Not that she thought that the raw food diet was a cult, but she had heard of the multiple cults in California, preying on young people.
So she was warning me, and at the time I just laughed at the idea that I could possibly get into a cult.
However, there’s a phrase that I heard then that only made sense later which is:
“There’s nothing like the zeal of the newly converted”
Over the years, I’ve seen people get into the raw food diet and later get involved with the more extreme variations, like fruitarianism, breatharianism, compulsive fasting, never ending “cleanses,” and so on.
I’ve experienced first-hand how raw foodists can be so blinded by their philosophy that they will often:
- Completely ignore obvious and serious warning signs that their health is going downhill
- Refuse to make any changes in their diet because they’ve found “the best”
- Alienate their friends and family with their militant approach
And I say that from experience. I did these exact three things!
So is the raw food diet a cult?
Well, it’s not an organized cult with one charismatic leader who brainwashes his followers into giving him their hard-earned money, abuses them in other ways and threatens them whenever they talk about leaving “the club.”
However, many people naturally will create an environment with the raw food diet that is strangely similar to that of a cult.
I’m not anti raw foods, by the way.
I’m only pointing out the weird ways in which people who think they’ve “liberated their minds” are actually enslaving themselves to another philosophy without compromises.
Let’s take a look at the 14 Characteristics of a Cult by the American Family Foundation and see if the raw food diet can sometime apply to them.
1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
Well, I’ve certainly seen that one happen. Many followers of famous raw food promoters, especially the more charismatic or influential ones, display these characteristics. Shall we name names?
2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
Many raw food circles are obsessed with converting more people to the raw food diet. However, this is not done in the same way cults do it. Members of a cult will proactively come to you to ask you to join the cult under a false pretense, like a personality test, or by asking you what you think about a certain event. Most raw foodists come into the “cult” through their own research or through the advice of a friend.
3. The group is preoccupied with making money.
The Raw Food Movement is not ONE group but a combination of many different people with different opinions. Among these people you’ll certainly find people that are obsessed with making money. However, we have to differentiate people making a living offering an honest product and service, and others pushing dangerous supplements using false science, or lying and plagiarizing to achieve their objectives. Overall people who make a living in raw foods are a hard-working, honest bunch, but there are some bad apples that ruin everything.
4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
Yes! This is where I think many raw food circles are a cult. Whenever you hear a raw food expert talk, you get the feeling that it’s “his way or the highway.” Everyone else is stupid, but they have the absolute truth. And if you don’t get the results, it’s because you didn’t follow their advice properly. There is no room for compromise or questioning, and anyone who does is kicked out of the group. The sad reality is that many raw food groups operate this way.
5. Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
I haven’t seen that happen too much in raw food retreats, but what about you? I could always introduce new chants in my next raw food retreats!
6. The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth).
Militant raw vegans can act this way. For example, unless one is 100% vegan, they are considered an “animal abuser.” If there’s a piece of leather on their shoes, then that is not allowed in the group. Overall, raw foodists haven’t reached the cult status in this category yet!
7. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity).
This is unfortunately true of almost all raw food groups. Raw foodism is extremely elitist because it claims to have found the answer to all of humanity’s health problems. They’re on a mission to save humanity, and raw foodists will always look down on people who eat a SAD diet, or who are overweight, and not understand why they can’t make a change in their life. Judgements are passed constantly without knowing anything about the people that are being judged.
8. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.
This is absolutely true of the raw food diet. Raw foodists feel they can’t fit in the “outside” world. They can’t eat out with friends and family, because they can’t compromise on their diet. They feel alone yet they refuse to take part in many aspects of society because they are now above the rest of the world.
9. The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations).
We haven’t reached that stage yet…
10. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus charities).
I haven’t seen that happen yet…
11. The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them.
I’ve definitely see that happen a lot. WHen I was a raw foodist in California, my friends would make fun of people who used to eat a raw food diet but gave it up. This made me feel extremely guilty when I decided to experiment with cooked foods again, as if I was doing something terribly wrong.
12. Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.
While raw food leaders certainly don’t ask you to cut ties with your family and friends who are not raw foodists, the “us vs. them” philosophy that’s incorporated into the raw food message often makes people alienate their friends and family, and want to socialize only with people who can agree with them on that level.
13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group.
So far I haven’t seen raw food potlucks encourage people to come back every day for more!
14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
Again, I haven’t seen that happen too much. Although, many raw foodists look down on “cooked food eaters” and tend to look down even more on “ex-raw foodists,” the worst category of betrayers…
So in conclusion, it’s clear that the raw food diet is not a cult. However, many raw foodists create walls around them and act sometimes like their diet is a cult.
For the past three years, I’ve been working on a project that I felt the raw food world was not yet ready to hear.
I’ll tell you more about it in a future post. I feel the time is right to release it.
The title in progress is:
The Raw Food Dilemma
More on it later…
Filed under Raw Vegan Lifestyle by Frederic Patenaude
What are the best places in the world to live the raw food lifestyle? Like many, I’ve often asked myself that question. Many people tend to imagine that the best places in the world to live this lifestyle are all in the tropics, such as paradisiacal tropical islands. Unfortunately, the lack of produce in most of these places as well as the isolation factor, with the lack of like minded folks, rule out most tropical locations.
Raw foodists may not care as much about the number of vegan restaurants in their cities, unless they have good salads and raw options. What’s important for raw foodists tend to be the availability of excellent produce, good weather (as raw vegans tend to run a lower body temperature and prefer warmer climates), the number of juice bars and raw potlucks as well as the support groups available for raw foodists.
Although only a few places combine all of the above, sometimes one place will rate so overwhelmingly high in one category that I can’t help it but rate it highly. It’s also hard to rate individual cities, so to not make my list too long, I have decided to list states or countries as a whole in some cases.
