfilment and personal destiny, a spirituality or sense of purpose. Steve Pavlina has some great ideas about the mysteries of the cosmos – check him out: http://www.stevepavlina.com
If you’re getting angry because I’ve criticized your diet, learn what’s making you so angry here: http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/lunch-att/lunch-attitudes-1a.shtml Please note that this article explains the pathologies behind lunch identification but it falsely assumes that only vegans and raw vegans are capable of such a thing – failing to understand that the militant attitude of some plant eaters was directly caused by the same lunch identification (and worse) from omnivores – in other words, the meat eaters have spent the last 150 years disparaging vegetarian and subsequent diets, so of course vegans have grown to learn a logical set of reasoning to explain their choices to the next ignoramus who asks. I am not a vegan (I was not a vegan when I wrote this all as one long article before I published part 1 in December – I’m vegan now, and still totally comfortable with what I eat), but have been an omnivore, a vegetarian and a vegan (and all sorts of other things) in the past, and I am comfortable in my eating habits, so am able to make this observation. Also bear in mind there are a hell of a lot more omnivores so they each have to be less negative to wear a vegan down to the point where they reciprocate. Not that it stops the omnivores from going too far consistently (have I now pissed off every dietary group???).
This is important, because a lot of the anti-vegan propaganda focusses on the fact that veganism has a coherent rationale and that every vegan will tell you similar reasons for eating vegan. That rationale was developed as a response to what the article calls “dietary bigotry” – and in the first place, the bigotry was travelling from omnivores towards vegetarians and this fixation on trying to change other people’s diets and “convert them to meat eating” arises out of a chronic insecurity, which caused a reciprocal problem in the vegan community and downwards. Additionally, if the reasons are appealing to the vast majority of vegans and play a part in the decision making process, then it stands to reason that people will cite similar reasons for going vegan.
However, the pathologies described in the article are good and accurate and worth being aware of if you find yourself becoming obsessed with diet. The real question then would be what to do about it, but I think that your approach to that would be highly personal and utterly depend on your circumstances, such as what you were currently eating and how far gone you were. There is a fine line between conscious eating and silly eating, and only you can judge where that line falls. Unless you end up ill, in which case leave it to a qualified doctor.
Here are some signs you should not ignore in any vegan diet:
1. Constant tiredness – this is a symptom of many nutritional deficiencies, including protein, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a symptom of excessive tryptophan, one of the amino acids that is plentiful in the vegan diet. Excessive tryptophan causes “serotonin syndrome” which can be deadly. 2. Constant difficulty doing “brain-intensive” work, e.g. reading – this is another symptom linked to the above, and implies a deficiency of protein, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium and calcium. 3. Constipation/diarrhea for more than 3 days – this is a big sign that something is wrong in your digestive system. Once you’ve solved the short term symptoms (with either a laxative or an anti-diarrhea pill) you need to start going through what you are eating and how you are preparing it to find out the cause of the problem – this can be caused by contaminated foods, such as lentils, which haven’t been heated quite enough to kill all the bacteria, also food intolerances, fibre intolerance, dehydration and excessive iron intake. 4. Hair loss (excessive) – Protein makes hair. If you don’t have enough protein, your hair falls out. It shuts down non-essential systems, and hair is one of these. Zinc and magnesium deficiencies also cause hair loss. 5. Irritability – This is another sign of protein deficiency, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and a host of other things. If you have periods, do check that it’s not just the week before your period – PMS and PMDD both come with irritability as standard. 6. Pica – the need to eat things that are considered “non food” e.g. coal, glass, ice. You have a food deficiency. To identify what the deficiency is, find out what the “non-food” item you’re craving is made of, and see if any of its composition is a mineral (or other nutrient, but it’s most commonly minerals such as iron). Try supplementing with that mineral and see if the pica goes away. 7. Hallucinations and delusions – You have a severe B12 deficiency, get thee to a doctor and get some supplements as well. 8. Inability to “get going” – This is an extension of tiredness/fatigue/concentration problems, and is down to lack of energy – i.e. carbohydrates. Try a piece of fruit, try checking if you have any other symptoms, and if it’s still a mystery, go to the doctor. 9. Constant hunger – You’re hungry, even though you’re eating loads. It’s because you’re not getting the right stuff inside you. Try mixing it up and eating something really random that you wouldn’t usually try, such as nuts, goji berries, mushrooms or couscous. 10. Unexplained bruising and bruising far too easily, with the bruises not fading after the usual time – this is a vitamin K and iron deficiency. Usually accompanied by some other symptoms such as fatigue. Supplement with vitamin K and iron. 11. Your period has stopped – This is a big sign of malnutrition which I mentioned before with the video in Part 1. If you usually have a period (and there are a host of reasons you might not, e.g. not having the right equipment, being on long term contraception, pregnancy, medical problems etc) and your period suddenly stops happening, check you’re not pregnant. If you’re definitely not pregnant, you need to get more food into your diet. Amenhorrea is never something to ignore as it is a sign that something fundamental is wrong with your body, even if you feel well. I would consult a doctor if you absolutely will not change what you eat, but I don’t know what else they would say.
