Let us say someone has just now become aware of the harmful effects of cooking and freezing food and now wishes to ‘go raw’. The downside is that he is barraged with warring camps of raw food enthusiasts. Some agree on a few points but take sides and seek to disqualify the opposition on most issues. That to me IS the downside.
Briefly, the major camps consist of:
Raw vegans who eat only raw plant food, but raise the temperature of ‘raw’ to 115 degrees Fahrenheit
Raw vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables and sprouts, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, eggs, and honey but no red meat, and mostly no fish or poultry. For most vegetarians, eggs and dairy are included.
The Raw Paleolithic diet is one of the raw animal food diets. The Raw Paleolithic diet includes raw meat and organs but excludes raw dairy, grains, and legumes.
The Primal Diet is a raw food diet that stems from traditional and primitive diets that include meats (fatty meat is preferred) and organs, dairy in all forms, raw eggs, honey, vegetable juice, and some fruit with raw fat.
Most versions of a raw food diet DO cause benefits. Some benefit is caused by the automatic elimination of all processed foods and additives – for instance, flour and refined sugar under all names.
Some raw food diets allow table salt (or sea salt) to be a part of a raw food diet, not as a living food but justified by the fact that sodium chloride crystals are found in nature.
Most of the talk and internet presence are about vegetarian and vegan raw diets all of which need various quantities of supplements to enable the dieter to get enough basic nutrition. Many people can get along for a while as vegans or vegetarians. The main visible side effect is looking very thin. The main experiential side effects can be fatigue, lack of energy, muscle weakening & vanishing, and reduction of bone mass.
The history of bodybuilding has many important examples of what can be achieved on a raw paleo or Primal diet (reference: Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors, Vol. I – a complete history of bodybuilding viewable by Googling the author Randy Roach).
According to the vegan/vegetarian plan, mother’s milk is the only beneficial milk – therefore do you need to bring your mother when you go away to college or move out to start a career (to say nothing of having her available in the high school cafeteria)? Other than that, even raw milk from a goat or a cow is not recommended on the strictly vegetarian/vegan diet, nor are other dairy products or eggs.
One goal of each of the raw food camps (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and Primal) is to eliminate any reliance on drugs or other medical procedures such as surgery. This is NOT a downside in most cases, however, the fact that the various camps fight against each other as to how this can best be done leaves the potential newcomer to raw food battle-worn and starved for some convincing evidence of the effectiveness of whatever camp he is most drawn to.
Another fairly general goal of each raw food diet is to reduce the intake of toxic matter and eliminate stored toxins. The ways of achieving this vary quite a bit from camp to camp. The ways a human body deals with toxins include proper functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic, and immune systems through the lungs, sweat glands, liver, kidneys, and colon.
The vegetarian raw food diets have a close reliance on repetitive colon cleansing through a series of enemas and colonic irrigations combined with fasts. Some downsides include that this is time-consuming – plus one increases one’s reliance on these man-made solutions instead of decreasing reliance.
On the Primal Diet, there are NO recommended breaks from intake of proper food – even for a day – and there are several natural ways of bringing about adequate elimination of toxins. For instance, proper elimination can be accomplished through lymphatic baths (see We Want To Live for details) and natural methods of elimination through the colon, which don’t also flush away beneficial bacteria.
Some versions of the raw food diet are not helped by ongoing campaigns that only thin people can be good-looking. Continuous and persistent ad campaigns show thin-cover girls in popular magazines. Again the ways of achieving such thinness vary tremendously; there are many other ways for weight loss besides a raw food diet but none of these diets is healthy and given the #1 priority. In a truly beneficial raw food diet, health IS the priority.
One would think that if our digestive abilities as humans were studied, more agreement could be reached. This study has been done but the results have been kept safely between the covers of a book, thus are not well known & thus the debate continues. Email the author of this article to ask for the summary paragraph about our digestive abilities.
In summary, when one chooses to follow a raw food diet despite the downsides mentioned above, many sub-choices require some due diligence. One must add in the time it takes to make or buy daily staples such as fresh vegetable juice and raw coconut cream. One must budget to cover the costs and one must find sources for various foods & feel right about whether or not they are all natural or have been fudged in one way or another.