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Is the Raw Vegan Movement Getting Healthier and Healthier?

I’ve kinda backed off attacking the raw vegans lately. For one, there were a number of posts back in the spring pretty close together, many with over 300-400 comments each, and with that kind of enthusiasm for a single topic, I just didn’t want to overly exploit it — having the blog turn essentially into a failed vegan help blog.

And then there was the live debate with Harley Johnstone — aka “Durianrider” — of the 30 Bananas a Day (30BAD) website and forum (posts here and here, with 327 and 452 comments, respectively). With all that activity and comments and debates and on and on, I grew a bit fatigued with the whole thing.

In the interim, I kept hearing bits and snippets in various places around the Paleosphere that ‘it’s pointless to argue with the vegan Religion,’ does no good, waste of time, et cetera, et cetera. “I never waste my time” was oft heard. In point of fact, I don’t believe that and have never believed it; for this religion or any other, or any unfounded belief or any other. In fact, questioning belief systems from diet to health to social systems, politics, religion and on and on is the way humans, cultures, societies evolve and get marginally better over time. The key is patience, tenacity, and intellectual honesty with respect to your own ideas and beliefs. All knowledge or, “belief systems,” have holes. Most have far more holes than the few. The paleo paradigm broadly envisioned — equator to arctic circle and sea level to 16,000 feet and everything in-between — is one of the few that has fewer holes than the very, very many, i.e., all the other “fad diets.” This is simply a priori: it’s based upon the best science of evolution and anthropology we know. But it should never be dogma and there ought never be a single dietary prescription for all human individuals. We still have much to learn and will continue to have much to learn for a very long time.

Call it “the scientific method” crudely applied.

…Or call it whatever you want, but to return to the point of the pointlessness in taking on The Vegan Manace, I have never seen the value in advancing any set of ideas like “paleo,” without also contrasting how they differ from competing ideas and when warranted (often), actually criticizing or attacking those competing ideas. And of course, I prefer ridicule because raw veganism for most people is simply ridiculous.

And so after deciding to back off, I got an email alerting me to a post and subsequent thread by a young man on the 30BAD forum lamenting how bad the raw fruit vegan diet had been for his body composition and athletic performance. That turned into perhaps the most popular “vegan menace” post I’ve ever done, with over 480 comments, 820 Facebook “Likes” and over 100 “Tweets.” …A 100% Raw Vegan Success Story. I suppose it was an oversight not to have put “Success” between quotation marks.

Before After
Before (left) and After (right)

I did catch a bit of flack from some commenters, emailers, and even the subject, Harout, himself, but only initially. Well, it is what it is.

And now, what it is is different than it was. I quote Tris from recent comments to that same post (here and here).

Hi guys. Quick intro: I’ve been pretty active on 30BAD for the past 18 months, and have been doing LFRV for 12 months now. It’s been great to see fat come off , more clarity of thought and I am enjoying the strength gains. It’s usually about this time that many people start falling off so I will see what happens.

I think durianrider has made a fool of himself trying to defend the cause at any cost. Obviously the differences in photos does not come down to flexing/not flexing, and that vague, distance flexing photo is not a “recovery” – both of which was durianrider’s main argument. But I’m glad Harout hasn’t fully recovered – considering the lifestyle he was living to create that body.

Let’s consider the actual 30BAD community, the people themselves. The entire premise of Richard’s post – that “not a single one of those motherfuckers is willing for one second to even entertain a whiff of a notion that something just may be rotten” – is pretty unfair.

Read the comments here and you get two themes: firstly, you can’t see any 30BADer showing concern about Harout’s bodyfat going up, and secondly: 30BAD is so tightly regulated and censored that no content challenging the “perfection” of a fruit diet remains on the forum.

Well… can you guys not put two and two together?

Any content on 30BAD that doesn’t praise fruit and veganism gets removed or at least totally chastised by one of durianrider’s aggressive tangents. So… most dialogue with Harout about this was behind the scenes. MANY 30BADers expressed concern for him and what he was doing.

Come on, give the 30BAD community at least a little credit… Look at the results of 95% of the thread – you don’t think the more experienced LFRVers would ask questions with cases like Harout and Kyndra? But these are done in PM’s, phone calls, emails and in-person because obviously durianrider has a tendency to hijack a thread when he has a cause.