#1 — California
Without a doubt, California is the Mecca of the raw food lifestyle. Californians may complain about traffic and pollution in their cities, but when it comes to raw foods, they have it all. Year round sunshine (at least in the Southern Part), mild weather throughout the state, an abundance of organic food and farmers markets, more raw food restaurants per capita than any other place in the world, and an endless number of events, potlucks and like-minded people to connect with. The cities of Santa Monica, San Diego, Santa Barbara and the entire Bay Area are some of the best locations for raw foodists in the state.
#2 — Australia
There is a thriving and booming raw culture in Australia, with every major city having its own raw food movement. Australia grows almost every kind of fruit locally, and combined with lots of sunshine in most parts of the country, it’s no wonder that many raw foodists want to live there. Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane are all great places for raw foodists in Australia, but I have to give the oscar to Cairns, for its tropical location and amazing farmer’s market with some of the best fruit in the country. The downside to Australia: protectionist importing policies combined with natural disasters have recently brought the price of bananas over $15 a kilo! Hopefully with more replanting, next year will be better.
#3 — Miami and Southern Florida
Miami and its surrounding area may be in the hurricane belt, but dedicated raw foodists are willing to stand some risk in exchange for living in tropical North America. The raw food scene is not as extensive there as it is in some parts of California, but it’s thriving nonetheless. There are many excellent farmer’s markets, some catering to raw foodists, as well as good spots to find some of the best tropical fruit you’ll find in North America. The downside? The summer is hot and rainy, and fruit prices can be quite high.
#4 — Hawaii
I admit it, I love Hawaii! You can’t beat the climate and the “aloha” lifestyle. Hawaii is a tropical paradise with all of the infrastructures of North America. Do we need to say more about this? The only downside is the higher cost of living (which is still significantly lower than in Europe or Australia, by the way, and probably equal to Canada), and the fact that affordable fruit is hard to find. Tip: if you get a membership at Costco, you can buy local Maui gold pineapple and local papayas at about half the price of stores of farmer’s markets! Many raw foodists thrive here by growing their own fruits and vegetables.
#5 — Oregon
Oregon is a great place for raw foodists combining nature and a West Coast vibe. They have some of the best organic farmer’s markets in the country (and perhaps in the world), and the raw food scene is quite developed. Portland is constantly referred to as one of the best cities in the world in terms of livability, and other places in Oregon are quite perfect for raw foodists. Oregon is also much much more affordable to live in compared to nearby California and Hawaii. The downside: the winters can be gray and rainy.
#6 — Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver has been rated the #1 most livable city in the world by a few rating agencies for many years, and I have to agree that the lifestyle here is incredible. We have stunning snow-capped mountains, the beach, four Whole Foods markets and many organic food stores, a ton of farmer’s markets, a couple raw restaurants, and a good number of raw food potlucks. Canadians like to say that Vancouver has a mild climate, but it still rains a lot and it’s nowhere close to feeling tropical and balmy. Another downside: the rents and real estate prices are some of the highest in the world in the city, but this is somewhat compensated by the fact that you don’t need a car, and that food prices are relatively low.
#7— New York City
If you like living in a city that has everything, New York City is for you. For raw foodists, New York has a ton of raw food restaurants, potlucks and an excellent selection of organic produce and ethnic markets (such as Chinatown) where you can find your favorite fruits. The downsides: high rental prices in the city, traffic, pollution, and the smell in the summer!
#8 — Chiang Mai, Thailand
I have found my fruit paradise, and it’s Chiang Mai, Thailand. Don’t let the word out though! Although most main cities in Thailand are great place to find tropical fruits and produce, Chiang Mai is a city full of expats and its climate is much milder, as long as you don’t come in the hot season (between February and April). The fruit in Thailand is the best I have tasted anywhere, and the prices are rock bottom. You can get Thai massages for $4 an hour, and get all of the modern amenities you’re used to. Chiang Mai is a very Thai city with very little tourism, but at the same time it’s very friendly to expats, being an international city full of students. The downside: you don’t speak Thai, and the city can be pretty crowded with motorcycles and pollution. However, the area around Chiang Mai is very rural and beautiful.
#9 — Spain
I can’t decide whether Italy or Spain is a better place for raw foodists, and although I personally prefer Italy for its wonderful culture and great local fruits, my trips to Spain have confirmed that more European raw foodists prefer to relocate there to grow their own gardens. Southern Spain also grows a lot of sub-tropical fruits like cherimoyas (custard apples) that are shipped throughout Europe. Before the Euro, it used to be cheap. Now it’s more expensive, but still cheaper than other European destinations.
Although most Brits might be surprised to see their country in my list, as they often complain that it’s too cold and rainy there, often we don’t know how good we have it until we have been somewhere else. The truth is that the UK has some of the biggest raw food movement in the world, with many restaurants, organizations, and potlucks. It’s also very easy to get fresh organic produce and imported fruit in the UK, and I’ve always been blown away by the selection on my many visits there over the years. The downside: it’s definitely not tropical and unless you buy in bulk, produce is often sold in small quantities for single people!
#11 — Montreal
Okay, this is not a scientifically researched article, so I have to end with a little partisan speech. I lived in Montreal for many years, and I didn’t know how good I had it until I traveled somewhere else and saw their fruit selection. Because of less import laws, Canada can import all the tropical fruit it wants. Heck, they don’t care about these tropical bugs because they wouldn’t make it through a Canadian winter! That means that you can find pretty much any tropical fruit in Montreal, and it’s also one of the easiest places to go and buy produce in bulk without needing a corporate account. Hint: to find the best fruit, you have to go to the Jean-Talon market and visit the stores around it, and then go to the wholesaler Gaetan Bono for bulk organic and standard produce. Chinatown and other Asian markets also have a great selection. Montreal is also a very affordable city, but the downside: the winter is long, brutal and unforgiving!