With all of the above symptoms, you need to take a step back, assess whether your diet is really giving you the nutrients you need. This can be really difficult to do when you’re still in the middle of it, so I would recommend trying supplements first, if you can find any that fit your diet rules, then have a think about whether there are any foods you could get that suit your vegan-subtype that would be a better long term solution to include in your diet. Personally, if I was having problems with a diet, I would revert back to regular vegan or even ovo-vegetarian for a period of time, build up my nutrients so I’d got a good store of them, then try again. I have a milk allergy so there is absolutely no way in hell I’d ever eat milk or milk derivatives, which is why I don’t discuss the role of milk in the diet.
In all of the places where I have mentioned a “doctor” I mean a medical professional who has spent many years training at a medical school and works in a medical setting with the ability to identify your ailment accurately and find a solution to it. Retired doctors, pharmacists, nurses, holistic therapists, dentists, voodoo dancers, village shamans, hairdressers etc etc, all have good intentions and can have some good advice, but there are times when you just need to see an actual current qualified doctor who is up to date with latest developments in their field and has the power to prescribe you something that has been tested rigorously to make sure it actually works – and someone who you can hold accountable if it doesn’t work, because they have a vested interest in getting it right – or they can lose their licence to practise medicine.
Today, I’m discussing Fruitarianism and Juicarianism. I decided to do them both together because some people get them confused – and for good reason, since they both involve lots of fruit. Here’s my table of information for the diets examined in this series (with macrobiotic and vegetarianism being included for baseline comparisons). Click to enlarge:
The garden of Eden, an idyllic, beautiful, perfect place where man and woman lived innocently at one with the Earth. Even most Christians believe Eden was a metaphor for our different state of existence before God changed us as a species due to the Original Sin. Fruitarians? They see Eden as a valid and workable diet plan. It really sparks the imagination and I can see why people would try this as a way of connecting with their environment through consumption. But from a nutritional point of view it’s a terrible idea. Some religions follow this way of eating, and it was incorporated into the original Creationist Diet (a real diet, which I will compare to the Paleo Diet when I’ve researched them both).
The rules: You must only eat fruit, right? Actually, according to http://www.thefruitarian.com there are many different interpretations of what it means to be a fruitarian:
“Here are some common definitions associated with a Fruitarian diet:
Wikipedia: Fruitarianism involves the practice of following a diet that includes fruits, nuts and seeds, without animal products, vegetables and grains.
Dictionary.com: a person whose diet consists chiefly of fruit.
UrbanDictionary.com: A person of extreme dietary discipline who eats only the reproductive offshoots of plants.
Princeton.edu: People whose diet consists of 75% or more fruit.
Fruitarian.com: The fruitarian diet consists of RAW fruit and seeds ONLY!”
So there’s a lot of scope here for trying different configurations of fruitarianism and seeing which one suits your body best. At a 75% fruit mark, this also allows you to bring in other foods, although it would depend on your individual beliefs as to what you would eat in the other 25%.
The Benefits: Getting back to nature and to a natural diet that can be eaten without processed or chemically-enhanced food seems to be an underlying theme to many of these diets, but fruitarianism does it in a way that still involves a lot of variety, with people using very different decision making processes to select foods – for some people, reducing their carbon footprint is important, for others, decisions are made by only eating local foods that would have been found if there was no city where they lived, and for others still, it’s about developing and following instincts about which fruit they should eat. Aside from the environmental benefits to eating fruitarian, adherents claim (the same as raw vegans) that they get significantly more energy from their foods than they did “before” however, I would argue rationally that it’s the developed consciousness of eating and sense of interconnectedness that is causing them to select foods that naturally contain more energy (plus all the fruit sugars), rather than adhering to any restrictive doctrine as critics have accused.
