Saturday, 2 August 2008

In the raw

Again, sorry, no nudie stuff in this post. One person gets to see that, and he doesn't do blogs. :)

Ahem, that aside...

This post is about what I see as a major difference between health vegans and those who are in it for animal rights reasons. (Or maybe between 'raw veganism' and any other form of veganism I can think of offhand) There has been a lot of fuss recently, sparked by a person who posted about the damage her raw vegan diet (which wasn't even vegan, but she doesn't mention *that* to the newspapers!) did to her children. (Incidentally, I made another post about this case but consigned it to my draft folder as it was based rather on personal anger and meanness - while I still agree with the overall sentiment, I felt the actual message was rather undermined by the medium of snarkiness. Suffice it to say, the resulting attention has led one of the vegan world's best-known raw-foodists to speak out about the amount of health problems in vegan children she knows.

Now, part of me thinks it was brave of this woman - a first-time parent of a child in the last stages of breastfeeding, so somebody for whom it is an issue like RIGHT NOW - to raise the issue. Because, while veganism (raw or not) is not automatically a bad diet, it is not automatically healthy either. Too many people assume that it is (and incidentally assume that a vegan with a cold or period pain or a broken bone must have been sneaking off to McDonalds, blah). And people who disagree with this will at some point be lambasted for it.

The factor that distinguishes raw, health-minded vegans from certain others among us (maybe the majority?) lies in the solution this person suggests. Now, she isn't doing so blithely or without some kind of conflict, but she is nonetheless raising the possibility of introducing raw goat milk and similar items into her daughter's diet. It is explicitly *veganism* she feels the need to compromise on, rather than *rawness*. Now, reading this as an animal-rights-minded (and so far non-breeding) vegan, this struck me as being the opposite of what I would expect. Maybe this is because my experience is of families where the children are raised vegan but not raw. (And, generally, had roughly the same or a lower level of ill-health than their classmates) Maybe because I can see a whole lot more scope for a varied diet including cooked food than I can for one involving raw animal products. (unless one goes for raw meat, but the salmonella content might be a little *too* varied there!) Or maybe because my beanburger-and-chips fed self had a perfectly normal puberty and came out of it at above average height with teeth that can crack nuts! At any rate, when avoiding animal products for reasons pertaining to the animals themselves is the key motivation for being vegan, then veganism itself is the last principle to be sacrificed, rather than the first.

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