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General Reactions to Beyond Veg

Comments reprinted are a roughly representative sampling
of mail received, in chronological order. Due to time limitations,
we cannot print all mail received. Letters may be edited for
brevity, clarity, and basic grammar/spelling.


      I want to thank you [Tom Billings] for presenting a different side to this raw-food lifestyle. I checked out your site and the articles blew me away. At first I was pissed off! ("These guys are just bitter because they couldn't make it work"--I'm sure you've heard that one.)
      When I read the third article in [Ward Nicholson's Paleolithic Diet vs. Vegetarianism] series it hit me right between the eyes. It described me perfectly... the whole idealism of the diet, making it a religion. I have only been on this diet for about eight months. I went from about 40% cooked, then 20%, and then just over the past couple of weeks to 100% raw because that had been my original intent since reading Survival into the 21st Century. The 100% raw was pretty much fruit, and my boyfriend and I completely lost all of our motivation and energy.
      That was when I found you on the Living Foods board and thought I should check out your site. I know anyone in the whole raw-food movement would say that I didn't really give it a fair shot, but I don't care. I was obsessed! That scares me. Besides, all the books that I had read were saying "perfect health": naively, that is what I believed (until reading your site).
      Anyway, I won't go on. I'm sure you're very busy working on the site and all. I just wanted to thank you. My boyfriend is happy he can add a little cheese back into his life without feeling like a criminal!
--Wendy Tisdale (7/9/98)

      I would be extremely interested to see more information on the topic of diet. I have found that the "gurus" have very little scientific basis for their claims, and are recalcitrant to mention drawbacks and non-supportive data they may have. Beyond Veg is one of the first sites I have seen to use a more even-handed approach. I think that results are more important than some dogma, and that natural is better than processed; but who knows what future research will reward us with in knowledge and experience.
--Jason Steward (7/14/98)

      I'd like to thank you [Tom Billings] for [helping] put together such a thoughtful web site. I've followed many of your articles on the web over the last year, and you seem committed to presenting true, unbiased, and accurate information, as much as that is possible. As a vegan and curious raw-fooder, I recently joined--then un-joined--one of the raw email listgroups. I've rarely experienced such lunacy and self-absorption as in many of the posters. And now it's relieving to get input from someone like you who verifies that some of these dogmatic eaters are not approaching their bodies from a healthy mindset. Your articles verify that a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body, and that blind patriotism is never healthy. I appreciate your work. Thank you.
--Sarah Diers (7/31/98)

[Ed.'s note: The following email is from an individual who has 24 years of experience on raw/living foods, and raised her child as a raw-fooder.]

      Thank you, thank you, thank you [Tom Billings]... both for turning me on to this website and encouraging me to check it out via your last email. The timing couldn't be more perfect. Finally a voice of reason.
      Recently I have come under attack within raw-food circles for being too negative--soon they're going to lump me in with you.... I get loud and clear that all I have to do is stray out of the group-mind to come under attack. Ignore my 24 years of experience. Ignore the turmoil of making decisions about raising a kid on raw foods. It's like I'm invisible. I used to feel a certain amount of raw-food guilt when I didn't do 100%. Now I feel quite smug about my 80-100%, like I had a brain in my head. Of course I am privy to some very graphic information that most raw-fooders aren't because I do colonics. I see all kinds of great organic food come out of people undigested all the time--absolutely all the time!
      My problems over the years are not having a forum for my questioning about this lifestyle, and being lonely. This new website could possibly put an end to that. I would like more help with food prep and to share a meal more often without my friends feeling uncomfortable around me. Of course, one could argue how close a friend they are if they react like that.... Thanks for the ear.
--Jasmin Clower (8/16/98)

      QUESTION: You state in Selected Myths of Raw Foods that " 'cooking makes organic minerals inorganic' is, in general, false, and simply nonsense." I'm hoping that you could give me additional information on this, or steer me in the direction of some references. Since this is one of the central underpinnings of the raw-is-better concept, I'd really like to know more about the scientific reality here. (I confess to virtually zero knowledge in the area of organic/inorganic chemistry.) [Ed.'s note: More information on this point is planned for inclusion in the above article the next time it is updated. Thanks for the suggestion.]
      COMMENTS: I sincerely appreciate your efforts to present the vegetarian/vegan/raw-food community with sane, realistic information. I've read Selected Myths and also Troubleshooting Problems in Raw and Living-Foods Diets (I think, found through the "Living/Raw-Foods Community" web page). [The latter article will be available on Beyond Veg after opening. --Ed.]
      Having grown up in a family replete with both dogma and dysfunctional eating, I offer a resounding "Hear, hear!" to your (paraphrased) statement that diet makes a bad religion. I am currently investigating and considering the transition to veganism/raw-foodism for various reasons, and I have been so glad to find some "grounded" data on the subject. I look forward to the Beyond Vegetarianism site opening. Best wishes,
--Pamela Basham (9/3/98)

      I really appreciate your site! My degree is in biology, so I never really went off the deep end with this stuff, but it is good to see the actual references for stuff that I had questioned, but hadn't bothered to follow through and resolve. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Good luck.
--Briseis Gatto (9/11/98)

      I am fascinated with fundamentalisms of all types, and I thought your comments about the underlying psychology of "idealistic diets" on the website [see Part 3 of the Paleolithic Diet vs. Vegetarianism series --Ed.] were very perceptive, well-thought-out, and very well written. Your ideas have helped me clarify the process of conversion and some of the underlying connections between different fundamentalist/idealistic movements. I hope that one of these days I will be able to capture my evolving perspective on the subject in writing. If you could recommend any reading I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again for the inspiration.
--Richard Wright (9/18/98)

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