The Drawbacks: Deficiencies all over the place! As a fruitarian, if you avoided nuts/seeds, there are many vitamins, minerals and amino acids that you couldn’t get. The problem is still present to a lesser extent even if you do eat nuts and seeds.
Sugar intake! The biggest issue is that there is far too much sugar (specifically fructose) in fruits. According to Dr Mercola, an advocate of unbiased un-moneyed medical information: “Fructose, a simple sugar found in fruit, is preferentially metabolized to fat in your liver, and eating large amounts has been linked to negative metabolic and endocrine effects. So eating very large amounts – or worse, nothing but fruit – can logically increase your risk of a number of health conditions, from insulin and leptin resistance to cancer.
For example, research has shown that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose, specifically, to divide and proliferate, thus speeding up the growth and spread of the cancer.”
Steve Jobs, often lauded as the “different thinker” who was the most famous fruitarian so far, died of pancreatic cancer. Ashton Kutcher, in preparation for his role in the Steve Jobs film, ate a fruitarian diet for six months and had to stop due to pancreas problems. Additional to pancreas problems, as mentioned in the quote above, sugar converts to fat in the liver, so eating crazy amounts of carbohydrates (the scientific name for sugar, prolific in fruits) will make you gain weight, as you can see for yourself from the number of people seeking help for weight gain in the 30 Bananas a Day forums.
Inadequate dietary fat intake! The main sources of fat in a fruitarian diet are avocado and coconut fat. On the “80/10/10” diet that is referred to by many fruitarians and raw vegans, 80% of the calories are carbohydrates, 10% fats and 10% protein. This produces problems with huge amounts of sugars (carbohydrates is the fancy name for sugars, remember), and insufficient amounts of protein and fat. “Fat” is a blanket term and covers a group of substances, and you need to eat a variety of these, not just two sources. Essential fatty acids are highly difficult to get into a 100% strict fruitarian diet, or a 75% fruitarian, 25% raw vegan one, as these need to come from food sources that don’t exist in these dietary configurations (amendment on January 7th 2015: you can get the correct amounts of essential fatty acids – the two we need are Omega 3 and Omega 6 – from eating a lot of linseeds or supplementing your diet with cold pressed linseed gelatin free capsules – although the companies don’t explain how they make the capsules so these might not be 100% raw-friendly).
Inadequate dietary protein intake! All proteins are not created equal, and it’s an oversimplification to just say “I will get all my protein from nuts.” They are very high in protein (pistachio nuts are one of the highest sources of protein of anything ever) but protein is a collective name for a group of substances made up of amino acids, and it’s the amino acids that you actually need. Saying “there’s protein in nuts” is like saying “there’s vitamins in an orange” both statements are true, but they don’t tell you which protein (or vitamins in the orange) are in the nuts, and this can and does lead to protein deficiencies which can make you lethargic, sluggish, confused and tired. Some amino acids are extremely difficult or impossible to obtain in the fruitarian diet.
High fibre issues! You will shit like a cow in a field for a few weeks until your body gets used to the fibre in all this fruit. It will be watery, smelly and prolific both in frequency and volume. Even then, you will still never shit the same until you change your diet. Fruitarians often explain this discrepancy and the associated digestive issues of bloating and flatulence as “your digestive system changing to attune itself to the fruitarian diet.” I’m not so sure about that, but one thing’s for certain – anything that gives you diarrhea is going to stop you absorbing water, leading to dehydration (which will make it seem like you’re losing weight).
Vitamin deficiencies! There are issues getting enough iron, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, selenium and iodine. Vitamin K is often mentioned, but there are plenty of fruitarian sources although planning is required to obtain adequate intake. Here is a list of fruits containing vitamin K: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-009104000000000000000-w.html?maxCount=38
The ideal behind fruitarianism is a very romanticized one, I could imagine a lot of upper class Georgians partaking in it, but it is lacking in a lot of major nutrients and more studies need to be done to find out how this affects the human body over various lengths of time. As a conclusion, I think doing this for any period longer than a few months is not safe, and alternating between this and a less restrictive diet is probably necessary for optimum health. It is certainly not a diet you can get by without seriously thinking about what you eat, and planning every meal carefully to avoid large-scale deficiencies.