Call 30BAD cultish and I would totally agree. If you want to question things, you do it on another forum.

Say that 30BAD’s message board… (totally under durianrider’s censorship control, largely under his social control) is an accurate reflection of the psyche of its’ 6,000 members, and I’ll tell you to think about this a little deeper.

Many 30BAD members (myself included) are often as embarrassed by durianrider as you guys are baffled. I like 70% of his advice and think the other 30% is really, really dodgy. It’s something we tolerate to meet people who eat the same way we do. […]

…I am grateful for the gracious, mature and constructive criticism you have given, based on what you have seen. The same goes for many comments from others here. It definitely helped me see the situation and the community with a more even light.

I know Richard your comments have helped many 30BADers look at the community in a more independent and critical way (and less like cult followers). This has encouraged a lot more personal confidence from members. You have done a great service.

The important point here is that I merely wrote a post that happened to resonate with folks, and they chipped in out of concern for a young man and together wrote almost 500 comments between them (as well as the likes & tweets). So while I’m grateful for Tris’ kind words toward me, the real credit goes to the community, who takes the time to read the blog, comment, and offer help.

And now here’s the punchline, a comment from Harout himself, just this morning.

Hello everyone. As Adriana requested, I’m going to post a progress report within the next couple of days. Been busy ’cause I’ve been back on the grind at both the weight room and basketball. Progress Is great and the fruit diet is history (stupidest diet I’ve ever done in my life). I’ll be around. Will post pictures soon and a written summary of how I feel as I shifted my diet.

Well whaddya know about that!?

Irrespective of what his diet actually is, what’s important is that he has shifted from a path of diminishment, to one of improvement. I’ll be anxious to see how he has turned things around for his own sake rather than continue down a path of self sacrifice in the name of a dietary ideology.

UPDATE: Harout has now posted his update with a video and pics as a comment on the original post. Go have a look. He looks good and strong again after dropping the raw fruit diet.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

34 Comments

  1. David Csonka on September 12, 2011 at 10:40

    “Irrespective of what his diet actually is, what’s important is that he has shifted from a path of diminishment, to one of improvement.”

    Well, I’m willing to bet his body fat % has diminished. It would would be awesome to see a photo of him returning to the six-pack state he was at before.

    • Adriana on September 13, 2011 at 15:19

      He provided a deatiled uodate and a link to a YouTube video. He looks great!

  2. Sandy on September 12, 2011 at 10:49

    Yes, I’m looking forward to a progress report as well. And whether he went vegan with a lot more variety, vegetarian or full on carnivore, that he found what works for him.

  3. dean on September 12, 2011 at 10:50

    Very eloquently put sir Richard. It’s funny I just recently stumbled on this australian dude the other day and I realized he is only relevant because he tries to be controversial. He is so desperate to prove he is right, that he heads out to attack others who aren’t doing what he is doing. He offers little in the way of constructive feedback.

    I wish more people would test these ideas out for themselves and then simply come back and report (like Harout is going to do.) as opposed to simply jumping on the bandwagon of someone who does little to help people make better decisions to improve their health.

    That’s a dialogue worth participating in because as you said, it leads to a road of improvement.

    • David Csonka on September 12, 2011 at 11:01

      Well, I have to say – both Richard and Harley have a tremendous amount of charisma, a characteristic that has probably had no small contribution to their eminent popularity within their respective niches.

      It’s interesting to see the difference in how they’ve used this popularity to further their own interests. To a degree, both guys are a bit antagonistic, but Harley seems to favor censorship while Richard prefers openness and “full frontal” discussion.

      • Richard Nikoley on September 12, 2011 at 11:16

        That’s right, David. Anything less than “The Full Monte” is just pussy.



      • RDH on September 13, 2011 at 11:17

        So as I understand this, Harley operates a top-down, “command and control” blog dedicated to the promotion of a facts-be-damned perspective that borders on theology.

        Richard operates a rough-and-tumble, “free market of ideas” premised on challenging assumptions, slaughtering and gorging on as many sacred cows as possible and generally pissing off everyone at least once.

