Letter to M2M from Essene vegetarian raw-fooder Nazariah
I hereby request people who have had either very good results (healings and/or robust health) or very poor results (health problems) on a raw vegan diet to briefly write-up their experience and mail it to me.
I am doing research for a book in which I will publish an unbiased study on the experiences people have had with the diet. This book will include any reports of great healings and robust health, but will also include reports of people apparently crippled or whose death seems to have been related to the diet. If any of you know people who fall into either category, please request that they send me their story.
I feel that an unbiased study and report needs to be done. Let me explain why.
My own experience with raw foods is as follows. When 17, I met an elderly Essene man who was a raw fooder who ate dairy. He became my mentor and I followed his diet. We made raw yogurts and other fermented dairy products from mostly goat and sheep milk from animals well taken care of. (With fermented dairy the lactose is predigested and does not cause mucous and is very digestible.) I ate that diet for many years and was very healthy. Then, due to my attraction to the philosophy of veganism, I became a vegan raw fooder.
I never felt as healthy on that version of the diet and after five years on that version I lost the use of my feet and was nearly crippled. I had to crawl to the bathroom. I had my blood tested and was B-12 anemic. I began taking B-12 and eating dairy. The B-12 healed my nerve problems, but I believe it was the protein in the fermented dairy that healed my feet and muscle tissue. (On the vegan version my muscle tissue seemed to be eating itself; after adding the yogurt my muscle tissue healed itself.)
Since my negative experience as a raw vegan I have been on the mostly raw with fermented dairy version another five years and feel fantastic. Thus, all together I have eaten the raw with dairy diet 15 years, always feeling fantastic and being physically fit. The five years as a raw vegan resulted in my body falling apart.
While I was a vegan I preached that philosophy with great fervor. I truly believed it was the best diet. Whenever I heard a raw vegan or cooked vegan describe health problems that they experienced on the vegan diet, I chalked it up to either
1) They are just detoxing; or,
2) They are not following the diet correctly.
But after my own negative experience as a raw vegan I began to honestly open my eyes. The following is a synopsis of what I found.
Because I was by this time a "noted raw food speaker" and intimate with other famous raw food speakers/experts, I was often at their homes and getting to know them. I found that many of these noted speakers/experts/authors were experiencing anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, and various muscle tissue problems and other problems.
However, what was most troubling, is that they didn't want the public to know. I won't name names because that would be betraying confidential interactions, but many of them called me when they were needing some sort of advice for dealing with these ailments. Then, at the next big raw food conference, there that person would be, preaching the amazing benefits of the 100% raw vegan diet, signing copies of their books, and speaking negatively about cooked food eaters and those who eat only partially raw or are not vegan.
This was a major eye-opener for me. I realized that once a person is earning their livelihood and getting their "positive strokes" by being an author/expert on the raw/vegan diet, it is very hard for them to admit that the diet is not working in their own life. It would mean that their own books were no longer valid, and they would need to find another way to earn their livelihood.
But there is another reason that raw food author/experts (as well as the non-famous raw vegans) do not publicly admit their problems with the diet. Because people have been shamed into not admitting their hardships on this diet, each one believes they are the only one having the problem. This is especially true with anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and depression. I have been in a room with seven raw food experts and had personal knowledge that five of them had been struggling with those problems, and yet each of them thought they were the only one. Because I am a minister, many of these folks felt comfortable enough to seek counseling from me, but would not feel comfortable mentioning their problems to others. I once lived in a house with several raw food vegans. Every one of them ended up with nervous disorders such as panic attacks. One of them went on a raw food chat board and asked if it might be due to the diet and perhaps they should take B-12. The moderator of that chat board wrote back saying that the diet is perfectly fine and they were just going through detox. However, I was a personal friend of that moderator and so I knew what the other people on the chat board did not know: I knew that the moderator himself was suffering from terrible panic attacks and was even considering suicide (he had confided that to me, but on the chat board he moderated he still preached the party line: all problems are just detox).
I then read an issue of Chet Day's Health and Beyond newsletter in which former students of T. C. Fry wrote in and described how they had become crippled following his diet. I read another interview in that mag of a Natural Hygienist doctor who said that health problems "invariably" result in a 100% raw vegan diet.
Then, in a town very near me, one of the founding members of the local raw food group died at a very young age from heart problems. My guess is he was about 49 or so. The doctor told his wife that the man's body had begun to eat itself and destroyed his heart due to malnutrition. His body had not been getting enough nutrition on the raw vegan diet, as he did not absorb enough nutrients from raw foods. When his wife shared that info with the members of that raw food support group, she was told "the doctor is wrong. And if you are going to speak negatively about raw foods you are no longer welcome to attend." That was the support she got when her husband had just dropped dead.
I then told a woman from a California raw food support group that story. She responded, "Oh, we just had a guy die from the very same thing. The doctors said his body had begun to eat itself due to malnutrition. I began to wonder how prevalent these sorts of problems really are.
I could go on and on reporting similar things. But suffice it to say that I now believe there are problems with the raw vegan diet. And now that I have begun to share this sort of information, I am getting the exact response I have seen others get when they shared such info: brushed aside with some sort of negative remark.
Here is what I have decided to do. I am soliciting peoples experiences, good and bad, with this diet. I am doing a research project. It will be unbiased. In three years or so I will publish the results.
Last remark: I still think raw foods are great! I have thrived on a raw diet with yogurt for 15 years. I have friends who have thrived equally long including eggs in their raw diet. So, I am not against raw foods, I am in favour of them, but now believe their is something missing in the vegan form of the diet.
I guess it is appropriate that, as an Essene, I now find myself supporting the version of the diet given by Jesus in the Essene Gospel of Peace (raw diet with dairy). When I was a raw food vegan I was embarrassed by Jesus including raw dairy in the diet. Now I realize he knew what he was doing!
.... if you know of anyone who had either a great healing/robust health or bad problems on the raw vegan diet, send me that info for my research project: ....
Also published here: http://drsbass.com/generations.html
An Interview with Nazariah
By Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude: In March I had the pleasure to interview Brother Nazariah, who is the founder of the Essene Church of Christ. In this fascinating interview, Nazariah shares with us his experiences with a raw food diet and the vegan movement. Nazariah may be reached on the Internet at www.essene.org. I have made a few comments throughout the interview which are in green. My questions are always in italic typeface.