#12 — Costa Rica
I did live in Costa Rica for six months on two occasions, and I also spent a few winters there. In total, I’ve spent almost three years of my life in this country. Ultimately, I chose to come back to North America because I missed certain things, but I still think Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, especially for someone who appreciates nature and animals. The beaches are practically wild, and you’ll find excellent farmer’s markets throughout the country. Although it’s nowhere as cheap as it used to be, it’s still affordable by North American standards. Many raw foodists have relocated there, and the local culture is friendly to foreigners. Hint: the best place to live is in higher elevation, where the climate is near perfect with year-round, spring-like temperature. (Areas by the beach are VERY hot and humid and are prone to large masses of ants and cockroaches) You’re still only an hour or two away from the beaches, in most cases. The downside to Costa Rica: it’s a different culture (which may be difficult for some people), and crime is on the rise.
Other runner ups and honorable mentions: Toronto: I hear the farmer’s market is even better there. New Zealand (North Island): just because it’s beautiful there, even though there are not many raw foodists. Austin, Texas: I hear it’s a great place as well.
Of course, I could list many more cities and places… but what do you think? Let me know in the comments and share stories of your city with our readers!
One of my readers recently asked me a question I get all the time: “Fred, why do you never talk about the benefits of eating local foods, and how come you eat so much imported fruit?”
At least a few times a week, I get a question on how to eat a raw food diet in Northern climates where fruit is not available year round, and how come we should eat imported mangoes instead of other local foods like vegetables, grains and animal products.
A lot of people feel that we should not eat imported foods at all, and instead only eat what can be found in the area where you live, which makes them question the raw food diet that I recommend, which includes a lot of tropical fruits like bananas or mangoes (when in season).
Obviously, bananas and mangoes don’t grow too far outside of the tropics, so doesn’t that mean that only those living in tropical climates should eat such a raw food diet?
First of all, this idea of eating only local food is not new. It was promoted decades ago by the Macrobiotic people, some of them strictly forbade eating imported and exotic food unless it was brown rice, which they thought was the ideal food.
More recently, there’s a growing movement of people calling themselves “locavores” because they try to eat only local food.
A few years ago, there was even a man who tried to live for an extended period of time on foods that grew in a 100-mile radius from where he lived in the Northwest. His diet was called the “100-Mile Diet.”
The biggest reason people give for only eating local foods is the environment and all of the fuel used in transportation to bring exotic foods to your table.
However, some recent studies show that this concept is quite flawed. Many people imagine that fossil fuel use in the food business mainly comes from transportation, but in reality it’s only 4 to 15% of the total energy used to produce the food.
Most of the fossil fuels and energy are actually burned during the production and storage of food, not its transportation!
Transportation in ships and trucks can be extremely efficient, to the point that people might actually burn more fuel by driving to buy their groceries than the total fuel that was burned in bringing the produce to the store in the first place.
There was even a study a few years ago that showed that it was more ecological to eat imported apples from New Zealand during the spring, when North American apples are not in season, rather than buying local apples that have been stored in giant refrigerated warehouses, stored from last year’s crop.
Why do you think Northern climates have loads of apples all year round? They use a lot of storage facilities, even if they’re local.
Far more important than where your food is coming from is the type of food you’re eating in the first place. Imported banana is way more ecological (and healthful) than local grass fed beef.
So there goes the argument against imported food: it’s not always what it seems! Buying local food in season makes sense, but having a variety of foods, including certain imported foods, may even make more sense for your health.
Another reason that people give for only eating local food is support for local farmers.
An interesting fact is that fruits and vegetables is one of the few products poor countries can export. If everybody in the West stopped buying imported bananas and mangoes, do you really think that would help the world?
All of those countries would simply switch from growing bananas to growing unhealthy products like coffee, palm oil or beef. That happened in the town where I lived in Costa Rica.
If it would happen everywhere, the price for bananas and fruit would go up, while the price of unhealthy junk would go down. Do you really think that would be a good thing?
I’d rather support poor countries growing fruit! (Especially high quality in season ones)
So this is why I’ll continue to do both, buy local and in season when it’s good (like in the summer) and then buy more imported in season fruits in the fall and winter.
Another reason people give against imported food is that it’s leaded with pesticides that may be illegal in North America.
That may be true, but you can also choose to buy organic bananas, even if they come all the way from Ecuador.
I buy a lot of fruit both in-season and locally, but I also buy imported tropical fruits that may not be available where I live in Canada. Many of these fruits are not organic, and I personally think that it’s not such a big deal, especially if these fruits have thick peels. Research has shown that people get more pesticides from foods that they can’t peel.
I also avoid buying fruit that are notoriously loaded with pesticides, such as imported grapes from Chile, or cantaloupes from Mexico.
But again, I don’t make such a big deal out of eating only organic food, as I have found most people who are obsessed with organic foods are making far bigger mistakes in other areas of their health.
These people only want to know whether something is “organic” or “raw” and don’t worry if it’s truly healthy or not. They only focus on this basic criteria, and they don’t even know if their health is improving exponentially because of it.
Also keep in mind that big organic farms use some pesticides, just not the same ones that are used on commercial farms. Organic does not mean pesticide free.
Fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or not, are low on the food chain and are healthier than anything else you could eat, organic or not. In other words, a commercially-grown banana is far better for you than organic cheese.
In the kind of world where we live today, it really doesn’t make sense to try piously to eliminate certain foods from your diet just because they are not locally grown.
On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to grow your own food, as much as possible, and eat most of your produce in season and locally grown, if you can.
But someone living in a cold climate like Iceland has to rely on more imported foods to make this diet work than someone living in the tropics.
Imagine you had a polar bear in a zoo. Would you prevent the bear from eating its natural diet of seal, just because that food is not “local,” or would you feed the bear what it needs?
If you had a chimpanzee in Alaska, would you feed it bread and jam just because it’s “local,” or would you feed your chimp its natural diet of fruits and vegetables?
As a human, your natural diet should be composed of mostly fruits and vegetables, including tropical fruit! The fact that it’s now possible to eat our natural diet almost everywhere in the world is something that should be celebrated, not denigrated!
