Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Sep

Raw Foodism with Chef Dan

We at Mark’s Daily Apple believe raw, fresh, whole foods are best, but we do not endorse everything purported in the following interview, and are not recommending a raw food diet. Rather we present this interesting information for critical discussion, to pique your curiosity, and to encourage exploration of different health approaches. We do not believe foods are “living” and do not advocate “enzyme therapy,” but of course fresh, unprocessed foods are ideal for anyone.

Do we have you interested?

Let me introduce you to “live food chef, restaurant consultant, and personal coach,” Raw Chef Dan. Chef Dan is the co-founder and chef of Quintessence, a popular, organic and raw food, gourmet restaurant in New York City. His recipes have been featured in The Raw 50 by Carol Alt, and in The Complete Book of Raw Food.

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If you haven’t figured it out already, Chef Dan is a huge proponent of eating a raw food diet for a healthy lifestyle. We caught up with him recently and asked him some questions about his health philosophy.

What are living and raw foods?

This is really hard for me to answer any more. It is such a huge question which really invites dozens of other questions. The answer to this one question alone is an entire book in itself. I recommend reading The Sunfood Diet Success System by David Wolf.

Why are enzymes important?

That’s another book – Enzyme Nutrition by Dr. Edward Howell.

Is an enzyme supplement as good as raw food?

If you take an enzyme supplement and you are still eating pesticides, bleaches, coloring, flavorings, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, homogenizers, fillers, starches, dairy, genetically engineered food, denatured foods, processed and refined sugars and salts… then NO!

Why go raw?

To feel great, look great, live a quality life, spend your money on yourself and not your doctor, make the most of every day, save the environment, perpetuate good karma, save the human race and the world we live in.

Why eat only organic foods?

Pesticides, bleaches, coloring, flavorings, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, homogenizers, fillers, starches, dairy, genetically engineered food, processed and refined sugars and salts… are all poison and will kill you; sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. But in the end nearly every illness and discomfort we suffer from, be it a common cold or terminal cancer, is caused by what we put into are mouth. Why eat poison?

Is this a fad?

Truth has never been a fad.

Is this just another vegetarian or vegan diet?

No, it is a consciousness of truth. Some vegetarians/vegans are among the most unhealthy people I know. This practice is very limiting due to a proliferation of arcane information, religious or political agendas, and ignorance. Usually practiced by people who have good intentions, but are ether uninformed, misinformed, just plain stubborn or ego protective.

We as humans tend to hold on to behaviors and ideas as part of our ego identity rather than letting go of what we have to get what we don’t. We will say to ourselves, “If I spent so long doing it, and put so much energy and faith in it, to give it up would be to admit that a good portion of all that it was, all that I am, was in fact wrong. Then I was wrong, and if I admit that, then who am I, or who am I to be now.” I find this conversation very strange, as we only know what we know and that is based on information we were exposed to at that time. We are exposed to many possibilities, we adopt beliefs that make since to us at that time, and then we make them very personal as if they were our beliefs to begin with. This makes new information very hard to except even when proven to be true by all essential means. It is hard to except because it offends our past and present identity. Or in other words our ego. This common and unnoticed behavior is actually an insult to our intellect and our inherent ability to reason. We forfeit our need, and the opportunities, to become better – to protect a behavior that is a part of our present ego identity. Silly creatures aren’t we? How self-defeating is that? I prefer to say “that is what I believe up to now, but it is certainly open to debate.”

What about protein?

Elephants, whales, giraffes, silver back gorillas, in fact the largest and strongest animals on the planet, are all vegetarian. How much protein do you need for [expletive deleted] sake? Most of the digestive ill conditions we suffer from are cause by the over-consumption of dense proteins. And most every illness we suffer from as humans is rooted in an ill digestive system. The real questions here are: What about acid and alkaline balance? What about nutrient dense foods? What about quality of foods? What about quality water? What about sunlight and clean air? What about reducing stress? What about not distorting the planet we need to survive? What about the truth for a change?

