Raw Meat Diet!
Founder: For a World We Choose Fdtn.
Eliot Jay Rosen LISW, ACSW
Director of For A World We Choose Foundation
A non-profit charitable and educational organization (501c3)
The author can be reached at:
Website: coming soon
Phone: 818 760-6762
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In the March, 1998 issue of Whole Life Times, the largest holistic health magazine in health-conscious Los Angeles, there appeared an interview with raw meat advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz, entitled, "The Diet of Our Ancestors." Mr. Vonderplanitz suggests that we eat EVERYTHING raw, not only raw plant-based foods, but raw pork, fish, beef, chicken, lamb, etc. The interview contained so many dangerous health recommendations and nutritional misinformation that I wrote a rebuttal to Whole Life Times which they published in their following April issue.
Below is the rebuttal. I do not own the copyright to reprint the Whole Life Times article. To get your own copy of the March issue where the original article appears, send $3 to: Whole Life Times, P.O. Box 1187, Malibu, CA 90265 or call: 310-317-4200, Fax: 310-317-4206 e-mail: email@example.com
"Truth is above all, but higher still is true living," said a great philosopher. The subject of this article passionately deals with both. The loyal readership of WLT deserves a response to last month's interview with Mr. Aajonus Vonderplanitz which was entitled, "The Diet of Our Ancestors."
Before I begin a point-by-point rebuttal to the more dangerous and misleading health claims for the "raw meat diet," as a nutritional counselor, and moreso a human being, I cannot but have compassion for Mr. Volderplanitz (Mr. V) as a person. He is a health seeker who has undergone severe health challenges that have comprimised his digestion, especially his ability to handle starches and complex sugars. It is no wonder then that he has gravitated to a high fat, high-protein diet for life-support. Seen in this light, his present phase of dietary experimentation appears to be an attempt to maintain a temporary but tenuous balance. The problem is that no one, except perhaps Eskimos, could ever hope to live healthfully for any length of time on the high-fat, high-protein, low-fiber, mineral and vitamin deficient diet he recommends.
In this article, no attempt has been made to focus on the important ethical and ecological ramifications of his diet---just correcting the nutritional fallacies espoused by Mr. V is all that space permits. Mr. V's words are in italics.
1) In January, I spoke to a vegetarian raw food group in San Francisco. At the end of my talk only four of the 52 attendees remained staunch vegetarians. --- According to Marti Kheel, founder of the East Bay Vegetarian Raw Food Society and meeting attendee, "Four people very vocally opposed his ideas, some people asked questions to find out more about his point of view, but the entire remainder of the group politely sat and just listened. To say that anyone was converted is absolutely absurd."
2) High fat, high protein...the 'diet of our ancestors.' --- In point of fact, our earliest human ancestors were more vegetation-gatherers than hunters. Only when the Ice Age descended upon the Earth were humans forced to adapt, by necessity, to a higher ratio of animal-based foods. Pre-Ice Age human dental fossils reveal grinding teeth that are worn down, showing plant-based foods predominated in the human dietary.
3) Humans have very few grinding teeth, most are for cutting. --- Out of 32 teeth, only our four front teeth can be considered true cutting teeth. Human canines have been receding in size for thousands of years and can hardly be compared to the sharp, pointed canines (fangs) of flesh-ripping carnivores. Our other front eight teeth are not so much designed for cutting as for "biting off" hard or fibrous foods. The remaining 20 are indisputably grinding teeth!
4) I have not seen a direct correlation between eating raw meat and having parasites... parasites are not the problem. Parasites live on decaying tissue. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach kills parasites and harmful bacteria before they can enter the system. --- Depending on the health of the individual, hydrochloric acid may or may not be sufficient to kill invading foreign organisms. The fact remains that 122 parasitic diseases are transmitted by the ingestion of animal flesh. These include numerous species of intestinal worms, eggs and snails that are found in beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish.
