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View Full Version : Are raw foodists, claiming they are a subset of veganism, giving vegans a bad name?



Mahk
03-25-2011, 01:50 PM
In my mind the answer is definitely YES! They make us sound like nothing more than unscientific faddists, following a lifestyle akin to macrobiotics, also a dogmatic/quasi-religious way of living which sees invisible forces (read: "unmeasurable to scientific analysis") "yin and yang", instead of "enzymes", and it belittles our non-violence to animals ethics, which is our real raison d'etre.

People are welcome to not like GMOs, not like pesticides (and only eat organic), not like eating cooked foods, preferring raw as much as possible, etc, however for them to claim their preferences are part of the true or most refined version of veganism is a lie. Veganism is about not using animals, so says Donald Watson and the other people who coined the term in the 1940's, and tacking on any of these other pet beliefs to that definition is improper just like claiming "vegans don't drink alcohol" is equally a lie.

Again, I have no problem with any of these convictions, share some myself in fact, but please don't refer to them as part of "veganism." It doesn't fall under that banner any more than a cigarette, drug, or alcohol free lifestyle does and claiming otherwise is bastardizing the real meaning of the word "vegan".

[copied from a now deleted post]:

Rawfoodist vegans that I encounter act as if rawfoodism is a subset of veganism or perhaps even the "ideal" form. This is complete and utter nonsense. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with raw food, per se, however they often idealize it as having mystical and magical powers. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to back their claim just like there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back the claim of macrobiotics or breatharians either. All these groups are practicing dogmatic, superstitious, belief system based, non-scientific lifestyles and they give real veganism a bad name by implying they are a part of it, perhaps even the highest "level 5" version of it in fact ( :WINK: ), which they are not any more so than vegans who only eat foods which are green or red, never beige or white, because of the following of Supreme Master Ms Cha -Ching who has been given Divine knowledge that these are the "correct and proper" ones to eat.

"But what about the magical 'enzymes' ", that supposedly give raw food a life energy or 'chi'? Ask a raw vegan to name even just one of these enzymes by name and they are usually stumped. It is true that living organisms use enzymes however we need not consume any at all; we manufacture all the enzymes our body uses from the foods we eat, yes, even the cooked ones, and aren't reliant on [I]consuming enzymes whatsoever, nor do they help or aid digestion. In order to manufacture blood, which we constantly do in our bone marrow, must we eat blood? No, of course not. Same with enzymes.

"But what about the dangers of acrylamide/HCAs/PAHs found only in cooked foods?" they ask. Yes, some compounds found in high temperature pan fried, flame broiled, and deep fried foods may be harmful in large quantities, the jury is still out, however cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, and microwaving don't present any of these dangers at all. Furthermore, these dangers, as best I can tell, are predominantly from animal foods when exposed to very high heat, so it's not the kind of thing vegans would need to worry about, but I'm not 100% sure there are no exceptions we should possible refrain from cooking by these high temperature methods.

"But doesn't cooking food kill all the contained nutrients?", they ask. Well considering 99% of humans cook large percentages of their food and seem to survive just fine. I'm not too worried about it. Also some nutrients, including lycopene (in for example tomatoes), are actually made more bio-available by cooking.
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Plant Based Doctor Joel Fuhrman says:

"Unfortunately, sloppy science prevails in the raw-food movement. Raw food advocates mistakenly conclude that since many cooked foods are not healthy for us, then all cooked foods are bad. This is not true.

The idea that stirs the most enthusiasm for this diet is the contention that cooking both destroys about fifty percent of the nutrients in food, and destroys all or most of the life promoting enzymes. It is true that when food is baked at high temperatures—and especially when it is fried or barbecued—toxic compounds are formed and most important nutrients are lost. Many vitamins are water-soluble, and a significant percent can be lost with cooking, especially overcooking. Similarly, many plant enzymes function as phytochemical nutrients in our body and are useful to maximize health. They, too, can be destroyed by overcooking. However, we cannot paint with this brush of negativity over every form of cooking.

Only small amounts of nutrients are lost with conservative cooking like making a soup, but many more nutrients are made more absorbable. These nutrients would have been lost if those vegetables had been consumed raw. When we heat, soften and moisturize the vegetables and beans we dramatically increase the potential digestibility and absorption of many beneficial and nutritious compounds. We also increase the plant proteins in the diet, especially important for those eating a plant-based diet with limited or no animal products.