What does a raw/living foodist eat?

Everything that is still living has one or all of these characteristics: active livings seeds, roots, enzymes or friendly cultures. Raw/living food is more about how the foods are prepared and the nutrient/energy potential it offers. We eat about ten times the variety of foods that a non-raw foodist eats. Take a look.

RawFood1

RawFood2

RawFood3

How can you tell if something is a raw/living food?

It says so on the label. It’s not heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. It may be sprouted. It still has seeds that will sprout and grow. It could be planted. It continues to grow. It maintains its own hygiene. The micro-organisms within it are still living.

How can you tell if someone is a raw/living foodist?

They are not overweight. They don’t have offensive body odors/breath. They glow from the inside. They are happy. They have a ton of energy. They have a positive outlook on life. They are caring and loving. They are on a path of self development and higher consciousness. Women don’t suffer during their periods, men don’t suffer from impotence. They are real, whole, living, functioning, aware, grounded human beings that don’t need pharmaceuticals or even doctors for a consistently steady state of well-being. Living, loving, joyous, beautiful people the way it was meant to be!

What do you think about eating a raw food diet? Hit us up with a comment!

Further Reading:

A Food Revolution Manifesto


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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Living a raw food lifestyle seems perfectly valid as that, a lifestyle. I could imagine some people find better well being through raw food living the way others find well being through religion.

    But I don’t see much connection between raw food living and the science of health. I can’t vouch for the health benefits of raw food living, but there are certainly many ways to be healthy eating plain old dead foods.

    Bradford wrote on September 7th, 2007
  2. In full agreement Bradord.
    Raw is good, but hasn’t man/woman made fire from the beginning and cooked things?
    I’m sure bone marrow was real tasty raw, right after the kill, but I’m sure so was the large leg bone roasting over the open fire.
    I have a good friend that lives the “raw lifestyle” with her husband. I can’t say they are exactly “glowing from within with health” actually quite the opposite.
    T.

    Tatsujin wrote on September 7th, 2007
  3. I eat a good mix. Raw is a good idea. For example, raw nuts is a better choice than roasted. Nobody can say a large salad full of fresh raw vegetables is not healthy. Cooked fruit doesn’t compare to fresh. Canned veggies, yikes. But, some vegetables have health benefits when cooked. I try to eat a lot of raw but sometimes I like my veggies stir fried, ya know? I’m not a vegan either.

    Crystal wrote on September 7th, 2007
  4. I have been a vegan for many years and recently became interested in learning more/experimenting with a raw food diet. Over the summer, I ate only raw foods for about 24 hours, which I’m sure anyone could agree is no time at all. I run about thirty miles a week, and on the morning after I had eaten all raw, I had absolutely no energy to run. I could barely make it three miles, had to walk home, and was pretty dizzy and shakey until I ate a more substantial meal. Perhaps a raw food diet can sustain someone whose activity level only consists of walking, but for more active people, I don’t think it provides enough energy.

    marygrace wrote on September 7th, 2007
    • Try reading the book “Thrive” by Brendan Brazier, it has a lot of information for raw athletes. I’ve been eating mostly raw for a few weeks and I run, and I’ve found myself with more energy. There are a lot of ways to get into the raw food diet, and you definitely do not have to do 100%, especially at the beginning. I would suggest doing some more research and trying again, but be easy on yourself and give your body time to adjust.

      Krista wrote on June 5th, 2010
  5. By the time I got to this part, I was rolling my eyes:

    How can you tell if someone is a raw/living foodist?

    They are not overweight. They don’t have offensive body odors/breath. They glow from the inside. They are happy. They have a ton of energy. They have a positive outlook on life. They are caring and loving. They are on a path of self development and higher consciousness. Women don’t suffer during their periods, men don’t suffer from impotence. They are real, whole, living, functioning, aware, grounded human beings that don’t need pharmaceuticals or even doctors for a consistently steady state of well-being. Living, loving, joyous, beautiful people the way it was meant to be!

