Copyright 2012: text on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Credit Beyond Vegetarianism, http://www.beyondveg.com, when quoting this page.
A collection of offsite links documenting questionable and/or bad behavior by raw vegan diet gurus: fraud, incompetent and dangerous health care and advice, using psychedelic drugs, plagiarism, selling inappropriate and/or mislabeled products at high prices while reaping huge profits, violence/alleged threats of violence, and other behaviors. Many raw vegan gurus are less raw and less vegan than they claim to be. Is this behavior consistent with the principles of compassionate, ethical veganism? Or - in figurative terms - do some raw gurus behave like predators with the raw foods community their prey?
Published on the web 29 April 2012.
· This article covers many topics and multiple gurus. The offsite links provided here take time to explore. It is suggested that you skim the article first, to identify topics and links of greatest interest, then go back and explore those links. Enjoy!
Allegations/questions of fraud and convictions for fraud by raw vegan gurus
The Raw Vegan Village and spa of Storm (Gerald) and Jinjee (Johanna) Talifero:
mismanaged real estate development or a serial scam?
Raw fooders lose money invested in spa/village project promoted by the Taliferos. [Newspaper article, offsite link; archive mirror link] The Taliferos asked people to invest money in a spa and real estate development for raw vegans in Ventura County, California (North of Los Angeles) when they did not have building permits (and getting permission to build in California is a long, expensive process), their "plans" - and story - changed often, and important details like making the project legal were not handled. The article quotes Storm (Gerald) Talifero as saying that he "fears he could end up in jail".
Sarah Best of SarahBestHealth.com extensively investigated the Raw Vegan Village and has corresponded at length with many people who have lost money, as well as the Taliferos. Her in-depth report on this matter is now available (link) on her website, SarahBestHealth.com. This earlier, related post on her blog mentions the raw village and what it means in the context of the larger raw community.
Additional documents from two lawsuits filed against the Taliferos in California Superior Court, Ventura County: [Offsite links, pdf files.]
· The Taliferos are sued (Aug. 2011) for fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and other charges by an individual who invested US $20,000 in the spa and real estate development. The suit also asks for attorney fees and other relief. The plaintiff has requested and received a waiver of court fees and costs. The case was filed 30 August 2011, and as-of late January 2012, the Taliferos have not filed a reply (per the Ventura Court records search engine). Because of this, the case may end in a default judgment against the Taliferos, like the case below. (The linked-to document has been redacted to remove the name of the plaintiff, to avoid discouraging individuals who feel they have been cheated in this matter from seeking legal redress of their grievances.)
· The Taliferos are sued (Aug. 2011) for failing to pay property taxes in the amount of US $31,501.66. The allegation is that the Taliferos failed to pay property taxes per an agreement with the plaintiff, who also asks for attorney’s fees. The Taliferos were seeking money from investors for a real estate development but they didn’t even pay property taxes on the land? Court records indicate that the Taliferos ignored the lawsuit, i.e., they did not file a reply. Consequently, the suit ended in a default judgment against the Taliferos for US $33.779.23 (the sum of $31,501.66 in damages plus attorney fees plus related expenses). The preceding link includes writ of execution forms for sheriffs in Ventura and 2 nearby counties; this is the first step in the process that allows a sheriff to seize property owned by the Taliferos and collect the money judgment. Supplementary documents: proof of service.
1. The court filings linked-to above are public records (click on link, then Services and Programs, then Records).
2. If you have lost money in the raw spa/village, we encourage you to discuss your legal options with an attorney of your choice or a local legal aid organization if your financial situation prevents you from hiring an attorney. If appropriate, report the matter to: the Real Estate Fraud Unit of the Ventura County District Attorney office, or the office of the Attorney General of the State of California.
3. A currency converter is provided at the bottom of this page to convert US $ numbers to other currencies.
Bernarr Zovluck, long-time natural hygiene/raw vegan guru found guilty of mail fraud: [Offsite links.]
· Charged in U.S. (Federal) District Court ,1968, and found guilty.
· The conviction was upheld in the U.S. (Federal) Court of Appeals in 1971. A quote from the ruling: “…testified that appellant [Zovluck] would listen to the Bible with a stethoscope, saying that he heard the words coming from God and that God told him to treat people if they would pray with him.”
· The 1971 ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court; the court refused to hear the case (certiorari denied, case #71-5977).
· Similar allegations outside court were made against Zovluck in 2002.
Additional information on some of the Zovluck cases is available via the LexisNexis system (subscription required for access). Bernarr Zovluck is still active today (2012).
Allegations of fraudulent raw “retreats” (Aris Latham). [Offsite link.] Allegations that Latham charged people to stay at a resort that was “in shambles” and for retreats that were not held.
Cousin's Incredible Vitality: failed business or a scam? This was a food delivery service catering to raw vegans in Chicago, Illinois. The comments on the linked-to page suggest that it closed in 2011 under suspicious circumstances, the owner left for Turkey, and subscribers to the food service cannot get refunds on the unfilled portions of their subscriptions. Read the linked-to page and form your own opinion.
Raw magazine - Purely Delicious - has suspended publication or is defunct, but subscriptions are still listed for sale online. Purely Delicious was a quarterly raw magazine whose last published issue was Spring or Summer, 2010. The former homepage of the magazine, http://www.purelydelicious.net, now redirects to the subscription sales link above. To see what the homepage looked like in the past, this link to archive.org shows a capture of the home page made on 7 May 2009. There is a blog associated with the magazine, and the latest entry there is dated early 2008. A relevant quote from the Facebook page for the magazine: “Why does your subscription page say that the summer 2010 magazine is sold out, that you won't be producing fall 2010, and the next issue is Jan 2011? Are you still publishing?”
