Fool people

Warning about the raw vegan diet

“When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest.”

Dear all,

Since the formation of my website, as I have been blogging my personal journey and my various intellectual excursions, my recommendation to you has always been to be your own guru and to follow the instincts of your own body. If you require professional medical or nutritional advice, I recommend that you contact a registered health professional, not a self-proclaimed on-line guru. This note is intended to reinforce this message and also to warn you about the possible dangers of giving your power away to raw gurus.

It came recently to my attention that there exist reports by people who say they have followed the specific diet as advocated by Harley Johnstone (Durianrider) and Leanne Ratcliffe (Freelee), the owners of the 30 bananas a day forum, and experienced health problems as the result of this. For the details please see Request for data in support of the claim that 30BAD advice is not working post on the 30 bananas a day sucks forum, a forum that was created in an attempt to share the information that is otherwise censored on the 30 bananas a day forum,  see How this site came to be & my open letter to Durianrider. I also came across some other stories of health problems (including deaths at fasting retreats) as the result of following some other raw gurus advice, please refer to the list of recommended reading below.

I am greatly concerned about the seriousness of these reports. Furthermore, I am highly concerned with the irresponsible, disrespectful, and absolutely appauling way people who share these stories are treated. My belief is that, whenever such stories emerge, they should be made fully available to everyone who wishes to follow such diet, so that people can make an educated decision. This is why I am sharing this information here.

Adults have the right to experiment with their body and follow any diet they choose, and so I see no problem with people blogging their diets. However, it would be irresponsible for me to suggest to you that you should be following my diet too.  My diet is my own experiment, and I am fine with this, but please do not think that just because it appears that it is working for me, it should work for you. Importantly, note that although fruit and veggies are great, blanket prescriptions are not. Your body needs are individual and so listen to your body.

Please make sure that you familiarize yourself with all information, not only the one which glorifies the raw vegan diet. Be critical of what is presented to you, ask questions and do not let others silence your curiosity.  Please familiarize yourself with the complete picture and make up your own mind about it. Make an educated decision about the diet you follow, so that you DO NOT GET HURT.

I also appeal to all by-standers. Please take appropriate steps – part of the responsibility for what is happening falls on your shoulders too.  Do not be afraid to speak up. The only thing you can lose is your integrity … if you remain silent.

Wishing you the best of health,

Gosia.

People most need the mechanism of denial when an intolerable situation has been pointed out to them – but the means for change does not yet exist.
(Naomi Wolf)

Recommended reading:

Harley and Leanne use science

Request for data in support of the claim that 30BAD advice is not working

and

30 Bananas a day Cult

Progress Update, Please Add You Own

Response to Durianrider’s post ‘Hate site dedicated to Durianrider and Freelee.’

Former vegans now turned haters–Evidently I am now eating meat…news to me

Death Threats from Harley Johnstone aka Durianrider

Who exactly is “Wayne” and what did he do to Harley??

Harley fabricates lies about Anthony Colpo using his own troll account – BUSTED!

More Angry Nonsense from Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone

What kind of experience does Harley really have?

Historical notes on Bob’s high-carb diet

Sorting fact from fiction on the 30bad diet…

Questions for an Interview with Doug Graham

My experience at Doug Graham’s fasting retreat

The Age Of Raw Vegan Cyber Bullies – Who Are Against Other Vegans

Investigating Raw Vegan and Other Diet Gurus: Can You Trust Them?

Code of Conduct for Health Activists

Also, please read this very relevant article by Lennie Mowris, Doug Graham’s former assistant:

All I Have to Say On the Matter

 A short summary of how this page came to be:
(for the details of some related and very worrying issues see the links above)

I went to 30 bananas a day … sucks forum, because I heard that people’s reports of having health problems on 30BAD diet are being censored out from 30 bananas a day forum. I asked for the stories, admittedly though, I was skeptical about whether I would find many. Simultaneously, I asked a mirror question, about success stories on 30BAD diet, on the 30 bananas a day forum.

(the image is the courtesy of the 30 bananas a day cult website, the owner of which kindly preserved the evidence)

I wanted to know the full picture, as I was interested in all parts of the spectrum. I discovered a considerable  number of stories by people who say they followed the specific diet recommended by Durianrider and Freelee, and experienced serious health problems as the result of this.

A few days after I started collecting the stories, my membership at 30 bananas a day forum has been terminated. Harley admitted that the reason was my thread at 30 bananas a day … sucks, on that thread.

Neither Harley nor Leanne have any professional training in nutrition. Their highest level of education is no more than secondary. Yet they advertize themselves as experts in nutrition:

nutritionist2

They give people paid (and free) health advice. For example,  see Leanne’s conduct towards a person admitting they are her paying client here: 30 BAD made me fat. Or, read one poster’s claim of Leanne “diagnosing” Crohn’s disease over facebook messenger here. There are reports that Harley bully those who report the stories (also see relevant reports here, here, or here).

Apart from these, I’ve read some other, rather bizarre reports such as about alleged death threats (also see here), self-confessed fake identities (Anthony Colpo here and here, and Anthony’s response here and here), or some strange claims about anorexia and other “typos”. Again, please check these reports carefully and make up your own mind. I observed some repulsive behaviors first-hand too, here is a screenshot of one example (I blacked out the faces, names and phone numbers for the obvious reasons):

DRtreath04062012v2

My understanding of the code of conduct that applies to health practitioners is that they should not work beyond their level of competence, they should respect their patients, and they should never intimidate anyone (see details of legislation here).