    These claims would be nearly impossible to substantiate. I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I know so many people who do eat a balanced diet that includes raw and cooked foods, and they are fit and happy!

    I have been doing a bit of googling on the nutritional benefits of raw versus cooked vegetables. The World’s Healthiest Foods and the Annie Appleseed Project both have nice write-ups describing the trade-offs between raw and cooked. Cooking destroys some nutrients but by breaking open cell structures, it makes the remaining nutrients more bioavailable. As many MDA readers are probably aware, cooking destroys toxins like solanine and exponentially increases absorbtion of anti-oxidants like beta carotene in carrots and lycopene in tomatoes.

    According to this Annie Appleseed Project webpage (http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/rawvercookve.html), raw and cooked vegetables have been shown to be protective of different types of cancers. The article describes how garlic and broccoli have powerful anti-oxidant creating enzymes that are destroyed by heating. What the article fails to mention is that those enzymes can be activated by cutting, chopping, or slicing vegetables and letting them sit for ten minutes. The anti-oxidant sulfur compounds formed will tolerate light cooking for a short period. Allinase is found not only in garlic but also onions and leeks, and myrosinase exists in all members of the cruciferous vegetable family.

    Sonagi wrote on September 7th, 2007
  6. And here’s a link to the World’s Healthiest Foods article on cooked versus raw vegetables:

    http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=34

    Sonagi wrote on September 7th, 2007
  7. Please rescue my two comments, whose links got them caught in the spam trap.

    Sonagi wrote on September 7th, 2007
  8. Lovely info. Much appreciated as I eat a Raw vegan diet. I’m 100% vegan and my “raw-ness” ranges from about 80-100%…depending on the week I suppose. I’ve never felt better. I’ve lost weight, gained incredible energy (whoo-hoo I’m off of my triple venti soy capps now!), my skin cleared up, and I’m just…..hhhmmm….what’s a good word……”happy” :) Yes, I’m much happier.

    If you’d like some delicious and EASY Raw recipes, I have a few posted on my blog.

    Cheers!

    Kristen Suzanne
    ——-
    http://www.KristensRaw.blogspot.com
    http://www.KristensRaw.com

    Kristen Suzanne wrote on September 7th, 2007
  9. Hm. None of this has made me any more inclined to follow a raw diet, and although his beautifully photographed foods look yummy, I’m not especially taken with Chef Dan’s arguments here. Two things jumped out at me right away: 1) I fail to see how eating a certain way makes you a “caring and loving” person. 2) Whales eat krill. Sure, they eat it raw, but it’s hardly vegetarian.

    Ann wrote on September 8th, 2007
  10. I’ve considered growing raw before, but I’m not really convinced that it will make me more energetic, compassionate and lively. I remember hearing the same things about veganism. I’ve been vegan for almost 8 years now, and I can’t recall ever feeling boundlessly more energetic after switching my diet. Perhaps it’s time for another change. I’m very reluctant to buy the arguments that people espouse about their diet being the one that will cure all ailments and provide you with the energy to go all out 24-7. Maybe I’m just a fundamentally lazy person, which is why I don’t get these energy bursts. I don’t really know. I know that I feel better now that I’m not scarfing down tons of rice and bread, but it’s not necessarily more energetic, just less lethargic and not so bloated feeling.

    Mike Drew wrote on September 8th, 2007
    • I don’t think changing to a vegan diet makes you more energetic necessarily either. It really depends on what you eat. I’ve been a vegan for about 5 years now. I just recently started eating mostly raw. This means, I will eat almost all raw, organic fruits and vegetables, but if I can’t get organic, I’ll get non, and if I can’t eat raw, I’ll eat regular, but I try not to make it too often. I have definitely noticed a better feeling when I eat raw. In fact, just a few days ago I was out of groceries except for some foods I had from before my raw diet began, beans, bread, etc. And I tell you, I felt a lot worse the following day. As soon as I got a chance to get to the grocery store and restock, that was all I wanted to buy and eat. Try it, but as I said above, be easy on yourself and don’t put an all or nothing restriction. I guarantee you’ll feel better!

