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They All Eat Cooked Food

Last week I met with a friend I hadn’t seen for many years. His name is Jay, and he was part of the raw food scene in Montreal about 8 or 9 years ago, when I was quite active there in this underground movement.

Raw foods is now semi-mainstream, but back then it was only a small community of genuine health seekers interested in this. We were like a small family!

Jay and I were discussing the raw food scene and how it’s changed. And at some point, we talked about the fact that pretty much ALL of the people who were seriously doing raw foods 10 or 15 years ago now eat some cooked foods.

Jay said, “I’m grateful for this raw food experience. Raw foods are still the backbone of my diet. But I also eat other things now.”

This is the case with almost all of the raw food authors, gurus, and serious raw foodists that I knew 10 or 15 years ago. Back then, they were eating 100% raw foods. Now, they all eat cooked foods.

This include almost ALL of the authors that have written books on the topic.

There are some exceptions. Some people have maintained a raw food diet for all those years, and say they have never deviated from it. Upon closer look, most of these people were not as 100% as they claimed for all those years. But to their credit, they did stick with it for the most part.

Yet, some of these people, the 100%-ers, will often look down upon people who are no longer eating a 100% raw diet, claiming they didn’t do the diet properly, or didn’t have enough motivation on discipline to do it.

Yet, if went to a raw food conference, organized by a 100%-er, and surveyed everybody, I’m almost certain that if we were to follow the attendees who eat a100% raw diet now for the next 10 years, you’d discover that more than 90% of these people would no longer follow the diet.

Eventually… they all eat cooked foods.

A recent article published in Psychology Today suggested that around 75% of people who follow a vegetarian diet eventually go back to eating animal products. The average time a person will stay vegetarian is 9 years.

For raw foodists, my experience leads me to think the percentage of “failures” is much higher, and the time people stay on the diet much shorter. 95% of the people I knew 15 years ago who were eating a 100% raw food diet back then are eating some cooked foods today.

Why is that?

One could claim that most raw food diets are not sustainable, and you need a particular kind of raw food diet to succeed. For example, a low fat raw food diet.

But the truth is that even the low-fat raw food dieters eventually go back to cooked foods. Some even have built entire websites dedicated to the topic!

Plus, the low fat raw food diet, mainly promoted by Dr. Doug Graham with the 80-10-10 Diet, hasn’t been popular for many years. It’s certainly much more sustainable than other kinds of raw food diet, and the type I would recommend for someone considering a 100% raw food lifestyle.

But from the many 80-10-10 dieters I’ve met… many of them eventually went back to cooked foods.

Is it that the addiction to cooked food is so strong that even under the best circumstances, most people eventually can’t resist the urge?

Some famous raw food promoters, who ate 100% raw at the time and had been for many years, told me that they still had dreams about eating cooked foods. And those were people following a perfect kind of low-fat raw food diet.

Is it that 95% of people have no true discipline and can’t stick with anything? Is it that the addiction to cooked food is too strong?

The addiction to cigarettes is one that is recognized as very difficult to break. Yet most people who quit smoking don’t go back to eat, once they’ve made a definite move.

Cooked food is not an addiction.

It’s not a drug… it’s not “poison”… Cooked food is just… food!

Some cooked foods, of course, are unhealthy. But so are some raw foods.

Most people can’t stick with a 100% raw food diet because it’s a very difficult, inconvenient, expensive, restrictive, unsatisfying and unsustainable diet for most people. And the key word here is “most people.” As in everything, there are exceptions. Some people do quite well on 100% raw for life. But they are the exception, not the rule.

For the vast majority of people, eating 100% raw is something that should be done as a temporary diet. A “cleanse.” Something you do for a few weeks, a few months maybe. It’s a great reset button. It’s a great detox tool. But it’s not a diet most people can realistically follow for the rest of their lives. It’s also not a diet that’s been proven to work in all phases of life: pregnancy, childhood, and so on. In fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest that a 100% raw vegan diet is not  appropriate in some of those situations.

And if you don’t believe me, I would reply that the proof is in the pudding. Even under the best circumstances, most people don’t stick to 100% raw for a long period of time. Even the best gurus can’t prevent their disciplines from going back to the evil world of cooked foods…

Now… does that mean that the choice is between eating ALL raw and ALL cooked? Of course not.

There are nuances. It’s not black and white.

The key in life is balance. It’s about finding a sustainable balance for you, between raw food and cooked foods, but also between “rules” and “exceptions.”

If you’re currently happy with a raw food diet, then maybe there’s no need to change. Keep doing what you’re doing if it works for you.

But if you’ve struggled, go back and forth and fail… then maybe it’s time to stop blaming yourself and being so hard on yourself. Maybe you can come to the conclusion that the diet you’re holding as an “ideal” is just too darn difficult to follow… and simply does not work. You need to find a balance again to make it work.

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.