What is your background with the raw food diet?
I'm 46 now and I've been a vegetarian since I was 17. At that age, I not only became a vegetarian but also a raw foodist. I included raw dairy into my diet because I had met an elderly Essene teacher who recommended that. Historically, that used to be the Essene diet. The Essenes, for the most part, were not vegans. They were vegetarians, and many of them were raw foodists, but they ate fermented dairy products yogurt and kefir. So that was my diet was for 7 years. During that time, I did great no problems at all.
Then, when I had moved to another location, I became very attracted to the vegan philosophy, because it is a beautiful philosophy. I then became a raw foodist.
After 5 years on a raw food diet, I lost the ability to walk. All of my extremities my hands, my fingers and my feet were in such pain that I couldn't move. I had central nervous system problems and I was B12 anemic. All of that happened after 5 years on a raw food diet.
So I switched back to eating the raw fermented dairy products. At that point, being as nerve-damaged as I was, I also included eggs. I healed myself by reintroducing those products.
At that point, I was wondering whether this was an experience unique to myself, or whether other persons had had problems on the raw food diet in the long-term. In the short term, you don't have those sorts of problems. They're nutritional deficiencies that take several years to manifest themselves.
So I did some research. I put a call out on the Internet at different raw food chat boards. Because I was one of the speakers at raw food events when they were held, I got to hang out with the other noted raw food speakers. I started realizing that problems like I'd had were rampant in the raw food movement, but don't get talked about.
When the people who lecture and write the books start themselves having problems on the diet, they hide that fact because they are earning their livings being a raw food lecturer/author. I hate to say that, but it's that way. I've seen it happen again and again, when I will personally know a famous raw food speaker/teacher, and because I personally know them, I know that they are going through anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, that they're having pain in their joints, they're losing their teeth things like that. And yet, I'll see them speak at a raw food convention and they never mention any of the problems they're actually experiencing. They just praise how perfect the raw food vegan diet is. And what happens is any time people are having problems on the raw food diet, they get told that they're just experiencing detox and cleansing. But that's just a pat answer.
(Comments by Frederic: There is often a big misconception in the raw food movement, where people will believe that anytime something goes wrong, it is because of "detox." I keep reminding people that the intense period of detoxification is often something that lasts less than a few months often only a few weeks. If symptoms persist, they are often signs of nutritional imbalances.)
Here, in the Eugene area, where I live, a man in the local raw food support group died about two years ago. He was only in his forties. For two weeks before his death, he'd been telling the leader of that group that he was having bad chest pains, but she just kept telling him, "Oh, it's just detox, it's just cleansing."
And he had been into this for a long time?
Yes, for a long time. He was one of the funding members of the raw food support group there. His doctor, when he died, told his wife (the man's wife) that her husband had died of starvation. His body just starved to death, even though he was eating raw foods everyday. He wasn't absorbing enough nutrients from it.
I was telling that story to a woman in Santa Monica who is part of a raw food support group there, and she responded by saying: "Oh yeah, we recently had a guy who died the same way, and he wasn't very old either. The doctor said that his body just starved for lack of nutrients." Then I was telling another woman in Florida who's a member of a raw food support group there the same story about both these people, the one in Eugene and the one in Santa Monica, and she responded by saying, "Oh yeah, we've had two die that way."
The more I got into looking into this, the more I found that a lot of the things that get preached in the raw food movement just aren't true. One has to do with protein. There is a real issue with getting enough protein. On a cooked food vegan diet, you tend to eat a lot of beans and grains, and that is a complete protein. But if a person is a raw foodist, beans and grains would be sprouted, and most people don't eat such a large amount of sprouts. Even if they do, as soon as you begin to sprout, the protein is converted into something else. So the protein content goes down. The vitamin content goes way up when you sprout, so there are some good things about sprouting. The vitamin content increases, but the protein decreases. So on a raw diet, you think you're getting your protein from the little bit of fermented seed cheeses, but you can't eat very much of that because it really clogs you up. So over a period of several years, people become really protein deficient.
Protein is what rebuilds everything in our body. Everyday we're losing billions of cells, and they have to be replaced. Well, it's protein that is used by the body to rebuild all those things. So what happens is that over a period of time, the body just isn't rebuilding all of that and you end up having nerve damage and different repercussions. That can happen even in the cooked-food vegan diet.
[Comments by Frederic: The amount of protein needed is different for each individual. The problem is that those needing higher amounts of protein who go on raw vegan diets are often the ones who experience the most problems. Lack of strength, hair loss, and constant hunger are some of the symptoms that can occur.]
The biggest study on the true mortality rates of vegetarians and vegans was published recently, and the results were partly shown in Ahimsa magazine, which is a vegan magazine. Even though the results were not good for the vegan movement, that vegan magazine said in an editorial that they felt that in fairness to the readers, they needed to publish the information.
The information was that even though we've been led to believe that vegans live longer, they actually live less long than many other dietary categories. Vegans have a high incidence of degenerative brain diseases Alzheimer, dementia, and things of that nature.
In the past, all of the positive statistics about vegans, all the "less this" and the "less that," all the good things that were taught in books like John Robbins's Diet for a New America all those statistics weren't from studies from large groups of people who actually died. They were just extrapolated information. It was like, John Robbins would say, "Okay, fat is one of the things that cause heart disease. Vegans are eating 30% less fat, therefore they will die of 30% less heart disease" It was all theory. As it turns out, there are certain things that are good about the vegan diet such as less fat, less cholesterol but the problem is that there are certain deficiencies in the diet, even in the cooked-vegan diet, that actually cause vegans to have more of certain serious diseases, especially brain-related ones, because it's all having to do with the central nervous system.
Are there other studies to back up your claim that vegans live less long than meat eaters?
See, over the years, I've read many studies that have caused me to come to this conclusion. But I've also spoken to many experts, such as Gabriel Cousens, who have clinical experience with vegans. But it goes back to the 1990's, when Vegetarian Times, which is a major magazine, published the results of a study that was geared to just women, and tried to see which ones lived longer, between meat eaters, lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegan women. It turned out that the lacto-ovo vegetarians lived the longest, the meat eaters lived the next longest, and vegans lived the least long. And that was in Vegetarian Times approximately in 1990. So as the years went by and studies were done, it just became sort of overwhelmingly obvious that a lot of the things that we believe in the raw food movement and the vegan movement literally aren't verifiable by science, and science actually discredits a lot of these claims.