...

Another fallacy promoted in the raw food movement and on the web is that the fragile heat-sensitive enzymes contained in the plants we eat catalyze chemical reactions that occur in humans and aid in digestion of the food. This is not true. Plant foods do not supply enzymes that aid in their digestion when consumed by animals. Our body supplies exactly the precise amount of enzymes needed for digestion; we are not ill equipped to digest normal food. The plant enzymes are broken down into simpler molecules by our own powerful digestive juices and even those that are absorbed as peptide size pieces (or with some biologic function) do not function to catalyze human functions. So it is not true that eating raw food demands less enzyme production by your body. "

Source: http://www.drfuhrman.com/faq/question.aspx?sid=16&qindex=4 (ETA: was a bad link now fixed)

More about HCA and PAH (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats)

Soymilk_Gun
03-26-2011, 05:07 AM
yeah rawists are a pretty wacky set, perhaps Ill write more later but Ive summed up my thought on it previously in my blog http://skepticalvegan.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/raw-veganism/

Dandelion
03-26-2011, 11:29 AM
Veganism is about not using animals, so says Donald Watson and the other people who coined the term in the 1940's, and tacking on any of these other pet beliefs to that definition is improper just like claiming vegans "don't drink alcohol" is equally a lie.[.quote]

Again, I have no problem with any of these convictions, share some myself in fact, but please don't refer to them as part of "veganism." It doesn't fall under that banner any more than a cigarette, drug, or alcohol free lifestyle does and claiming otherwise is bastardizing the real meaning of the word "vegan".
Not using animals is part and parcel of rawfood, therefore, vegan. Just because they have other wacky beliefs or believe veganism is a stop along the way of a newage evolutionary ladder (http://pythagoreancrank.com/?p=1197) doesn't revoke their vegan status. In Vegan Defined (http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=15959) we looked at this issue. People who quote Watson's original definition are acting like religious zealots defending their own pet interpretation. Regardless of how Watson meant it, it's just a word and words change meaning depending on popular usage. In my neck of the woods (and i do see a lot of this online as well), rawfood and veganism are pretty much one & the same.

It's funny too because rawfood is basically the vegan version of paleo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet). You'll see vegans mocking the hell out of some paleo but they'll rawfood the hell out of some shit.

Mahk
03-26-2011, 12:17 PM
Despite the Vegetarian Society's (UK) claim otherwise, the term "vegetarian" already was in prior usage before their inception in the 1847 and therefor was "self coined" by the English language itself and society. [Prior to the term most who followed this lifestyle were often referred too as "Pythagoreans"] The word "vegan", however, which is one of the rare proper nouns we don't typically capitalize, because that's how the inventors wanted it, is an entirely different matter. It, unlike the word "vegetarian", was coined by an organization (not the English language) which is still in existence to this day: The Vegan Society. The English language didn't invent the word nor define it, Donald Watson, Elise Shirley, et al, in a group totaling fewer than a dozen original Society members invented the word in the mid 1940s and therefore get to define both what it means, and also its completely whacked out, nonsensical pronunciation, as well.

his word "vegan", as well as a lower case "v", and since it is his invented word we don't get to define the spelling, the pronunciation, nor the meaning. People have no right to bastardize it to their wishes any more than they do spelling your name "dandaline" or mispronouncing it, because it is more to their liking.]
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"The word 'Vegan' starts with the word 'VEGetariAN' and brings it to its logical conclusion" -Donald Watson, parphrased by me (I forget the exact words but I'm close), c. 1944 , and being rather clever with his double meaning. :)

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In considering, "I wonder, do vegans eat honey?" we don't get to apply logic or reasoning to if they should, nor do we observe what the majority who CALL themselves "vegan" do, instead we ask the inventors of the word and their extant Society. The answer is "No", they don't eat honey. People who eat honey therefor would be incorrect in describing themselves as "vegan". This isn't up for debate; TVS has specifically addressed this since day one, literally the very day they were founded.

http://www.vegansociety.com/UserHub.aspx?id=327&terms=honey

I, as another example, think it is totally whacked that "for your health" and "for the environment" are accepted pillars of veganism. If it were my word I wouldn't define it that way, but it's NOT my word so I have to begrudgingly accept whatever they, The Vegan Society, says, and the more refined definition which throws in the words "health" and "environment" was amended while Watson was still around, so I have no choice and can't argue it was simply a misinterpretation of his word's actual meaning.

