Judge David Johnson likes to eat BBQ beef sandwiches.
Don't wait—go raw today! (Yes, that's the actual tagline for the DVD.)
Begin disclaimer. In order not to offend anyone's lifestyle sensibilities, I've decided to split myself in twain, and utilize two personas to review this DVD. Persona 1 will be unbiased, sensitive-to-the-feelings-of-others, completely objective DVD reviewer Dave. Persona 2 will be red-meat eating, conservative a-hole Dave. Think of it like that part in Superman III when Clark Kent somehow materialized out of thin air and beat the snot out of dirty, evil Superman in the junkyard. So if you just want the straight scoop on this disc and don't want to deal with my snarky, smart-ass ramblings, do yourself a favor and just stick to the first review. End disclaimer.
Raw: The Living Food Diet version 1.0
For anyone wondering what the deal is with the vegan lifestyle or curious about what meals comprised entirely of raw, uncooked, wholly organic food look like, the folks at Freepoint Entertainment have the disc for you.
Raw features two parts to its program: Part 1 is a 45-minute documentary about vegan living, featuring interviews with people who have made the decision to go raw. Each interviewee relates his or her personal, transformative story about opting to forgo all cooked, non-organic foodstuffs and sticking with Mother Earth. Their stories are varied, and the inclusion of an M.D. is a stylistic choice to lend the documentary credibility.
As the feature unfolds, different topics about raw cuisine are revealed and discussed, such as the "myth of protein," the affect vegan dieting has on the health and the confluence of the mind, body, and spirit and how it relates to eating raw.
The documentary is well-done, but, in all honesty, much of it took on the tone of an infomercial, as if these were people avidly trying to sell the viewer their lifestyle. To their credit, the participants certainly seemed happy, and you can't deny a person for doing their darndest to educate others in what they think is the healthiest, most beneficial diet choice.
Part 2 of the disc is a 50-minute demonstration on preparing different vegan recipes. The chefs take you step-by-step through the recipes, which are mapped out in detail in the accompanying 12-page recipe booklet.
The execution of this portion of the DVD is impressive. Each recipe is broken down into segments, allowing you, the up and coming "food preparer" to run through separate steps, which highlight the respective necessary ingredients and flash an edited video bit of the actual preparation. It's an innovative use of DVD technology.
Overall, I'd say the two programs complement each other well. A few bonus items—some more words from the doctor and a batch of promotional materials—complete this slickly produced set.
Recommended for vegans or the vegan-inquisitive.
Raw: The Living Food Diet version 2.0
God bless people who can live their lives like this. Eating raw food may in fact actually be really good for you and all, and perhaps some of these folks will live long, crunchy lives, but I'd rather be dead at 70 and have enjoyed an existence replete with porterhouses and deep dish pizza than be alive at 90 sucking down my second helping of artichoke hearts.
My main gripe about the disc is this: at some point, the program transitioned from a harmless, informative documentary to a pretentious, surreal, inadvertently hilarious excursion in near self-parody.
For example: you got a guy named Elija Monkey Plant (yes, that's his name, but the producers opt to refer to him instead as "Elija M. Plant") belting out scientific jargon about cell walls and protein and digestive processes and the effect eating Astroturf or whatever has on the human spirit. This is especially funny as it followed this statement: "Cooked food can never be as strong and virulent as food that has its own supply of enzymes."
Now, I thought it was hunky-dory that these nice people were talking about how much they like eating raw food. Fine. But as the documentary plows along, it became less an informative feature about an alternate diet, and more a flat-out guilt trip—basically, if you don't eat raw food, you're contributing to war and international poverty and you enjoy seeing animals getting tortured and there's a good chance you're a bad person and nobody likes you and why the #$%& didn't you vote for Dennis Kucinich?!
That's not hyperbole either—these guys were literally saying there would be no more war if everyone ate raw and that world hunger would completely end. And to bolster these points, the filmmakers would insert the most bizarre clips (e.g., when the conversation drifted toward how people who eat cooked food are irritable, we suddenly see a clip from the '70s where a guy gets cut off in traffic and makes mean faces).
Often things get baffling. Take this one guy, a parent, who had his daughter in his arms saying he made the choice to put her on a vegan diet because he didn't want to introduce death to her and didn't want her eating death and so on. Of course, she was munching on a corn cob at the time, which of course, requires death to grow, but whatever. I guess it's all semantics.
Or when a couple of girls made cookies on the second segment, they mentioned how many vegans tend to avoid honey unless the bee farmer can verify that the bees were raised in a cruelty-free environment. What does a cruelty-free environment look like for bees anyway? I'm serious. If readers could e-mail me this answer I'd appreciate it.
Oh, about those recipes. I don't think I've ever seen more unappetizing food in my life. Plus, most everything requires dehydration, and that's like a 12 to 16 hour job minimum!
I suppose I'm a jerk. That's a given. But frankly, I didn't find these folks entirely likeable, what with Elija M. Plant constantly referring to the supermarket as "the stupid-market." Hey Mr. Monkey Plant! Some folks have children and not much money and need the stupid-market to survive. FYI.
If it wasn't for the lifestyle-bullying and snide proselytizing I may have come away with better feelings from this disc. As it stands, I recognize its technical prowess and professional execution, but this is something aimed squarely at the choir.
Okay, I'm off to get some dinner (boneless buffalo tenders, by the way; I may die at the age of 45, but I'll go full!).
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