Hard-hitting new investigative report asks “Raw gurus: can you trust them?”

Fake, Fraud, Scam, Hoax, Rubber Stamps

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?”

Go here to read it.

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.”


  • Sarah, that’s a very interesting blog. Neatly fits in with some of the views I hold.

    I aspire to a predominantly raw diet, the practicalities of pragmatism are unavoidable, and personal choice can dictate. Friendships also play a role in what one can realistically achieve. In the end, life is a compromise, and we do the best we can to achieve as much of what we want to do as we can. But the chances of achieving everything, well, they’re pretty remote for most of us. I congratulate absolutely everybody who is 100% raw, and maintains it, and is genuine in their claim. I know some who do, and yes, they look superb. However, they might give a little extra for soap to people than its fair, on occasion.

    Some of the links, and some of the expose’s, are very interesting. The same has existed around the phenomenon of wheatgrass juice. I’ve naturally an interest as I sell it. But I’m also aware that there are people who have made some fairly extravagant claims in the past, and one has to be wary of repeating them. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t got some fantastic testimonials. Sadly, though, many of them are unpublishable, due to regulations etc. None of which means that people don’t get the enormous benefits, it’s just that you won’t find me making extravagant claims, or getting anywhere near interested in being “a guru”. Please come round and hit me over the head with a wet fish if that happens!

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  • I feel that if we’re going to build up communities in this world based on love and trust, our focus could be on improving ourselves instead of highlighting the faults of others – those people can’t even defend themselves unless they write a statement and it’s going to be the case, as it always is, that some of those ‘truths’ are distorted and from the viewpoint of others. Imagine if one day we found out these sorts of reports were being written about us? Even if we’d done wrong, we’d be horrified!

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    • Georgie, I hear where you’re coming from and agree that we should absolutely focus on improving ourselves rather than finding fault with others.

      But I respectfully disagree that that means this report should not have been written. I wrote here about why it is not spiritual to stay silent while others violate our or others’ rights – and fraud, plagiarism, dangerous health advice, etc, are clear violations of rights.

      It is essential that any company or individual in a position of power/influence in the alternative health movement acts with full honesty and integrity, because when they do not, that can hurt those who put their trust in them.

      I don’t agree with every word of this report, but I do fully support its overall goal, which is, as Tom explained above, “a positive one: to promote more ethical behavior by raw vegan gurus, for the long-term benefit of current and future raw fooders”.

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  • I have just read Thomas’s report and the situation is so much worse than I had realised. I had come across hints of some of it before but Jeez! It’s very important, not only for raw vegans but for all health seekers.
    I salute your and Thomas’s courage.

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  • I think that perhaps some people are not reading this article in the detail that it deserves – people have DIED from dangerous treatment and doctors who have had their medical titles removed are STILL using them – this is shocking!

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  • I have the feeling we are entering a new era of awareness in the natural health movement in which we will all get a lot more realistic and constructively critical of persons and products.

    This is well overdue. I am one of those who sent Storm and Jinjee Talifero tens of thousands of dollars as a downpayment on a property in the proposed Raw Vegan Village.

    If this information had been out there back when I was deciding whether to enter into this business arrangement with them, I never would have.

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  • I have read a few of the documents and will return to read more. I didn’t think this would have anything that I did not know or that would shock me but it does and it has. Right now I am quietly reflecting on those who put their trust in raw gurus and who are no longer here after those gurus made irresponsible decisions.

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  • Fantastic article. My worst experience with a so-called raw guru was when she didn’t admit her cooked eating while pregnant and when the same one cancelled her online diary and, after a few months, wrote that she started eating a so-called raw superfood back in early 2000, while she was not (according to her food diary). I felt like she’s cheated, she has played with my trust.

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