Lentil
03-26-2011, 02:11 PM
I don't think raw foodists are vegan if they buy leather shoes, wear wool and silk, etc. I don't know any raw foodists IRL, so maybe you guys can address that issue -- are they doing it as a diet for the health benefits, or do they also subscribe to the lifestyle aspects of veganism?

Also, as I've been reading about honey and "beegans" it seems that quite a lot of raw foodists (at least on the internet) promote the use of honey for its health/medicinal benefits (dubious as they may be). I know there's debate among vegans about whether or not honey should be "allowed," but under the original definition is it not. So, if a raw foodist eats honey, are they still vegan?

Mahk
03-26-2011, 02:51 PM
There is no Pope of Raw Foodism nor an organization which coined the term to consult, so it is whatever the "adherents" want it to be.

Some raw foodists eat raw animal products like eggs, dairy etc.. As long as you don't heat the animal product above 118F then the "magic life force energy" is still maintained and you are good to go. Why 118F and not 117F, one might ask? Simple, because their irrational dogma without any scientific backing whatsoever says so, thats why. 118F is a completely arbitrarily picked number by some early raw foodist that they just go with without question. It is like a macrobiotic telling you whether a potato chip is Yin or Yang. They can't be tested as being right or wrong so you just have to take their word for it that they can sense these magical energies but science can not.


I suspect the animal product eating ones don't refer to themselves as "vegan", but these days who knows?

Dandelion
03-26-2011, 03:08 PM
People have no right to bastardize it to their wishes
Sure they do, isn't that how language works? Common usage is its meaning and that gets documented in the dictionary. Even large corporations cannot fight the genericization of their own trademarks when common usage takes over. Around here at least, a majority use "vegan" as an adjective (http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=10417).

Dandelion
03-26-2011, 03:15 PM
I don't think raw foodists are vegan if they buy leather shoes, wear wool and silk, etc. I don't know any raw foodists IRL, so maybe you guys can address that issue -- are they doing it as a diet for the health benefits, or do they also subscribe to the lifestyle aspects of veganism?


There are both but I think many don't understand veganism as an ethical issue and think it's synonymous with rawfood as a diet. Just like Oprah's minions and the like who think it's a diet to get skinny. They'll still wear leather and such but they still call themselves vegan. The extremes of that are "avoiding leather isn't practical for me" and that falls under the practical clause in the original definition for the vegan orthodox. On the other hand you have people who are much more non-animal using to an obsessive degree but still are too afraid to use "vegan" because of the "made on shared equipment" label on the products they buy.

Dandelion
03-26-2011, 03:19 PM
Also, as I've been reading about honey and "beegans" it seems that quite a lot of raw foodists (at least on the internet) promote the use of honey for its health/medicinal benefits (dubious as they may be). I know there's debate among vegans about whether or not honey should be "allowed," but under the original definition is it not. So, if a raw foodist eats honey, are they still vegan?
Alotta rawfoodists do use honey and that's been a point of contention with the local rawfood restaurant here and vegans. They say "vegan" right in the signage on the door as you walk in but use honey as a sweetener in all of their desserts. Rawfoodists who eat honey may still call themselves vegan and I'm sure people will fight and police over that but god, that's boring. Again, that might be their practical line so who's to say?

Mahk
03-26-2011, 05:23 PM
There are both but I think many don't understand veganism as an ethical issue and think it's synonymous with rawfood as a diet.
Ethical? Not necessarily. Perhaps you are forgetting that "for your health" is an acceptable reason to go vegan; it is one of the three pillars after all. And according to you the coiners of the word have no say anyways, common usage rules, so when Oprah has her 10 day animal food fasts, as she continues to collect leather shoes, she is indeed a vegan during those times if the media says she's a vegan (as is President Clinton). [sarcasm]

Mahk
03-26-2011, 05:28 PM
Sure they do, isn't that how language works? Common usage is its meaning and that gets documented in the dictionary. Even large corporations cannot fight the genericization of their own trademarks .
True of common nouns in general usage but not proper nouns, specifically constructed names and words that are coined by a specific individual or extant organization. If you decide to market your brand of petroleum jelly, referring to it as "vaseline", you will be sued and you will lose, despite whatever most people call the stuff. The person or company that came up with the word owns it in this case legally but unfortunately in the case of the word "vegan" I think they may only have legal protection in the UK, but I'm not sure. I know their logo is trademarked but the word itself I'm not sure about.

