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

Raw vegan extremist behavior
patterns: the darker side of rawism

Introduction: rose-colored glasses vs. the unpleasant realities.

Many of us are attracted to and/or get involved in raw vegan diets because of the positive idealism and optimistic (albeit simplistic) outlook that is a part of the "party line." It can be disconcerting, therefore, especially for those who are new to the diet and filled with enthusiasm, to learn that raw vegan diets are not cure-alls, are not perfect, and so on. Even more disconcerting, though, is when one learns that the behavior of certain raw diet gurus is a betrayal of the positive moral qualities that (in theory) underlie vegan diets in general; and further, that the behavior of some diet gurus is a massive betrayal of the trust people place in them, as well.

Accordingly, readers are warned that this section will not appeal to those who prefer the myth of raw diets to the reality. There is a huge gulf between the "party line" of raw vegan diets and the reality. The behavior of extremists discussed here, e.g., hostility, threats, attacks, plagiarism, "dietary racism," etc., is not a positive or pleasant topic. (Names are omitted here for the obvious reasons.)

Thus if a frank discussion of the irrational, negative behavior of certain raw gurus offends you, then you might prefer to skip this section. However, the purpose behind it is that the material which follows may help you avoid needless grief, wasted time, or compromised health from learning the hard way. In that spirit, let's take a look at the darker side of involvement with some of the gurus of rawism.

Some raw/fruitarian "experts" are unable to function in a civil manner.

Some of the writers on this site have been attacked on multiple occasions in the past by hateful extremists (most of whom are vegans and/or fruitarians). A number of such raw/fruitarian diet proponents have earned deservedly bad reputations for their intense, chronic hostility.

Extremists may become socially disabled by their "ideal" dietary dogma. What does chronic hostility suggest about the credibility of such individuals? If they frequently react to challenges to their dogma with hateful personal attacks, extreme anger, threats, plagiarism, copyright infringement, character assassination by quoting others out of context, and/or dishonesty (all of which are discussed herein)--then the obvious implication is that the "expert" may be emotionally impaired or disabled by his/her "lunch philosophy." Certainly it is reasonable to check for the presence or absence of emotional balance in such dietary advocates. Can a dietary proponent who is emotionally disabled by dogma have much credibility? Would it be a good idea for you to adopt the dietary dogma of such an "expert"?

The fact that a number of raw/fruitarian extremists have been thrown off (multiple) email lists on Internet for hostile behavior provides evidence for the hypothesis that at least some of these dietary prophets are unable to function socially, i.e., are at least partially socially impaired by their "ideal" dietary dogma. Perhaps certain extremists are proud of being thrown off email lists; they may see it as proof that they are "radical." However, in reality it simply reflects how hateful and foolish their behavior is.

It's worth pointing out that at least two of the extant raw email lists exist because their owners, moderators, or founders were thrown off other email lists (for cause), and had no other choice but to form their own separate lists. Of course, such individuals often cry "censorship" when they are booted from email lists for repeated disregard of the charters that govern list conduct. Such claims are bogus, of course, as censorship is a government function, and the email lists are privately owned--their members residing on the email list at the grace and generosity of the list-owner and moderator.

Threats, bullying, and harassment: another extremist tactic.

The use of threats and bullying provide dietary extremists with yet another weapon to harass people and to try to silence those who dare to challenge their idealistic, "compassionate" dietary dogma. Just a few examples are provided, as follows.

Does your diet guru promote "dietary racism"?

Let us begin by defining the term, as follows.

Dietary racism: A form of bigotry that is the analogue, in dietary terms, of racism; i.e., the hatred of other groups of people because their diet is different from your diet or a hypothetical "ideal" diet, and/or feeling superior to other people because your diet is different.

Some raw and veg*n diet gurus actively discuss compassion and/or how the diet they promote will make the world a better place. However, the reality is that their message (e.g., in the case of certain extremists) may be seriously undermined by the presence of blatant or subtle dietary racism. A couple of the more blatant examples are:

Somewhat more subtle examples of dietary racism are:

Many, and probably most, of the individuals who follow raw/veg*n diets are adamantly opposed to racism, and would not tolerate hateful racist attacks on ethnic groups. Why, then, are so many silent when raw/veg*n extremists openly engage in dietary racism (which can be very vicious, at times)?

Assessing diet gurus who display dietary racist behavior. If you find significant and long-term evidence of such "dietary racism," you should consider the impact that has on credibility, and whether you really want to have such a person as your "diet guru." Does the hatred and bigotry implicit in dietary racism reflect your personal views and values? If you would not follow a regular racist, why would you follow a dietary racist? Do you seriously think dietary racism, as a tactic, will help make the world a better place?

