I’ve been following the international raw vegan community for several years now, and although I am infinitely grateful for everything I have learned from a host of knowledgeable and dedicated people, I have also come to recognize a prevalent shadow that I would like to discuss in this article.
This is important, because even though I clearly see the healing power of raw foods, even more so, I see the importance of integration and self-love.
Most people who start off on the raw vegan journey do so from a place of seeking answers, seeking to feel better and to regain their health and vitality. Many of them resort to raw veganism as their last option, when nothing else works to alleviate their symptoms.
After decades of walking the road of degeneration and toxicity, the road back to health is long and arduous. It can take several years until we are fully recovered and some more to have fully clean bodies. Detoxification is a life long process that our bodies will be continuously engaged in. With all the toxicity that is in our environment and all the inherited genetic weaknesses, I’m not quite sure we can ever arrive at a perfect state of health.
And this is exactly where the shadow that I’ve been witnessing kicks in. For some people, detoxification becomes an end to itself, the ultimate goal of life, rather than a stepping stone to creating the life that they want. This is when we start to approach healing with the motive of self-improvement, of fixing ourselves.
Instead of tapping into their creative powers and manifesting the life they desire once they have come over the hump, their life begins to revolve around detoxification. Constantly pushing their bodies further and further, they live from orange fast to a juice cleanse to a dry fast.
The bliss of creativity, intimacy and deep human connection are pushed aside. It’s never enough and pleasure and comfort have no place in that reality.
Initially, the choice to embark on the raw path is usually coming out of self-love, a desire to treat our bodies well and to take responsibility for our own health. However, sometimes we continue pushing ourselves even though we are already past our healing crisis and feeling amazing. At this point, detoxification can become a way to seek something else than to create health. It becomes an unconscious way to meet long suppressed needs.
For people who are stuck in the detox spiral, in the background there is often a deep feeling of unworthiness, and a desire to be loved and accepted. Many people dedicate themselves to cleansing their bodies with the unconscious wish that one day when they are clean enough, perfectly pure, they will be deserving of love and they will be worthy of true connection and belonging. Of course, they are not consciously aware of this, just as most people are not aware of why they do the things they do.
Detoxing becomes the goal. Everything in their lives revolves around it. When they fail, there is guilt, remorse, even self-hate. Then they go on a fast to discipline themselves to get back on track. Their self-worth becomes dependent on how well they adhere to their standards of pureness and self-discipline.
This is not self-love.
This is a perfect example of conditional love: “I love me as long as I fulfill my expectations.” I admit that I recognize this pattern in my past self as well. Until at some point, as a result of lot of inner work and emotional healing, I started choosing compassion and softness towards myself.
Sometimes, something in me craves for something cooked. Perhaps I’m feeling cold, very hungry and in the need of comfort. In the past I would have disciplined myself to eat something raw, then perhaps sneak a few handfuls of olives and peanuts for comfort. Then feel guilt and disgust for eating too much fat.
Now, instead of suppressing my cravings, I make a conscious choice to eat what I desire, making it as healthy as possible. And I give myself the full permission to do so, and I enjoy every bite without guilt or remorse. This feels very soft and loving to the parts of me who feel unnurtured and emotionally starved.
Indeed the important thing to realize is that the part of you who craves cooked or otherwise unhealthy foods is usually a part that is emotionally starved. The only coping mechanism it knows, the only way it knows to feel better, is to eat those foods. This part doesn’t need discipline, which in the worst case would lead to more emotional starvation. What this part needs is attention, compassion and understanding for why it craves the foods it does.
So learn to approach yourself with softness. The intense feelings of self-rejection, disgust or guilt are far more damaging to our system than a bowl of Indian food or a vegan pizza could ever be.
Interestingly I have noticed that the moment I dropped the high expectations for myself and I allowed myself to eat more freely without guilt, the intense swinging between extremes dissipated. The cravings diminished and now there is more ease and enjoyment.
Suddenly I find myself naturally eating exactly the way I’ve wanted to all along, with an occasional cooked pumpkin soup or a bowl of quinoa which does not spiral out of control, and which I enjoy with every cell of my body. No guilt. No bad feelings. This works because there is no pressure or judgment, and hence there is no need for parts of me to rebel and to pull me in the opposite direction of what I consciously want.
It is an amazing motivator to be able to regenerate our bodies to their fullest potential, to reverse genetic weaknesses and to live in our fullest vitality until very old age. I desire this too and have deep respect for people who go after that. Just remember that detoxification is not the only thing that is needed for holistic health, and too much of it without giving the body a rest, can even be counter-productive. True health happens on all levels: emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.
You deserve love, connection, belonging, nurture and everything you could ever need even if you totally “fail” at the whole raw food thing.
So if you find yourself obsessing about cleansing your body even though you already feel good and are not facing health complications, this is a gentle reminder that there are other things in life as well. Don’t forget to cultivate intimacy in your life. It is not possible to be a physical human being and live truly happily in isolation. If you think you do, you are probably suppressing your most basic needs.
We all need connection, acceptance, love and belonging from our fellow humans. On top of that, we have an immense capacity for creativity, which you will have more and more access to as you shift to a high vibrational diet. Don’t forget to tap into this energy and enjoy the bliss of music, art, photography, dancing, building something, inventing things, cultivating plants, or whatever it is that ignites your spirit.
And last but not least, in your lowest moments on this journey, treat yourself as you would treat an unnurtured child: with softness and compassion. This is to cultivate self-love, which is the most important thing for raising your vibration and for bringing about integration, and integration is the very thing that will lead to your awakening.