As extreme diets go, juicearianism is out there. Some people see a diet consisting only of liquids to be the antidote to the wholesale tooth decay problems associated with raw vegan and fruitarian diets. Certainly, the high fibre content of raw vegan and fruitarian foods damage tooth enamel, but the strong acids released from the plant cells when they’re juiced or blended also damage your teeth – in the form of acid erosion. Juicing as a long-term diet solution or incorporating repeated short-term juicing episodes (several days – between 4 and 40 – of only drinking juice) into your regular diet is extremely dangerous.
How it’s different to fruitarianism: It’s vastly different to fruitarianism because, while the fruits are raw, you throw away large parts of the fruit to make juice. When I first heard about this diet, I just thought people meant that they drank smoothies all the time, I had no idea anyone would try to subsist on fruit juice. Of all the diets I researched for this article series, juicearianism scored 43 on nutrition, compared to a score of 129 for ovo-vegetarian (dairy free vegetarian). That’s 1/3 of the nutrients. That’s not calories, or fat, or anything bad, that was scored purely on the bits that you actually need to take into your body to survive. Without 2/3 of your basic nutrients, you would become very ill after a few weeks.
The Benefits: Adherents claim they lose weight. Maybe it’s because all their hair falls out (presumably they lose weight because they’re not actually eating anything).
The Drawbacks: EVERYTHING ABOUT THE JUICEARIAN DIET IS STUPID!! I was trying to write this article from an impartial and enquiring minds point of view and every other diet (except breatharianism but that doesn’t really count) I’m discussing in this article series does seem to have some merit to the idealism and philosophy behind it. Juicearianism is just stupid. According to WebMD, the juicing fad leaves you lacking in protein and dietary fibre. This will cause constipation, dizziness and hair loss, all side effects experienced by juicearians, which they pass off as “healing” when caused by juice and “dangerous” when caused by starting to eat real food again.
In the words of the Wall Street Journal: “The question isn’t just whether these techniques work. It’s whether the body is overwhelmed by toxins to begin with.” This for me is the fundamental problem – there’s an assumption that we need to get rid of toxins, and that drinking lots of glasses of fruit juice will accomplish this. It’s all just a ruse to get you to buy a $400 juicer (according to webMD) as part of a $5 billion industry (according to Marie Claire). The consequences of following this diet can be seen in this article about “juicerexia” – which shows how juicing can lead to anorexia: http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/news/a7601/cleansings-dirty-secret/ What is really unfortunate is that the people selling juicers and juice books don’t seem to care that they are making people seriously ill.
“Healing reactions are very individual. Not everybody will experience the same flare-ups. The more toxic your body, the more severe the reactions may be.”** (see bottom of page about reference)
Because if you get ill from a diet that doesn’t actually provide all the nutrients your body needs, of course it’s your fault not the stupid diet. The double standard given by this website is that, when reintroducing foods, sodium is to be avoided because it will cause nausea and headaches (which are clearly bad) but that headaches and nausea caused by juice isn’t a sign that something’s wrong, it’s a “healing reaction.” I particularly dislike the fact that people are taking it upon themselves to instruct other people in what to eat, but their prose demonstrates clearly that they have no idea whatsoever about nutrition or health, and are supplementing their idiotic rhetoric with a carrot dangled in front of their dupes – that they will lose weight. They don’t even have an idealistic philosophy. And half of the proponents are selling juicers or directly profiting from the sale of juicers. This diet is Darwinism in action. Disclaimer: If you like juice, great! I have absolutely nothing against fruit juice or using a juicer to make fruit juice (as opposed to juicearianism), however I do strongly believe you should make sure you drink it as part of a balanced diet that includes some actual food of any description. Living off juice for any period of time is dangerous, and will shorten your lifespan. If I have offended you I hope that it at least provokes you to think again about the safety of what you are doing – and I hope that you do that thinking during a time when you are getting adequate Vitamin B12 intake so you can think clearly about it.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some of the comments by doctors on the whole “juice detox” fad, where people subsist off juice for up to a week – this isn’t even a discussion of long-term juicing – because it’s such a stupid concept. My bold for emphasis:
“Consuming more vegetables is great, mainstream doctors and nutritionists agree. But they dismiss the detox claims as a confusing jumble of science, pseudoscience and hype. They argue that humans already have a highly efficient system for filtering out most harmful substances—the liver, kidneys and colon.”
