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Six types of raw foodists. Which one are you?

I became involved in the raw food movement back in 1997. So it’s been about 15 years, and during that period I’ve met a LOT of people interested in this lifestyle.

I’ve sold hundreds of thousands of copies of my books and products, and many people have contacted me over the years to ask questions and share feedback.

I also have the chance to connect in person with many of these people in the few live events where I participate every year.

There are different types of raw foodists. Sometimes, people move from one type to another. Sometimes they give up completely.

So here are, based on my observations, the five different types of raw foodists. I’m not going to cover of course the variations in diet philosophy (such as 80-10-10 vs. Gabriel Cousens). But mostly the lifestyle. Which one are you?

Raw Food Wannabe

This type of person idealizes the raw food lifestyle. Maybe they did it at some point when they were younger. In any case, they are not currently doing it now, but they nonetheless lurk on discussion forums, buy the books, and think about doing it one day.

But due to the pressures of work, and family, their habits are too engrained to change at the moment, so their interest in the raw food diet remains at the intellectual level.

I’ve known many raw food wannabes, or health food wannabes for that reason. They’re the people with the giant collection of recipe books they never use, the juicer that’s gathering dust, and the pile of unused raw food products they ordered in the mail.

My advice to these people: You don’t have to go 100% raw to get the benefits of raw foods. Just change your breakfast to a green smoothie. Then have a large apple before every meal (15-30 minutes before, to be exact), and eat a big salad every day. You’ll get many of the benefits of raw foods without the stress that you’re not doing it perfectly.

The Yo-Yo Man

It’s not fun to be Yo-Yo Man, or Yo Yo Girl. These are the people that are really convinced that the raw food diet is the optimal diet. They have all the theory, all the books, and have actually put them in action. They have gone raw, but they can’t stick with it.

They’re the people counting in days the longest they’ve gone 100% raw, just like incorrigible smokers know exactly how long their last attempt at quitting started. You will meet them and they will complaint at how they can’t stick with it for more than three months at a time, but then something goes “wrong” and they “binge” on cooked food.

The worst thing about being yo-yo man is that you can’t help feeling extremely guilty every time you fall off the wagon. Even worst: you feel like you’re the type of person who can’t commit to his goals.

Yo-Yo Girl also gets sick. She feels great when she’s 100% raw, but when she falls off the wagon, her body is so “pure” that it reacts negatively with every cooked food she eats.

So Yo-Yo people truly get the worst of both worlds: they don’t feel they’re getting the results of raw, and yet at the same time they can’t enjoy eating cooked food because it makes them sick and guilty.

My advice to these people: Stop being a rubber ball. Bouncing back and forth between two diets and experiencing guilt and sickness every time is not a normal way to live. I know because I used to be a yo-yo man. I discovered that it was either better to stick to 100% raw, or to actually include some cooked food in my daily diet. I chose the latter option because I find it easier to have a normal routine. If you eat cooked food very infrequently (like once a month), your body never builds up the ability to digest it. That’s because fruits and vegetables require almost no digestion. Your digestion therefore weakens and that’s one reason why you react so negatively, whenever you go back and forth. So choose your way to live: there’s no shame in it. But going back and forth between two extremes (especially when one involves binging) is not a healthy way to live.

Detox Girl

Detox girl (or man!) is not a raw foodist. She’s someone who uses the raw food diet as a way to absolve himself from past sins, and sometimes as justification from a more hedonistic lifestyle the rest of the year.

Detox girl may eat a normal diet, with a stressful lifestyle most of the year, but a few times a year, she’ll find the time to do a raw food cleanse. She may actually go to a raw food retreat, like the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida.

There’s nothing wrong with being Detox Girl, as long as your overall lifestyle is healthy. In fact, I recommend to incorporate some fasting or cleansing diets a few times a year as a healthy way to reset your health.

The trap for detox people is to use detox as an excuse to indulge even more the rest of the year.