Two well-known vegan diet gurus, Viktoras Kulvinskas and Dick Gregory,
were involved in lawsuits against each other
Public access information available from the U.S. Federal Court PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) document database reveals that in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Viktoras Kulvinskas and Dick Gregory were involved in at least 2 lawsuits against each other. The limited information available in PACER has been copied and pasted into Google Documents files to make it available to those who don’t have a PACER account. Additional information on some of these cases is available via the LexisNexis system (subscription required for access).The documents/information available are as follows:
· Dick Gregory, Plaintiff v. Correction Connection, Inc. [CCI], Victor (Viktoras) Kulvinskas and others, Defendants, with counterclaims (note that Kulvinskas is not listed as a counter-claim plaintiff); Civil Action No. 88-7990, U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This is a complex case over control of a company founded to market Dick Gregory's diet products. Gregory was found to have engaged in "bootlegging" by selling diet products in violation of his agreement with CCI. From the court’s decision, "CONCLUSIONS OF LAW: ... (4) Plaintiff Dick Gregory is liable to CCI for the sum of [US] $583,132.28 for the violation of the November 29, 1988 injunction. (5) Plaintiff Dick Gregory shall be assessed [US] $583,132.28 as a sanction for his civil contempt." Kulvinskas is barely mentioned in the LexisNexis documents, so his role in the case is unknown.
· Victor (Viktoras) Kulvinskas, plaintiff vs. Dick Gregory, defendant: registration of “foreign” judgment against Gregory in the amount of US $225,000. Case #1:91-mc-00058-UNA (1991-1992). See docket entries dated 4/19/1991 in linked-to document.
· Dick Gregory, plaintiff vs. Victor (Viktoras) Kulvinskas, defendant, and additional defendants; the nature of the suit is listed as “Other fraud”. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Docket #: 91-1345 (1991; original case filed in 1988). This appears to be an appeal of the first case listed above. Viktoras did not participate in the appeal and the case was dismissed for jurisdiction reasons (see docket entries for 6/27/1991 and 7/17/1991 in linked-to document).
Kulvinskas and Gregory are both still active in the diet field today (2012). Interested readers are encouraged to obtain the relevant court filings for these cases (court documents are usually public records). If you acquire the documents and post them online, please send us the URLs so we can add links to them in this article. (If you don’t have a website to post on, you can upload pdf copies of the materials to Google Documents and publish to the web – use the share feature.)
We invite Dick Gregory and Viktoras Kulvinskas – if they are interested- to comment on these cases. The financial amounts mentioned in the above court decisions from the early 1990’s, i.e., US $583K, $225K, suggest that being a raw/diet guru was potentially very profitable, even 20+ years ago when raw diets were less well known than they are today. The first court decision cited above (per LexisNexis documents) also includes some interesting financial computations: the estimated base production cost was US $2.44 (not including freight, estimated at $0.28 per unit) for a can of diet product that was sold at retail for US $15. (There is more discussion of the potential profitability of being a raw guru, in a later section below.)
Update added 25 March 2012.
Viktoras has kindly provided a clarification email (many thanks to Viktoras!) and we present it in full text:
Thank you for a refreshing a revisit in memory lane :-) I saw your web page/article "Investigating Raw Guru's". Dick Gregory and I used the court system to enable us to resolve financial issues that were trapped within the corporate world. After 2 years...both of us left with laughter and great satisfaction... Leaving the corporate jungle with our green booty!!
Throughout this drama...we continued to be best of friends...at the same time...I served as a health coach to Dick's family. We continue to be...even right now...best of friends and share the overall views on the Global insanity while celebrating the raw, vegan paradigm shift within the mass media. I am on the road a great deal...as well as hold retreats at my home base in Costa Rica... http://www.viktorasretreats.com
Love in Service
End update added 25 March 2012.
Putting yourself in the care of raw vegan gurus can be very dangerous
Diabetic patient dies while under the care of Loren Lockman and Timothy Trader (2007). [Offsite link.] The care provided by raw gurus who function as the equivalent of “diet doctors” (i.e., by advising clients with serious illness to treat it only via diet and/or fasting), can be a very high-risk situation for the patient. From the linked-to page: "The Maryland Board of Physicians issued public cease and desist orders and fined two individuals for practicing medicine without a license and representing to the public that they were authorized to practice medicine." The linked-to page above has links to pdf copies of the Board rulings. They were slow to download so mirror copies have been placed on Google Documents. The mirror links are:
· Loren Lockman fined US $320,000, [Offsite link, pdf file.]
Reports of 2 additional patients who died (2010-2011) shortly after they attended the center in Panama operated by Loren Lockman: see the comments by ilan on March 8, 2011 at 5:06am, and by Victoria on March 8, 2011 at 6:13am on this offsite link.
Additional lawsuits/legal actions these gurus were involved in can be found by searching on their names at Maryland Judiciary Case Search. Available information indicates that they both no longer reside in Maryland and there is reason to believe that neither paid the assessed fines. Additional information on Loren Lockman and his Tanglewood center can be found on this blog .
A person dies shortly after attending Doug Graham’s fasting retreat in Costa Rica. [Offsite link to a vegetarian website with high spam/ad content; recommend using a browser with ad-blocking software when accessing the site.] More information on this can be found in the comments section of this blog posting. An additional post includes a report of another death at a Doug Graham fasting event (from diabetes), and makes shocking allegations of lack of due diligence and a possible cover-up. Read the post and form your own opinion.