5) Parasites and some forms of bacteria have the same sort of job in the human body. It is a detoxification process. --- Parasites and bacteria do not "have jobs." They simply exploit human tissues to keep themselves alive. Mr. V's false teleological/anthropocentric reasoning implies that Nature is designed such that everything exists for our benefit. It would be difficult to find another person other than Mr. V who would argue that parasitic metazoa serve a beneficial function for humans. In this connection, animal foods---raw or cooked---are themselves the most common source of bacterial infection, independent of the presence of parasites. This is because soon after a cow, chicken, fish or pig is slaughtered, millions of bacteria begin to multiply.
6) Eating more than a little bit of fruit deteriorates the tissues and bones, imbalances the sugar level and causes poor mental functioning. --- Whole fruit, when eaten as part of a nutritionally balanced diet, is a wholesome and safe source of valuable nutrients. If Mr. V suffers "poor mental functioning" when he eats fruit, then I suspect he has sugar metabolism problems, or candida, or some other health condition. In his case, Mr. V. should limit or avoid fruit until he is properly diagnosed and treated. I think it only fair that until Mr. V produces some scientific evidence in support of the dangers of eating fruit, (and while he's at it, how about some proof for the safety of eating raw meat!), the rest of us should be allowed to enjoy our fruit.
7) Once I ate pinworms in salmon. --- Impossible, salmon do not transmit pinworms. It must have been another parasitic or bacterial organism that was the culprit in Mr. V's painful gastrointestinal infestation.
8) Eating vegetation causes alkalinity in the human digestive track which should be acid...Between 40% and 80% of the bacteria and flora are paralyzed or destroyed in an alkaline environment. --- The human digestive system is a collection of organs. Each organ functions optimally in different pH environments. The stomach functions optimally in an acid environment. The small intestine functions optimally in an alkaline environment, a fact which Mr. V is evidently unaware. For millions of years, friendly bacteria and intestinal flora have thrived in the alkaline environment of the small intestine.
9) The Eskimos...ate a natural diet which was 90% animal products, mainly eaten raw. --- What's good for Eskimos is not necessarily good for a Southern Californian, nor for those of European, African, Asian or any other descent. In order to survive in a vegetation-scarce environment, it is true that Eskimos by necessity have had to rely on animal foods. Over time, however, their bodies were forced to physiologically adapt to the more difficult task of digesting animal foods by secreting far more hydrochloric acid than the overwhelming majority of humanity are able to produce. Only Eskimos could possibly stay healthy over a lifetime on the high-fat/high-animal food diet espoused by Mr. V.
10) A healthy immune system is predominantly dependent on fats. --- It's true that proper amounts of all the essential fatty acids (derived from fat) are necessary to sustain a healthy immune system, however, the immune system is dependent on all classes of nutrients---proteins, phytochemicals, high quality carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc. Other non-nutritional factors contribute to a healthy immune system---as the emerging field of psycho-neuro-immunology is proving.
11) The healthiest results have come when 50% of the caloric intake was raw fat. --- No medical, scientific or governmental body---holistic or allopathic---advocates a 50% fat diet, raw or cooked. Other than Eskimos and perhaps only Mr. V, no responsible healing clinic has adopted this radically unsafe diet.
The traditional diets of the healthiest and most long-lived peoples in the world (the Hunzakrats, the Georgians of Russia, the Tarakumara Indians of Mexico---all eat an approximate ratio of 80% complex carbohydrates, 10% fats and 10% protein. Mr. V's 50% total calories from fat diet is dangerous and unsafe.
12) Daily eat ...eight ounces to one pound of a variety of raw meats... --- Problems with a high-protein, high-fat, animal-based diet include:
a) An animal-based diet leaves the body over-acid. According to Dr. Otto Warburg, Nobel Prize recipient, the progressive acidification of the body leads to degenerative diseases and premature death. And given the physiological fact that the overwhelming majority of the waste products of metabolic activity are already acid (i.e. lactic acid, uric acid), to maintain the proper acid-alkaline pH in the blood, tissues and organ systems, the body has to balance this acidity with some reliable external source of alkalinity. The best way to meet our ongoing need for alkalinity is to eat alkaline foods&emdash;most vegetables, well-grown, ripe fruits and leafy greens.