The 80%-er

Raw foodists like to calculate the percentage of raw foods they eat, often based on very subjective methods. When people say they eat 80% raw, is that by weight, calories, or by meal?

In any case, this category of raw foodist is either 80% raw, 60% raw, or 90% raw, depending on how they choose to calculate it.

The point is that they’ve incorporated many raw food principles into their daily routine, but they don’t eat 100% raw. Their daily diet includes both cooked foods and raw foods.

This person may have two raw meals a day, and one cooked meal. Or maybe she has a green smoothie a couple times a day, a big salad, and lots of fruit, as well as other cooked foods for calories and variety.

The only trap of this lifestyle is making sure you discover the proper balance that works for you. Sometimes having a diet that’s almost 100% raw with a little bit of cooked food sprinkled on top just makes things worst. Your body never has a real chance to adapt to digesting cooked food, and you keep on eating some, just enough to annoy you.

In my experience, this lifestyle works best if you keep your routine consistent. The closer you get to 100% raw, the better it would be to actually stay 100% raw. If you want to balance your diet between raw and cooked, find the right proportions that work for you.

The 100%er

This category of people only represent about 2-5% of people in the raw food movement, but they are the ones getting all the attention because THEY have “succeeded.”

Some 100%ers are living quiet lives and enjoying the results of their dedicated efforts, and can of course share their ideas with the rest of the world.

Other 100%ers look down on other raw foodists who are not eating 100% raw. They may grant them the benefit of the down throughout the transition period, but will definitely think there’s something wrong with them if they willingly choose to NOT be 100% raw.

The 100% raw food diet may well work for many people. But it’s totally unrealistic to think that it will work for everybody or even most people. Other options must be available for people to get the benefits of raw foods, without having to go 100%.

My advice to fanatical 100%ers: You need to chill out. The fact that you’ve found something that works for you doesn’t mean that everybody can or should do it.

The Raw VEGANs

These are people that are actually much more interested in the vegan ideology, but have become raw foodist as the latest chapter of their vegan evolution. So they actually secretly consider themselves to be the most advanced kind of vegan! (And of eater, for that matter…)

Not all raw vegans are Raw VEGANs. You have to spell Vegan with a capital “V.” Some people are just accidental raw vegans: they just happen to eat raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I am not talking about these people.

I’m talking about the ideological raw VEGANs. If you’re a regular vegan, they might be your friend, because you’re at least VEGAN. They’ll of course try to convince you to move to the next ladder of evolution and go raw, but they’ll accept you in their club.

If you’re a regular eater, they will likely embrace you because you haven’t seen the light yet. You’re just someone who has yet to be converted. Not quite an infidel, but just a SAD eater.

However, there’s one category of people that can’t be friends with raw VEGANS: former vegans. These people are the scum of the earth. They decided to go vegan, but then turned their back on their beliefs and started to eat dead carcasses of animals. Even worst: they are not sharing their experience on how the vegan diet didn’t work for them, and scaring away people from going raw VEGANs. These people should be destroyed publicly by attacking their reputation in as many YouTube videos as possible…

My advice to raw VEGANS: you also need to chill out. The more you turn your philosophy into an “all-or-nothing” plan, the more you scare off regular people from giving it a try. Some people will not agree with you. So what? There’s something called Freedom of Speech myself, and everyone is entitled to it, not just you.

A Couple other Minor Types:

The Pretender — Some people actually claim that they eat 100% raw, but in fact do they exact opposite in real life. These people are pretty rare, but they exist.

The Ex Drug Addict — The raw food diet tends to attract people with a past of addiction to narcotics. It’s not surprising, because these people often need to find another life philosophy to get their lives back on track, whether it be religion or the raw food diet. I think it’s great that they can reverse all of their energy into something positive. The only thing to watch out for would be “normal” people following these people. Make sure to keep in mind that what might work for them may not work for you.

What do you think of my analysis? Which type are you?

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.