Raw Danger

v  By Evia Zack

   Everyone is aware of the vegetarian and vegan diets, but few are conscious of the ridiculous “raw foodist” movement. Contrary to other no-meat diets, this lifestyle is unhealthy and dangerous, not to mention ignorant. 

   Raw foodism, or rawism, is a lifestyle based on the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods. These foods make up a large percentage of the diet, at least 75 percent. “Raw” is considered cooked at or under 104˚ degrees. Most of the foodists are vegetarian or vegan, however some incorporate meat or animal products into their diet.

   The so called logic behind this diet is that enzymes in the food are the “life force,” and cooking destroys these. The enzyme-less food is considered toxic because the body can’t get “maximum utilization” of the food.

   This idea may not sound so bad at first. Yes, raw meat could be an issue, but what is the harm in eating raw fruits and vegetables? Believe it or not, we eat cooked food for a reason. During man’s evolution from Homo Habilis to Homo Erectus (the step before Homo Sapiens, what were are now), its brain size increased by 50 percent, and it’s tooth size decreased dramatically. The cause of this change was the discovering of fire and the advent of cooked food.

   To get enough energy to sustain its brain size, Homo Erectus would have to chew raw food for six hours a day. It would have to eat twelve pounds of raw plants, or six pounds of plants and meat, to get enough calories to even survive. At this rate, any time it was not hunting or gathering would be spent chewing.

   This problem was solved by fire. Rawism is right in that heat breaks down the enzymes in the food, but this does not make the food toxic. It makes for easier digestion, and consequently less effort was needed to sustain Homo Erectus’ brain size. This allowed for the evolution of a larger brain, and later the evolution of Homo Sapiens, the modern human.

   Raw foodists argue that raw vegetables are the staple of the diet of humankind, because before man ate meat, he ate plants. However, the majority of anthropologists believe that increase in brain size came from the shift away from consumption of nuts and berries to the consumption of protein in meat.

   This proves that human evolution relied on cooked food and meat. There are also several health concerns for people today on the rawism diet, particularly women. Studies show that women on a raw vegetarian diet are typically underweight, and miss their menstrual periods because of a lack of nutrients. Raw foodists are often lacking in nutrients because of poor planning, and food poisoning is always a major concern.

   This diet can be healthy, if it is not abused. However, websites like Living and Raw Foods (http://www.living-foods.com/faq.html) are propagating false information that could be harmful. It claims that cooked food is the cause behind America’s obesity epidemic, which is not necessarily the case. More likely, a sedentary lifestyle is the cause of obesity, not properly prepared food; the rest of the world would be obese as well if this was true. It also claims that those who eat a low protein diet have more energy, which is not the case. Protein is essential in that it repairs cells and allows for growth and development.

   If one is overweight, this diet is a good thing. A well-planned raw diet, with the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients, can be helpful in weight loss. In the long term, however, a strict rawist diet is unhealthy and not recommended. Frankly, it is far better to eat a well-balanced cooked diet than a rawist diet any day.