From Half-Baked to Raw

The American Enterprise Institute
for Public Policy Research
Mar/Apr 1998

Because happiness is knowing that the opposition has gone looney, we at TAE do our best to keep you filled in on new developments at the frontiers of political correctness. But, boy, it’s getting harder every year to follow the trail.

The latest wrinkle on vegetarianism, the Associated Press recently reported, is the “Raw” movement. “After giving up meat for vegetarian cooking…and sugar for macrobiotic cooking, 70 New Yorkers have gathered to get serious about the way they eat: They’ve given up cooking.” Yup: No boiling, no baking, no stoves.

These pioneers are devotees of so-called “live” foods. They refer to the cooked foods other people eat as “dead.” A movement spokeswomen, who goes by the single name Rhio, explains that “foods start losing some enzymes and life energy at 105 degrees. By 118 degrees, that’s it. You’ve killed all the life energy. This is the way we’re really supposed to eat. This is the way the animals eat.”

There are now live-food support groups, a newly opened restaurant in New York called Ozone, and a raw-food cable TV show. Dr. Ann Wigmore, a mother of the movement, founded livefood centers in Boston and Puerto Rico before she died in 1994 (in a fire).

Devotees don’t just eat endless carrots out of the bag, mind you. Raw food chefs (probably best not to call them “cooks”) do process food-but through soaking and chopping instead of using heat. “You could take a drinking straw to much of the plate, like a vegetable Slurpee,” notes Ellen Knickmeyer, a reporter who attended a live-food potluck in a Tribeca loft. On the menu at the event: A “lasagna” made of sprouted buckwheat, almonds, mushrooms, tomatoes, and figs. A “cheese” of pulverized almonds. A “champagne” of “something sprouted and fermented.

In an interesting twist, there are livefood omnivores who have no problem with eating meat, so long as it isn’t cooked. Other raw advocates have gone the opposite direction-there are “fruitarians” (who eat only raw fruit), and “sproutarians” (live sprouts solely). There are even non-violent fruitarians “who eat only fruits off the ground, not those that have been picked.”

That may seem to be the final climax of vegetarianism. But there is one higher twist. Rhio reports there are “breatharians” who aim to get “all the nutrition they need from the air…. I’ve met some people doing it occasionally, but they’re not at 100 percent. Yet.”


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