To get started on the optimal raw food diet, no matter where you live, make sure you get your Raw Health Starter Kit, which is the best kit of information on the raw diet available anywhere! To get started, go to:
Filed under Raw Vegan Lifestyle by Frederic Patenaude
I’m currently traveling in New Zealand where I just bought a big case of Asian pears one of my favorite fruits when in season.
I got a really good deal on the case of pears, and ending up paying half of the regular price that the exact same fruits sell at the regular supermarket.
A lot of people wonder how it’s possible to make this raw food diet work when fruits and vegetables are so expensive, especially these days. Let me tell you how!
As I’ve said many times, you need to start shopping like a real raw foodist by buying food by the case, not by the pound or kilo at a grocery or healthfood store!
Almost anywhere in the world I have visited, I have been able to get great deals on fruit just by finding certain places that can sell to you in larger quantities. Sometimes you won’t be able to find these places with Google, and you have to actually go back to the good old fashioned way of asking around or driving around your city.
As for the pears I just got, I was in a store in Christchurch that specialized in fruits and vegetables. That’s the kind of store you want!
The pears sold for $3.90 a kilo, which is about US$1.32 a pound. This was a great price, but I was able to get an even better one. I was planning on getting more than a bag of them anyways and just thought to ask if they could sell an entire case of those pears to us. Then the guy wasn’t sure, but said he would ask his manager.
He told us we could buy 20 kilos, but that would probably be too big, but he could make us a custom box of 10 kilos. When I asked the price, he said $39.90. I said “You mean there’s no discount for buying a case?” Again, he said he would ask his manager.
When he came back, he said he would sell us the case for $32 (that’s in New Zealand dollars)… which turned out to be about US$1.09 per pound, which for this local type of fruit is very good.
Again, you have to ask! These deals are not advertised anywhere. It never hurts to just ask.
We got the idea because they had large boxes of very ripe plums being sold for 8 NZD. This was a great price! So we got these too and just composted the overripe ones.
As we’re going to be driving around New Zealand for the next week, and pears can keep perfectly in this cool condition in the car, it really pays for us to buy our fruit in advance, in case we end up somewhere where it’s just not affordable or not available. So we have our plums for now and pears for later.
If you find it hard to eat raw because of the costs, make sure you shop where you can get great deals by buying in bulk. Here’s a few tips:
1- If possible, find a big produce warehouse where fruits and vegetables are sold in bulk. You probably won’t find this in Google. The best person to ask would be the owner of an Asian restaurant, as they always know where to buy cheap and fresh veggies!
2- Ask restaurants that serve organic food where they get their produce. Most likely it’s the same distributor that goes to the health food store. To get the organic produce at the same price that the organic food store gets it from, you might need a business account. It’s usually pretty simple and cheap to open a basic business and call it a “Co-op”. If there’s a minimum order, find a few raw-eating friends to buy in bulk with you.
3- Finally, if you can’t find any of the above, do what I did in New Zealand and go to stores that specialize in produce. These stores should sell at least 70% produce to qualify. They probably get their fruits and vegetables from a central distributor, and you could probably ask them where it is. In any case, I’m sure they’ll be able to sell you fruits by the pound if not by the case, much cheaper than the grocery store.
Remember… you can’t succeed eating raw foods if you don’t have a constant supply of fresh, high-quality, affordable produce!
Buying fruit at the supermarket and health food store is for everybody else who consumes an apple a day. I know you will go through a ton of fruit and greens in your green smoothies and fruit meals, so you need to buy in larger quantities.
By the way, I generally only buy fruit by the case, because no matter how hard I try, there is no way I can go through a case containing 40 heads of celery in one week. So I buy a lot of my veggies at the health food store or supermarket in smaller quantities but I still get a good variety.
Farmer’s markets can be a mixed blessing. They are only good if farmers are willing to sell you fruit by the case! If not, then it’s probably a “snobby” farmer’s market where people hang out and socialize for lunch… not a real place to buy fruit week in and week out
Filed under Raw Vegan Lifestyle by Frederic Patenaude
UPDATE! Raw Food Controversies is out and now available. Get your copy here
Sometimes people tell me: “Fred, I know that you believe in the low-fat raw diet, and the natural hygiene approach. But your way doesn’t work for every one. We have to do what works for us.”
My current knowledge and ideas didn’t come to me randomly, but through witnessing for many many years how crazy and destructive some raw food, vegetarian and vegan diets can be (when done poorly) and also how powerful and healing they can be when done properly.
I’ve nearly destroyed my health by eating raw food the wrong way, and I’ve seen thousands of other people do the same.
I started on this path in 1996, which is nearly 15 years ago. And I see the same mistakes being made over and over again by the people following the approach of “just do what works for you”.
The truth is, I’ve never really told my story.
I’ve met some CRAZY raw-foodists!
I’ve seen some really DISTURBING things happen to people who follow the wrong advice in the fields of health and raw veganism.
And I have myself experience my fair share of problems until I figured out how to make this diet work in the real world.
And honestly, I’ve never really told these stories before. I’ve just told you the conclusions I came to after seeing all of these things happen.
But after all these years, I’ve been thinking that it might be time to tell my story, the whole story.
To do so, I started writing a brand new book, which is tentatively called “Raw Food Controversies Exposed“.
Could it be time to tell my story to the world of how I got into the raw food diet, what exactly happened to me that nearly destroyed my health after 3 years of strict high-fat raw-foodism, the story of the wrong advice spread in the raw-food movement, and more importantly, what I’ve learned along the way?
For a long time I’ve been thinking that there was no point in telling the whole story. “Why would anyone want to know that?” I wondered.
So I started writing the books, and now I’ve got over 150 pages written, and that’s just about half of what the book is going to be like.
I’ve been thinking to start posting unedited chapters from this new book on my blog, as I’m writing it.
But I’m not sure if you REALLY want to know my story.
I have to warn you: It’s a bit shocking and crazy! But for someone interested in raw foods and healthful living, it can also be very interesting and informative.
I know some people will NOT like what I have to say, and it will create quite a controversy.