“If you’re confused, you understand the issue perfectly,” says Edward Saltzman, an associate professor at Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University.
“Nobody has ever been able to tell me what these toxins are,” Donald Hensrud, an internist and nutrition specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says about the myth of “detoxing” and “toxins.”
Peculiarly, the firsthand accounts of people following juicearianism for preposterous lengths of time all end rather abruptly, like this individual, who claimed to do a 92 day juice diet, but presumably had to stop after 17 days, because that’s his last blog entry: http://jimmybraskett.wordpress.com/
This poor fool thought that subsisting on only juice would make her look pretty. Clearly, it wasn’t the cosmetic surgery purchased by the profit the author mentions in the title: http://curezone.com/blogs/fm.asp?i=983127 Alas, this one, also, ends rather abruptly.
[Wellness] Fad Diets for the Thoughtful 1: Introduction and Raw Veganism
In this 5 part article series I am going to examine a range of restrictive diets branched downwards from Veganism. I have split it into five parts to make it readable and interesting, since the article is 12 pages long as I finish it off in Open Office, and that’s without the pictures.
Veganism is awesome. I’m going to put that out there first of all, because I believe it is true. Next I’m going to state that at the time of writing, I am not currently a vegan (I have been in the past, and will be again in the future). I believe it is our natural state of existence, and that, whilst the transition to cooked meat was a necessary one, millions of years of evolution ago, we are now reaching a point where transitioning back away from meat eating is necessary for a plethora of reasons. I will discuss these somewhere else. What I want to talk about in this series are the diets that branch downwards from veganism in the “even more restrictive” state. Anything that includes foods that are not strictly vegan were not included because they wouldn’t branch downwards mathematically. Don’t understand? Try reading up on databases. So we’re looking at the data set “diets that are considered at least vegan” and they are sorted in descending order of restrictiveness (see my delightful and informative infographic).
This article assumes you understand the principles and ideology of what being vegan is about, as well as a basic idea of what it entails. If that’s not you, go and look it up. I’ll wait.
All of these diets are discussed and explained in Viktoras Kulvinskas’ book Survival in the 21st Century: Planetary Healers Manual, a book written in 1975, now into its 34th edition at which point it abruptly went out of print. He also co-founded the Hippocrates Institute. Bear in mind when reading it that the body of knowledge about nutrition was vastly different, a lot of foods weren’t commercially available which are dietary staples nowadays, and the general diet of the omnivore and vegetarian were also quite different to what these groups eat now. I would argue that while some of his work is groundbreaking, particularly his “new diet” that was predominantly raw vegan, with significant amounts of fruit and sprouted seeds, at the same time, he thinks he has a scientific basis but doesn’t actually understand the underlying scientific principles, and some of what his book develops into is just plain ridiculous, like the concept that we are evolved to subsist on light and sound (the first mention of breatharianism I could come across). We have no means of converting either light or sound into energy. If you’re confused about the vitamin D connection, please read my article “The Mystery of Vitamin D” to find out how we make vitamin D – it’s not infused into our bodies by the sun, the sun does play a part but it doesn’t “synthesize” vitamin D as a lot of people believe.
So why did I put the words “fad diets” in the title? I believe, despite the fact all these diets have been around since before 1975, that they surge and recede in popularity at different points in time. We have been treated to a few years of “juice diets” being a fad, and are now seeing a rise in raw veganism, and whilst many people are lifelong followers of raw veganism, there is currently a growing number who are following the diet for a few months to lose weight – for these people, raw veganism is a fad diet. Fruitarianism and sproutarianism have never really been fad diets – but I predict that in a few years’ time, fruitarianism will be the big thing, as people search ever more deeply for answers to the fundamental question that drives almost everything that we do in life: “what’s for dinner?”
I have quantified the nutritional value of each of the diets listed above, and put this information into a table, to show how easy (or possible) it is to get the basic nutrients from them, this was so I could speak with a little more authority about these diets as I wanted to know whether foods actually existed in the categories that could provide all the nutrients humans require. One limitation of this sort of data is that it doesn’t actually show what volume of food you would need to eat to get the assorted nutrients. If you would like to know more about which foods contain which nutrients, all the data I used to compile my table came from this amazing database: http://foodinfo.us/SourcesUnabridged.aspx?Nutr_No=502
And here is my table (click to enlarge):
Table of comparison of vegan diets
Raw food diets are really trending at the moment, and raw veganism, once the domain of tree-dwelling anorak-clad protesters is now becoming much more mainstream. If veganism is as out-there and uncommon as vegetarianism was 30 years ago, raw veganism is as common as veganism was five years ago. It’s much more talked about by people in social situations, although the conversations do still tend towards insecure ridicule in the “what are your shoes made of?” vein. As you can see from my table, Raw Veganism scored 97 for total nutritional value, compared to 110 for veganism and 121 for ovo-vegetarianism.