The good news is that a vegetarian diet, which includes some dairy and eggs, appears to be very healthy. That's the good news, is that we can be healthy vegetarians. It's extremely questionable whether very many of us can be healthy vegans. It might be possible, but that it doesn't seem possible for the majority. The majority of vegans are actually not healthy.
Most vegans are not getting enough B-12. It's very important to take a B-12 supplement if you're on a vegan diet, and a lot of vegans don't. A lot of the sources vegans have believed they were getting their B12 from actually aren't good. For instance, the blue-green algae, the spirulina, sea vegetables, all of those things are listed as having a lot of B12, but studies have shown that they're analog B12, which can't be utilized by the human body. Analog B-12 competes for receptor sites with the real usable B-12. It results that eating any of those things, it's not only that you're not getting the B-12 you think you're getting, you're actually going to get less, because the analog B-12 clings to the limited numbers of receptor sites in the body for real B12 and then real B-12 can't cling to it, because it's already taken by the analog B-12. So, people who have been eating those things in the vegan movement thinking that it's a natural source of B12 and that they don't need to take a B-12 supplement, become very B-12 anemic.
Gabriel Cousens, a holistic M.D., has become very concerned about the B-12 issue and is now publishing the results of new research. He says that it's been demonstrated that 80% of vegans become seriously B-12 deficient. He then lists the problems that can be related to B-12 deficiency, and it's an incredible list of problems.
Where I come out on all this, is that when we look at our own family lines, most of us have not had a vegetarian ancestor. The vast majority of us, living in America, have not had a single vegetarian ancestor, going back all the way to this almost countless line of generations. And certainly, there was not a vegan in that family line. Therefore, that's a pretty radical thing to do, if you look at it that way, to all of a sudden become a vegan, when no one in your genetic line has been a vegan, going all the way back to perhaps thousands of years ago. We've been eating animal products for all that time, so the human system is expecting to get nutrients that way.
So what I advocate now is that people become vegetarians, not vegans. With that in mind, there are certain smart things that you can do. For instance, the problem with dairy products that most people have is the digestion of lactose. Lactose is what causes mucus. But in fermented dairy the lactose is pre-digested by the fermentation process. Even most people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate fermented dairy. Fermented dairy is yogurt, kefir, etc. You can also have some organic eggs from free-range chickens.
Another one of the fallacies of the raw food movement is the idea that once you cook vegetables, you destroy all of the nutrients. The reality is that it simply isn't true, according to some tests that have been done.
They did a test for cancer purposes where they knew that there were certain nutrients in certain vegetables with anti-cancer properties. So they fed one group of people raw vegetables and they fed another group cooked vegetables. Then they checked their blood, to see which group had the highest level of the positive anti-cancer properties from the vegetables in their bloodstream, and it was the people on the cooked vegetables that had it, far more than the people on the raw vegetables.
The reason is simply because most people digest cooked vegetables better than they digest raw vegetables. More nutrients get in the bloodstream from the cooked vegetables.
There's an example that I give to a lot of the people that I know younger people, college students, old hippies, people like that who have at least at one time or another in their lives eaten marijuana brownies. The interesting thing about eating cooked marijuana is that you'll get high if you eat cooked marijuana, but you won't get high at all if you eat raw marijuana. And a lot of those people can relate to that. They tried raw marijuana eating it, and nothing happened to them. They've tried cooking it and eating it, and they did get high. Well, the reason is because only when the marijuana is heated does it break down the fibers enough to where the THC seeps out and can be absorbed into the human bloodstream.
What I point out is that it's the same thing with a lot of the nutrients in vegetable matter. A lot of times, you'll eat the raw vegetables and your body doesn't really break down the fibers enough to absorb certain of the nutrients. In a tomato, for example, you find lycopene, which is one nutrient that they've found which is really good for the human heart and has anti-cancer properties. Lycopene is not digested in a raw tomato. It is digested in a cooked tomato. So, there are some nutrients that are more absorbed in cooked vegetables than in raw vegetables.
If a person isn't defending a particular "ism," but is just looking for truth, you'll find that the healthiest diet is one that includes a lot of both cooked vegetation, and raw vegetation because that's the best of both worlds. You're getting the things from the raw vegetables that you can't get from a cooked vegetable and you're getting things from the cooked vegetables that you're not going to get from the raw vegetables.
That is the healthiest diet. A vegetarian diet that's not a junk food vegetarian diet but one based on good, whole, organic foods.
In there, somewhere, you've got to get your protein. So either with your salad, or with your cooked meal, you want to have yogurt or kefir, or hard-boiled eggs on your salad, or something.
Could that be beans?
It can some days, but if it were going to always be that, then that would be vegan, and the whole point of everything I've just told you is that it seems that the vegan diet isn't beneficial in the long-term. If a person were going to be a vegan, they could be having some tofu, tempeh, or some sort of a bean-type protein with their steamed veggies. That diet would be a healthy vegan diet, as far as vegan diets go. But what I'm saying is that the latest research is that the vegan diet itself is deficient in the long-term.
What about supplements? If someone takes B-12, vitamin D, etc., could that be complete?
They keep on discovering certain little things that we didn't know, even three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. You really can't be sure that there's something else that they haven't discovered that's lacking in the vegan diet.
For example, we only found out a few years ago about the need for the omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important, and it's very difficult to get them on a vegan diet. Several years ago, when that got discovered, we got told that it's in flax seeds. So then people in the vegan movement started having a lot of flax seeds or flax oil, and stuff like that. Well, now, as recently as a year ago, they discovered that we only absorb something like less than 6% of the omega 3 in flax oil. So in other words, you'd have to eat an incredible amount of flax oil to get very much omega 3 from it, because most people don't absorb very much of it from flax oil.
And then, they discovered as recently as one year ago that there's a long-chain fatty acid, which is really important to the brain and is not found in any vegan source of food. Then about a month ago, Gabriel Cousens said that this long chain fatty acid, called EPA, is present in this kind of wild plant called purslane. But hardly anybody knows that in the vegan movement, because that just got discovered a month ago. And most of them don't know that they're even missing this long-chain fatty acid.