In fact, I’m quite certain that some people would definitely prefer if I shut my mouth and never told the story of what REALLY happened to me back then.
What about you?
Would you like to hear the full story?
Let me know by leaving a comment.
The following is a short excerpt of my monthly Raw Vegan Mentor Club newsletter available in full for my members only. The full newsletter contains detailed charts on how to know exactly which raw foods are the best bang for the buck, and more tips to save you literally hundreds of dollars each month on your food bill. To sign up and immediately download the newsletter, along with over $1200 of bonus gifts (yours to keep no matter what), click here.
My first point is simple: there is no doubt whatsoever that a raw food diet costs more money than a cooked vegan diet, or even an unhealthy SAD.
You heard me correctly:
Eating a raw food diet does cost more money!
Before we get into the details of a very simple simple designed to save you a ton of money while eating raw foods, let’s examine why a raw food diet costs more money.
At first, it would make more sense to think that eating fruits and vegetables would save you money, because these foods are so easy to grow compared to the labor-intensive animal products.
The main difference that makes a raw food diet more expensive is calorie density. Fruits and vegetables are extremely nutritious, but have a low caloric density. That means that to get a certain number of calories you might need in a day, you need to eat more volume.
Every human being needs a certain number of calories every day to maintain his or her weight and energy. If you eat below that amount, you will lose body fat. If you eat above that amount, you will gain body fat. It’s a simple equation that works extremely well for weight loss, but is often underestimated.
Let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories a day (to pick an average number that’s easy to calculate). How much would it cost you to get those calories from typical foods?
As you know, rice, beans and potatoes are very cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk.
For example, a 50 pound bag of long-grain rice at Costco costs around $18. Once cooked, that will yield over 100 pounds of cooked rice.
Each pound of cooked rice will give you about 590 calories, so your big bag of rice for $18 will be enough for 59,000 calories, or enough for 29 and half days. So for less than $20, you can eat for an entire month.
Now you could say that no one could live on just rice. Point taken. How about adding some beans to the equation?
A 25 pound bag of pinto beans might cost around $14, if you know where to shop. Once cooked those beans will probably double in weight, at least. But let’s be conservative and double that to 50 pounds of cooked beans for that bag.
Each pound of cooked pinto beans will give you 650 calories, so your bag of pinto beans will give you 32,500 calories, or enough for over 16 days of eating, for just under $15. Combine half rice, half beans and you’ve got a diet that costs you less than $30 a month, or about $1 a day.
What about potatoes if you buy in bulk? Same deal. Your monthly cost of living only on potatoes will be just over $1 a day.
I know, I know, at this point you’ll argue that no vegan actually just lives on rice and beans, or potatoes.
But my point is that if you made the bulk of your calories these foods, you could get by pretty cheap, even if you added some extras like vegetables, salads and fruit.
Why do you think the rest of the world lives on staples such as rice and beans (Latin America), rice (Asia), potatoes (Peru) or millet and corn (Africa)? Because they are cheap, reliable, easy and relatively healthy sources of calories and nutrients!
Even if you didn’t buy in bulk, you could still get buy pretty cheap eating those foods.
Why a Raw Food Diet Costs More
A raw food diet costs more because most of the calories will come from fruit, or fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Greens must also be consumed, but they provide negligible calories.
As we’ve seen, a person still needs to get their calories. And if you’ve been following what we’ve been doing here at Raw Vegan, you know that the best source of calories in the raw food diet is fruit.
Now even if you got cheap bananas at 66 cents a pound, your daily cost for 2000 calories would still be $6.43 a day. That’s just under $200 a month.
That’s certainly not as cheap as the $30 a month it would cost you to live on rice and beans, but it’s not bad either.
If you decided to get lazy and get your bananas at Whole Foods, or live somewhere where bananas are expensive, and ended up paying $1.49 a pound for organic bananas, your cost for 2000 calories would be $12.78 a day, or $383 a month. Again, not too bad for a raw food diet.
However, nobody lives on just bananas! Raw-foodists also consume foods such as romaine lettuce, celery, nuts and seeds, exotic fruits, organic apples, seasonings, superfoods… which are all very expensive ways to get your calories.
Focus on Inexpensive Sources of Calories
The greatest way to save money on the raw food diet is to focus on inexpensive sources of calories.
In our examples, we’ll stick with a 2000 calorie diet.
First, we must acknowledge that variety is important, both for nutritional variety and the psychological satisfaction we get out of eating.
However, if you try to simply divide everything you eat in a certain number of fruits and vegetables, your bills are going to add up.
For example, cherries are great. In the summer, there’s nothing better than feasting on Rainier cherries.
However, they tend to be expensive, and $5 a pound for those cherries is usually a good deal.
A pound of cherries, once you take in account the pits, will give you around 250 calories. Your cost per calorie will be relatively high, as it would cost you $40 a day to eat only those cherries if you wanted to get 2000 calories.
Let’s also consider blueberries, which yield only 230 calories per pound. If you get them at $3 a pound (good deal), it will cost you $26 to feed yourself.
But as we’ve seen, cheap bananas — when they’re not even at rock-bottom prices, will cost you only $6.43 for 2000 calories.
If you buy oranges at Costco in bulk, it will cost you around $9.81 to feed yourself for the day, eating only oranges.
Avocados are usually $1.99 per avocado. You will need 7.22 avocados to get 2000 calories, so it will cost you $14.36 a day eating only avocados! (Note: This is NOT recommended!)
We could keep going but I think you’re starting to get the point.
Once you know which fruits are low in calories, and which fruits are high in calories, and which fruits are a great deal — you can focus on eating mainly those fruits that give you a great cost per calorie, and then supplement with other fruits for variety.
Don’t just blindly pick fruits at the supermarket. Look for the right deals, and know what’s going to bring you the most for the buck.
This was a short excerpt of my monthly Raw Vegan Mentor Club newsletter available in full for my members only. The full newsletter contains detailed charts on how to know exactly which raw foods are the best bang for the buck, and more tips to save you literally hundreds of dollars each month on your food bill. To sign up and immediately download the newsletter, along with over $1200 of bonus gifts (yours to keep no matter what), click here.