The last link in the preceding paragraph includes information that the person who died after attending Graham’s fasting retreat was a woman named Jane Mutti. Remarkably, Graham continues to use her testimonial (for promotional purposes) on his website, and also links to the testimony from his Facebook page. [Copies of these web pages have been saved to preserve the record; 29 April 2012.] Opinion: even if Graham has permission from Jane’s partner to use the material (?), such usage is hypocritical, crass, and reflects a crude and callous disregard for the welfare of his fasting clients (and people in general).
Note: given the small number of people attending these fasting programs, the reports of the death of 4-5 participants at or shortly after attending such programs raises the obvious question of whether attending these events is a high risk endeavor.
A prominent low fat/high carb raw vegan diet guru and a Chiropractor whose license expired in 2000, Doug Graham, was disciplined by the Florida (State) Department of Health, the government agency that regulates Chiropractors, Doctors, and other health professionals (case #199403741; click on “Link to Discipline” in preceding link.). Discipline proceedings are public records by Florida State law, and Graham’s discipline papers were requested – twice – from the State. However, the State was unable to find the paperwork in their microfiche archives. (They provided a copy of his license file – also public records by law - but it does not provide any details on the discipline proceedings.) Recognizing that discipline proceedings raise serious questions about a health professional, we encourage Doug Graham to publish the full text of the discipline rulings on the internet.
Gabriel Cousens, M.D. has a surprising history
In 1993-1994, Gabriel Cousens was disciplined by the Medical Board of California for unprofessional conduct and incompetence regarding his over-prescribing of drugs. The New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct made similar charges against him. The following public record documents are available: [offsite links]
· Details of complaint and New York Board actions against Cousens (New York state document; also contains information on California Medical Board discipline). [Google Documents mirror copy.]
In 1998, Cousens (a vegan M.D.) injected a patient with an animal-based (cow or sheep) extract. The injection site became infected, ultimately leading to the death of the patient. The Santa Cruz County (Arizona) Medical Examiner ruled that the infection killed the patient. Newspaper articles on this are: [offsite links]
A woman dies from following the advice of natural hygiene gurus, or a hoax?
In 2002, a deeply disturbing sequence of posts were made on a fruitarian email group that were either the record of a woman who died from following the advice of natural hygiene raw vegan gurus, or a very elaborate hoax. This is presented here because - even if it might be a hoax - it clearly shows how “true-believers” can put raw foods dogma and beliefs ahead of the health and welfare of others.
The links below are to individual emails that are part of larger threads. Each email below has an index for the thread at the bottom of the page. It is suggested that – if the topic is of interest - you read as much of each thread as you can. The major threads in the email stream are as follows.
· The beginning – a reposting of a spam article on fasting, originally written by Bernarr Zovluck, natural hygiene guru and mail fraudster (fraud link provided above, not in this email thread). The article was posted by Zsuzsa Blakely aka (userid) southladogs.
· A forwarded inquiry from a woman named Carolyn, about fasting for her appendix disorder. Zsuzsa advises her to fast, another advises here to have surgery.
· Carolyn died because of lack of medical treatment, following the advice of raw gurus and people on the list:
· Another spam post of material written by Bernarr Zovluck, mail fraud guru. Opinion: given the timing and context, Zsuzsa’s act of posting this should win an award for lack of sensitivity, complete lack of vegan compassion, and utter cluelessness.
· Community to honor Carolyn:
· Questioning the veracity of events, i.e. was this a hoax?
If you are following raw foods for healing, remember that some raw gurus and raw fooders will advise you to avoid medical treatment, even if it puts you at risk of imminent death. They might do this even when an ailment can be easily cured by a minor, common, and extremely safe operation (presumably an appendectomy here). It seems that they are more concerned with you being hygienic/raw, than with you being alive! This is a sobering example of the risks that arise when a guru is infected with hubris and “knows for sure” that he/she is absolutely right. A related article on restricted diets for healing is available on Beyond Veg.
The raw guru business: how lucrative/profitable can it be?
Some raw gurus actively promote and sell superfoods, supplements, beauty products, and other items. The high prices charged for these “raw” products and the high profit margin on most supplements suggests that a savvy business person has the potential to earn a high income from being a raw guru. In contrast to this, many raw fooders live simple lives on moderate or low incomes, and work hard to earn the money to pay for expensive “raw” specialty items sold by many raw gurus. (Opinion: here’s an example of an expensive and dubious “raw” product; guru-provided services can also be outrageously expensive and extremely dubious, e.g., US $10,999+ for supervised fasting.)
The potential profitability of the raw guru business may be illustrated by a (2011) lawsuit between David Wolfe (plaintiff; offsite link, pdf) and his former business partners (Sunfood, defendants; offsite link, pdf), over a separation agreement that involved transfer of 50% interest in a raw-foods-oriented business that markets superfoods, plus a few other assets. In the court filings, Wolfe claims damages of US $10,000,000 for loss of 50% interest over 2 years (in the firm that sells superfoods, supplements), and a separate claim of at least US $1,000,000 for loss of a trademark. Emotional damages are also alleged, but no breakout of emotional vs. non-emotional damages is given in the linked-to filings.
An interesting irony: despite filing a lawsuit asking for US $11,000,000 in damages, David Wolfe claims that he is “not a millionaire”. In the linked-to post, Wolfe also states: “I certainly don't want to be a millionaire anytime in the future.”
