"The Raw Superiority Complex"
100% raw or 100% healthy? Or, do you let your diet define your identity?
by Frederic Patenaude
When I first became a raw-foodist, I would refer to my life prior my discovery of raw-foods as “when I was cooked” and I would often express annoyance with my “cooked” friends and family. Many of my vegetarian friends will make a distinction between their veggie friends and their “carnivorous” ones.
But now, I'm no longer attached to defining my identity through a dietary orientation, such as raw-foodism, veganism, or vegetarianism.
Many people develop a sort of superiority complex when they change their diets, especially raw vegans. I know it, because it happened to me, and I've seen it in others. As a raw-foodist, I gave out the impression that I was really strong in order to maintain such a discipline and healthy lifestyle - while others were just wishing they could be, but either didn't have the courage to do it, or hadn't yet realized the truth of it. But is that real strength?
I recall one event when I was living in California. I was then becoming involved in the raw-food scene there, and thus many p eople started to know me as a “raw-food guy.” One day, I was shopping at a local health food store and then recognized the person in line behind me from a raw-food potluck. He looked a bit nervous and I didn't realize why. He was almost shaking when he told me: “You know, I'm almost 100% raw now. But I'm still not perfect yet - I still have some bread, you know. I'm getting there!” Then I noticed, among the big pile of raw fruits and vegetables he was buying, a few cooked items such as bread and corn chips, and I realized that he had been nervous when he saw me because he thought that I was going to judge him for not being a 100% raw-foodist.
Another time I organized a raw-food event in my hometown. A friend of mine, who had tried raw-foodism was no longer a raw-foodist, helped me organize it. The day of the event, my friend was hungry and bought some sushi at a local restaurant. He brought that along to the event. When our guru showed up, my friend was eating his sushi (with rice and fish, for God's sake!). I really felt uncomfortable at that moment and told him that maybe he should go eat that elsewhere. Basically, I asked him to hide to eat, so that everyone would think that we were both raw-foodists. The next day, we went with some friends and the guru to a local vegan restaurant that happened to serve some raw-food dishes. Everyone ordered the raw meal except my friend who ordered a rice dish and ate it without guilt in front of our raw guru. That was a wake-up call for me. My friend was not ashamed of being who he was. He did not feel any pressure to eat raw just because a raw-food guru was present. He did not want to give people the impression he was someone else.
Often, we seek emotional comfort in our diet. We end up defining ourselves through our diets. Like I did, they we it as the one solution for every of humanity's problems - a truth that only seems so obvious to us but that the rest of the world is too blinded too see.
But it makes us feel like we have our life under control. Going at the root of mental and emotional issues to depurate them is hard work, but controlling our diet is easy.
Some cooked foods are better than some raw foods
Whole raw foods are very healthy. However, many raw-food recipes are not. If I actually look back and think of all the times that I've experienced some sort of digestive distress in my adult life, a great proportion of these events came from eating raw-food recipes. Those recipes tend to rely heavily on nuts, seeds, oils, sprouted beans and starchy vegetables - all foods that are generally difficult to digest when eaten in large amounts. To add to this, raw-food recipes are generously salted and spiced in order to excite the taste buds to the highest degree and make people experience mouth orgasms, which will by word of mouth increase the perceived value of the chef.
I hear a lot more complaints like, “Oh, I ate too much,” or “I'm having pains in my stomach,” or “I shouldn't have eaten this or that,” after a raw potluck than after a regular vegetarian potluck! I'm not saying that cooked foods are necessarily better, but just that there are many raw foods that are harder to digest than cooked food, and that just because it's raw doesn't make it “holy” or “sacred.”
PS: In my book, “The Raw Secrets,” I go in details about the difference between “healthy raw” and just “raw.” http://www.fredericpatenaude.com/rawsecrets.html
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