What I'm telling you that for is that, even though the general idea is that you just combine some beans and grains and maybe take a B-12 supplement and you're going to have everything that you need, actually, there are little things, like certain fatty acids that they keep on discovering that aren't in the vegan diet, until they figure out some way that you can get it from a vegan source. So I wonder, whether or not in the next five years, or 10-20 years, they're going to keep on discovering little things like that, that they didn't know before.
It certainly has been happening my whole lifetime. They keep on discovering ether new tidbits of information. So if a person were concerned about health, I wouldn't recommend a vegan diet.
If your main reason for being a vegan is the ethical concerns for the animal world and if you're willing to take on the personal karma of being less healthy because of your ethical considerations for the animal world, then, that's an okay reason to be a vegan, but not health, because it doesn't seem to be healthy in the long-term.
So you have to just decide, where you're at on that. If you don't care about your own health, or if you're willing to sacrifice your own health because of the ethical considerations for the animal world, then I don't have any problems with that. If a person knows that they're going to have an increased chance of dying prematurely, and having different health problems, but are choosing that path knowingly, because of their love for the animal world, well then that's fine. As long as they're doing it knowingly.
My viewpoint is that I think that for the animal world, our generation is making a good step in the right direction by simply stopping eating animals. We're making a good step in the right direction for our species. After a certain number of generations of our family line actually being vegetarian, we could probably evolve from a vegetarian species into a vegan species the way evolution works.
But you don't just go from a meat eating species to all of a sudden being a vegan species without a lot of traumatic problems. So I advise a more intermediate step. Let's first evolve into being vegetarians for a number of generations, then let's evolve into veganism and let evolution happen in that way.
I don't think that it's wise for a woman who is pregnant to eat a raw-vegan diet, and the reason is that there are numbers of studies and view points that believe that there is an insufficient amount of nutrients comes in especially vitamin B12. If a woman were taking the vitamin B-12 supplement, and certain other supplements, then she probably could stay on a raw-vegan diet. However, a lot of the people that are on the raw-vegan don't believe in supplements they don't believe in taking vitamin B12. And according to the latest research from Gabriel Cousens, 80% of vegans are B-12 deficient. A vitamin B-12 deficiency in children leads to irreversible brain damage. So even if later in their life, they're eating plenty of B-12, there's been irreversible brain damage already done.
I understand the reasons that a woman would choose to be a raw vegan herself and to attempt to raise her children that way, and even to attempt to maintain that diet while she's pregnant. The reason is that she believes that it's good for her and that it will be good for her children. The problem is that actual scientific evidence shows otherwise. It's very risky and dangerous for a pregnant woman to be on a raw vegan diet, and it is risky and dangerous to raise small children on a raw vegan diet.
Now, one might say, are there other problems besides the B-12 issue? Well, the B-12 issue is very important. There would need to be a B-12 supplement to be raising your child on a raw-vegan. But B-12 isn't the only issue. Many children who are being raised on a raw-vegan diet are suffering various nutritional deficiencies that affect them later in life. And even if a person believes that perhaps a child can be raised successfully on a raw-vegan diet, they owe it to their child to research the issue before attempting to actually raise the child as a raw-vegan. It's not enough to research the issue by asking raw-food experts, because as I've pointed out in this interview, raw-food experts have been spreading incorrect information for a number of years. You have to actually get into talking to other sources of information, including nutritional scientists people who actually study nutrition.
Have you seen yourself children who've been raised on a raw vegan diet?
I know friends of the family of the infant that died recently in Florida, and they tell me that even the older children in that family were emaciated and looked like Nazi workcamp inmates.
Is 100% raw ideal?
Here's what I think now: a person on a raw diet, including fermented dairy products or eggs, will do fine. But if a person was going for what the healthiest diet is, I think having one meal of cooked vegetables per day steamed vegetables or an oriental stir-fry, or something like that is actually even healthier than being 100% raw for this reason:
Studies have shown that certain important nutrients in vegetables are better absorbed and utilized by a human being from cooked vegetables. And other certain important nutrients are better absorbed and utilized by a human being from raw vegetables. So, the best of both worlds is each day to have cooked and raw vegetables in our diet.
So actually, as far as what would be the most healthy diet, I think it would be one meal each day that includes cooked vegetables, like some steamed veggies or stir-fry and one meal per day that's basically a big, raw, vegetable salad, and, if there's a third meal, that can be a couple pieces of fruit or fruit smoothie for breakfast, and that would be raw. So the diet that I just described would be two third raw. And then there's got to be a good source of protein in that diet, which means that perhaps with the cooked meal, one might have some kefir, some yogurt, or perhaps, on the salad a couple of hard-boiled eggs.
This leads me to question the protein theories that I have learned. The current RDAs for protein are 0.8 grams for every kilo of ideal body weight, which seems fairly easy to get on a raw-vegan diet. So where do you get the impression that protein is such an important element in the diet?
Where we get the impression is from the actual crippled people and people with nervous disorders on the vegan diet. See, on paper, like you're saying, it all looks fine. But in reality, you have people on long-term vegan diets having real problems.
So that's where we find out that there are problems. So then the investigators say, "Okay, even though we thought that there was plenty of these nutrients in a long-term vegan diet, we have these degenerative brain diseases and things like that happening to vegans: so what's the problem?" Then they discover that there are certain long-chain fatty acids and other things that we're not really thinking about when we're just looking at how many ounces of protein is in this or that.
The real complexity comes in that there'd be these things that we haven't factored in. And then even right now, there's no reason to think that in the next five or ten years they're not going to discover more of those little things that we don't currently know about, because they keep discovering more. You have to realize that in the 1900s, nobody knew what B-12 was, nobody knew what vitamin C was, nobody knew what vitamin A was that's all stuff that got discovered later. And as the years go by, they keep discovering more things. Rather than look at all the things they've discovered so far, and then look at whether or not you can get them on a certain diet, it's good to look at groups of people who have been following a certain diet and if they're healthy or not.
One of the things that I've just noticed, with my own eyeballs, is that a lot of long-term vegans actually don't look healthy. They look kind of emaciated, their skin is kind of yellow, they've got bags under their eyes, their hair's not good it's splitting, their fingernails aren't good. So just looking at long-term vegans, like if you go to a vegan's organization's meeting and look at the people and you'll realize that they actually don't even look healthy, especially when you look at the people that have been on it for longer than 10 years. So then you start finding out that they're having really major health problems related to certain nutritional deficiencies.