This website takes no position on the issues in the lawsuit mentioned above. The focus here is on the questions raised by some of the monetary claims in the lawsuit. If a trademark for raw-food-related products is worth US $1,000,000, does that suggest that selling “raw” products can be very profitable indeed? The claim of US $10,000,000 for general damages (for 50% of a firm over 2 years, effectively equivalent to 100% control for 1 year) also suggests that the raw guru business can be very profitable. Further consideration of this raises the general question: when a raw guru promotes an expensive product, is it because the product really is good for you, or because it is profitable for the guru?
Additional supplementary documents are also available: exhibits set #1 pdf link, exhibits set #2 pdf link. (The first page of these 2 links is nearly blank, text starts on the 2nd page.) The linked-to documents here are public records by California (State) Superior Court rules. Note that a currency converter is provided at the bottom of this page to convert US $ numbers to other currencies.
Questionable behavior by raw vegan diet gurus and raw restaurants
Prosecutions of raw vegan gurus for lewd/lascivious behavior in public: [offsite links]
Hostility and/or conflict between compassionate(?) raw gurus and other people
Allegations that Durianrider made threats of physical violence against David Wolfe. [Offsite link, pdf file.] See count 4, page 3 in the linked-to document from a lawsuit filed by David Wolfe against Durianrider. Note: the linked-to document is public record by California (State) Superior Court rules.
This website takes no position on the issues in the above lawsuit. The following links are provided for informational/educational purposes only, so that readers will have background information on the conflict between these two raw gurus:
· Durianrider posted a sarcastic parody video that criticized Wolfe and another guru (Daniel Vitalis). [Offsite link.] Note that similar, sarcastic videos critical of Durianrider have been posted on Youtube: video #1, video #2 (warning: #2 contains a small amount of profane language), video #3, video #4.
· Wolfe alleges that a video posted by Durianrider is copyright infringement. [Offsite link.] This raises the question of whether the video qualifies as a fair use remix under copyright law. To educate readers on this issue, a short video primer on remix is available, and also the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. Additional information on fair use is available online, e.g., the Stanford University library provides extensive information.
Update, April 2012: David Wolfe’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to Harley.
Death threat made by an apparent follower of Durianrider (Harley Johnstone). The linkage to Durianrider is made in this post. We are not promoting guilt by association; instead the issue here is the toxic environment created by Durianrider with his campaign of hostility against nearly every other raw guru who disagrees with his failed approach.
Allegations of defamation and/or harassment by raw gurus and their followers, in an article by Veronica Grace Patenaude. [Offsite link.] David Wolfe and Durianrider are mentioned in the linked-to article.
Allegations of anti-gay beliefs/bigotry of raw vegan gurus: [Offsite links.]
· A post on the topic from the “Eating Consciously” blog, written by a gay vegan. The post mentions alleged claims/statements made by some prominent raw gurus, e.g., Doug Graham, David Wolfe, Ross Horne, and others. Read the post and form your own opinion.
· One of the early issues of Just Eat an Apple, a now-defunct magazine previously published by Nature’s First Law, had an article titled “Does bread make you gay?”. Also check out the article titles listed immediately after and before the bread article. One is a vicious and hateful personal attack on Tom Billings, and the other title reflects on the credibility of David Wolfe and his former associates.
· A quote from Notes from the Howard Stern Radio Show: “David Wolfe Says Bread Can Make You Gay!” 5/14/98. (Search for the word: bread in the linked-to page.) Howard Stern has a controversial radio program (in the U.S.) that is widely regarded as being in poor taste.
Cafe Gratitude, a chain of raw vegan restaurants in California: [Offsite links.]
· Café Gratitude’s comments on the resolution of the lawsuit (2012) [This link has changed in content over time and might change – possibly to content not relevant to this topic – in the future.]
Discussions re: whether Durianrider/Harley Johnstone’s website is a cult or promotes cult-like behavior. Multiple relevant links on this page.
Durianrider/Harley Johnstone’s website is heavily censored; in reaction to this, an uncensored website has been setup where people can freely discuss his extreme diet and questionable behavior: 30 Bananas a Day … Sucks. Durianrider’s reaction to this new site has been to setup a fake Twitter account that pretends to be for the 30BAD Sucks website, and he uses it to issue vicious, hateful, dishonest tweets. (Remark: Way to go, Durianrider – a great example of vegan compassion in action!) Because it is uncensored, Durianrider occasionally posts on 30BAD Sucks; check this post (plus comments) for irrational and unhinged rants by Durianrider. Finally, here is Durianrider advocating forced, mass sterilization of people.
Overchanging for products and services, including “coaching” of dubious quality? You decide
Reports that Durianrider (Harley Johnstone) charges (Australian) $3000 for 30 days of coaching, and his girlfriend “Freelee” charges $650 for mentoring (use your browser search function; search for ‘$3000’ and ‘$650’ on the linked-to page). Typical of self-proclaimed raw gurus, Durianrider and Freelee have little or no credentials/training in nutrition. Note that these reports come from only 1 source at this time; additional confirmation (or contradiction) is welcome. Update April 2012: an additional report quotes a figure of $1750 for 30 days; the amount charged is in question.
David Wolfe made an infomercial for a device that can be described (opinion) as an overpriced personal blender. As of 28 April 2012, the unit is selling for US $99.00 on Amazon (no link). Meanwhile, a similar personal blender made by Hamilton Beach, Inc. sells for US $15.92 at Wal-Mart, a major retailer. [Note: the latter link will not be maintained.]
