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Historical Raw Vegans

I recently read an amazing book called Eden’s Outcasts. It is a biography of the lives of Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) and her father, Bronson Alcott. Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne were also featured in the book because they were all neighbors (these are some of my favorite authors)...

Anyway, I was so surprised to find out that Louisa May grew up vegan. Her mother and father even started up a vegan commune, called Fruitlands. This was all in the mid 1800s. AND there was a raw vegan who lived with them on their commune, which Louisa May writes about in her journals.

I am constantly reading (esp. biographies and autobiographies), however I think this is the first case of raw veganism that I have come upon. I was wondering, does anyone know about any other raw vegans throughout history?

Comments

  • I read that Sylvester Graham (inventor of the graham cracker) advocated raw food, and that John Harvey Kellogg (the cereal guy) lived mostly on fruit and nuts

  • heathermarsbombheathermarsbomb Raw Newbie

    wow jellibi that is very interesting….I am going to guess that the quality of fruit & veg may have been better then….? No irrigating produce, better topsoil, no GMO seeds!!?

  • cuyahogariverraw, that is so interesting. Poor guys, they would probably roll over in their graves if they were to see what their inventions have turned into.

    heathermarsbomb, so true. I read once that fruit in general used to be not even close to as sweet as it is now. An apple for instance, used to be more sour… that all domestic fruit has been bred to be more sugary sweet. Interesting, no?

    hmmmm, well, I guess there aren’t too many raw foodists throughout history whose lives were documented….

    too bad. I find it so fascinating.

  • Fruit isn’t just bred to be sweet, it’s bred to have a big crop. Lovely sour, tangy apples are the last think on big growers minds. I often use cooking apples because I prefer the sour taste. Yum!

    I wish I had a time traveling device so I could go back as taste fruits and veg from different times. I expect things tasted very different.

  • RawVoiceRawVoice Raw Newbie

    jellibi, Emerson was a raw foodist. There is something in his writing about not eating food that has been “touched by fire.” It makes sense that Thoreau might also have been raw. They were also both forefathers of Unitarian Universalism.

  • Are you sure about Emerson? Hmm, I’m going to have to look into that. That would be awesome. But I got the impression that Emerson was often making fun of Alcott (Sr.) for his eating habits- which led me to believe that he wasn’t raw or vegan…

    This is interesting. I think I will reread Walden tonight to see about Thoreau- I know he outlines what he eats in that…

    Thanks for the info!

  • ZanzibarrrZanzibarrr Raw Newbie
    Oh, very interesting, I love the topic. Jellibi- I am diving into Steiner’s teaching at the moment, it’s fascinating really, particularly his linking of the roots, stems and leaves to the different parts of the human body. But I was amazed to read this too! :

    You are certainly acquainted with all the new kinds of foolishness in connection with nutrition — for instance, the raw food faddists, who are not going to cook anything anymore, they’re going to eat everything raw. How does this come about? It’s because people no longer know what’s what from a materialistic science, and they shy away from a spiritual science, so they think a few things out on their own. The whole raw food fad is a fantasy. For a time someone living on raw food can whip the body along — in this situation the body has to be using very strong forces, so it has to be whipped — but then it will collapse all the more completely.

  • Kevyn, wow!

    Where are you reading that from? That’s interesting! I want to read more about his opinion on this.

    Yes, Waldorf is not for raw food at all. In Nourishing Traditions (a common Waldorf family cookbook) they even recommend cooking lettuce!

    How do you feel about what Steiner is saying?

  • Kevyn, I went searching through Steiner lectures to find your quote so I could read more. I couldn’t find it, but I did find this:

    There must really be no fanaticism of any kind in medical art — for example, fanatical adherence to an uncooked diet. A raw food diet also entails the exclusion of cooked plant substances obtained from the part of the plant lying toward the root, and this generally has definite consequences for the human organism: it slowly undermines the health of the respiratory system. A destructive influence on the human organism of this kind can continue for a long time, since it is not so easy to destroy this organism, but fanatical adherence to uncooked food will in time lead to shortness of breath or similar symptoms. Someone may reply, “That may be true, but I have had excellent results with a fruit diet.” But you must then note that fruits are not roots; fruits have been worked upon strongly by outer sunlight. In them an extra-terrestrial process has been intensely brought to completion. One comes very close to the process of cooking when making use of what is dynamically present in fruits. Thus if you let certain patients eat fresh fruits rather than raw roots, you do much less harm. It is best not to be fanatical in either direction; both directions must be dealt with individually.

  • ZanzibarrrZanzibarrr Raw Newbie
    wow, wow, wow, thank you! Where did you find that?? In my quotation he says this just before…

    You have only to think of the difference if someone would eat raw potatoes instead of cooked ones. If someone were to eat his potatoes raw, his stomach would have to provide a tremendous amount of warmth to transform those raw potatoes — which are almost starch already. And the extent to which it could transform them would not be sufficient. So then the potatoes would reach the intestines and the intestines would also have to use a great amount of energy. Then the potatoes would just stay put in the intestines, for the subsequent forces would not be able to carry them farther into the body. So if one eats raw potatoes, either one just loads one’s stomach with them and the intestines can’t even get started on them, or one fills up the intestines; in either case there is no further digestion. But if the potatoes undergo a preparatory stage through cooking or some other means, then the stomach does not have so much to do, or the intestines either, and the potatoes go over properly into the blood and right up into the head. So you see, by cooking our foods, especially those that are counted among the carbohydrates, we are able to help our nutrition.