        Can’t speak for anyone else, but I know where I feel at home.



  4. Gina on September 12, 2011 at 11:25

    Nothing wrong with pussy y’all! LOL.

    I remember those shocking pictures – how disconnected from reality I thought the guy was. Anyway, I have never entertained being vegetarian or vegan, and have never visited 30BAD, but if a forum gets that restricted but has a lot of users finding they can only chat freely outside the forum, why doesn’t someone start a new forum? It doesn’t have to cost much to put one up. Dump the dictatorship and free yourselves – a Vegan Spring is called for!

  5. Stabby on September 12, 2011 at 11:30

    Awesome to see Harout back to his senses and kicking ass again. That before and after picture makes me cringe.

    There is an epistemological lesson for us to learn about vegan diets here. Whenever you see a study of long-term vegans, you can almost certainly expect it to show a vegan diet to be healthier than it is in reality. Certainly there are lifestyle factors that inflate the statistic in comparison to your typical North American junk food-eating meat-eater, but the vegan statistic will get a boost due to survivorship bias. There are a whole lot of people who go on a vegan diet, get sick or don’t improve their health, and soon enough return back to meat-eating. Hopefully they find something like paleo and regain their health.

    The point is that they are out of the statistic, and only the survivors are in the statistic. This makes the statistic biased.

    I can’t remember who has made that point before. Possibly Denise Minger although I don’t remember. Anyway, it is important. This is why controlled trials are king and epidemiology is good for a hypothesis at best.

    • Sarah Madden on September 12, 2011 at 12:01

      Hi Stabby,

      Actually in long term studies of omnivores, vegans and vegetarians, vegetarians do better for all-cause mortality but omnivores and vegans are similar. Considering how health-conscious vegans would tend to be, this doesn’t bode well at all.

      • Stabby on September 12, 2011 at 12:17

        I agree! I am up to date on that issue. The comment was meant as an adjunct to any statistical intepretation of any vegan or vegetarian population. Whatever the outcome happens to be, the vegan/vegetarian population looks better than the diet actually produced, since most who have health problems on a vegan/vegetarian diet switch back to meat-eating, and mostwho don’t resolve their problems with a vegan or vegetarian diet go nack to meat-eating.



      • Natalie on September 13, 2011 at 07:29

        Too much soy, not enough best protein from meat.



    • Stabby on September 12, 2011 at 12:37

      It was Don Matez who I read it from.

  6. Jill on September 12, 2011 at 11:31

    interesting update…and 30 bananas a day diet? I give my son more than 2 or 3 bananas and he has a hard time pooping.

    • rob on September 12, 2011 at 15:00

      Eating bananas should make him shit like a rhinoceros

      One medium banana contains 1.29 grams of protein, 105 calories and 3.1 grams of dietary fiber.

  7. Squirrel removal on September 13, 2011 at 12:58

    Eating bananas is not a good solution to loss weight. The best way is making yourself busy.

  8. Harout on September 13, 2011 at 16:24

    hello everyone i have posted my progress on the original “success story”
    please check it out.

    thanks guys chat soon.

  9. Adriana on September 13, 2011 at 19:20

    I’ve reprinted Harout’s upate here:
    Harout // Sep 12, 2011 at 22:19

    Hello Members of FreeTheAnimal,

    It’s been less than a day since i last posted. I had mentioned that i was going to post a progress report and a few pictures. It’s been a while since i kept active with any of the social networked DIET/FOOD websites and i just took some time off to really find myself in Hawaii and really understand what was needed of me. I’m sure we all know what its like to get out of a slump and sometimes just taking that first step forward is progression on its own. Anyways, i had promised it was going to be done this week but i couldn’t wait any longer and just wanted to get it out of the way. I put together a little video which i will attach the link for at the bottom of this post.