I want to emphasize that I was a vegan. I was a radical vegan. I was in favor of the philosophy, and I still think it's a beautiful philosophy. I still think it's fine for a person, in spite of all that I've said to just knowingly become a vegan. But what they shouldn't be under is the false illusion that they're following a diet that's healthier than other diets, which is what they thought. In fact, it's probably not as healthy as certain other diets. And it's okay to do it, as long as you realize that you are taking a risky dietary choice, and you're doing it for ethical reasons, not health reasons.
[Comments by Frederic: I wouldn't generalize like that. Not all vegans are unhealthy. However, there are some people who definitely aren't doing well and do not look well, which can be attributed to their diet because their problems go away when they stop being vegans.]
You're probably familiar with the very recent case in Florida, where a small child died on a raw-vegan diet. When that happened, there were a lot of newspaper articles in Florida about the raw-food diet. And those reporters were going around, asking different nutritional experts for their opinion on the raw-food diet. Well, some buddy in Florida sent me a couple of newspaper articles, and in those articles, there were a few nutritional scientists interviewed. They were pointing out, like I've mentioned before, that most of the nutrients get absorbed better in a cooked vegetable, and a few get absorbed and utilized better in a raw vegetable. Therefore, the healthiest diet would be one that included both raw and cooked vegetables, because then you're getting the nutrients that are better absorbed in each way.
But there are other fallacies that nutritional scientists pointed out. One of which is the whole living enzyme thing. Only one researcher, in the 1940's, that Dr. Howell, who always gets mentioned in the raw food literature, believed that there was a chance that, when you ate raw foods, those enzymes in the food would make it to the part of the digestion process where they could be helpful, before they got themselves completely fried. But, your other 99% of researchers don't believe that. And this is what people in the raw-food movement don't realize, is that the idea that the raw enzymes in food that you eat are going to help you digest your food is not believed to be true by 99% of researchers. The reason is because before food every gets to the point where the nutrients are being extracted, it's already been totally broken down by your own digestion process. When you eat food, it goes to a place in your stomach where there's these incredible "fires" with acids, and stuff like that, and it totally breaks down your food before it gets to the point that those enzymes could help in the way that raw-foodists believe they help.
But, the other thing is that the enzymes of a plant are not the same as the enzymes of a human being, in our digestive tract. The enzymes of a plant are designed by a plant to help the plant digest its nutrients, its food. So the enzymes of a broccoli plant are for the broccoli plant to digest its food. If you look at them with a microscope, they aren't the same as the enzymes in a human digestive tract.
Now there are a few plant enzymes that have been found to help digest certain things, like for instance in papayas you have papain. There are a couple of plant enzymes that seem to have a beneficial effect in digesting certain things, but the idea that we have when we are eating our salads and our raw foods that all of those living enzymes in those plants are somehow going to aid our digestion process actually is not what science has found.
If we go to a raw food conference, you notice that a lot of men look quite skinny or emaciated. Some say it's detox and that the weight will come back, but then many have been on this diet for quite a while and still are quite underweight.
That's the big problem now, but there are a few exceptions to the rule: people who have amazing digestive systems and are able to digest nutrients properly on an all-raw diet. But the important thing is that those are the exception to the rule. The vast majority of people do not adequately break down and digest all the raw foods that they're eating. And that's why they can't reach a healthy weight.
I mentioned to you that several people have died on a raw food diet and that when they died; the doctor said that their body had starved to death. Those weren't people that were fasting; they were people that were eating raw foods everyday. But their body starved to death because these individuals had less effective digestive systems than the average person. So, even though the average person would not digest as many nutrients from the raw vegetables as from the cooked vegetables, people with poor digestion digest so few nutrients on the raw food diet that they can actually starve to death even though they are eating everyday.
And so, when one sees things like that happen and then try to bring that up and talk about it in the raw-food movement, then everyone gets really defensive and starts attacking you and labeling you in some negative way.
What raw-foodism has become is just another "ism," that is defended by the true believers. And any information that I've provided you in this interview, what the true believers will do with it is that they'll simply look at it and immediately start forming arguments and opinions to counter it, without ever being open to the possibility that it might actually be true. Just like a Jehovah Witness would defend Jehovaism, and a Mormon would defend Mormonism, raw-foodists will defend raw-foodism.
When we talk to these leaders, people like Gabriel Cousens, they'll acknowledge the B-12 issue. But you don't just recommend supplements but move away from the vegan diet completely. Why?
The thing is that I'm not so personally invested in having to defend the raw-food diet or the vegan diet. I simply got into all of this because I was a seeker of truth, and I was looking for a diet that was spiritual and healthy, and wherever truth has led me, I followed. The problem is that with most of these noted leaders of the movement are authors. That's how they got to be the noted leaders, because they were writing the books. And they're on the lecture circuit, they have clients, they're earning their living from being an authority on veganism or raw-foodism. If they completely just shift and say, "I no longer believe that the raw-vegan diet is anything that should be advocated to the large number of people," then the problem is that it pulls the rug from underneath them, personally, in regards to how they're earning their living. So I hate to say a thing like this, but from what I've seen with my own eyes, it seems to be part of the problem.
The leaders, the authority figures, are earning their living from being promoters of this particular diet. So therefore and even the best of them when they start to see some problems, their instinct is to just recommend a particular supplement, or something like that, and of course, usually they sell the supplements that they're recommending. You'll notice that most of them do. So they sell those things, but if they were to simply say, "Gosh, you know even though I became a famous author on this topic, it doesn't actually seem to be valid anymore," they would have to change their entire career. The thing that they're famous for would not be something that they aren't in favor of anymore. It's a radical thing that they would have to experience and go through.
Are you saying that these leaders may actually not be vegans themselves but won't come out publicly and say that?
That's not what I just said. But since you are saying that, on whether or not they are vegans or not, all I can say is that I have seen with my own eyes certain things... One incident occurred when I was one of the speakers at the raw-food convention in San Francisco, a few years back. Two of the speakers were really insistent that one has to be on a 100% raw-vegan diet and that 80% raw is not okay to get the benefits. They said out loud that you have to be 100% raw-vegan. And each of those speakers claimed to have been 100% raw-vegans for 20 years. They were the most aggressive, assertive speakers in the entire convention, really negative towards anyone that would just eat partially raw. Well, before the end of that weekend, I saw each of them sneakily eat cooked food.
