Tag Archives: veganism

Is Bill Clinton a raw foodie?

12 Oct

After plants and before plants - photo from The Telegraph


I’ve always liked Bill Clinton, aside from the Monica-cigargate episode of course, but now he really rises to the top of my esteem. By talking openly about how and why he is embracing a near vegan diet, he is making highly nutritious food mainstream and acceptable and that is frankly amazing for the nutritional health of the planet.

My ‘educated’ friends, family and work mates regularly scoff me for my ‘crazy/mad/extreme’ rituals of drinking wheatgrass shots, chlorella and spinach shakes or even coconut water. I let it go because I know that understanding that food is a nutritious fuel good for our mind, body and souls and not just a low cal, low fat way to get through the day, means accepting that the way we’ve been brought up in terms of diet is fundamentally not helpful to our bodies. It’s not easy. Our parents did what was best for us based on what their parents told them. Now that new best friend Bill advocates a plant based diet, proves the benefits by looking great and talks about it – we ‘crazies’ have an ambassador and we have hope. Perhaps even my friends will be convinced…

The Telegraph reported the story in the article ‘Bill Clinton’s new diet: nothing but beans, vegetables and fruit to combat heart disease.’ It says: Bill Clinton says he has turned his back on hamburgers and pizzas for good, and now follows a diet of beans, vegetables and fruit in an effort to combat heart disease.

Mr Clinton’s penchant for burgers and barbecue and his battles with heart disease are well documented. But he has now gone public in America with the secret he shared with guests at his daughter’s nuptials – he is following a near-vegan regimen.

He was under orders from Chelsea, who is a long-standing vegan, to lose weight before he walked her down the aisle. But he opted for a plant-based low-fat diet, free of dairy or meat, because of bold claims that it naturally reverses coronary disease. He underwent bypass surgery in 2004 and then earlier this year had stents inserted to hold open his clogged coronary arteries.

“I went on essentially a plant-based diet,” the former president, 64, who is back on the campaign trail stumping for Democratic candidates in next month’s mid-term congressional elections, told a television interviewer who asked about his weight loss.

“I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit. I drink a protein supplement every morning – no dairy, I drink almond milk mixed in with fruit and a protein powder so I get the protein for the day when I start the day up.”

He references a book called The China Study, which if you look at their website is a book that draws on findings in rural China, that detail the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The report also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and opportunistic scientists. The New York Times has recognized the study (China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project) as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” and the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

I haven’t it read yet – but I will do asap. Thanks Bill.

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Being a hypocrite is good for you

26 Jan

Eat well for the planet and your body

Good news – my hypocrisy is vindicated.  According to this article; ‘Why the shift away from veganism in the raw world?’ by Fresh Network, vegans and raw food experts all over the world are turning back to animal products to supplement their diets for better health and more energy.  Having never turned completely away from animal or cooked foods, I now wonder if it is a primitive instinct for nutrients rather than extreme lack of willpower that makes me the raw food hypocrite. 

However much of a relief that is, I still believe, based on my own personal experience, that overloading on meat, cooked and processed foods is really unhealthy.  And of course, I also strongly believe that we should always eat well for the planet as well as our bodies and minds.

Why the shift away from veganism in the raw world? on Fresh Network

As you may already have noticed, a big change has taken place in the raw food world, and this change is ongoing. More and more raw food authors, coaches and speakers are coming forward either to say they’re not vegan anymore, to publicly promote the health benefits of certain animal products, or to warn that the vegan diet does not provide all necessary nutrients so vegans must supplement.

Taking into account those raw leaders who have never been completely vegan anyway, we can now count very few raw food promoters who are 100% vegan themselves and who also say that a 100% raw vegan diet provides us with everything we need (i.e. that there is no need to supplement). We decided a while ago that this phenomenon deserved a closer look, so we have been busy discussing this shift with our contacts and also investigating what may be causing it.

Before going any further, we wish to acknowledge the gigantic ethical and environmental justifications for avoiding animal products, and the fact that for many, eating these foods is not an option, regardless of any alleged or real health benefits. And indeed this is why there are passionate vegans who do not believe the vegan diet is our natural diet, but who choose to stay vegan and supplement rather than consume animal products.

The rest of the article, including interviews with some some of the leading raw and vegan foodies, is here.

Jay Rayner doesn’t give a toss about raw food

7 Jul
Jay Rayner's taste buds could with a lot more raw/vegan cruelty

Jay Rayner's taste buds could with a lot more cruelty from vegan food

While at Hay Festival, like the great big nerd I am, I unashamedly queued to have my books signed by both Jay Rayner and Heston Blumenthal (note unashamed name dropping).  In my small moment basking in their celebrity aura, I asked them both the same question; ‘what do you think about raw food?’  While Heston was ‘onto it’, Jay Rayner was, well, less enthusiastic; ‘I don’t give a toss.  If food doesn’t taste nice, it shouldn’t be eaten.’ 

Ignoring the question of ‘what exactly does nice tasting mean?’ – he’s right and I don’t think it’s just because I agree with him.  Raw fruit and vegetable combinations of all sorts are often difficult to swallow, literally.  But I didn’t need to meet him to hear his point of view.  Having read his review of SAF (which I whole-heartedly disagreed with in my own review), he made his point against raw food loudly and clearly in the headline: ‘It’s grim down Saf; vegan cuisine is a non-starter if it’s kind to animals but cruel to the taste buds.’