Finally, the use of the term "dietary racism" here is meant to clearly illuminate the bigotry and hatred of others that, sadly, is close to the heart of the message promoted by certain raw/veg*n extremists. (The intent is not to diminish or slight the tragedy that regular racism represents.)

Raw/fruitarian plagiarism: a sign of moral bankruptcy among extremists and "tolerant" followers.

It is widely known in the raw community on Internet, and is becoming more widely known outside Internet (and in general veg*n circles) that one of the most heavily promoted recent books on raw-food diets/fruitarianism is in fact a massive plagiarism of the book Raw Eating, which was written by Arshavir Ter Hovannessian and published in English in Iran in the 1960s. The original book Raw Eating is long out-of-print, although it may occasionally be found in used bookstores in some countries.

Plagiarism is a form of theft, as it comprises the use (and, in this case, the sale) of the intellectual property of another, all done without proper attribution. Further, presenting oneself as the author of plagiarized material is misrepresentation (i.e., lying).

If the plagiarism, which so far has been limited to one small extremist raw/fruitarian group, were widely condemned by most other raw/fruitarian "experts," then there would be little reason to discuss the matter. However, that is not what has happened as news of the plagiarism has become widely known. Instead, many raw/fruitarian "experts" have rationalized the plagiarism, and have either sided with the plagiarists or expressed tolerance for (i.e., condoned) the plagiarism. (Note: Isn't it surprising that some raw and fruitarian "experts" who are trying to sell books and tapes--ones they are authors of--would closely ally themselves with plagiarists?)

Direct effect: can you really put much stock in anything a plagiarist, or one who defends a plagiarist, claims? The alleged raw/fruitarian "experts" who present themselves as "authors" of plagiarized material, and other alleged raw "experts" who are closely allied with, or actively support the plagiarists, are implicitly establishing a very important principle with moral implications: that it is acceptable and legitimate to engage in plagiarism and misrepresentation, if the end result of such efforts is that you persuade others to adopt a fruitarian/raw vegan diet. More explicitly, the principle and its ramifications are:

"So nobody's perfect": What's the difference between forgivable offenses/human error vs. real extremism/lack of credibility?

It should be acknowledged here that everyone makes mistakes on occasion. After all, no one is perfect. It's only human that sometimes people may get caught up in the emotion of the moment, and say or do things they later regret. At other times, or in other ways, unfortunate errors in judgment may occasionally be made.

In fact, for the record, we ought to 'fess up here that one of the Beyond Veg site editors was once suspended from an email listgroup briefly for an egregious practical joke that got out of hand, causing others on the list considerable anguish. As was the case in that particular situation, however, one needs to examine whether regret is expressed, a genuine apology made and accepted and something learned from the situation, and the behavior rectified.

It is not the intention here to promote intolerance for human errors in judgment, or emotions getting out of hand on occasion. Nor should people get too bent out of shape about the occasional flame (so long as they remain occasional), become oversensitive about a few sporadic heated exchanges, or be unable to take things in stride and so forth on email listgroups or elsewhere. If we couldn't, then it would be a world of impossibly inhuman expectations few could live up to.

How does one distinguish between actual bad faith or lack of credibility, and simple human mistakes? There is an important key by which one can assess if a particular behavior is coming out of extremism and lack of credibility or not. Very simply, it is when the person regrets what they have done and has the character to offer a genuine apology when having "crossed the line," and gives some indication of having learned something, in that their behavior thereafter changes.

With regard to extremist behavior, what distinguishes bad-faith tactics is that this almost never happens. At least to date, it's not something that's been in evidence with the fanatical types of behavior under discussion here. (Also, extremists rarely ever will admit they were wrong about anything when information and evidence are at issue either. Here, admissions of error in owning up to having missed the mark are very similar in their psychology to admissions of apology for errant behavior.)

Rationalizations rather than apologies or admission of error indicate extremism. Why the unwillingness to apologize? Here, what is probably even more interesting is that you will find when extremists are asked about the kind of behaviors that have been discussed here, they generally simply do not see them as a problem--or at least not much of one--even in the face of feedback from numerous others that they are. An additional key here, then, is: not only do such inflexible absolutists not apologize, they don't see any problem with such behavior in the first place. That is, the behavior is simply rationalized: i.e., it's "radical," "passionate," "raw courage"; plagiarism may be "proactive marketing," etc.; but rarely ever is it a mistake that is admitted, regretted, or apologized for. And, sadly, apology itself may even be labeled a sign of weakness, rather than the sign of character strength and credibility it actually is.


(In Bad Faith: Dishonest Information and Debate Tactics in Raw Foods--Personal Experiences)

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