I went for a walk and a few blocks away from the convention center and I walked by a pizza restaurant, and there was one of the speakers who had said those things, and he's eating a pizza. You can order a pizza with no cheese on it, but even then it would be cooked food and he was claiming that he hadn't eaten cooked food in 20 years. And it looked like it was a cheese pizza.
Then when I was leaving the San Francisco airport, and I was walking around that round concourse in the airport, with little restaurants and things like that, and there was the other speaker who had been so aggressive and assertive about having to be 100% raw. He was sitting at a table having a plate of spaghetti. I don't know whether that was vegan or not, but it was certainly cooked. And, as I was approaching him and he saw me coming up, he stuck up a newspaper and hid his face behind it. But I didn't embarrass him by walking up to him.
One of the real problems in that raw food movement with those experts and authors is that they have a lot of guilt because they get into this thing about having to be 100% raw. And when they themselves have a binge or sneakily eat some cooked food, they don't want to admit it because it would wreck their reputation as the great raw-foodist that never eats cooked food. So therefore they eat the cooked food on the sly and then have guilt about it. They start to get into a very vicious cycle psychologically. Yet, when you speak to them or when they do their lecture, they just still claim to have never eaten cooked food in all these years. They put on a fake front to the public. So I saw that with my own eyes with a number of the leading individuals.
So, are there some of those leaders who really are 100% raw-vegans through the years and are healthy? There might be. But, they also might not be. I mean, all I know is that the ones that I get to know, the more I get to know them, the more I see them eating cooked food on the sly, or having really severe problems like anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression, teeth falling out, fingernails breaking, hair falling out. So I'm just not personally impressed with my experience of the raw food movement and the raw-food experts! That's just my own personal experience with all that.
But I'm sure some people will come to you and say, "Oh, I know this guy who's been a raw-vegan for 30 years, and he's muscular and he's really healthy."
Yeah, and what I always think of when I hear that is those speakers that I saw that said that they had been 100% raw for 20 years and that very weekend of the raw food convention both of them ate cooked food. So, I take it all with a grain of salt. In other words, those people might believe they know somebody that's been raw-vegan for 30 years and is in great physical condition, but whether that person really has been or not, or whether that person really is healthy and isn't suffering some things behind the scenes, one doesn't know. And so, I remain open to the possibility that there are some individuals whose particular body type has permitted to be a raw-vegan for thirty years and be in good health. I admit that possibility, but my own experience tells me that that would be few and far between it wouldn't be most people.
There's not much honesty in the raw movement, as you're saying...
See, there's a definite problem there. And it's not, a "problem of the raw movement." The problem is just human beings. Whether you're talking about politics, whether you're talking about sports, whatever field you're talking about, you find that there are a lot of things that are done for the profit motive. That individual people are usually looking out for how they're earning their income.
Now we see that and criticize it, in things like the oil industry and the munitions industry, but the same exact thing is true in the health food industry. It's true in health movements, raw-food movements, and things like that. There gets to be certain groups of people who are earning their living from it and feeding their egos by being the authority figures. The human species seems to, in general, still have a problem struggling with basic honesty.
In the raw-food movement, you sort of set yourself up for the worst of human nature, simply because you get into a one-upsmanship thing where, "what percent raw are you?", "How long have you been 100% raw?" You get into this sort of like "raw-food one-upsmanship," which cultivates the worst in human behavior patterns.
Many of the authors in the raw-movement, who used to recommend really simple, basic raw-vegan diets, are now getting into all these supplements and super-foods. It seems that they're noticing that this basic raw-vegan diet seems to be deficient. Why is that?
There are two reasons for that. One is because of what you just said. There's an interesting thing about the raw food movement, which is different than other field. In the raw-food movement, if you come into it and are a raw-foodist for a fairly short time like two or three years you tend to start writing your books.
In the raw-food movement as a whole, people get into the idea of the pristine version of the raw-food diet, which wouldn't include supplements. They do that for a period of time and write a book or two while they're on that version of the diet. Then, all of the sudden in their own lives, they start having the problems of the nutritional deficiencies, and then they start looking for the answers. At first, the idea is that the answer is like some simple fix, like, "Gosh, if I just take a B-12 supplement, or if I just eat this algae" or something like that. So then, they start looking for the answer in that direction. So, that's one reason why all these raw-food guys end up getting into pitching supplements.
But the other reason is that once you've become a raw-food author and are getting to speak at the raw-food events and are earning a bit of money being on the lecture circuit, you quickly realize how much more money you could make if you were selling supplements. It just becomes really obvious that if all of these people who are attending your lecture had the opportunity to buy from you some vitamin C or buy from you some fatty acids or something like that, well, you're going to walk away from that event with more money in your pocket. Plus, you can only be in so many places in a year, you can only do so many lectures, you can only earn so much money from that. But the amount of money that you can make over your web page if you're hulking supplements is astronomical there's no limit to it. So, once a person is viewing their career as being a raw-food teacher, they soon learn that they'll make a lot more money if they're also selling supplements.
But that first reason that we talked about, which was, they themselves start to experience nutritional deficiencies and are looking for answers that's in there too. So there's these two.
Then, the question is, would that be possible to go on a raw-vegan diet that wouldn't include supplements?
I'd recommend Gabriel Cousens' latest information. It's not in his book. It's in his e-mail bulletin, and he actually contradicts what's in his book he admits that. He says that what he put in his book is what he believed at the time. He now believes that problems with B-12 in the vegan movement are much more severe. Before, he was saying you could get B-12 from certain sources, like spirulina and blue-green algae and certain sea vegetables. He now does not believe that. He believes that those are analog B-12 that can't be absorbed by the human body. And so now he's advocating that people take a B-12 supplement. He says that maybe 20% of human beings could do a vegan diet without having to take a B-12 supplement, but at least 80% can't. And people shouldn't just assume that they're in that 20% category, because the odds are against them.
He believes that 20% might be able to go without a B-12 supplement simply because when he tests vegans, 80% of them are found to be in serious B-12 deficiency. But to me, that doesn't necessarily mean that 20% of the people can go without B-12 supplementation on a vegan diet. Because in fact, of those 20% people that he's testing that right now, aren't deficient how do we know that three years from now, 10% of those people won't have become deficient? In other words, a best-case scenario, which is what Gabriel is talking about, is that maybe 20% of the people on a vegan diet wouldn't need the supplement.