    First and foremost, i would like to thank all of you bloggers/networkers for taking the time to send a message or email out to me and showing your concern. At first when i found out this blog “100% raw vegan success story ” was posted, i was like great, f*** my life. But to be honest, now i’m actually glad it happened. Cause all of you guys came knocking at my door and making me realize that i wasnt happy doing what i was doing. And if i continued any longer, it could have been a destruction to my present and future. So all of you that showed concern, thank you for it. All of you that talked down upon me, well, thank you to you too. You guys were my motivation when i took that step to the plate. I apologize for everything i ever said and any criticism i submitted to Richard. He is a great man, and i would like to say thank you to him for emailing me back (even though i havent gotten back to him yet). He didn’t have to, after the things i said to him and about him, but he did it out of the heart and that to me means more than anything. I can care less whatever diet anyone follows, whether i support it or not. In all honesty, you guys supported me more than my own “cult” did. That means something to me.

    Moving on to my change in diet, i don’t mind sharing about it. I just don’t feel like doing so because i still have a few adjustments here and there that i am still experiencing with. However i would like to share that i am following more of a typical basketball nutrient profile. I consume about 2100 calories, ON AVERAGE, a day, following a nutrient ratio of 45 % carbs, 30 percent protein and 25% fat. I feel as if this criteria works best for me. Once i get a more stable menu i will share my foods and what i eat, when i eat it.

    I definitely want to talk about performance though. Its amazing how food can hold back all the hard work you ever put or do put in the gym/basketball. It took me a while to figure that out and I am glad i did so. After i changed my diet, i found that my performance just drastically improved from even the first couple days! All i was hoping for when i changed my diet was to be able to play the way i used to play. Not only was i able to reach that goal, but i even exceeded it and do so every day ever since i started. My dreams of coming true are back in the picture. I know i kind of briefed up everything and there is definitely more to discuss, and i am open to any questions i missed out on . You guys can email me or respond on here , i will be keeping up with both. my email is kingstar0706@gmail.com. I have school in the morning and thats why i have to cut it short but i did want to attach the video that i have put together from the gym earlier today and a few recent photos, two of which are from today.

    My dreams are now in picture again, and i just signed with a management company called vursityle. I am planning on playing in eurpoe this winter after the season. I have a photoshoot this upcoming saturday in a studio and on sunday there is a game. Scouts from various countries will be here visiting all thanks to my management company. I just got active on my twitter again and using it as a promoting purpose. If you guys would be generous enough to follow me , i would appreciate it, i need all the support i can get. It’s okay if you don’t though, i definitely understand. Just trying my best to make it in the leagues and i need all i can get. My twitter is @musclemasso for those who will follow.
    Thank you again for being there for all those who were. Wouldn’t have made it without you guys making me notice it was time to pick my self up.
    Speak to you guys all soon.

    (btw sorry for the first set of reverse bicep curls being cut off, i didnt know the measure of the camera, i put it on the floor in an inclined position. )

    ————> VIDEO LINK : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5JbLCLV4gM

  10. Bill Strahan on September 14, 2011 at 10:24

    Some enterprising vegetarian should start FreeTheVegetable as an altnerative to Richard’s. Assuming it hasn’t been taken by a fetish porn site already.

  11. pixel on September 15, 2011 at 02:56

    DR is an ass. we all know that. but dont dismiss raw veganism just because of him. there are better sources. like his own girlfriend, whos NOT an ass like that. she, like us, shows by example. another good one is Tim VanOrden

    <– DRs girlfriend (and not an ass, at least to my knowledge)

    http://runningraw.com/ <– seems to know what hes talking about. raw vegan, but not 80 – 10 – 10

    cant speak for either of their approach personally, though i do think its interesting theyre both (and almost everyone seriously into raw veganism) endurance athletes. we all know carbs are needed by endurance athletes and they get plenty. what will be interesting is to see how they age.

    Mr. VanOrden does not do the high fruit thing, but is raw vegan. his was looks way healthier than the 80/10/10 approach that 30bad pushes.

    • LisaW on September 15, 2011 at 04:13

      As you have inadvertently highlighted – you only see young raw vegans touting their lifestyle. I feel good for DR’s girlfriend, that she has quit taking serious drugs and started eating food, but she is not over her eating disorder.

      • pixel on September 17, 2011 at 20:26

        i googled and the best i could find was mimi kirk, who is fabulous despite being in her 70s. but shes only been raw recently. no mention of 80 – 10 – 10. wonder if she was also avoiding grains and legumes.



