"An Interview with Nazariah"

Veganism and the Raw Food Movement

by Frederic Patenaude

In March I had the pleasure to interview Brother Nazariah, who is the founder of the Essene Church of Christ. Nazariah shares with us his experiences in the raw vegan movement in this fascinating interview. He may be reached on the Internet at have made a few comments throughout the interview, which are in green. My questions are always in italic typeface.

First Experiences With the Raw Vegan Diet

What is your background with the raw food diet?

I’m 46 now and I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 17. At that age, I not only became a vegetarian but also a raw foodist. I included raw dairy into my diet because I had met an elderly Essene teacher who recommended that. Historically, that used to be the Essene diet. The Essenes, for the most part, were not vegans. They were vegetarians and many of them were raw foodists, but they ate fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir. So that was my diet was for 7 years. During that time, I did great — no problems at all.

Then, when I had moved to another location, I became very attracted to the vegan philosophy, because it is a beautiful philosophy. I then became a raw vegan.

After 5 years on a raw vegan diet, I lost the ability to walk. All of my extremities — my hands, my fingers and my feet — were in such pain that I couldn’t move. I had central nervous system problems and I was B12 anemic. All of that happened after 5 years on a raw vegan diet.

So I switched back to eating the raw fermented dairy products. At that point, being as nerve-damaged as I was, I also included eggs. I healed myself by reintroducing those products.

At that point, I was wondering whether this was an experience unique to myself, or whether other persons had had problems on the raw food diet in the long-term. In the short term, you don’t have those sorts of problems. They’re nutritional deficiencies that take several years to manifest themselves.

(Comments by Frederic: Nazariah suffered from a B-12 deficiency, which would have been avoided if he had taken a supplement for vitamin B-12 — which is what we now recommend to all vegans and almost everybody.]

Lack of Success in the Raw-Vegan Movement

So I did some research. I put a call out on the Internet at different raw food chat boards. Because I was one of the speakers at raw food events, I got to hang out with the other noted raw food speakers. I started realizing that problems like I’d had were rampant in the raw food movement, but don’t get talked about.

When the people who lecture and write the books start themselves having problems on the diet, they hide that fact because they are earning their livings being a raw food lecturer/author. I hate to say that, but it’s that way. I’ve seen it happen again and again, when I will personally know a famous raw food speaker/teacher, and because I personally know them, I know that they are going through anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, that they’re having pain in their joints, they’re losing their teeth — things like that. And yet, I’ll see them speak at a raw food convention and they never mention any of the problems they’re experiencing. They just praise how perfect the raw vegan diet is. And what happens is any time people are having problems on the raw vegan diet, they get told that they’re just experiencing detox and cleansing. But that’s just a pat answer.

(Comments by Frederic: There is a big misconception in the raw food movement. People will believe that whenever something goes wrong, it is because of “detox.” I keep reminding people that the intense period of detoxification is often something that lasts less than a few months — often only a few weeks. If symptoms persist, they are often signs of nutritional imbalances.]

B-12 Deficiency

Most vegans are not getting enough B-12. It’s very important to take a B-12 supplement if you’re on a vegan diet, and a lot of vegans don’t. A lot of the sources vegans have believed they were getting their B12 from actually aren’t good. For instance, the blue-green algae, the spirulina, sea vegetables, all of those things are listed as having a lot of B12, but studies have shown that they’re analog B12, which can’t be utilized by the human body. Analog B-12 competes for receptor sites with the real usable B-12. It results that eating any of those things, it’s not only that you’re not getting the B-12 you think you’re getting, you’re actually going to get less, because the analog B-12 clings to the limited numbers of receptor sites in the body for real B12 — and then real B-12 can’t cling to it, because it’s already taken by the analog B-12. So, people who have been eating those things in the vegan movement thinking that it’s a natural source of B12 and that they don’t need to take a B-12 supplement, become very B-12 anemic.

Gabriel Cousens, a holistic M.D., has become very concerned about the B-12 issue and is now publishing the results of new research. He says that it’s been demonstrated that 80% of vegans become seriously B-12 deficient. He then lists the problems that can be related to B-12 deficiency, and it’s an incredible list of problems.

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