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(Assessing Claims and Credibility in Raw and Alternative Diets--continued, Part D)

Examining the personal diets of raw vegan
gurus: a potential tool for assessing credibility


Looking closely at an individual's self-reported diet may be a powerful technique, at least in some cases, to assess the credibility of a raw vegan "expert" or "diet guru." However, in attempting to use such information for assessment purposes, one faces the central problem of the raw "experts," i.e., the reality that what they claim to eat is frequently not the same as what they actually eat. In other words, self-reports of diet (especially from extremists) may be unreliable, particularly as such reports may conveniently omit details of "exceptions" or binges.

Compare calorie requirements vs. intake. However, even rough estimates of the calorie levels of self-reported diets may give some insight into the person's credibility. The site article, The Calorie Paradox of Raw Veganism, provides comprehensive information that can potentially help you evaluate the diet of certain "experts." The general evaluation procedure is as follows.

First, using the age, weight, gender, and claimed level of physical activity, make a rough estimate of the daily calorie requirements for the individual in question. Standard sources that one can use to derive estimates of calorie expenditure include NRC [1989, pp. 24-38], and the U.K. Department of Health [1991, pp. 15-38, especially tables 2.5-2.8]. In general, however, most individuals will require 2,000 calories/day as a minimum (anorexics and extremely emaciated individuals excepted, perhaps; even in such unusual cases, however, it would be rare to find anyone consuming less than 1,600-1,800 calories per day on a long-term basis.)

Second, ask the person about their typical daily diet--get as detailed a description as possible, one that includes amounts consumed. (Amounts are important; without such information you cannot make a reliable estimate.) Then use the information in the "Calorie Paradox" article to make a rough estimate of their daily calorie intake.

Next, compare estimated calorie requirements with the estimate for calorie intake. If there is a large discrepancy, i.e., calorie intake is far below calorie requirements, then there are three possible explanations:

The simple procedure above will disqualify (or raise serious doubts about) a number of raw, especially fruitarian, diet gurus. No doubt such advocates will make rationalizations and excuses in their defense. However, the simple explanation that the diet gurus are not being honest about their own diet is far more plausible than unsupported rationalizations. Obviously, someone who claims to thrive on a (long-term) diet whose calorie content is at or below starvation level has no credibility.

If the "expert" reports adequate caloric intake. A few raw vegan proponents report food intake patterns that imply adequate calories, and on the face of it this is a positive sign, at least initially. But there are also a few remaining hurdles when assessing the claims. In probing further, other information from the "Calorie Paradox" article applies, and one should evaluate additional related dietary factors:

The above are relevant issues to consider in evaluating the credibility of those peddling "ideal" raw/veg*n diets.


(Raw Vegan Extremist Behavior Patterns: The Darker Side of Rawism)

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