Eating Raw Around the World
As you know, I promote a diet of raw foods with an emphasis on fruit. I’ve also traveled extensively before so I’m aware of the challenges and also advantages of eating raw on the road.
My main concern when traveling is health, which means eating as well as possible and getting exercise (which is not always easy when traveling!).
Overall, I would say that it’s very easy to eat a vegan diet when traveling. Most countries feature plenty of vegan options, and most cities have at least one or two vegetarian restaurants.
The best places to find fruits and vegetables around the world are usually grocery stores and farmer’s markets (which in many countries are just called “markets”).
The problem when traveling is not just to find food, but to have a way to eat it.
At home, I normally use a big Vita-Mix blender at least two times a day to make smoothies and soups that give me the bulk of my “raw” calories.
On our one-year trip, I’ll need to minimize our luggage and bringing a 15-pound vita-mix is completely out of the question. Even a travel blender takes a lot of space and is hardly usable to make smoothies.
I’ll be bringing a flexible cutting board though, as well as one knife and a couple of tupperware containers.
The main portion of our diet will be fruits that will be cut up and eaten that way.
In many countries like Thailand and even throughout Europe, fruit is easy to find and delicious.
Vegetables are something to watch out for in many foreign countries where the water quality is questionable. I’ve known more than one raw-foodist who got seriously ill with parasites after eating greens and vegetables in Asia.
Also, making a big salad in a hotel room is not that easy or fun to do. So I’ll probably be eating a lot less salads and vegetables during my trip than I normally do at home.
Eating 100% Raw or Not?
Some people, for various reasons, really make the 100% raw diet the most important focus in their lives. So if they went on a one-year trip around the world, they would do everything they can to eat 100% raw all the time.
For me, based on previous experience, I’ve decided that during this trip I won’t be eating 100% raw.
There are several reasons for this:
1) When traveling and without access to fruit in bulk, and without a blender, it’s much harder to get enough calories from fruit.
2) I consider high-fat raw meals to be worse for health than low fat cooked vegan meals, so I’ll stick with that philosophy.
3) My goal is health and not just “raw foods”. I also want to have fun on this trip and not feel stressed by having to eat 100% raw all the time.
4) Because I won’t be eating a lot of raw vegetables in many countries for health reasons, supplementing the diet with some high-nutrient-density cooked vegetables is a good idea.
5) When eating 100% raw for a while, the body will violently react to any cooked foods eaten because it has not adapted to eating them in a while. Based on previous experiences, I do not wish to become *that* sensitive on a trip that will take us to many remote locations where finding enough fruit calories might be difficult.
What do you think? If you traveled around the world, would you stick to a 100% raw diet? Post your comments below.
Check out the quick video I made in Quebec City on the subject and about our one-year trip around the world.
To get complete videos of our raw events around the world, with full-length interviews, menu planners and over $1200 in bonus gifts, make sure you check out our Raw Vegan Mentor Club offer at: http://www.fredericpatenaude.com/mentorclub.html
I’ve been back to Montreal for less than a week, and more than ever I’m realizing this is a great place for a fruit-eating raw-foodist.
I was born in Montreal, and for most of my life I’ve lived within driving distance of this great city.
When I first became a raw-foodist in 1997, all I wanted to do was to escape to a warm country where I could still find lots of great fruit. I had no idea that right next door in Montreal there’s actually more variety of fruit than almost anywhere else in the world!
For example, here are just some of the fruits you can find in Montreal at different times of the year:
- Over 12 varieties of melons
- 8+ types of fresh figs
- 10+ types of mangoes (including my favorite, the delicious Haitian mangoes)
- Sweet cherimoyas from Brazil (cheaper than in California!)
- Jackfruit, fresh durian, mangosteen, and other types of Asian fruits
- 10+ types of grapes
- Three types of persimmons
- And more
I used to think that in most cities of the world you could go to similar stores that would sell you fruits from all over the world by the case at a reasonable price.
But after traveling to many places, I realized that most cities don’t have such stores or markets. In fact, the best thing you can do if you want to buy in bulk in most places is to sign up for an account with an organic distributor, and usually they have a minimum order of around $400 or $500.
Montreal is blessed in the sense that there’s big Italian, Greek and Asian communities that are importing all of these great fruits from all over the world and selling them at an outdoor market open 7 days a week.
Canada also has fewer importing restrictions for produce so pretty much any tropical fruit can come in the country.
I am told by my friend David Norman, owner of the raw restaurant Bonobos in New York City that Toronto (where he lives) also has an amazing selection of fruit, which according to David is the best in the world.
If you ever come to Montreal, check out the guide below to know exactly where to go to get fruit and eat raw.
1) Jean-Talon Market
The year-round Jean-Talon outdoor market is probably my favorite market in the world. Everyone knows where it is, and that’s where Montrealers and restaurant owners come to fill up on fresh produce. You’ll find local produce, but also the specialty shops I was talking about that sell imported fruits from all over the world.
My favorite is on Marché du Nord (a street bordering the market), and is called “Leopoldo”. Go there and talk to the friendly Italian owners who really know their fruit. Each week they receive something different so it’s always a surprise to discover what great fruit they have at different times of the year.
Also check out the other stores right next to Leopoldo for some unusual tropical fruits.
2) Gaetan Bono
This is a place where you can buy wholesale quantities of conventional or organic produce.
I actually didn’t know about this place until a few years ago, and then I realized it’s a true Shangri-La for fruit lovers!
Imagine this: a giant warehouse with cases and cases of fruits and vegetables. You can buy what you want, one case at a time, with no minimum order, and it’s open 24 hours a day!
Actually it’s not really advertised as being open to the public, but it is. Many owners of small Asian restaurants go there to fill up on produce.
The prices are really good, but you’re pretty much left on your own to figure out where things are and get your own dolly.
