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The Dangers of Dogma

When I first published my book “Raw Food Controversies,” I had to remove some content from the book at the last minute because some of it was just going to be “too much.”

I had already spilled my beans in the book and told my story. But I felt there were a few episodes that were better left unmentioned.

For example:

1) One of the most popular raw food books at the time contained a fair share of hidden quotes from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” To my knowledge, no one has ever pointed this out except me, but I didn’t attract too much attention to that fact, as the reputation of the authors was already sullied. Strangely enough, they didn’t directly quote Hitler in their book but embedded obscure references to the Führer’s book in their raw food manifesto. More than that, the publishing date of the book coincided with Adolf’s birthday (and not by accident!).

2) I witnessed a strange episode where a raw food “expert,” vexed by the fact that one of his critics was going to be present at a well-known health expo, publicly announced that if his opponent showed up there, he (the raw food guru) would literally “beat him up.” The threat sounded real enough that the organizers asked the other person to not show up, instead of telling the guru to calm down.

3) The owner of the most popular raw food restaurant of the time would get high by smoking pot. On my first night there, he offered me some, which I politely declined. He didn’t force my hand, and admitted that I was doing the right thing by not smoking.

However, he tried to convince my brother, who was visiting at the time, to do acid, and even said that everything we’ve heard about LSD is “wrong” and that he should try it. Fortunately, my brother didn’t listen to this clown.

Here’s one more:

A raw foodist who had written many books on the topic invited my then wife and me for dinner. We ate a cooked meal. I was not aware that he was pretending publicly to be a strict raw foodist, as it seemed apparent to me that he had made the switch (to including cooked foods). When I mentioned him as an example of raw foodists who now eat cooked foods, he publicly accused me of lying and pretended again that he had “not eaten a bite of cooked food in over ten years” or something along those lines.

What I can tell you after years in the alternative health world is that things are not always what they seem. In fact, they are almost never what they seem.

With few exceptions, natural health gurus act very differently in private compared to how you’d think they would based on the personality they project in their books and videos.

This is not a phenomenon limited to this niche world, by the way.

The Danger of Dogma

When I started on this path, I believed wholeheartedly in a 100% raw food approach that I did not even question what I was eating anymore. I was eating the best diet in the world.

When I got sick, I didn’t know what to do. Everyone says raw foodists don’t get sick, and I didn’t want to tell anyone I was sick for fear of humiliation.

I now realize how dangerous this behavior was. I was not taking responsibility for my health. I was letting my peers influence me to the point where I was doing everything they did without question.

Don’t put your health in other people’s hands!

If you get sick following a dogma, you’ll be the one to blame. Many of the people you get health advice from will not have the answers that you are seeking. So take responsibility for your health and make sure you are informed.

I think it’s important to have a doctor or alternative health practitioner that you can trust. It needs to be someone who knows your history and your diet in case anything happens, so you will not be afraid to ask questions or seek help.


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.