Use of psychedelics and allegations of recreational drug use by raw vegan gurus
Raw vegan chef convicted of possession of controlled substance(s) (2011). The linked-to information is from LA Court Online and is public access by policy of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Psychedelic drug use by raw vegan gurus:
legitimate spiritual use (i.e., entheogens) or an excuse to get high?
Psilocybin. The use of psychedelics by raw vegan gurus is not new. In 1999, Habib (Sam) Bailey aka Rawimmortal, a raw fruitarian guru, advocated the use of psyilocybin. Habib had his own mailing list that went inactive in 2002. It appears that he might not be involved in the raw community at this time (2012).
Ayahuasca and its primary active ingredient dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Ayahuasca is a cooked brew/potion (in contrast to, e.g., psilocybin and peyote, which can be raw), and may contain toxic plants. A few prominent raw gurus actively promote ayahuasca. David Wolfe says that ayahuasca is a “psychedelic medicine that not only heals you physically but emotionally and spiritually as well”. Shazzie regularly attends ayahuasca ceremonies, and writes of colorful visions driven by the psychedelic: “One night, The Prince of Flowers, Xochipilli, came to me during an intense Ayahuasca ceremony... He showed me elevated states through raw chocolate and ancient, respectful living.”
The question this practice presents is whether such psychedelic usage is legitimate. We cannot read the minds of others so cannot assess their sincerity or motivation. Natural psychedelics used for consciousness expansion and/or other spiritual purposes within the context of a religious, shamanic, or spiritual tradition are known as entheogens. Some raw fooders reject the use of any/all entheogens, while others are willing to consider using them. Use of entheogens is in-context if it is done:
· sincerely for legitimate spiritual advancement (or as a singular spiritual experiment),
· under the direct guidance of spiritual adepts/shamans qualified and experienced in the usage of the particular enthogen(s),
· on special occasions, and
· is not done “just to get high”.
Usage that does not meet the criteria above is out-of-context and suspicious. If you are considering using ayahuasaca or any other enthogen, determine (in advance) if your raw guru’s usage and/or your planned usage conforms to the criteria above. Most raw gurus are not spiritual leaders or adepts in a tradition that uses enthogens, and it follows that – in general - they are not qualified to mentor the spiritual use of ayahuasca or other enthogens. It would also be a good idea to investigate the possible negative side effects and risks, before testing ayahuasca (or any other psychedelic drug/entheogen) on yourself.
Are some raw vegan gurus using recreational drugs? [Offsite link.] This article claims that many famous raw vegan leaders are using (recreational) drugs and eating cooked food; a number of other raw advocates make similar claims. (The linked-to article also has fallacious claims – e.g., cooked food is worse for you than smoking, expresses 100% raw elitist attitudes, and displays what appears be naiveté: the belief that low-fat raw vegan leaders are more likely to be 100% raw than other raw leaders, when all raw diets have high failure rates, and all raw gurus should be viewed with skepticism.)
Intellectual dishonesty and questionable claims
Plagiarism – an intellectually dishonest way to become a diet guru
The book Nature’s First Law:
· What Hovannessian thought about plagiarism of his work (This offsite link is to a vegetarian website with lots of spam/ads. Suggest you use a browser with ad-blocking software when visiting the site.)
Plagiarism of a creationist book, Philip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, by a raw guru (David Wolfe) trying to undermine the evolutionary evidence that humans are naturally omnivorous (in 5 parts):
1. Plagiarism of Darwin on Trial, part 1 [Offsite link]
2. Plagiarism of Darwin on Trial, part 2 [Offsite link]
3. Plagiarism of Darwin on Trial, part 3 [Offsite link]
4. Plagiarism of Darwin on Trial, part 4 [Offsite link]
5. Plagiarism of Darwin on Trial, part 5 [Offsite link]
Allegations of plagiarism in the book Raw Power. For details, click to retrieve the base page on the topic, then click on the link “message/rfc822” on that page for the attached email. For more in the thread, search for “raw power” in the subject line at the RAW-FOOD email list archive search page (select RAW-FOOD list).
Misinformation, misrepresentation, or exaggeration? You decide.
Allegations of misrepresentation by Durianrider. The allegations are well-documented via an email exchange with Durianrider.
Doug Graham claims there are "thousands and thousands of studies" that support the narrow, high fruit low fat diet he advocates. [Offsite link, Jan. 2010 video, Raw Life Health Show, starting at 8:35.] A focus on research by Graham is surprising given his previous statements (in 2003) regarding research studies, per the following links. (Note: these offsite links are to a vegetarian website with high spam/ad content; recommend using a browser with ad-blocking software when accessing the site.)
(Copies of the pages above have been saved to preserve the record.)
This apparent contradiction is a minor issue compared to the others on this page. However, it does impact Graham’s credibility. It is common to hear claims that the 80-10-10 diet promoted by Graham is "well researched" when in fact there are zero published research papers (as of Jan. 2012) on 80-10-10 in the peer-reviewed biomedical literature. There are published studies on conventional cooked vegan diets (not all of them positive) and a few on other raw vegan diets (again, not all of them positive). The extreme nature of 80-10-10 means that to apply published research studies to the diet, is to extrapolate beyond the range of the research data. Such extrapolations are unreliable and people following versions of 80-10-10 should be advised on this point. The diet is also promoted as ideal for nearly everyone when 80-10-10 has an extremely high failure rate.
