Thomas Billings, founder and editor of the website BeyondVeg.com, has released a detailed and hard-hitting new report on the topic “Raw vegan gurus: can you trust them?”
It documents, as he writes in the introduction, “questionable and/or bad behavior by raw vegan diet gurus: fraud, incompetent and dangerous health care and advice, plagiarism, selling inappropriate and/or mislabeled products at high prices while reaping huge profits, violence/alleged threats of violence, and other behaviors.”
He also observes that, “Many raw vegan gurus are less raw and less vegan than they claim to be. Is this behavior consistent with the principles of compassionate, ethical veganism? Or – in figurative terms – do some raw gurus behave like predators with the raw foods community their prey?”
Through BeyondVeg.com, Thomas has earned a reputation for impeccable research and high integrity.
The information in this new report comes from court papers, other official documents, newspaper articles, and reliable online information sources.
In other words – and this is a really important distinction – Thomas is not sharing his opinions here. He is sharing information he has sourced.
I believe this report is important because honesty and integrity are important. Always and everywhere – but perhaps never more so than in a community, like the raw/alternative one, that attracts many who have serious health issues they are desperate to resolve.
I caught up with Thomas at the weekend to talk to him about his new report.
SB: What prompted you to undertake this project?
TB: There is a regular inflow of newcomers into the raw community. These folks don’t know the background of the raw gurus, and the article serves to provide background context so they will be cautious/sceptical and not grant too much authority to any guru. Second, as documented in the article, the negative behaviour of some raw gurus can be harmful to their followers. If raw fooders are aware of these issues, then hopefully they can reduce the chance of being harmed. This started out as a very small page that compiled a few links I had collected over the years, and then it grew organically after that as reviewers suggested adding more topics and I recalled additional items that could be included.
SB: It’s certain some will object to it as too “negative” and critical of the raw industry. What would you say to that?
TB: Knowing the background of some of the gurus gives you an idea of whether they can be trusted. My goal is a positive one: to promote more ethical behavior by raw vegan gurus, for the long-term benefit of current and future raw fooders. The information in the article will hopefully inform raw fooders of the questionable/low integrity of many raw food leaders, and also make them sceptical about the latest “super” (often super-expensive) “raw” products and services peddled by some gurus.
SB: After looking into this in such depth, what would you say is the take-home message for raw food gurus and those who follow them?
TB: For raw gurus: be honest about the limits of your knowledge/experience and don’t claim that your diet will work for everyone. If you sell products, have documentation to support the claim that the products are really raw, and sell them at reasonable prices. Services should also be provided at affordable prices. For raw fooders: keep your focus on health rather than raw. Use the gurus as an information source only, recognising that the quality and validity of the information provided may be lacking.
Thomas also wanted to share the following, regarding reader questions about the report:
“At some point this article may be discussed on raw forums and blogs. Be advised that the only forum where I might reply to reader’s questions is here on Sarah Best’s blog/website. That is, I may choose to reply to some questions or comments posted on Sarah’s blog (I will not reply to questions or comments on other sites, blogs, or in email). My availability to reply is limited by my work commitments. However, I welcome and am accepting short emails with suggestions for information to include in future versions of the article.”