How do those who eat an acid-forming, high fat/high-animal food diet survive? By tapping their body's alkaline reserves to neutralize excess acidity. As one example, to correct an over-acid pH, the alkaline mineral calcium is released from bones and teeth, pours into the bloodstream, and finally is excreted in the urine. Over time, osteoporosis may result.
b) Too much protein in the diet clogs cellular basement membranes. Dr. Wendt's electron microscope studies conclusively links excess protein to the etiology of cardiovascular disease. He was even able to reverse cardiovascular disease on a controlled, low protein diet. A high-protein, animal-based diet is also associated with increased incidence of cancer, particularly of the colon.
c) High protein diet, whether animal or plant-based, raw or cooked, lowers the oxygen level in the body, causing healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Low oxygen in the bloodstream slows the blood flow and increases the amount of harmful fatty plaques deposited onto arterial walls. Low oxygen level in the tissues increases the proliferation of harmful aenerobic bacteria and other microbes.
d) As animal food is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, it is strongly associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
13) Fats strengthen, cleanse and protect all body systems. --- It is true that the cell walls are composed of a lipid (fat) base&emdash; in this sense can we say that fats "protect"&emdash;they do keep the contents of our cells intact. But to say that a high fat diet is cleansing is nonsense. In fact, Mr V's high-fat diet, which is equally, if not more so, a high-protein diet, increases the intercellular osmotic pressure and makes it more difficult for cellular waste products to enter the bloodstream and be removed by the organs of elimination. Metabolic waste products then build up until a cleansing crisis in the form of acute or chronic diseases occur. So on this score, Mr. V's diet is closer than he would like to admit to the toxin-building Standard American Diet.
14) Fats "cleanse" the body systems and are solvents. --- Fats are not solvents. An example of a solvent is alcohol. That's why even one glass of red wine a day lowers blood fats and cholesterol. (Grape juice will produce similar results without killing brain cells, as alcohol does)
15) Vegetarians have higher concentrations of pesticides in their tissues. --- Study after study has shown that pesticide and hormone concentrations are more prevalent the higher one eats on the food chain. Mammals such as cows, pigs, fowl and lamb&emdash; all near the top of the food chain&emdash;are shot up with hormones and fed chemicalized rations. Poisonous mercury is found in fish.
16) Raw and sprouted grains and plants are too complex for the human digestive tract and are rarely completely digested before excretion. --- Sprouted grains, seeds and other plant foods have been used as regenerative foods throughout history and to this day. Other than avoiding sprouted beans, (legumes contain an anti-trypsin factor that inhibits protein digestion), most sprouted seeds, grains, grasses and soil-grown sprouts (buckwheat, sunflower) are considered superfoods by the world's foremost nutrition experts. It's true that cellulose from plant-based foods are not digested, and if too much roughage is a problem for some people, juicing or blending foods will help, although there is some nutritional loss incurred whenever one processes food in any way.
17) 4% "did well" on a vegetarian diet --- Studies showed that vegans have the lowest risk for degenerative diseases of any other class of eaters. Conversely, the more animal foods consumed, the higher the risk of most of the leading degenerative diseases in the U.S.
In conclusion, before we adopt any diet, we must ask ourselves a) Is it safe? b) Is it nutritionally complete and balanced c) Does it suit one's constitutional type, climate, lifestyle, etc? d) Is a particular diet the real solution to regaining or maintaining health, or just a stop-gap, symptomatic, temporary measure? I believe that on all counts, Mr. Vonderplanitz's diet fails to meet these criteria, as superficially convincing as he might first appear to be.
If you are motivated to explore safer, healthier alternatives to Mr. V's raw meat/high fat diet, you may wish to review the following books: The Scientific Basis for Vegetarianism by Dr. William Harris, especially for scientific proofs of the superiority of the vegan diet; Diet for A New America by John Robbins, particularly for the ethical and ecological foundation of vegan diet; and both Survival into the 21st Century by Viktoras Kulvinskas and Conscious Eating by Dr. Gabriel Cousens for step-by-step dietary transitions and truly safe, raw food vegan recipes.
Eliot Jay Rosen is a certified nutritional consultant, licensed social worker and author of the newly released book, Experiencing the Soul. He has been a practicing vegetarian (no-dairy, no eggs) for over 25 years.
Eliot Jay Rosen