The rules: Raw vegans do not eat or use any animal products, of course. The plant-based foods they do eat must not have been heated above 104-120F (40-49 degrees Celsius) at any point in their production cycle, and also must not contain certain additives deemed unfitting with the raw vegan philosophy. Some proponents advocate a 75% raw vegan lifestyle to ensure particular nutrients are still part of the daily diet, but many others state that their diet is as complete as a vegan one in terms of nutrition, therefore including 25% of cooked food makes no sense. I’m not in possession of any nutritional software, so couldn’t say who is right, although I do know the vitamin content of bell peppers changes when they’re cooked (I really want a program that accesses a database of nutrients; I could write one, but I’d need to populate a database with all known edible plants so I could use it wherever I was, so if you know of one that’s ready-made, or have made one that you’d like reviewing, drop me a line). Aside from not eating cooked food, the biggest difference between raw veganism and veganism is lack of soy-based products – staples such as tofu, soymilk, dairy free chocolate and cheese – because of the production methods. For me, that’s the main appeal because I feel like I can be overly dependent on soy, and I particularly was when I was vegan. Tofu is my favourite food ever but I wonder how many great things I’m missing out on because I gravitate towards tofu.
See my table pictured above to see how raw veganism fares compared to other diets.
The rationale: Some adherents dislike that food is damaged and devalued (nutritionally) by the cooking process. Others wish to eat as our evolutionary ancestors did. Others forgot to pay their electric bill then realised they didn’t need to (joking, but if this is you, what a cool way to make lemonade out of lemons). Others still find it is more in keeping with a nomadic, tent-dwelling lifestyle as they travel around experiencing new places – what is more enticing than pitching a tent in the pouring rain and NOT having to try and get a stove working? Whatever the reasoning, it will vary from person to person (“that’s right, we’re all individuals” – Monty Python). Their solution is to eat food that is closer to its original state.
The drawbacks: According to some prominent ex-vegans, who are as quick to attack veganism as they are to stuff a hot dog in their face, raw veganism is deficient in certain nutrients. Vitamin K has been cited (see my upcoming article on Vitamin K – a.k.a. Vitamin Kale) as one deficiency. Vitamin D is the big one. Vitamin B12 is also mentioned by some. Your standard vegan criticisms. By and large, raw veganism when done sensibly with correct planning and eating for nutrition, not to satisfy a quota of bananas, will yield as much nutrition as a vegan diet, although some of the food quantities and varieties will need to be varied. The biggest problem with raw veganism is a distinct lack of cholesterol – essential for vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D3 is a poorly understood and often forgotten little vitamin, which I have written another article about. Recent studies, outlined in my vitamin D article, show that within our lifetimes, a vegan vitamin D source will not only be able to be established, but also made on a large enough scale for everyone. Why is the research happening which underpins this? Because of the growing number of vegans, and their vitamin D deficiency – it has driven forward research, which will solve the problem very soon. Personally, I see no issue with supplementing with a vegetarian vitamin D source, and a vegan vitamin K source, if you need these vitamins. Vitamin A deficiency is quoted sometimes, but you can get provitamins A from vegetables such as carrots, and because we are not “true carnivores” like cats or dogs, we can convert the provitamin A into retinol, which is the bit we need, although we are not as efficient at this as “true herbivores.” Vitamin B12 deserves more consideration because it’s the source of more misinformation than any other concern-vitamin in the vegan diet.