      Krista wrote on June 5th, 2010
  11. Here’s a terrific rant from a reader who blogged this interview: http://www.atomicnerds.com/?p=67

    Mark Sisson wrote on September 8th, 2007
  12. Sonagi, thanks for the great info, and I agree with everything you had to say. My biggest quarrel with the information Chef Dan presents is the following particularly moronic statement:

    Elephants, whales, giraffes, silver back gorillas, in fact the largest and strongest animals on the planet, are all vegetarian.

    Is he serious? WE ARE OMNIVORES BY DESIGN!

    Craig wrote on September 8th, 2007
  13. How sad.
    It was all going so well..perfect evolutionary sense and then the below.
    Despite what he said above he fits evolution around his somewhat skewed philosophy/ideal.
    Daft as a phuqing brush

    What about protein?

    Elephants, whales, giraffes, silver back gorillas, in fact the largest and strongest animals on the planet, are all vegetarian. How much protein do you need for [expletive deleted] sake? Most of the digestive ill conditions we suffer from are cause by the over-consumption of dense proteins. And most every illness we suffer from as humans is rooted in an ill digestive system. The real questions here are: What about acid and alkaline balance? What about nutrient dense foods? What about quality of foods? What about quality water? What about sunlight and clean air? What about reducing stress? What about not distorting the planet we need to survive? What about the truth for a change?

    simon fellows wrote on September 8th, 2007
  14. Ok, I don’t think interview really made much of the point of raw. I don’t think raw was really defined well either. If you know about raw food preparation, then you could see that the chef mentioned a few things like digestive health and nutrient density. Before refrigeration, most all cultures used some kind of lacto-fermentation to preserve/culture foods. This was done for milk products, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc., using whey or salt (mass production uses vinegar). It simply made the food last longer. From a health perspective, the main argument for going “raw” is that nutrients increase during the fermentation process. This is a major difference from cooking and processing where the inverse happens. For example, both the content of vitamin B and C increase during milk fermentation. Also, by eating raw/fermented foods beneficial bacteria and lactic acid aid in fuller digestion. One last bit, the fermentation process also breaks down proteins (like casein…the most difficult protein to digest) into more readily absorbable amino acids.

    Abraham Williams wrote on September 9th, 2007
  15. I love sushi! and yes I do feel 110% better after eating raw food.

    terry wrote on September 10th, 2007
  16. I found out about the Raw Food’s diet in Vogue about 4 years ago. I decided to try it because my stomach was still not digesting correctly after a bad stomach virus. I then did it just one day a month and it helped. I have gradually gotten up to 10 days a month. I can say that 1. The first day you will feel tired (like you would with any food change in diet) 2. After that day passes I have an increase in energy 3. I run too and find that I wrong longer without feeling tired after doing raw foods. 4. My face doesn’t break out while on it and it actually clears up. 5. After a couple of days in a row I don’t crave other food…just raw. 6. It’s not for everyone, but people who are interested should definitely give it a try for at least 3 days.

    Rika wrote on September 10th, 2007
  17. I have two questions regarding the enzymes, which are supposed to be one big benefit of eating raw food. First: Why must ALL food be raw? Aren’t there enough enzymes if you have just some of it raw? And second: how come the enzymes aren’t broken down in the stomach, as are other proteins?

    Pelikan wrote on September 11th, 2007
  18. By the way, the “rant” in the blog that Mark mentions makes sense to me. I love vegetables, but this interview is just preaching and not science. To quote that “rant”:

    “And I have no idea why a site devoted to intelligent, scientific approaches to food and exercise is having truck with it- this is the sort of thing they normally debunk.”