Bogus “raw” products and other inappropriate products peddled by raw gurus at high prices (with high profits for the gurus)
Can we really trust the word “raw” on raw food labels? In this blog post, Sarah Best (former editor of Get Fresh! magazine, and now of SarahBestHealth.com) reports that some raw gurus sold allegedly “raw” chocolate for years that actually was/is not raw (per the definitions used by raw fooders). The scandal of not-really-raw chocolate could have been minimized or prevented by due diligence and quality control by the raw gurus. This suggests the obvious questions: are any of the other high-priced allegedly “raw” specialty products sold by these gurus, actually cooked/heated products? Can we trust them when they claim their expensive superfoods and/or supplements are raw?
To illustrate this issue, here is a major seller of “raw” chocolate products, Detox Your World (Rawcreation Ltd.), stating that they source cacao and yacon from Ecoandino (see the “Fairtrade” section; a copy of this URL has been saved to preserve the record). Note that Detox Your World was founded by raw guru Shazzie; she is currently – March 2012 – the CEO of the company. Shazzie is one of the foremost promoters of “raw“chocolate.
These Ecoandino fact sheets indicate that the products listed are heated above the temperature value [48º C/118º F] that defines raw foods:
· Yacon syrup – pasteurized at 80º C/176º F; see last page/Technical Flow Chart
· Cacao powder – conditioned at 80-85º C/176-185º F; see last page/Technical Flow Chart
· Cacao butter – conditioned at 80-85º C/176-185º F; see last page/Technical Flow Chart.
Sarah has a detailed investigative report on “raw” chocolate, which will be available in the near future at her website, SarahBestHealth.com. Check her website for availability and/or sign up for her free email newsletter and you will be notified when it is released.
Adya Clarity scandal (2011)
In late 2011, a scandal erupted in the raw community over a product known as Adya Clarity. Adya Clarity is an acid-based extract made from "black mica” (patent filing), presumably in the form of vermiculite (as specified in the linked-to patent filing). Vermiculite is conditionally safe as a soil additive, approved for, and commonly used in organic gardening although there may be a low associated asbestos risk. The patent filing describes the extract as a water-clarifying and purifying agent.
The product was sold at extremely high prices and aggressively promoted by a number of raw gurus, and the scandal erupted when health gurus changed their minds about promoting the product: [Offsite links]
· Video: health claims about the product from the owner of Adya, Inc. (At approximate times 5:25 and 11:15, raw guru Paul Nison hypes the product.)
· Matt Monarch, foremost promoter of Adya Clarity in the raw community, does a "remorse video”, and offers to refund money to those who purchased the product.
· Press release: Adya, Inc. responds to Natural News and Matt Monarch [Note: this URL goes to a root page so the content might change in the future.]
· Copy of lawsuit filing: Adya, Inc. (plaintiff) vs. Raw Food World (defendant) in Ventura County (California) Superior Court. This complaint sheds light on just how profitable Adya sales were to the raw gurus. Page 3, paragraph 9 mentions that Adya products totaling US $559,280 at wholesale were worth more that US $5.1 million dollars at retail. Simple algebra then reveals that the wholesale price was less than 11% of the retail cost – an astounding markup. It is no surprise that profit-seeking raw vegan diet gurus aggressively promoted the product!
Raw gurus who sold and/or promoted Adya Clarity include Matt Monarch and Paul Nison; David Wolfe promoted it under the name Black Mica Extract.
Opinion: the above suggests that both sides of this debate, Adya Inc. and the raw gurus, are engaging in hype and made very questionable claims about the product. They also sold it at prices so high that it could be considered profiteering. Regarding the two sides, the comment that comes to mind is: "A plague on both your houses!", from Romeo And Juliet, Act 3, scene 1, by William Shakespeare.
Natural News audio report: Exposed: Raw foods that aren't really RAW!
Many raw vegan gurus are less raw, less vegan, less healthy than they claim.
· A few years on 80-10-10 have made Durianrider (Harley Johnstone) emaciated. Harley has said that people who follow his diet often look like meth addicts, so if he stays on the diet, is this his future?
· Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, low-fat raw vegan guru: is she emaciated? Check out the videos here and decide for yourself.
· Doug Graham – possible evidence of poor dental health in this recent (2012) video? Watch the video and form your own opinion (also read the comments on the post).
· Doug Graham - photographic evidence of rapid aging on 80-10-10? Compare the dated photos and decide for yourself. Here is another recent (2011 or 2012) photo; opinion: at age 58, he looks much older.
· Does Viktoras Kulvinskas look much older than his biological age? Link is to a video made in 2011. The photo of him that appears in the opening credits is not as recent as the video itself; be sure to watch past the opening credits. His actual age when the video was made: upper 60's; age based on appearance (opinion): upper 80's, possibly 90's.
Reports from long-time raw vegan insiders
· An Interview with Nazariah. [Offsite link.] Brother Nazariah, minister for the Essene Church of Christ (in Oregon, USA), used to speak at raw vegan events until raw veganism stopped working for him. In the section titled "Long-Term Raw-Food Authors Eating Cooked Food", he describes seeing two raw gurus after a raw foods expo, both eating cooked foods. At the expo, one of those gurus claimed to have been 100% raw for 20 years! The section titled "Lack of Honesty in the Raw-Vegan Movement" is also relevant.