In my mind, without question, they own the word since they invented it, ethically at least. It will be a sad day when I pick up a bag of "vegan Marshmallows" at the supermarket, which clearly is labeled as containing gelatin, and I realize I am powerless to protest because the word has no protection. :(

"Dear Mr Mahk:

RE. your recent email to our food division.You seem to have a weak understanding of the words vegetarian and vegan. Vegetarians don't eat meat. Vegans don't eat meat or dairy or eggs, however both groups eat products that dont kill animals such as honey or gelatin from cows carcasses They are dead already so it doesn't matter."

:( NOooooooooooooooooo!

Mahk
03-26-2011, 05:36 PM
I I know there's debate among vegans about whether or not honey should be "allowed," but under the original definition is it not. [emphasis mine]

So due to what event and in what year did The Vegan Society lose the right to define the meaning of the word they invented? From my read of what you wrote here you seem to concede they had control of the original meaning but then lost the right to define the word they invented, for some reason. Have I misunderstood you?

Mahk
03-26-2011, 05:50 PM
Rawfoodists who eat honey may still call themselves vegan and I'm sure people will fight and police over that but god, that's boring. Again, that might be their practical line so who's to say?

Who's to say? I'm going to go with the extant organization that invented the word. Call me crazy.

"A vegan will not eat any animal products, for example:
...
•No honey. "

Dandelion
03-26-2011, 09:56 PM
True of common nouns in general usage but not proper nouns, specifically constructed names and words that are coined by a specific individual or extant organization. If you decide to market your brand of petroleum jelly, referring to it as "vaseline", you will be sued and you will lose, despite whatever most people call the stuff. The person or company that came up with the word owns it in this case legally but unfortunately in the case of the word "vegan" I think they may only have legal protection in the UK, but I'm not sure. I know their logo is trademarked but the word itself I'm not sure about.

Vaseline and Kleenix are not genericized (yet). Here is a list of former trademarks that have become generic terms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks#List_of _former_trademarks_that_have_become_generic_terms) . I can sell a "Thermos" and I can open up a "Laundromat" and it's unlikely GmbH or Westinghouse Electric Corporation will win in a suit against me.

Lentil
03-26-2011, 09:58 PM
[emphasis mine]

So due to what event and in what year did The Vegan Society lose the right to define the meaning of the word they invented? From my read of what you wrote here you seem to concede they had control of the original meaning but then lost the right to define the word they invented, for some reason. Have I misunderstood you?

I'm not a scholar of the etymology of the word "vegan", but I did read part of the Vegan Defined (http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=15959) thread from VRF which lists both the old and new definitions. As far as I can tell, the original definition is absent from the Vegan Society's website.

I don't really care how they choose to define it--when I use the word vegan, I am excluding honey since that is the more strict definition. I wouldn't want to accidentally feed honey to a vegan who avoids it, not that I'm in that situation often since I don't have vegan friends IRL. But I'm not vegan myself, so I'll leave it up to the vegans to decide.

Mahk
03-27-2011, 11:27 AM
I don't really care how they choose to define it--when I use the word vegan, I am excluding honey since that is the more strict definition.

The "more strict definition"? How did you determine that, exactly? Since according to you two consulting the organization which coined the term is over-ridden be "general usage" how is it you've decided what IS the the definition, strict or otherwise? If, say hypothetically, I magically had the ability to document to you that the majority of people calling themselves vegan actually used honey, would that then prove to you that honey use is an accepted practice within the definition? Unlike me, who consults with person or organization which coined the term in determining its (unusual) pronunciation, and its definition, as best as I can tell you two use "general consensus". Would that be correct?

Lentil
03-27-2011, 11:58 AM
Since according to you two consulting the organization which coined the term is over-ridden be "general usage" how is it you've decided what IS the the definition, strict or otherwise?

Did I say that?