    • Dave on September 19, 2011 at 02:25

      Umm here is a comment from her blog: “Coconut oil is not only 100% refined fat that goes straight to the hips but it obtains over 90% of its calories from saturated fat, that’s more than butter! Honestly if you are trying to shed some lbs, eating pure fat (or oil) is the worst thing you can do for your ‘waste-line’.”

      Maybe she should should read up on what medium chain fatty acids are, coconut oil is the very last thing to get stored as fat. Note many more dumb claims, and not a single citation.

      Recent semi related coconut oil related thread on http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2011/09/16/this-is-what-were-up-against-part-five/

      • bec on September 19, 2011 at 03:55

        She wrote a comment somewhere in there about no disease existing for protein deficiency. Part of me was tempted to email in pictures of babies with Kwashiorkor or marasmus but even my low standards of human conduct precluded me from it.



  12. Matt aka twinwolf on September 14, 2011 at 23:16

    Richard, first time posting here. Got referred through Dean Dwyer who was referred by MarkDailyApple as was your site. Just got done reading that shitstorm from April about Harout a d that dumbass Durianrider. Got two things to say.

    1. Your blog fucking rocks!

    2. Durianrider is an assclown.

    Oh, and one more thing – Your blog fucking rocks!!!

  13. cliff on September 15, 2011 at 04:54

    Thank god for people like you Richard. I’m still dealing with health consequences from following 811 so dogmatically, we need more people like you to put some sense into these peoples heads. The internet can be a very dangerous place….

  14. Paleoaf on September 15, 2011 at 07:39

    I smell another Weston A. Price Foundation rat.

  15. bec on September 17, 2011 at 20:27

    Apropos of this update, could this be any more depressing?

    So anti-human it’s not funny.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 18, 2011 at 05:48

      Yea, bec, after that drivel celebrating male sexual distinction, time for an attitude adjustment.

      https://freetheanimal.com/2011/07/penis-enlargement-lose-weight.html

      Make sure to read the last coupla paragraphs. So there you go. Wood, man. Got wood?

      • bec on September 18, 2011 at 16:13

        Distinction or disfunction? Friend of mine dates a raw vegan and one of the reasons she tolerates his depressing antisociability and borderline abusive behaviour (“are you really going to eat all those calories?”) is that he hasn’t pressured her to lose her virginity, in alignment with religious beliefs. Je crie – I am pretty sure that’s french for “oh girl, don’t even go there”.

        Don’t bring up Oprah. She makes me stabby with rage. World would be better if more of us tuned into Barbara Ehrenreich than her. (Surprised to see Ehrenreich put an endorsement in one of Taube’s books – nice to see two of my favourite authors acknowledge each others presence despite the difference in subject matter!)



  16. Chris Tamme on September 17, 2011 at 22:06

    I drop off the face of the earth for a few weeks and I have to come back and read about the banana douche again. I want to roll this guy up in a rug and throw him off of a bridge for what he has done to his erstwhile followers. Glad to see Harout come around and see that he was wandering down a very bad path.

  17. JoshS on September 18, 2011 at 08:50

    If what you are cramming in your maw is killing the prime desire of any organism, that is nature’s way of saying “Look idiot, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!”

  18. Tomasz R on September 19, 2011 at 07:37

    Mike Adams, the founder of Naturalnews is no longer a vegan:

    In 2008 he wrote:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html

    I now eat a 100% plant-based diet. (Until recently, I did eat some oily fish, but now my diet is 100% plant-based.)

    Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html#ixzz1YPQZsaqQ

    In 2011 he wrote:
    http://www.naturalnews.com/032890_red_meat_food_additives.html

    Veganism, when done correctly, is undoubtedly the best diet for a sustainable planet, but personally I’ve found it impossible to follow as someone who works on a ranch and engages in a fair amount of physical work each day. For me, powering my work takes a small amount of fish, fresh farm eggs, some Moxxor omega-3s and other fish oils such as those from Living Fuel. Overall, my diet is probably 95% plant based.

  19. Josh S on September 19, 2011 at 11:24

    “Veganism, when done correctly, is undoubtedly the best diet for a sustainable planet, ”

    o_O

    O rly?

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