If you have been interested in health and weight loss for a while, you might have come across the ‘raw vegan’ diet before. To those who haven’t heard of it, this is primarily a plant and fruit based diet that also includes non-processed or minimally processed ingredients such as nuts, pulses, beans and lentils. Yes, this means cutting out meat, eggs, dairy and even refined flours in some cases.
From a health and fitness standpoint, the raw vegan diet is healthy and effective because it is low calorie, low fat and low carb. For those who are curious, I will even go out of my way to put some links at the bottom of this article. I have to be honest and say that for most people, this diet is not sustainable in the long-term, but will be effective if you stick to it for at least a few weeks.
Although it is extremely effective in the short-term, I have to be honest and say that in a sense, the raw vegan diet philosophy is a bit of a marketing gimmick in a sense. This article focuses on the roots of this diet – a phenomenon known as veganism, as well as the people who do practice this diet as part of their day-to-day lives, before the marketers hijacked it for their own interests.
In modern day western society, “veganism” is a dirty word to many people who have heard of it. We often think of vegans as smelly tree-hugging hippies who don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs. We often think of them as self-righteous, judgmental people who hate farmers. We associate them with animal rights movements and believe that they are disruptive eco-terrorist extremists. While that is true of a minority of vegans, most of them are not like that in reality. Let’s explore this a bit deeper so that we can have an educated perspective of your average vegan who certainly don’t fall into the extremist category.
Firstly, veganism is not merely dietary – it is a philosophy. Not everyone knows this. In its most basic terms, veganism is the philosophy of living without using animal products. That also means no leather belts, shoes, fur coats or wool. For every decision in life, vegans will have to think about whether each option involves violating the will of any animal.
One might argue that the act of shearing are for the sheep’s benefit as it helps them to feel cool and comfortable during the hot summer months, or that bees make honey anyway. However, these points do not override the basic precept of veganism. On a side note, swallowing a sexual partner’s semen is excluded from this clause as long as it’s a consensual act. Similarly, breastfeeding is also a natural phenomenon and is therefore acceptable practice to vegans.
Veganism might be about giving equal rights to animals and other sentient beings, but this does not mean elevating them above humans or any other species. Most vegans believe in equality in the same way that most feminists believe in equal rights for women and men, not more rights for women than men. Of course, there will be exceptions, but this is the basic philosophy.
To illustrate this point, a well renowned vegan activist gave an example that if you were walking on a forest path with him and a bear attacked, he will physically defend you if need be. He will not use his veganism as a reason to watch you get hurt just because it’s the bear’s natural behaviour to be violent towards those who violate its perceived territorial sovereignty!
Interestingly, the concept of veganism is prevalent in western societies as a lifestyle choice, but yet it is rare in the developing world. The closest parallel to it would be the eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, both of which follow some form of vegetarian diet, depending on how strict one is with adhering to his or her religion.
The reason Buddhists refrain from eating meat is because their first precept is no killing sentient beings. This is also the same reason why they oppose the death penalty. A similar philosophical train of thought is also present in Hinduism, where some animals are also revered as gods. However, neither religion aligns perfectly with vegan philosophy, which is a western construct.
Interestingly, some Buddhist denominations will allow their monks to eat meat that has been offered to them by a devotee. This is not only out of respect to the devotee’s sincerity but also the philosophy of minimising waste, since the animal has already been killed.
I hope this article has shed some light on the philosophy of veganism. If you want to know more, you should talk to a vegan. However, please pick one who is calm and patient, and does not seem like the judgmental type. Otherwise, it could be a headache for you. Just to be clear, I am not a vegan and the purpose of this article is not to persuade you to become one.
I am, at the point of writing this article, a vegetarian. This means that I invite as much criticism from hard-line vegans as you omnivores. Vegetarians often get grief from vegans for not taking a hard-line stance against the dairy and egg industry. This is analogous to how some atheists might criticise agnostics for their non-committal belief about the existence of God/god/gods.
As a vegetarian, I do not condemn you omnivores for your choice to eat meat, neither do I perceive myself to be morally or ethically superior. To each his/her own! As long as you are aware of where your food comes from, and are comfortable and at peace with your eating choices, I’m happy for you.
Of course, as a fitness motivator, I want the best for you, and hope that you will adopt a healthy diet, with or without meat. If you think you want to attempt the raw vegan diet for a period of time, check out the resources below. If you want to learn about healthy eating in general, check out the Strategic Nutrition Guide, or get it as part of the Granite Fitness Solution.
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Mark is an all-rounded guy with dreams, aspirations, and a desire to be a better version of himself. Having conquered obesity, he set-up Granite Fitness to help regular people get in shape and stay healthy. Mark spends his days helping distressed Uni students through difficult situations. He holds three science degrees and a Diploma of Christian counselling. In his spare time, Mark does freelancing and runs a series of online operations with his business partner Atanas. Connect with Mark @ http://au.linkedin.com/in/marksptan