Jay Rayner is blatantly anti-vegan, anti-vegetarian, anti-raw and having read his recent book; ‘The man who ate the world; In search of the perfect dinner’, which is a kind of Michelin starred, international Super Size Me, he is also clearly anti-healthy food. 

However, I do think he is truly great, not just because he took the time to answer my question honestly, but because he represents the voice from the stomach of just about everyone I know, including the hypocrite in me. He is also really hilarious, completely decadent, down to earth and I happen to know he is extremely generous with his time with charities such as Summer Uni London’s Nang magazine.

Despite the large black rings (swollen liver?) under his bloodshot eyes (adrenal exhaustion?), a sweaty pallor (high blood pressure?) and swollen belly (candida?), Jay’s energy and wit defy a body under nutritional stress. My instinct following my 36 second ‘meeting’ with him was that he is a genuinely happy and successful man and also a genuinely unhealthy one.

But at what point do we let go of our emotional conditioning around the food we eat and prioritise our health?  And when do we allow ourselves to make choices that are not centred around what our mothers allowed or didn’t allow us to eat? Jay constantly referred to his famous Mother, Clare Rayner, in his book and he’s not alone in making the connection to food and mothering.  We all do it all the time, although mostly subconsciously.  But does eating something  that triggers happy (or sad) memories of childhood, maternal approval or feelings of success taste ‘nicer’ than the real clear-headed-living-in the-present-moment experience of eating fresh, natural, local, ripe,  nutrient-rich, absolutely 100% raw food?

I love Jay’s column and his books and don’t want him to change but I also, selfishly, want him to keep writing about food for a very long time.  I also, as a personal aim, want him to, one day, write about a raw meal in the same way he writes about the ‘Arpege tomato’.

There simply must be a way to embed the same ecstatic ‘nice tasting’ triggers in the experience of eating raw fruit and vegetables in our children, that Jay gets from buttery, garlicky escargots and foie gras and I get from cheddar cheese and gherkins on a freshly baked baguette.

Heston Blumenthal is ‘onto’ raw food

6 Jun
Blurry and distant pic of guru Heston Blumenthal at Hay Festival from the back seat

Blurry and distant pic of gurus Heston Blumenthal and Jay Rayner at Hay Festival from the back seat

I managed to speak to Fat Duck’s super-chef Heston Blumenthal and Observer food critic Jay Rayner in Hay and asked them both the same question; ‘What do you think about raw food?’

Jay’s response was so ‘interesting’ it deserves its own story, which I’ll write when I finish reading his book; ‘The man who ate the world; in search of the perfect dinner’. Heston, however replied; ‘It’s a big area and we’re onto it. It’s not just about blending though is it?’

Firstly – wow. It’s extremely exciting to me that one of the world’s best chefs acknowledges the existence of the raw food movement without choking and is actually doing something about it (not that I have proof…). Heston is already famous as a molecular gastronomist but now he is also apparently looking at the chemical and nutritional impact of the food on the human body over the long term. Very cool indeed.

Secondly, he’s also right on both counts:
1. I squirmed when he said the thing about the blender because I rely heavily on mine. And if someone asked me what the most important piece of equipment is for raw foodists, I would have to say their blender comes in the top three (alongside a good chopping board and knife). But he’s right – there’s got to be more to raw food than blending (and soaking, and sprouting, etc…).
2. The area of food that makes up the raw food movement is such a big, big, big area already and it’s growing. But do I think he means by ‘big area’? Here’s a list of diets/lifestyles that incorporate and/or affect our choices of raw food and how we eat it.

Raw fruit and vegetables
Wild raw fruit and vegetables
Veganism
Vegetarianism
Biodynamic
Local
Organic
Alkaline vs acidic
Body type 
Blood Type
Juices only
Grapes only 
Food combining
Living foods
Macrobiotic

It’s by no means a complete list but just noting it down makes me realise that there is so much information about healthy diets out there and to embark on a mission to maximise both flavour and nutritional value is a big and beautiful task.  And isn’t it inspiring to think that such a talented man is ‘onto it’? I’ll just have to find a way to ask Heston exactly what that means.

How does Wikipedia define a raw foodist?

24 Mar

I always go to Wikipedia for a matter of fact opinion/view of the world.  And so I thought it would be interesting to read a matter of fact description of a raw foodist.  According to them (whoever ‘they’ are), raw foodism (or rawism) is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. If 75-100% of a person’s total food consumption is raw food, he/she is considered a raw foodist or living foodist.

 

Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodism or a raw food diet is usually equated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten, but other raw foodists emphasize raw meat and other raw animal products. Depending on the type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selectıon of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including sprouted whole grains such as gaba rice), eggs, fish (such as sashimi), meat (such as carpaccio), and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products (such as raw milk, raw cheese and raw yogurt). Raw foodists can be divided between those that advocate raw vegetarianism or raw veganism, those that advocate a raw omnivorous diet, and those that advocate a diet of only raw animal foods (carnivorous).

 

Even though I am a giant hypocrite and eat meat every now and then, I do advocate raw vegetarianism and in my ‘good’ moments, I think I really am a raw foodist. To see the rest of this matter of fact Wikipedia entry about being a raw foodist, click here.