· Fred Patenaude reports on the difference between what the raw gurus preach and what they do. [Offsite link.] Fred Patenaude is a long-time insider in raw foods and has written a book about his experiences in the raw movement. From the linked-to page: "The truth is that most raw-food experts are not 100% raw and many of them are not even vegan, and they remain vague and secretive about the reasons behind their choices." Also check out the section titled "The Gurus Controversy!", where Fred reports that “raw food gurus literally make stuff up and promote it as truth in their books, without having any proof whatsoever to back it up”. Attention: the linked-to page is a sales pitch for a book by Fred.
· Kevin Gianni reports on the raw gurus. [Offsite link.] Video by Kevin Gianni, Renegade Health Show. Kevin reports that very few raw food leaders are 100% raw, and that there is a gap between what they say vs. what they do (starting at 2:00).
· Susan Schenck reports on the raw gurus. [Offsite link.] Video by Kevin Gianni, Renegade Health Show, an interview with Susan Schenck, a raw author. Susan reports that many raw vegan leaders are cheating, i.e., don't follow the diet they promote (starting at 4:00).
Lack of integrity/competence are issues
· Is your health guru a fraud? [Offsite link.] Video by Paul Nison, Raw Life Health Show. Paul interviewed a health guru but won't air the interview because the guru was ignorant about health. Unfortunately, Paul’s description does not give us any hint as to who he interviewed, because the criticism applies to so many raw vegan gurus.
· Integrity of Raw Food Teachers. [Offsite link.] Video by Paul Nison, Raw Life Health Show, on the lack of integrity of raw food teachers. Paul discusses how many popular raw vegan gurus are giving questionable advice, and that money comes before integrity for many raw gurus. (In the video, there is some discussion of religious topics after the initial comments on gurus.)
· #1 Biggest Tragedy in Raw Foods. [Offsite link, video, starting at 2:05.] In a discussion with Paul Nison, John Kohler reports that the biggest tragedy in the raw foods movement is the low quality of teachers (gurus) and the dubious (often processed "raw") foods being promoted.
· Honesty, Integrity, and Deception in the Raw Foods Movement. [Offsite link, video, starting at 1:00.] A joint discussion between John Kohler and Paul Nison. They discuss the problem of low integrity of many raw food teachers who demand "100% raw" and “100% vegan”, yet most who claim to be 100% really aren't.
Gurus from the past - mentors of some of today’s gurus
· Natural Health Gurus Ate Animal Foods. [Offsite link.] Many famous diet gurus of the past – cited as examples or inspiration by idealistic raw vegans - were non-vegan (often lacto-vegetarian) or even non-vegetarian. An interesting irony, is it not?
· The Life and Times of T.C. Fry. [Offsite link, pdf file.] T.C. Fry was the mentor for a number of current natural hygiene diet gurus. He did not always practice what he preached, and in his later years promoted dubious money-making schemes. Apologists for natural hygiene claim that Fry’s health problems were the result of not following the system, but when a prominent diet guru cannot follow the system he/she promotes, the obvious conclusion is that the system is not practical/relevant. Additional information on T.C Fry is available on Dr. Fuhrman’s website.
· Herbert Shelton was lacto-vegetarian. [Offsite link.] Herbert Shelton was the foremost advocate for natural hygiene until his passing in 1985. He consumed dairy products and also served dairy to his clients. More irony: Shelton is the inspiration for a number of extremely strict vegan natural hygienists. Shelton suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years before he passed away; following natural hygiene did not cure the disease.
· Paul Bragg’s Tarnished Legacy. [Offsite link.] Paul Bragg was a famous health guru with a compelling life story. Unfortunately, as documented in this article, many of the claims about Bragg’s life are false. His real age was apparently falsified, reflecting badly on his work as a self-identified “life extension specialist”.
Questions to consider when assessing a raw vegan diet guru
To assist readers, here are some questions to consider when assessing a raw vegan diet guru:
1. Is the diet guru really as raw and as vegan as he/she claims? If yes, how do you know?
2. Does the raw guru have your benefit in mind, or does he/she try to maximize the money you spend for goods and/or services sold by the guru?
3. If vegan, does the guru model the compassion that should be at the heart of veganism, or does he/she model the ego, intense anger/hostility, and self-righteousness that are far too common in the raw and vegan communities?
4. Is the guru morally and/or ethically challenged in any way?
5. Does the guru present himself/herself as an ideal or model whose example should be followed? If yes, does that suggest the guru is really a pompous narcissist with a big ego?
6. Does the guru “know for sure” that his/her approach is the only good diet? (If yes, then the guru is not credible and there are risks in “knowing for sure”.)
7. Check the educational credentials supplied by the guru. Are any of their degrees from unaccredited, unconventional, and/or mail-order schools that have weak academic programs?
8. By the way, why do you think you need a diet guru?
9. If you believe that you need a guru, exactly what “value added” does the guru provide? Is it worth the price?
Possible emotional reactions to this article in the raw community
The raw community includes many very idealistic people, most of whom are well-meaning. Because this article documents fraud, hostile behavior, drug use, health care malpractice, and other unpleasant realities of the raw community, some readers may have an initial negative emotional reaction to this article. Some readers (and possibly some raw vegan gurus who would like to discredit this article) may attack the author of this article. If they do, recognize that it is just a diversionary tactic and instead focus close attention on the corruption and other negative behaviors exhibited by so many raw vegan gurus.
This article may be attacked or stereotyped as anti-raw. That is a false claim, reactionary, and yet another diversionary tactic. The motivation for this article is to expose the fraud and other negative practices/behaviors of the raw gurus, so that raw fooders will not be cheated, mistreated, or give too much “authority” (or power) to the people who promote themselves as raw gurus.