The B12 Myth:
The vitamin B12 fallacy goes like this: “there’s no plant source of vitamin B12.” **WRING YOUR HANDS AND GRAB A SAUSAGE!!** Here’s a shocker: There’s no animal source of vitamin B12 either. Or fungi. Let’s think back to high school biology: Of the five types of organism, plant, fungi, animal, archea and bacteria, only archea and bacteria can produce vitamin B12. These bacteria are usually found in your gut and most people don’t need supplementing. Vegans don’t specifically exclude bacteria from the diet, as this would be impossible unless everything they ate was bathed in strong chemicals prior to intake, so the classification of vitamin B12 as non-vegan is misleading pro-meat-eating sensationalism. Due to bacterial symbiosis (the interrelationship of bacteria with other organisms), there are sources such as chlorella (an algae, designated vegan source of B12 because they can make more money from labelling it “the only vegan B12 source” then charging you six times the price of the others), streptomyces griseus and pseudomonas dentrificans, both of which come from soil, not animals. It has been shown that smokers, users of oral contraceptives and many pharmaceutical products are all at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to them preventing absorption in the stomach. This is not seen as a health risk, presumably because there’s far too much money to be made by big (and small) pharma companies by selling you a drug that causes B12 deficiency and then selling you a B12 supplement, then selling you meat because they’ve convinced you to eat it again due to alleged B12 deficiency. Let me repeat: Vitamin B12 supplements are as vegan as home-made bread, licking your fingers or giving someone a kiss.
Raw veganism has come under a lot of fire, and whilst I’m not actually a raw vegan, I got very fed up whilst reading for this article with the sheer amount of rabid-ex-vegans (no prefix to vegan, note, despite the fact they were all actually ex-raw-vegans and most of them hadn’t even ever been vegan) who couldn’t be bothered to use the correct title for the diet they were lambasting and who kept calling it veganism without distinguishing, as if invalidating one was to invalidate the other.
The experiences these people have had with raw-veganism are often the cliche’d “oh this is so easy I’ll just eat salad for every meal” with no forward planning or consideration of the nutritional requirements of their bodies – something every vegan, raw or cooked, needs to be in tune with. Then they invariably got ill. They psychologically fixated on meat as the cure (remember, these people live in extremes – cheese, egg or a hot bowl of baked beans would not be dramatic enough). They ate some, and within minutes (instantly in one case) felt better (can anyone say “hallelujah”). That’s psychosomasis at its best. Then they have to shout so loudly to justify that they’re not raw vegan anymore (and they were probably the loudest drum bangers when they were raw vegan, too, evangelicals often are) – to convince themselves that they didn’t fail (they probably didn’t fail personally), but were failed by a “system” “group” or even “cult” of raw veganism. This is a logical fallacy because, whilst some raw vegans can be a bit pushy, it assumes that a greater group of individuals were responsible for their personal choices – unless you are actually in a cult with a controlling leader, this is unlikely to be true. Raw Veganism is a difficult diet to follow, and people following it sometimes underestimate the level of forward planning needed to go through with it, but it doesn’t satisfy any of the prerequisites for being a cult (see breatharianism, in part 4, for a real cult). What a paranoid conspiracy. These ex-raw-vegans clearly aren’t getting enough vitamin B12 in their sausages. I wonder why that could be. ^_^
You can find a lot of these people at letthemeatmeat.com (which I thought was Let The Meat Meat when I clicked through google, until I saw their website title). The lesson here is, don’t just eat what you can eat, eat what you need to eat, in the right quantities, in order to get your nutrients every day.
Whilst researching the raw vegan diet, I did come across a video on Youtube which explained that one of the potential problems that the videomaker experienced was that she lost her period for several months. I fully agree with the lady in the video – if you lose your period, don’t ignore it.
One of the themes I’ve seen both in raw vegan and fruitarian circles is women thinking it’s okay to lose their periods and encouraging others to ignore it too. Amenhorrea is never “unimportant” it signals that you’re doing something wrong. It is one of the first side effects of anorexia. If you lose your period, you need to go to the doctor, find out why, possibly see a nutritionalist and work out how to go forwards safely. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=4hjSCFN8REk
I am going to conclude (and remember I’m not a raw vegan) that raw veganism is a difficult to follow, but valid and nutritionally sound diet as long as it is followed by intelligent people who understand the concept of vitamins, minerals, and balanced diets, and aren’t afraid to supplement in a sensible way and shift their food values around to get the optimum balance for their own body, but that 75% raw sounds more achievable and sustainable over a longer period of time. The main thing to remember, though, is everyone is different, and people are affected differently by different diets, and it’s ok to stop following a particular diet (even if you were banging the loudest drum in favour of it) because it’s not working for you, there’s no shame in admitting that you need to eat differently, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to eat differently too (eat being the operative word here).