    Pelikan wrote on September 11th, 2007
  19. I’m for raw. I include sprouts as often as possible in salads and often grow my own (it’s easier and cheaper than buying them.) As a vegetarian, I believe raw is as good as Chef Dan claims, and his talk has convinced me to include even more raw stuff. I’m even going for his book….

    Tom Orlando wrote on September 19th, 2007
  20. fooddiet

    carol wrote on January 8th, 2008
  21. The whole raw diet thingie is less philosophical for me. I go on long fasts, and, after being away from the modern diet for a few weeks, certain foods literally hurt to eat. Turned out, with the exception of certain fatty nuts, broths, kelp, and rice, every other cooked food I’ve encountered so far has hurt to eat – Brain pains, headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, cold sweats.

    I have heard no good explanation as to why the same food item would hurt to eat cooked, but wouldn’t hurt raw. Raw squash, delicious and nourishing. Steamed squash, headaches. Rare steak, delicious and nourishing. Well-done steak, vomiting and sweats. Over and over again. I eat raw tomatoes like candy, but a little taste of tomato puree almost knocked me down. I can even tell which sushi is cooked or uncooked at a Japanese restaurant by this little pain radar.

    And, my opinion on the whole “what should raw dieters eat” thing: raw animal fat and fruits are the only foods that send the pain radar into pleasure mode, particularly bananas, tomatoes, raw salmon, and especially raw bone marrow. Veggies are pretty neutral, good when they’re watery and easy to eat. Meat is also neutral, but hard to eat and not really craved unless it’s fatty.

    Ian wrote on January 25th, 2008
  22. It just makes sense that raw food is best. We also know that some body builders, weight trainers, etc. have been trained on the idea of supplements, which probably just pass through the body with little effect.

    You can get enough protein without having to eat meat.

    Go raw and forgo the supplements, or at least give it a shot. Lots of ranting in these comments.

    As far as the evolution debate, it just makes sense that humanoids have only been eating the cooked stuff sense “fire” has been around.

    Raw Foodist Guide wrote on March 13th, 2009
  23. “Elephants, whales, giraffes, silver back gorillas, in fact the largest and strongest animals on the planet, are all vegetarian.”

    I have a degree in biology so I had to stop reading at this point or I would have put my fist through the screen.
    Humans are omnivores and have been cooking for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. This evidence is in the archaeology. Anecdotally all the raw vegan men I’ve seen look ill and malnourished.
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/cookinghumans/

    Aussie Grok wrote on October 7th, 2009
  24. I’ve been a raw vegan for 3 1/2 years now and I have to say that it has done wonders for me – I’ve lost weight, gotten off of six different medications, can think more clearly, no longer count calories or fat, and yes – I am much more in touch with myself, my body, and with the planet. Sounds woo woo yes, but I’d say don’t knock it till you try it. At this point in my nutrition journey, I feel I’ve detoxed and cleansed enough where I can start adding in some animal products again such as organic and raw milk, salmon sashimi, bristling sardines, and eggs. But that’s as far as I’ll take it. I love pulling the best 20% of the concepts from all the dietary paths though and I am really appreciate of this wonderful site and you Mark! “One person’s panacea is another person’s poison and one person’s poison is another person’s panacea” as David Wolfe, raw nutrition expert, says.
    ~Lenette

    Lenette Nakauchi wrote on January 1st, 2010
  25. Here is are some photos/recipe for a raw chocolate raspberry ganache cake I made this morning. It was outstanding!! I am game for some more raw recipes.

    http://www.robynmiddleton.com/?p=868

    robyn wrote on March 23rd, 2010
  26. He started off incorrectly…wales, cetaceans, are not vegetarians…yes, there food is eaten raw…krill, fish, squid etc.

    Which brings me to some of the best for you foods that are eaten alive and raw; mollusks, oysters, clam, scallops etc.

    couseret wrote on August 3rd, 2011

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