An (un)healthy obsession

June is ‘obsessions’ month on DPSN.  We’ve asked our bloggers to tell us all about their secret (or not so secret!) obsession.  Whether they’re healthy or a causing a problem, common or something entirely unique, we want to know what you’re obsessed with (or what you think of the obsessions you see around you).  As always, we’re keen for you to be part of the conversation, so let us know your thoughts on change in the comments below, or jump over to our Facebook page to join the conversation.

I have a confession to make.  I have a guilty and formerly secret (not so much now) obsession.  

I’m obsessed with watching people who eat a raw vegan diet on YouTube.

Wait…what??  Yep.  There is a whole YouTube community of people who vlog about their raw vegan lifestyle.  That’s vegan, as in doesn’t eat any animal products whatsoever (and often uses vegan products in other areas of their life as well).  No meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs.  And raw, as in, only eats raw, uncooked food.

Then…what does a raw vegan eat?  Mostly fruit, salads, some nuts, seeds and smoothies.  Some bend the rules a bit and eat foods that have been dehydrated, or “warmed” but not cooked.  As you can imagine, it’s a fairly restrictive diet, which looks like it takes a considerable amount of discipline to stick to.  You also seem to have to eat quite a lot in order to absorb enough calories in your day.

From newcomers like Kate Flowers (and her partner May), or Alyse from Raw Alignment; to the old-school raw vegans that have been posting for years, like FullyRawKristina and Freelee the Banana Girl.  You name it, I’ve seen it.

So why do raw vegans choose to eat this way?  From what I can gather (not being a raw vegan myself), most vegans are vegan for ethical reasons.  And the raw part?  Mainly, because they think it’s better for their health.

Now I’m not here to argue the point.  I can understand why someone would chose not to eat animal products.  Personally I love cooking and I love eating delicious (cooked) meals, but hey, if eating raw fits in with your health beliefs and makes you feel good (and doesn’t hurt you) then by all means go ahead.  

So why do I even care?  Why on earth would I want to keep watching and learning so much about a diet and lifestyle that I don’t want to live myself?  I think it’s that there is something in the psychology of ‘obsessive’ or restrictive diets that I find particularly interesting.

There has been a huge bandwagon of diet fads in recent years.  First it was gluten-free, then organic, then paleo and keto; then almost the opposite, the high-carb/low fat diets, and now fully raw.  Beyond YouTube there are plenty of cafes in Auckland serving raw vegan foods (as well as gluten-free, organic and paleo), so obviously it’s something people want to eat.

I wonder if there is something in these new and obsessive ways of eating that has something to do with the lack of control we have over the sources of our food in our modern lifestyle.  Most of us have never grown our own food.  We pop off to the supermarket (sometimes even grocery shopping online) where things come in nice neat plastic packages, having sometimes travelled thousands of kilometres to reach our stores.

It’s true too, that as we seem to keep getting busier many of us finder harder and harder to eat healthy, natural homemade meals.  Many people eat out often; we buy pre-packaged meals, take-out and other processed food products.  Maybe the raw food thing (and other trends) has something to do with the need for more control; the desire to at least fuel our bodies with something we think is healthy (as well as tasty) and ethically sourced, even if we can’t grow it or cook it ourselves.

I wonder too, about the status of the lifestyle.  It’s commonplace these days for people to snapchat, instagram and otherwise make visible their meals online.  People make whole careers out of showcasing a particular lifestyle.  Maybe raw food is another trend people have hooked into: “look at me, I eat healthy, I’m ethical, I have discipline, I have control…doesn’t this make me so popular??”

There is a very good chance that I’m not any better, fuelling as I am their obsession by indulging my own.  But for some strange reason I can’t seem to tear myself away.  I’m endlessly fascinated by the meals they eat, the festivals they go to, the products they buy and the raw cafe’s they visit.

So for now, the raw vegans have my captive attention…and I just can’t wait to see what they think of next.

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