Frankly, I think that it is far better that people spend time making videos on their lifestyle passion than taking drugs etc. Also,  I see it as a positive thing that people can freely express their views on nutrition and I do not believe that this is a domain reserved for the scientists and medical doctors only. I think that is it important to question. People can make mistakes, of course, no one is flawless. Lies and bullying, however, is not acceptable. Neither is quackery and breaking the rules of  the code of conduct in general. There is no excuse for that. Yes, the vulnerable need a protection and perhaps the evolution of Internet needs to be coupled with appropriate laws to facilitate this. What are the limits of what can be done? Can we prevent young from being influenced by dietary pseudo-gurus, or being bullied by them? What is the role of observer in this? It seems that some people are unaware of these issues, some close their eyes to it, and yet others think that this is acceptable. I am here to say that this is not OK!

Similarly, I have nothing against people being encouraged to eat more fruit and veggies. However, I am absolutely against bullying those who report that they experience health problems on a raw vegan diet. In particular, I am absolutely against hiding such stories from the public, especially from the newbies who just enter this diet!

So, although I love fruit and veggies dearly, I feel it would be totally unethical for me to be silent about these issues, or supportive in any way of these negative behaviors. The reality is that people get hurt and this needs to be known so that the history does not repeats itself. A friend of mine, a young and vibrant woman, and an ex-member of 30BAD forum, ended up in hospital emergency with severe deficiencies, sick and being unable to look after her baby for a long time after that. This is after some years on the seemingly perfect diet, and seemingly doing so well. Therefore, it would be utterly selfish and reckless of me to not to give any warning, at the cost of such tragedies. No, it was not her fault. Suggesting that when people have health problems, it is their fault, they were “not doing it right“, and has nothing to do with the person who advertizes the diet, or the shortcomings of what they promote, is a total bullshit. There, I said it. As is. The truth.

Realizing the hurt caused has been a difficult and sad experience for me. I am sorry to have been unaware of this for too long.

 

Commons characteristics of a quack:

  • “false expert, quack, impostor, fraud, one who claims more skill or knowledge than he actually has” (ref)
  • “Quacks may be placed in three different categories: charlatans, cranks, or health hucksters based upon whether they are immoral, misguided, or amoral.” (ref)
  • “They are very, very sensitive to criticism and are liable to reach for their lawyers should anyone pour cold water on their claims. “  (ref)
  • “They sue to intimidate their critics.” (ref)
  • “They Display Credentials Not Recognized by Responsible Scientists or Educators.” (ref)
  • ” Some quacks are promoted with superlatives like “the world’s foremost nutritionist” or “America’s leading nutrition expert.”" (ref)
  • “They use pseudo medical jargon that sounds like science.” (ref)
  • “Phony nutritionists do not have a minimum four-year degree in dietetics or related field. Phony nutritionists make claims that sound too good to be true.”(ref)
  • “They Use Anecdotes and Testimonials to Support Their Claims.” (ref)
  • “Promote potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning of the risks.” (ref)
  • “In spite of all the obvious signs of quackery, he still thinks he is all knowing. You still cannot connect with him as a person. He doesn’t see you as a person. He won’t take your ideas and suggestions, because you obviously don’t know anything. After all, he is omniscient.” (ref)
  • “Most of the time, quacks only do injury to our wallets and hopes, promising benefits they can’t deliver. However, they can cause real harm when necessary medical treatment is delayed at a time when it could be most effective in treating an illness or injury. “  (ref)

 

Updates:

  • July 2012 – Since the stories came to a greater awareness of others, people are reporting that they are getting more help. The awareness of the possible health risks is increasing too. I think that this is a good outcome and hope for more such reports.
  • December 2013 – Harley and Leanne are no longer raw vegans and openly admit the high failure rate of the specific raw vegan diet they formerly advocated but could not follow themselves (ref1, ref2, ref3).
  • Let this be a lesson to all ‘followers’. Many YouTube views and a large audience do not necessarily equate to the validity of someone’s recommendations. Anyone can write or say anything they like on the Internet and gain followers, in particular through advertizing, lies and trolling, and so a healthy level of discernment is necessary.
  • Be extremely weary of those who claim that the only way to succeed is through their way, that their method is the one that works. That is exactly what those whose sole aim is to gain followers, and who do not care about real outcomes for individuals, would like you to believe. Be weary of the fact that such people would tell you that they care, in order to gain your trust. Try testing their level of care by talking about those who got sick as the result of their recommendations. Be extremely weary of those who are unable to be questioned. Be weary of the fact that they would tell you that they are open-minded, in order to gain your trust. Try questioning them, and see how long will this last. If you indeed consider yourself a follower of someone or some such program, then perhaps it is worth to re-examine your situation. Could you be trapped in something that is not beneficial to your well-being?
  • Let this be a lesson to all ‘followees’ too. Apply high standards and be aware of your limitations. Your views may evolve even if you are absolutely certain of your current position. Honesty, humility and education goes a long way. Frankly, if you indeed consider yourself as someone that others should follow or replicate, then you did not come to the grips of what health is about, at all.
  • There are many raw vegan diets, advocated by various promoters. Those that dissemble your ability to think critically, and make you a follower, rather than an independent researcher, are not the ones that  could be considered a sound pathway to health. Keep eating raw but keep your brain too!
  • Oh well, at the end of the day, I am glad that one can see a funny side to this story too (ref1, ref2). ;)

 

Note: Submitted work is the expressed and unqualified personal opinion of the author and is not to be interpreted as an assertion of fact or false statement.

While I do believe that if any such discrepancies exist they should be fully investigated by the relevant authorities, I do not make – and have never made – any claim about the veracity of these allegations until such time as they are proven true or false.

Be your own guru! 

GosiaWarning about the raw vegan diet