But that just B-12, though.
Yes, like I was was indicating, and it's really complex. What we know, based on that article, the research published in the American Vegan that I cited, is that vegans die more of degenerative brain diseases. Now, then the question is why? And this is new information; it didn't used to be known that vegans get more of these brain-wasting diseases. Now that that is known, people are looking for the answer. And they're coming up with certain answers, like that there's a particular long-chain fatty acid that is not available in a vegan diet.
What I stick on there as an extra is that we don't even know right now what brain nutrients might be lacking in the vegan diet, because they're just barely discovering this. They barely discovered this long-chain fatty acid that isn't present in the vegan diet. So for us to now buy a supplement of that one thing and think that we've solved the problems with the vegan diet, I don't think that would be valid.
How do we know that two years from now, six years from now they're not going to be discovering other little things that we didn't know existed before that are lacking on the vegan diet? What we do know is that there are some sorts of nutritional deficiencies in the vegan diet, and we're starting to discover what some of those deficiencies are. For instance, David Wolfe and Gabriel Cousens want to develop a supplement for that long-chain fatty acid.
EPA. That's a long-chain fatty acid and one of the things it protects against is depression, which is one of the reasons vegans also have a higher incidence of suicide, clinical depression, anxiety attacks and panic attacks. It may be because they're not getting enough of this EPA long-chain fatty acid. So Gabriel and David Wolfe are interested in developing a supplement they would sell that would be a vegan source for EPA. Right now, there's one plant source that some people can get their EPA from. It's an herb that grows wild like a weed and is called purslane. The thing about that is that only people with good digestion can absorb the EPA from the purslane. People with good digestion can do that. But people with less than average digestion can't.
If you were a vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs, would you get EPA from the animal products that you're eating?
Here's what we know: we know is that vegetarians who eat a bit of dairy and some eggs live longer and healthier and have less nutritional deficiencies. You've got the possibility to eat some dairy and/or eggs, but since some people have problems digesting dairy, eggs are a good option. Eggs seem to have some nutrients that dairy doesn't have, and it seems to me that eggs seem to have everything in them that meat has, but the dairy only has most of what meat has. So I think that the person who eats dairy will be helping themselves nutritionally, but not as much as much as if they eat eggs. So then the thing is to get organic eggs from free-range chickens.
I guess this is my point: rather than try and figure out what exact supplement or what exact fatty acid we need to take to be a vegan, it seems to me that by far the safer thing to do is just be a vegetarian who eats some eggs and a bit of dairy, because of that point that I keep coming back to. They keep discovering these different things that are deficient in the vegan diet every couple years. So even if right now you take a particular supplement that's supposed to handle some particular problem now, you don't really know that in two years or eight years they're not going to discover that vegans are still dying of these problems and so, we still are lacking something. We don't know how this is going to come out. So, the safest thing to do is to simply start eating some organic eggs.
But then, if we take your arguments further and someone was just interested in health, would that be healthier not to be a strict vegetarian, and have fish occasionally?
If a person doesn't have the ethical considerations, then the healthiest diet might be to include some fish. However, I do have myself the ethical problems with that, so that's not what I'm recommending to people. I feel that if we can make the step to become vegetarian, this generation, that we're doing a great thing. We are making a giant step in the right direction of ethics. Just becoming a vegetarian is doing a good thing. But to answer your question, if a person didn't have the ethical problems with eating fish, would that be healthy? Well, the answer is probably yes, as long as it wasn't fish from a polluted source that has mercury or something like that.
Here in Canada you don't find raw dairy products, except cheese. You only find pasteurized dairy milk. So what would you recommend?
What I would recommend is going to a health food store and buying the health-food store variety of yogurt or kefir. The reason is that those are live-foods, because of the fermentation process and the culture, even though they're not raw.
So that still would give you the benefits?
You see, even though we all hear about all the problems with pasteurization, we shouldn't forget the problems with non-pasteurized dairy. For instance, dying of the worst case of diarrhea you can possibly imagine! Because when you drink raw milk, there's the possibility that it's contaminated with E-coli. So there are the pros and cons of unpasteurized dairy products. If a person is not concerned with things like E-coli in a raw egg, they could simply put a couple of raw eggs in their smoothies, if they are trying to be raw-foodists.
Just the yolk or the whole thing?
I would say the whole thing, and the reason is because the egg white has the protein, but the yolk has certain fatty acids that seem to be important for the brain.
[Comments by Frederic: Raw milk is definitely preferable to pasteurized milk. It is much more assimilable. Also: It's not recommended to eat raw egg whites. Egg whites contain strong enzyme inhibitors and are close to impossible to digest raw. The best thing is to have the yolk raw and the white cooked.]
Some people recommend a fruit-based, low-fat raw diet, and say that you actually won't get the problems that all these other raw-food people are getting because they're eating so much fat. What are your thoughts on this?
Over the years, I've seen every imaginable variety of the raw food diet, and the one common denominator that I've seen over a period of time is that the raw-vegan diet over a period of years seems to be nutritionally deficient. That's my opinion. It seems to me that a raw-vegan diet, over a period of years, leads to severe nutritional deficiencies.
This is one of the problems: there will always be people pitching some particular variation of the raw diet, which is going to be the true solution, if you just do this. And of course they'll write a book about it and will be on the lecture circuit about it. The problem is that a couple years go by and that's no longer the "in" variation it's some other variation take its place, a couple years later some other variation. What I've seen is that no variation that is raw-vegan for years in a row seems to be adequate.
The diet that you're particularly mentioning there: where is it going to get that long-chain fatty acid that we're talking about? Where is it going to get its B-12, where is it going to get its complete protein? Those are very real issues. In the raw food movement, people will read an old Arnold Ehret book, which talks about the possibility of making protein from the air we breathe, and they'll just believe they can do it. And yet, not one human being has ever been shown to be able to do it. They'll read in an old fruitarian book that suggests that we could make B-12 in our gut, like some of the animals do. And even today, if you ask vegans, if they believe that they can make B-12 in their own gut, more than half of them believe that they do. Because I've asked that question, and most people have that belief in the vegan movement that we are making our own B-12 in our gut, in a way that we can live off that B-12 and utilize it. In reality, not one human being has ever been shown to be able to do. That's the science. Not one human being has ever been able to demonstrate that they were living off the B-12 in their gut. In Gabriel Cousens' latest bulletin on this B-12 problem, he says that the only way a human being could live off B-12 made in their gut would be if they ate their own feces. And I don't think that that's going to become a popular option.