It is hoped that greater awareness of these issues in the raw community will promote civility, reasonable pricing of high quality, certified raw products, and better/more honest behavior by the raw vegan gurus. Consider this a call for the raw vegan gurus to be “more ethical”. If you are an ethical or moral vegan, it is my sincere hope that such a call resonates deeply with you, and that the raw community becomes more skeptical and more cautious when dealing with the raw gurus.
Finally, in closing, this began as a short article that summarized only a very few links. It turned into a much larger effort and took much longer than originally anticipated. I hope that the information here is helpful as you explore the world of raw veganism and possibly other diets. I wish you the best in your diet and health explorations!
Epilogue: a suggestion to the raw communities, both vegan and non-vegan
The linking here to public record/public access legal documents was inspired by the example of Groklaw.net, a not-for-profit educational website with a focus on legal issues of interest to the open source/free software community (i.e., GNU/Linux, Unix, and other software developed under open source licenses). The raw communities – both veg and non-veg - could benefit from a website similar to Groklaw, but with a raw foods focus. For example, such a site could investigate and educate the raw community on some of these topics:
· Updates on the cases linked-to in this article: allegations of fraud re: investments in a raw vegan spa/village, David Wolfe suing his former business partners, etc.,
· Historical record: past (in)famous cases where parents faced child endangerment or similar charges for feeding their children a raw - usually vegan - diet,
· Are some allegedly “raw” foods actually heated, fumigated, or irradiated to meet import laws/regulations? What do the laws require?
· Do “raw chocolate” products meet the legal definition(s) of chocolate, or are the sellers violating labeling laws? (And if they are violating the law, should we even care?)
One look at Groklaw and it is clear that it is a lot of work for the people involved, and some knowledge of legal process is helpful for those running such a site. It would be beneficial to the entire raw community if a similar site existed with a raw focus. If you are inspired to create such a site, we wish you well, and please let us know the URL so we can link to it.
This article has raw vegan gurus as primary focus. If you have relevant public information on a raw vegan guru that is not linked-to here, drop us a line and we will consider adding the information to future releases of this article. Information submitted will be vetted for quality, significance, and whether the content is public or not. We don’t guarantee quick updates, so please be patient. Finally, it should be mentioned that many non-vegetarian raw gurus and conventional (cooked-food) vegan/vegetarian gurus have major issues of their own. If you write a similar article on the other diet gurus, let us know and we will consider linking to it.
· Adya Clarity is a registered mark (trademark) of Adya Inc., Coldwater, Michigan, USA.
· LexisNexis is a registered service mark (trademark) of Reed Elsevier Properties, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, USA.
Any email or snail mail that threatens us in an attempt to get us to remove any of the links to offsite material posted here (i.e., private censorship) will be published in full online and a link to it posted here. The links provided here are to material that:
· is/has been published and is freely and readily available to the public on Internet (some of it for more than 10 years), and/or
· is public record/public access by Court rules or by law (see notes below), and
· the publication of links is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
If one of the offsite links above upsets you, contact the link owner and request removal of the source material on the linked-to site. Say No to Online Censorship!
1. The linked-to court filings are redacted, i.e., edited to exclude addresses (of individuals) and other sensitive information.
2. The offsite links here were all functional at time of first publication of this web page (Jan. 2012).
· Short URL for this page: http://goo.gl/O6cMn
· Alternate short URL: http://goo.gl/c0vbN This link goes to a Google Documents page that contains clickable links to this page and the home page for BeyondVeg.com. This may bypass some of the filters at raw/veg websites that don’t allow you to post direct links to Beyond Veg (or even shortened URL links that resolve to Beyond Veg). Attention: posting such links may get you banned from uptight and paranoid raw/veg online forums that censor posts and prohibit links to Beyond Veg.
· Long URL for this page: http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/special/raw-vegan-gurus.shtml Please use the long URL when/where possible. The short URLs are provided for situations when long URLs are non-optimal or are censored.
Short URLs for select linked-to documents
Most of the links below resolve to Google Documents pages; none of them resolve to pages on Beyond Veg:
· Allegations of threats of violence, Wolfe vs. Durianrider: http://goo.gl/b098R
· Plagiarism of Nature’s First Law: http://goo.gl/fRl3F
· Lawsuit against Taliferos for fraud, raw vegan spa/village: http://goo.gl/G2sSO
· Lawsuit against Taliferos for unpaid property taxes, raw vegan spa/village: http://goo.gl/111yB
· Lawsuit against Taliferos for unpaid property taxes, default judgement: http://goo.gl/uYGMO
· Lawsuit against Taliferos for unpaid property taxes, proof of service: http://goo.gl/xmjSb
· Wolfe vs. former partners, plaintiff filing: http://goo.gl/dbTlq
· Wolfe vs. former partners, defendants filing: http://goo.gl/VwXqc
· Wolfe vs. former partners, exhibits #1: http://goo.gl/jmgPz
· Wolfe vs. former partners, exhibits #2: http://goo.gl/oIXhW
· Maryland Board vs. Lockman: http://goo.gl/1khYk
· Maryland board vs. Trader: http://goo.gl/dbvRU
· Cousens California discipline, accusation: http://goo.gl/fhGxY
· Cousens California discipline, stipulation: http://goo.gl/afoyK
· Cousens California discipline, supplement: http://goo.gl/PSOl7
· Cousens New York discipline: http://goo.gl/SeBI9
--Thomas E. (Tom) Billings
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