The trickiest part is getting there. The address is 995 Rue Du Marche-Central, but it’s not on the side of the road. You have to go inside a big gated complex of produce distributors. It’s really not obvious but essentially you have to cross a security point that let you in without asking questions. Just drive around that street until you see the sign for “Gaetan Bono” and then drive around the block until you find the entrance.
Montreal’s Chinatown is tiny compared to San Francisco, Vancouver or New York City, but you can find some amazing fruit. There are also other various Asian markets all over the city.
If you want to keep it easy and minimize travel time, go to the intersection of Jean-Talon boulevard and St-Denis street. You will find a couple of good Asian markets where you can find a few items.
But the best Asian stores for tropical fruit are in chinatown itself. My favorite is called Pap Pap, and they don’t sell any meat — just produce. Depending on the season, you can find a variety of exotic fruits.
Raw Restaurants in Montreal
Montreal has its own raw food restaurant. It’s called Crudessence and it’s 100% raw and vegan. Get the details at: http://www.crudessence.com
I enjoyed Crudessence although like most raw food restaurants, it uses too many nuts and seeds so the dishes contain a lot fat. The spring rolls with curried nut pâté were delicious though.
Because of the cold climate, juice bars are not as popular in Quebec as they are in Southern California. There is no major juice bar chain but you can find fresh juices at many restaurants.
Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Montreal
Montreal has more vegetarian food than most cities in Canada. Middle Eastern places (For falafel and vegetarian salads) are very popular in downtown Montreal, with one literally every couple of city blocks.
Montreal has several vegetarian restaurants and one completely vegan restaurant.
You can find a full listing at:
My favorite vegetarian restaurants are:
Aux Vivres — Formerly a hippie restaurant off the beaten track, this 100% vegan restaurant has relocated to a better location on St-Laurent street. The food is delicious and there are some raw options.
Le Commensal — This vegetarian chain has many locations throughout the province of Quebec. It’s buffet style with a wide range of vegetarian, vegan and salad options. You pay by weight. Although the menu could use a re-haul, you can always find something healthy.
Health Food Stores in Montreal
Health food stores in Montreal are typically very small. You won’t find a Whole Foods Market in this city (like in Vancouver and Toronto), but because there’s such a wide availability of good foods, you probably won’t need it anyway.
My favorite health food stores in the city are Rachelle Bery on the corner of Rachel and Berry (easy to remember!) and Club Organic on Frontenac.
One thing you will find in Montreal is that food is less expensive than in many US states. That always puzzled me because a lot of the produce comes from California, yet it is cheaper here than in California! That’s because the overall cost of living here is lower because of lower salaries and prices of real estate than in California.
Canada may not have great weather all the time, but you can sure find great food if you know where to look. On your next visit to Montreal, make sure to check out some of the resources I listed and let me know what you think!
Last week I wrote a little article on unique Christmas gift ideas. Since I got some positive comments on it, I decided to follow it up with another list of gift ideas!
1. Glass straws
I love drinking coconuts and smoothie with a straw, but I don’t like to use plastic. I tried bamboo straws, but they ended up tasting weird and molding after a few uses. My favorite types of straws are glass straws. Good ones are hard to break, and they are reusable and toxin-free. They make a great gift as well. Look for “pyrex drinking straw”. The only place I found them is Glassstraws.com, they also have an ebay store.
2. Pineapple Slicer
There are lots of ways to open a pineapple, but none that are as easy as using a pineapple slicer. The best thing about the pineapple slicer is that it removes both the core and the skin of the pineapple, but also empties the pineapple and leaves you with an empty pineapple that you can use as a bowl for enhanced presentation! Because pineapples come in different sizes, I recommend getting all three sizes: small, medium and large (sold in a pack). I prefer the ones made by VacuVin.
3. Veggie Chopper
This tool is my favorite kitchen tool by far. It’s called different names, such as the “tomato chopper” or “salsa maker” or “Chop Wizard” but the idea is the same: cutting perfectly square pieces of vegetables in no time. I use it all the time to make salsa, gazpacho, vegetable soup and salads. If you’ve seen the infomercials for it, then my advice is: believe the hype. It’s a great and cheap tool. The best one is the “International Fruit and Vegetable Chopper.
4. Keen Hybrid Shoes
Everybody is now raving about the Vibram Five-Finger shoes. I haven’t had the chance to try them yet. However, I’m in no hurry because at the moment I’m perfectly satisfied with my Keen hybrid shoes. They’re a cross between a sandal and a shoe, and they’re perfect for hiking, going to the beach, and doing water sports such as river walking, rafting and more. At the moment they’re the only pair of shoes that I wear. I even use them for running. I personally recommend the sandal type. For men:
5. Low Fat Raw Vegan Cuisine DVDs
Another shameless plug! But over 1000 customers who enjoyed my latest raw DVD series “The Low-Fat Raw Vegan Cuisine” can’t be wrong. I created these DVDs because I saw something missing in the raw food movements. All raw food recipe DVDs only showed you how to make extremely high-fat recipes based on the “gourmet” raw diet popular these days. This series is different, and shows you a much healthier and tastier way to eat. It’s also a great way to introduce someone to raw foods, because unlike a book where they may raise many objections based on the arguments, these DVDs go straight into food preparation, which answers the number one question people ask “What can I eat on this diet?”
Check it out here:
NOTE: You have to order now if you want to make sure to receive them before Christmas.
6. Oral-B Triumph Electric Toothbrush
I looked for a long time for the ultimate toothbrush. For the past 2 years I’ve been using the Triumph and my teeth have never been so good. I tried the SonicCare but couldn’t stand the vibrations. The Triumph is a much better toothbrush and also makes a great gift!
