Basic Terminology

Often you hear a lot of confusing terms thrown around to describe a person’s eating habits.  For example, I describe myself as a “Raw Vegan”.  Let’s discuss some of the basic terminology used to describe one’s eating habits and I will give you my personal and of course very bias take on them.  It is interesting to note that whether you are a vegetarian or a vegan both of these forms of eating have a more religious/humanistic origin rather than the more health-based origin that you see today. 

Vegetarian-

The term vegetarian has really lost a lot of meaning over the years.  Strictly speaking it is a person who doesn’t consume animal products (what we call a vegan these days), however, it seems that most self described vegetarians today simply don’t eat meat but still consume dairy and eggs (technically making them ovo-lacto vegetarians).

Becoming a vegetarian is definitely a step in the right direction, however, the problem I see is that most vegetarians replace the meat they are giving up with large quantities of dairy and eggs which to be honest, is probably just as bad and possibly worse for you than eating meat.

Vegan-

A vegan is a person that excludes all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs from their diet.  Again for many, done for animal rights reasons, for others, for health reasons.

Becoming a vegan is even a bigger step in the right direction but I foresee still a few problems.  Technically, I can consider myself a vegan and my diet could consist of nothing but skittles and Carmel Machiatto’s from Starbucks (with soymilk of course).  No animal products but definitely not the picture of good health.  With advances in food technology coupled with the rise of veganism, a lot of highly synthetic designer foods have hit the marketplace.  You know what I mean, the “chicken” nuggets that look like chicken nuggets, smell like chicken nuggets, taste like chicken nuggets but are not really chicken nuggets.  Almost all these products are soy based and contain quite a bit of artificial stuff.  As an example here is the ingredient list of some popular chicken nuggets.

Ingredients: (Morning Star Farms Chik’n Nuggets)
TEXTURED VEGETABLE PROTEIN (SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, WHEAT GLUTEN, WATER FOR HYDRATION), WATER, ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR, CORN OIL, CORNSTARCH, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF WHEAT STARCH, SALT, METHYLCELLULOSE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, DEXTROSE, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS FROM NON-MEAT SOURCES, SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, DISODIUM INOSINATE, SOYBEAN OIL, HYDROLYZED SOY PROTEIN, ONION, PAPRIKA, DRIED YEAST, INULIN FROM CHICORY ROOT, CARAMEL COLOR, TAPIOCA DEXTRIN, XANTHAN GUM, SODIUM ALGINATE, SPICES, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, PAPRIKA EXTRACT FOR COLOR, ANNATTO EXTRACT FOR COLOR, BAKING SODA, GARLIC, TOMATO POWDER, CELERY EXTRACT, WHEAT FIBER, LACTIC ACID, SAFFLOWER OIL, BARLEY EXTRACT, CITRIC ACID, NIACINAMIDE, EGG WHITES, NONFAT DRY MILK, SUCCINIC ACID, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, IRON (FERROUS SULFATE), THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), VITAMIN B12.
********************************************************************************************************************
Now I don’t know about you, but nothing in that list sounds very healthy which is why I have gone the raw vegan route.

 

Raw Food Diet:

A raw food diet consists of foods which have not been heated above a certain temperature. The maximum temperature varies among the different forms of the diet, from 92ºF to 118ºF (33°C to 48°C). Raw food diets may include raw fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts, raw seeds, raw unpasteurized dairy products such as raw milk, raw meat, raw eggs, and raw honey.

I don’t know about you but raw meat, raw eggs and raw milk doesn’t sound like the brightest idea to me.  Maybe there was a time, before cows were packed into mills and antibiotic resistant bacteria didn’t coat the earth where you could get away with drinking raw milk or eating raw meat but I think those days are over.  Also, as far as I can tell, there does not seem to be any overwhelming health benefits from eating raw meat.   However, that being said, there is something very appealing about the idea of eating food the way we were meant to eat it.  So now finally comes the raw vegan.

Raw Vegan: 

Raw veganism excludes all animal products focuses on a diet of natural, unprocessed, uncooked foods. Essentially real food.  Food you find growing in nature.  No, it is not just nuts and berries.  There is an unbelievable array of fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables available to choose from for the raw vegan.  As you can see the majority of the recipes on this site are raw vegan and they are quite varied and delicious. You can sprout or soak rather than boil a lot of harder grains, legumes, beans which make them edible and still retain all of their nutrients. Just like with the raw food diet it is generally acceptable to heat food to a maximum temperature of 118 degrees (usually done in a food dehydrator).
Why 118 degrees you may ask?
Here are some commonly held beliefs of raw food activists:
  • Raw foods contain digestive enzymes in raw foods aid digestion. Heating food to high temperatures degrades or destroys these enzymes in food.
  • Raw foods include bacteria and other micro-organisms that affect the immune system and digestion by populating the digestive tract with beneficial gut flora.
  • Raw foods have higher nutrient values than foods which have been cooked.
  • Processed food and convenience food often contain excitotoxins (such as flavor enhancers) which can cause excitotoxicity. Foods with added chemicals, preservatives, additives, coloring agents/dyes of any kind are of clearly no benefit and likely harmful to your health.
  • Cooked foods contain harmful toxins, which can cause chronic disease and other problems.  Heating oils and fats can produce trace amounts of trans fats. Cooking foods produces advanced glycation end products which also appear to be harmful.
  • Raw foods such as fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and are very alkaline in nature which may help neutralize free radicals.

So whether or not you believe all, some or none of the above claims, it seems to be common sense that eating a diet rich in foods the way mother nature intended us to eat them if definitely not a bad thing.

It has truly been my experience both personally and through many others, that adopting a lifestyle that incorporates a more raw vegan way of eating will improve your health and make you feel more alive.  However, please don’t take my word for it.  Try it out yourself.

Dr Sal

 

3 Responses to “Basic Terminology”

  1. Traci Garcia says:

    Dr Sal, I am at beginning stages of eating right; it seems hard in this society/culture we live in. We have switched to grass fed beef, but I have a hard time finding good produce. Where do you find your best things? I can’t grow a garden where I live at Wentworth due to caliche ground and critters. Renee’s Organic Kitchen is the only restaurant I know of that may be good food?? Where do you suggest to shop? Thanks!

  2. Karen Crockan says:

    I just met with Dr. Sal today. I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, generalized osteo arthritis, chronic pain, severe fatigue, asthma, alergies, gerd, ibs. I have been off of red meat for 4 years, eat some white chicken and fish, lots of veg and fruit, usually raw because I don’t have the energy to cook. I do eat almond milk, instead of reg. milk, as of 3 years. I have done my best for many years to eat non processed food. I do eat plain, 0 fat yogurt and some cheese. I can see where I need to improve, I think I can eat even less processed food. I need to learn how to make food that is easy to prepare, easy to eat and chew, (TMJ, sjogren’s, and tooth problems). I am hoping I can learn how to do this. I need to have food that is easy enough to prepare that I can get healthy food even when I am really doing poorly. I think this diet could improve my blood sugar, keep me from having problems from low blood sugar crashes. If I could have less pain, more energy, more ability to live my very interesting fulfilling life, I would be thrilled and it would be worth it. I am just starting, just learning so any help would be appreciated. Good luck to all!

  3. Barbara Minnella says:

    What do you think of the raw vegetables that have been treated with Monsanto genetically altered compounds as seedlings? How can one be sure Organic is Organic ? I have a digestive problem with raw vegetables and fruit, what do you suggest in this case ?

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