    Here : http://wn.rsarchive.org/Medicine/NutHealth/1924…

    How do I feel? Well, I am still reading and reading and reading, it’s awesome, the grains being linked to the planets etc… but sometimes I am puzzled! Like that aggressive pamphlet against raw! Since I read that I’ m continuously asking myself why. “the body will collapse all the more completely” !! wow, I mean it is just not true, there are so many very long term healthy raw foodists… but I really wonder… maybe he is talking about another kind of rawfoodism, I just can’t believe he would say something wrong or stupid… A very close friend of mine who is in a Waldorf college, I mean, to learn, she says like you, that they’re really not pro rawfoodism at all. What puzzles me even more is that your quote is very different from mine. I mean I can understand the thing of leaving out things that are good for you because you can’t have them raw, even if it’s still questionable, but my quote says more like, cooking is a very good thing it helps the body… wow, to me that sounds just crazy, to compare that kind of external destructive fire, and the inner one. An inner one that you strengthen with raw!.. And what puzzles me even more is the angry tone! As if he had a real personal problem with it! So, it is really interesting to read your quote, because there he says it is ok to be raw if you’re no fanatic, which is not what he is saying in my quote, maybe he had a bad day? And still, even your quote I don’t really get it, I eat roots and stems regularly… and we know well that a raw carrot root has a very low GI, whereas a cooked one is skyrocketing! What do you feel about it? It was a real discovery for me, the parts of the plant affecting which parts of the body. I know he always say not to be fanatical, I think his example with fats from animals needed for some who can’t produce their own fat from plants and the bondage of the astral body as a result etc… is just brilliant, wow, but there I don’t know, maybe I will change my mind in a few years time? who knows? There are a few things we cannot eat I guess, although I really eat pretty much all the veggies I find, but for sure no potatoes, although yams would be possible. I guess, “do not eat raw roots” applies to people who have low HCL acid, which means all the cooked food people! I don’t know, my friend is a fan of Steiner and not even raw but when I forwarded that to her, she just said he probably doesn’t understand very well rawfoodism…

  • Yeah, it’s a lot to think about. My quote came from a lecture that he gave on April 14th, 1921.

    One thing that I think about a lot is that although Steiner’s teachings are amazing, and Waldorf schools are amazing… but they are also in some ways outdated. Steiner’s teachings were very specific to the times that he lived in. Things have changed so much. I think if he were alive now he might endorse different approaches to living than he did when he was alive.

    We, as humans, have evolved to be so different than we were then. And I think (this is just my mind racing—so I have no idea whether this holds true or not) that we are so separated from nature—in such a way that Steiner could never have anticipated- that perhaps we need to eat food directly in its natural form just to get the life force from the food that our bodies are craving. Maybe this wasn’t as necessary in Steiner’s times. Maybe people could take their food and alter it and it mattered little because they had less of a need to connect to the life force of nature than we do now.

    Or- to take this even further… perhaps then people (westernized people, anyway) were so connected to nature that they NEEDED to alter their food… they had to strengthen their own egos and separate themselves from nature because it was the industrial revolution; it was a time when as a collective whole people were moving away from nature and trying to find a way of making a living outside of it. Perhaps they accomplished this partially by cooking their food, killing the life force, separating them from nature even more.

    But now people are realizing that being away from nature is making them sick. People are realizing how connected they are to the Earth and they eat raw foods to feel that life force connection once again.

    Not sure if that makes sense :) I hope that isn’t too way out there for you. It’s just my mind rambling…It’s possible though… :)

  • ZanzibarrrZanzibarrr Raw Newbie
    Hmm… I don’t know, I think he really meant just that, that fruits eaten raw are OK because the sun has kinda cooked them. But that it is not OK for example to eat raw roots. It’s really interesting to me because I am thinking of the 811 for example, I wonder if they have respiratory problems after some time? Are you 811?

    [...] in such cases, what is lacking can be properly assisted by a diet of raw fruits. It is quite correct, in this individual case, a diet of raw fruits could be indicated. On the other hand, if I have a patient whose symptoms suggest that the cause of the inadequate functioning of his chest system is in the breathing, I will not be able to achieve anything by such means, and in fact I may only do harm. In this case I must instead prescribe a diet of boiled roots. In dealing with this very labile system we come to realize how serious the consequences of fanaticism can be in one direction or another.

    (I found that in the same lecture you quoted, which is awesome BTW).

  • that we are so separated from nature—in such a way that Steiner could never have anticipated- that perhaps we need to eat food directly in its natural form just to get the life force from the food that our bodies are craving. Maybe this wasn’t as necessary in Steiner’s times. Maybe people could take their food and alter it and it mattered little because they had less of a need to connect to the life force of nature than we do now.

    Or- to take this even further… perhaps then people (westernized people, anyway) were so connected to nature that they NEEDED to alter their food… they had to strengthen their own egos and separate themselves from nature because it was the industrial revolution; it was a time when as a collective whole people were moving away from nature and trying to find a way of making a living outside of it. Perhaps they accomplished this partially by cooking their food, killing the life force, separating them from nature even more.

    But now people are realizing that being away from nature is making them sick. People are realizing how connected they are to the Earth and they eat raw foods to feel that life force connection once again.

    Makes a lot of sense. Very wise observation. :)

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