What I meant is that the new definition (http://www.vegansociety.com/about/who-we-are.aspx) is quite vague. It is useful as a goal or a mission statement, but it doesn't say what vegans don't eat.

Mahk
03-27-2011, 12:42 PM
There are tens of thousands of animal products that vegans don't eat. Do they need to spell out each one in their general definition/mission statement in order to be clear? They've explicitly and unequivocally stated [The Vegan Society], "No honey." from day one and unwaveringly have maintained that stance to this very day, some 60 plus years later, as I quoted them currently in post #13, sourced from the link in post #4.

Why are you linking to the The Vegan Society as a source, anyways? I'm confused. Do you think they have a say in determining the definition of the word they coined? I thought you two were maintaining that "general consensus"/"common usage" was an overriding factor in determining the meaning of "vegan" but perhaps I misunderstood you, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be putting words in your mouth so please clarify in your own words what you think is the best way to determine what "vegan" is and whether or not they eat honey.

Thanks.

Lentil
03-27-2011, 01:09 PM
The original definition: "the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives" -- I just think it's more clear. The new definition includes the "practical and possible" statement, which of course is subjective, and to me it seems to be more about the effort to exclude animal products rather than eliminating all animal products with 100% certainty.


I thought you two were maintaining that "general consensus"/"common usage" was an overriding factor in determining the meaning of "vegan" but perhaps I misunderstood you, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be putting words in your mouth so please clarify in your own words what you think is the best way to determine what "vegan" is and whether or not they eat honey.

I never said I think "vegan" is defined by common usage. Maybe someday it might be--for example, if there are thousands or millions of people who claim to be "vegan" yet use honey, but only 10 people left in the Vegan Society who maintain honey should be excluded, it seems silly to maintain the exclusion of honey in the definition. At this point I don't think there is anything like that going on, so, like I said, I use "vegan" to mean free from honey and other animal products.

I guess I should have been more clear - I think the debate is generally not whether honey itself is vegan, but whether people who consume some honey but otherwise maintain a vegan diet/lifestyle should be able to call themselves vegan. On that, I have no opinion.

Mahk
03-27-2011, 02:17 PM
The original definition: "the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives" -- I just think it's more clear. More clear in its simplicity, that is true, but they fail to mention bone, hair, carmine, confectioner's food glaze, shellac, etc. Obviously they can't list everything; it would take pages.


I never said I think "vegan" is defined by common usage. True, I'm sorry. It was wrong of me to lump you in with what Dandelion wrote after I protested that I felt people do not have the right to bastardize the meaning of the The Vegan Society's coined word:

Sure they do, isn't that how language works? Common usage is its meaning and that gets documented in the dictionary.

Thank you for answering my question, Lentil.
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Side topic: It is my personal belief that "practical and possible" was added to contend with antagonists who proclaimed vegans were "hypocrites" in their use of, for example, products transported to market on vehicles using rubber tires (which inevitably contain stearic acid and/or other non-vegan compounds) or their use of medical procedures and compounds invented through the use of animal models, such as anesthesia. Living without such things simply is not "practical or possible" living in our current western world.

Colinski
04-16-2011, 11:40 AM
Any linguist will tell you that popular usage trumps the coiner. I'm no linguist, but I studied it in college and it's still a subject of considerable interest to me. Words get defined by how they are used. Popular usage is the only thing that gets a word into the dictionary. Think about it: what defines a word EXCEPT how it is used by speakers of that language? I could coin a word right now but unless English speakers start using it is it really an English word? Plus, the coiner of "vegan" is dead. The Vegan Society didn't coin the term, Donald Watson did. But even in the case of a brand name, you have no control over how something is used popularly, only how it is used commercially. So maybe The Vegan Society can take action against someone using the term in a way they don't like for commercial gain, but I doubt even that's true. You can't control a term once it's established in the popular lexicon. Mahk, you're speaking to how things "should" be while Dandelion is speaking to the realities of human language. In other words, prescriptive versus descriptive.

Mahk
04-16-2011, 01:22 PM
Any linguist will tell you that popular usage trumps the coiner.

The word's pronunciation too or just its definition?

The.Protist
04-25-2011, 09:22 AM
Whenever I am frustrated with raw folks, I remember how popular macrobiotics was, and think that this is how raw will end up. Though anything about sea vegetables still seems obligated to bring up macrobiotics.