That's the problem with these variations of the raw-vegan diet, like the one you asked me about specifically. Those variations don't supply the essential fatty acids that the brain needs; they don't supply enough of the complete amino acids. They don't supply enough of the B-12 and other essential nutrients, and that's why people, after they've been on those diets for lengths of time, end up having nutritional deficiencies. So I don't know that there are exceptions to the rule, but I acknowledge that there might be. What I say about that is that the dangerous thing for everyone who comes to the raw-food movement is to just believe that they are going to be the exception to the rule, when statistically, most likely they're not going to be.
But then these people, like in the case of that diet, would take your argumentation and dissect it and then explain with science how you can find all these things in their diet. That's usually what happens.
You're right, that's usually what happens. However, if one takes their science and shows it to a nutritional scientist, the nutritional scientist will pooh-pooh their argument, and will show the flaws in it. It gets as bad that in a lot of these books that are used in the raw-food movement where it lists the amount of protein available in certain food sources, and a lot of those table are just plain old non-accurate. They're printed in a book, and it looks scientific, but it's just not true. There are people that believe that there's a whole bunch of protein in watermelon because one of the old raw-food authors used to claim that and put it in his book. There are people that I personally know who started eating only watermelon, or made that the chief element of their diet, thinking it's their primary protein source.
In the raw-food movement the problem is that you have a lot of pseudo-science, which doesn't hold up to the scrutiny of actual science.
I want to say that you will never convince "true believers" of any "ism" that there are problems with their "ism." And so I don't even attempt to do that. For the interview, I simply and honestly answered questions that you've asked, but I'm not attached to changing anybody's mind, and I'm not living in the illusion that I'm going to change a bunch of raw-vegan minds, because I've already experienced the fact that I'm not going to. Already, all that's happened to me is by sharing honestly the information that I've shared with you is that I got kind of blackballed by the raw-vegan movement. They just tried to discredit me, instead of dealing with these realities of nutritional deficiencies in a raw-vegan diet.
But there are some regular folks who come to the raw-food movement because of all the hype and then start to experience problems in their own bodies. If they see the information that I've given you, a few of them might be moved to take positive steps, which could result in saving themselves a lot of pain and misery, and that's why I bother to share this information at all. It's not because I have the delusion that I'm going to convince the defenders of an "ism" to give up their "ism" rather, I'm more concerned about members of the public receiving all this hype, that if you get into the raw-food vegan diet, you're going to live to be 120 years in really good health. See, I used to believe that, and I used to teach that. I believed it because that's what people told me, and that's what was in the raw-food books, and so I parroted it.
Is there anything you'd like to add before we end this interview?
I want to end with a challenge to the raw-vegan movement. Find us one really old raw-vegan. One. I've been in the raw-vegan movement for over twenty years, and I have never met a healthy, really old raw-vegan, who's been on the raw-vegan diet for decades or anything like that. In other words, if by eating the raw-vegan diet, we're going to live to be a 120 years old and be disease free, then how come, when you attend a national raw-food conference, there any isn't old raw-vegans there? There's some in their 60's and 70s who have been trying to do the diet and have problems in their own lives. But why aren't there any 100 year old raw-vegans anywhere? The raw-food movement is not new, but was popular in 1800's, when the first Natural Hygiene movement started advocating the raw diet. Then it was really big in the 1940's with Shelton. Why have we never seen a single 100 year old raw-vegan? Why has there never been a 90-year-old raw-vegan speaker at any of raw-vegan conferences?
So that's your challenge?
Yes, that's my challenge. And even if someone were to come up with one 90 year old raw-vegan, I think that my point is still made, because they'd have to struggle pretty hard to find that one. There aren't a bunch of old raw-vegans! I'm a child of the 1960's. I was born in the 1950's, and so, I was shaped by the 1960s, and believe me, in the 1960's, we had raw-food gatherings then. Ann Wigmore, before her Shelton all these people existed back then. All of them died. All the great leaders of the raw-food movement in the 1960s are dead. And at no raw-food conferences in the 1960s was there ever a 100-year-old speaker, or a 90-year-old speaker even. And in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, I've never met any of them. You hear legends about Dr. Walker...
But he wasn't a raw-vegan?
He wasn't a raw-vegan and he wasn't a vegan. In one of his books, he talks about how important goat's milk is, and he was drinking goat's milk. And even with him, who wasn't a vegan, definitely there are questions about how old he actually lived to be. Because, you hear all sorts of different numbers. Unless someone actually produces a birth certificate, we don't really know how old he was. But he's the only example I've heard people give. And then I point out to them that he wasn't a vegan. So you have to admit that most people who come in and hear the hype believe that if they become a raw-vegan, they are going to experience some great health benefits, and are going to live a long time. And yet, if that's true, since the raw-vegan movement has existed since the 1800s, and certainly was very popular since the 1940's with natural hygiene and became even more popular in the 1960s, why aren't there any old raw-vegans speaking at the raw-vegan conferences?
Nazariah's experience with the raw vegan diet is not unique, although not everybody will experience such dramatic problems. The conclusion we can clearly draw from his experience (as well as backed up by my own experience and research) is:
1. The raw vegan diet is not a guarantee for health.
2. Eating 100% raw is not necessary for optimal health. If this is practiced, it should be done with careful planning.
3. Every vegan should be taking a B-12 supplement to insure optimal health in the long-term.
4. We shouldn't believe invariably raw-vegan "experts" or what is written in books, because the information is often not accurate.
As for whether we should be vegans or not, I do not necessarily go in the same direction as Nazariah. I do not believe that everybody should start eating some animal products. I believe that every vegan should be taking a B-12 supplement, but also that the inclusion of some animal products in the diet can be useful to many people.
I wish to say that I'm personally not convinced that a vegan diet cannot be healthy. I think it depends on each individual. I personally have found benefits in including some animal products in my diet, and many others have found that too.
There are many health benefits to becoming at least mainly vegetarian or even mainly vegan, as well as increasing the amount of raw fruits and vegetables that we eat.
The interview is also published here http://chetday.com/rawfooddietnazariah.htm
Photos from http://www.essene.org/Essene_Activities.htm
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