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In The News: Raw Redux

Grrr. Here we go again.

CNN.com is currently profiling 30-year-old Angela Stokes, who lost 160 pounds in 2 years as a result of going vegan and raw.

As Stokes explains it, “it’s simple and natural, eating food straight from the earth. There’s no rocket science, no mystery. Once you understand the simple principle that no other animal in the wild eats cooked or processed foods, that’s it.”

Although the article shares some of Stokes’ tips — she has authored books on raw dieting, despite limited nutrition knowledge — for interested readers (such as going “at least 50% raw,” a number that is thrown out there without any explanation), there is absolutely no mention of possible concerns when adopting such a way of eating.

For example — why doesn’t the article mention that some nutrients in food are more available when cooked?

Or that the reason why animals in the wild don’t eat cooked foods is because they simply don’t know how to start a fire or turn an oven on?

Using wild animals to exemplify ideal dietary patterns is absurd.  My usual response to “wild animals don’t eat potatoes!” is “wild animals also don’t read books or drive cars, what’s your point?”

Besides, if I put some broiled salmon or a splash of milk in a dish for my cat, you better believe he’s lapping that down in seconds, licking his whiskers, and meowing for more.  His body doesn’t have a problem digesting either of those foods.

I also take issue with the idea that both a can of Pringes and a simple baked potato are categorized as “unhealthy” by most raw foodists by the mere fact that they are cooked foods.

Dont’ get me wrong.  I enjoy making raw recipes at home, and have had some delicious dishes at raw restaurants, so this is far from an “anti-raw” rant.  I can honestly say that some of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted  have been at raw restaurants.

Additionally, many raw dishes are very healthy, since they use whole, nutrient-rich foods.  From a nutritional standpoint, a diet high in raw foods is absolutely fine.

My gripe here isn’t that eating raw dishes is unhealthy, but rather that cooked food is not inherently unhealthy by virtue of being heated above 116 degrees Fahrenheit.

Like many other weight-loss articles, this one completely overlooks the elephant in the room — calories!

Going vegan and raw does not hold the magic key to weight loss. It’s simply that raw, vegan diets are higher in fiber (and healthy fats)  and lower in calories than the diet Angela used to have (“eating junk food all time.”)

Therefore, these diets make it easy to feel satisfied with fewer calories.

Angela could have still shed the weight while including a cup of yogurt, roasted sweet potatoes, or a brown rice and seitan stir fry in her eating plan.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous said on September 26th, 2008

    You would think CNN would have access to people to tell them these things.

  2. Lizzy said on October 6th, 2008

    Just discovered your blog — love it so far!

    I’ve heard that part of the reason raw foods seem to aid so much in weight loss is because they take more energy to digest. Like, a raw carrot will in the end give you less caloric energy than a cooked carrot because it takes more energy expenditure to chew/breakdown/digest when raw?

    Is this legit or bogus?

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