7. A shirt or other clothing by Icebreaker
Clothes as gifts are nice, but only if it’s something unique that people will appreciate and use. Here’s one secret: cotton sucks! When it’s cold, cotton doesn’t keep you warm well. When it’s hot, it doesn’t wick sweat away. It’s slow drying also. But it’s cheap and feels nice, and that’s why everybody wears it. A much better fabric is merino wool. No, it won’t feel at all like the wool you’re used to. One company makes amazing shirts, underwear and other clothes from his material. Check it out at
8. Tribest Personal Blender
Love your blender but don’t want to be bothered with the extra weight on vacation? The solution is a travel blender. I’ve tried many of them and they all sucked, except the Tribest Personal Blender. It’s not nearly as strong as a Vita-Mix, but works fairly well. Make raw dressings on the road! Anyone who blends will appreciate this gift.
9. Needak Rebounder
Ok, this one might definitely be more a gift for yourself than for someone you know! But if you’ve been looking for a good, low-impact exercise you can do in your apartment during any kind of weather, the rebounder is the way to go! In my opinion, it’s not worth it to spend on a really expensive one. A cheap one will also frustrate you. So go for something in-between. The Needak rebounder is made in the USA and works amazingly well. If space is a problem, get the folding version.
10. The Perfect Health Program
Want to convince someone who really needs it of the benefits of the raw food lifestyle? A book is often not the way to go. How about the best series of CDs in the world teaching the different aspects of health, in a friendly, non-confrontational way? That’s what the Perfect Health Program is about! Order with the coupon code GIFTIDEAS and get an amazing 50% off the CD version! Go to:
Enter coupon code: GIFTIDEAS
This coupon expires in 48 hours.
This ingenious little tool enables you to open a coconut and drink the water inside, even when it’s a hard one you pick from a tree. As you may have seen in my latest video, I initially struggled to use it, but later found a much easier way that was so obvious but that I missed in my first attempts. I will show you that in a future video. In any case, I wouldn’t leave on a trip without it! You never know where your next coconut will come from…
Check it out: http://www.cocotap.com/
2. Raw Botanicals
I discovered the most amazing cosmetics company right here in Costa Rica (where I’m spending the winter). It’s called “Raw Botanicals”, and they have a great line of cosmetics (including shampoo, insect repellant, creams, and more) made from the highest ingredients. In fact, the cosmetics are so pure you could almost eat them. It’s all hand-made in Costa Rica, using local ingredients, and a percentage of the proceeds go to local animal rights charities. You can order from their website and they will ship anywhere. Makes a great gift.
Check it out: http://www.rawbotanicals.com/
3. Breville Juicer
I always had a good blender (mine is the Vita-Mix), but somehow always settled for a cheap citrus juicer. It was a pain to use, and needed replacement every so often. So I finally decided to invest in a quality citrus juicer. My choice went to the Breville. It’s a pure joy to use and the juice is the best I’ve ever tasted. It literally extracts almost 100% of the juice and leaves the orange completely dry, all in one effortless movement. It’s a little expensive, but well worth it.
Check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/yhg2kse
4. Box of Dates from Date People
Dates are so delicious, especially when fresh and in season. Fortunately, the date season happens to be right now. The best dates in the world I had are from the Date People. They will ship to anywhere in the world. Their dates made it to Costa Rica, where I spend the winter, so I’m sure they will make it to your corner of the world. Go for their Barhi dates, they’re the best. It also makes the perfect gift. I tried their website and it seems to be offline, so contact them by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Fenix Flashlight
This may not be a “raw” gift, but I must say I completely LOVE this flashlight. And who doesn’t need a good flashlight? It also makes a great gift. If all you’ve had in your life is a cheap flashlight, you will be impressed like I was. And best of all, it’s reasonably priced. Get it online: http://tinyurl.com/ydkuent
Also, a great accessory is the diffuser wand, that turns the flashlight into a “torch”: http://tinyurl.com/y8hyowf
5. DVD Set: “The Raw Vegan Cuisine”
This is a shameless plug, but over 1000 customers who enjoyed my latest raw DVD series “The Low-Fat Raw Vegan Cuisine” can’t be wrong. I created these DVDs because I saw something missing in the raw food movements. All raw food recipe DVDs only showed you how to make extremely high-fat recipes based on the “gourmet” raw diet popular these days. This series is different, and shows you a much healthier and tastier way to eat. It’s also a great way to introduce someone to raw foods, because unlike a book where they may raise many objections based on the arguments, these DVDs go straight into food preparation, which answers the number one question people ask “What can I eat on this diet?”
Check it out here:
NOTE: Use the coupon code GIFTIDEAS to save $19.95 and get the bonus DVD for free. This coupon expires in 72 hours.
This intriguing company makes their own dried-fruit and nut bar, but here’s the interesting part: you get to choose your own ingredients and even put your own label on it! What could be a better gift idea? Check it out online at:
7. Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner
I looked long and hard for a good salad spinner, and couldn’t find one that I really liked until I found this one. Everyone eats salad, so it makes a great gift. Get it online:
8. Extra Tamper for Vita-Mix Blender
If you know anyone that uses and abuses their vita-mix, chances are that at some point or another they’ve mishandled or lost their plunger. This happened to me more than once. So what could be a better gift than an extra pair of Vita-Mix tampers? Get them online: http://tinyurl.com/yathpjt
9. Amazon Kindle
I must say I’m a big fan of the eBook revolution. I used to go on trips and carry a back-breaking pack of books. Now all I bring is my thin little Kindle DX, with electronic ink and packed with dozens of books or more. I also found that I get a lot more reading done using this device than regular books. Other friends using one have reported the same thing. Now that the price has come down and the Kindle works almost anywhere in the world, it’s probably the right time to get one, or gift one. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/ye77msj
10. Frontier Seasoning Blends
Raw food recipes can be a bit boring without a good seasoning. One of my favorite organic seasonings come from the company Frontier. Available online in different flavors: http://tinyurl.com/yjva8m7
My favorite dental health product has gained tens of thousands of fans over the years. Many of them have reported improvements ranging from less sensitivity to overcoming receding gums. It’s called Toothsoap, and makes a great gift:
I hope you’ve enjoyed these gift ideas.