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(The Psychology of Idealistic Diets--continued, Part C)

Success/failure rates of vegan
diets in Natural Hygiene

All right, the preceding gives us a basic psychological framework for the appeal that Hygiene makes to people's minds in the beginning. What I want to look at now are some of the actual results on people's bodies and health that we see in the M2M to add the next layer of events, and upon which further stages of Hygienic psychology are built. Because it is in dealing with or explaining the successes and failures that much of the psychology manifests itself.

Before you do that, let me slip in another question here to get the broad picture first: What is the percentage of Hygienists in the M2M who do well on the diet compared to those who don't? What's the basic split?

It's hard to say with any precision since a number of Hygienists follow versions of the diet that don't strictly match the traditional definition. But I'll make some very rough guesses here, as long as you understand that's what they are. If you are defining the diet to include those who are very strict about their behavior--an important point--and who follow either the all-raw regimen or the 80% raw/20% cooked plan, I would say perhaps 3 to 4 out of 10, maybe half if one is generous, do well. [Note: "Cooked" foods in this context refers to grains, legumes, and tubers; the relative amounts given would be by volume.] This is long-term, an important distinction we'll look at as we proceed. Significantly more do well short-term.

Dropouts over time and "cheating" on the diet complicate the assessment. There is also a certain amount of attrition of "strict-behavers" over time, so that the ranks of these individuals who do well long-term consist of those left after others have liberalized their behavior. Again, the distinctions one makes change the answer, making it very difficult to say. A real problem here in coming up with a number is that there are many who "cheat" a little (we'll discuss this behavior later) and include haphazard but regular driblet amounts of cheese or butter, even eggs. If you were to include these individuals, even more would be classed in the group doing well.

All-in-all, I would guess what you are left with after this is a quarter of Hygienists who are experiencing some kind of difficulty, possibly up to half if one were being very tough about it. It all depends very much on just how you define "difficulty," which we'll be doing shortly. I don't want to quibble over specific figures because they can be argued. But a significant percentage--whatever it is--experience the problems we'll be listing, from minor to more troublesome.

The problem of vested interests among "official" sources in getting straight answers. Now admittedly the M2M is not a scientific sampling, but frankly, one probably doesn't exist right now, so we have to go on what we hear from people when they appear to be being straight with us. It would be better if we could get statistics from Hygienic practitioners' caseloads, but since they are so heavily invested both monetarily and psychologically in Hygiene, it is difficult to assess how unbiased they are. Even though I have a lot of respect for their knowledge about applying currently accepted Hygienic practices to the circumstances of the lives of their patients, you have to admit that most are not going to allow the possibility to enter their minds that failures in their patients might be failures of the Hygienic diet. They are going to be more likely to see them as "failure to comply" or as due to other factors outside their control.

"Party line" views and ostracism of dissidents. I believe you know from having previously interviewed practitioners Stanley Bass and Christopher Gian-Cursio here that when Gian-Cursio looked into the problems a number of his patients were experiencing and came to the conclusion that it was because the Hygienic diet was not sufficient for all patients--and that the problems were only turned around by carefully supplementing the diet with foods of animal origin such as cheese--and wrote it up, he was essentially ostracized or at least ignored by professional Hygienedom for saying so.

Many of the Hygienic practitioners, as Dr. Bass has pointed out in one of your earlier interviews here in H&B, often are dealing primarily with fasting patients, and thus not necessarily seeing how well all their patients do out in the real world away from a fasting institution. Initially, you certainly cannot argue with the empirical fact that very few people with health problems will not improve considerably with a Hygienic fast followed by a cleaner diet than what they have been used to eating. But what happens during a fast and the aftermath is only a small window into what goes on the rest of the time on a Hygienic regimen. I myself have gotten decent results from fasting, but have not done my best on the Hygienic diet itself. It was a repeating pattern of improve-on-a-fast followed-by-stagnation-and-eventual-downslide on the traditional Hygienic diet that got me thinking along these lines.

Special measures that may make the diet work for more individuals argue against its naturalness. You also have to remember that there is a certain amount of "plasticity" in organisms to what they can functionally adapt to, even if they are not optimally adapted genetically to something. With enough accumulated experience--as many Hygienic practitioners have--you can learn just what jots and tittles have to be followed in order for a Hygienic diet to work. Thus, there may be some truth to the fact that if people aren't getting results from a Hygienic diet (assuming they are following the other elements of the lifestyle such as proper rest, emotional poise, adequate exercise, clean air and water), then "they aren't doing something right."

However, if you really have to follow so many dietary details down to the last iota, then that very strongly argues against such a diet being our natural one, given all the rules for behavior that have to be so painstakingly followed. It seems to me, most especially given the more rough-and-tumble evolutionary picture, that a "natural" diet will have more allowance for give-and-take variation in one's basic food intake than that.

Gap between uncensored reports and officialdom rarely surfaces publicly in a way that gets widespread attention. Bass and Gian-Cursio claim they were seeing some problems develop in Hygienists in real life, especially over successive generations. However, their views were never allowed a forum by official Hygienedom, so very few have had a chance to hear their contentions. What we get is the party line from the IAHP and the ANHS. What one can observe in the M2M agrees more with what Bass and Gian-Cursio have said than what you hear officially.

What about those eating the all-raw-food version of the Hygienic diet? Don't they do better than this?

Unfortunately, no. As a group, they do worse. There are certainly some individuals who do well on the raw-food diet, but they are a small minority. We do have a few individuals in the M2M on all-raw who have done well for 10/20/30 years or more. But my estimate from having seen people come and go in the M2M, and the stories they have told about their attempts at sustaining an all-raw diet, is that somewhere in the neighborhood of about 10-15% of Hygienists are truly able to thrive on an all-raw diet. The rest do better when they have added a certain amount of cooked tubers, legumes, squashes, grains, etc., though they may of course be able to live in whatever condition they do on an all-raw diet.

The distinction between short-term and long-term results is critical in evaluating "success." It is one thing to go on a raw-food diet and do well for some months or a year or two or whatever, but most who take it beyond that point begin to decline. The true test is long-term over a number of years. With the exception of those few who thrive, what we hear in the M2M from people attempting the all-raw diet for any significant length of time (this applies in spades to those attempting fruitarianism) is that over the long term they often start suffering from one or more of the following symptoms: They may lack energy, or their stools will become chronically diarrhea-like, they feel hungry all the time, they may not be able to maintain their weight without struggle, or they develop B-12 deficiency, lose sex drive, fatigue easily, and/or develop insomnia or a hyperreactive nervous system. With some individuals, we also sometimes see binge-eating develop when they try all-raw.

Are the rare all-raw success stories the "ideal," or simply "exceptions"? The all-raw diet works well for some few individuals, but for these individuals to extrapolate (as most do) that therefore everyone would also do well if only they were "doing it right" ("like I do it," following certain jot-and-tittle procedural details) is fallacious and self-serving. It assumes that everybody is alike, or enough so for the same ideal diet to work for all--more black-and-white reasoning. If there is one thing modern genetics is showing, it is that people can vary considerably in certain respects. Especially given the evolutionary transition that the species has been in the midst of since the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, you would expect there to be more variability at this time.


(Symptoms of "Failure to Thrive" on Raw and/or Vegetarian Diets)

Return to beginning of interviews



GO TO PART 1 - Setting the Record Straight on Humanity's Prehistoric Diet and Ape Diets

GO TO PART 2 - Fire and Cooking in Human Evolution

GO TO PART 3 - The Psychology of Idealistic Diets / Successes & Failures of Vegetarian Diets

Back to Frank Talk by Long-Time Insiders

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