Fruitarian for a week

Friday 24th July 2015

I once told a vegan friend that I thought she was pretty hardcore for voluntarily keeping to such a strict diet. 'No way,' she told me, 'fruitarians are hardcore.' That was ten years ago, and ever since then I've thought of them as the radical extremists of the food world.

So I thought I'd give it a go for a week. I've always had a fairly distant relationship with fruit: I'll eat strawberries with cream, watermelon and a grape or two, but I'm going way outside my comfort zone here.


What's the point?

There are a wide range of reasons to be fruitarian:

  • Religious - for example Jaines who follow a path of non-injury towards all living beings
  • Environmental - some estimates put agricultural greenhouse gas emissions at 18% of the total. Eating organic is a big part of the diet (but not one I'm following)
  • Ethical - some people take issue with the way that meat is raised
  • Health - but it can be hard to get enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron and zinc


What do Fruitarians eat?

Fruit, duh.

Of course, it's more complicated than that. According to Wikipedia, people who eat 75% raw fruit consider themselves to be fruitarians, a figure that states as 50% or more. The Fruitarian defines it as "raw fruit and seeds only". Blimey.

I couldn't find a strict definition of what fruitarians eat. The general consensus seems to be fruits and nuts, mainly or entirely raw. Think of it as a raw vegan diet - any plant products you can eat raw, so no grains, pulses, bread or potatoes.  Most importantly (for me) they don't consume coffee.

Some fruitarians only eat one type of food at a time, so if you're having peaches for lunch, then that's all you eat. Have a break of 45 to 90 minutes and then eat a different kind of food. Now that's self control.



8am Last night I crammed myself full of chocolate and chips at the pub quiz, but I was still hungry when I woke up. Feeling slightly scared, I made an early morning trip to our amazing local grocers and bought £30 worth of fruit to try to keep myself alive until lunchtime.

9am Breakfast is a banana, a handful of grapes, some figs, dates, strawberries and a passion fruit. I've probably committed a terrible mistake already, but I'm feeling pretty good.

12pm I'm surprised to find that I'm not massively hungry, but I'm waiting for the inevitable caffeine headache to kick in this afternoon. Lunch is some watermelon, another banana, a peach, some dried apricots, cherries and more grapes.

1pm The caffeine headache begins. I really want an espresso, hot water and lemon is really not doing it for me.

4pm Feeling insanely hungry, I cast about for something substantial to eat. There's only fruit! Mild panic attack ensues. Can I really keep this up for a week?

6pm One upside of a fruitarian diet is that I'm spending much less time preparing food. Dinner is a massive plate of salad, followed by half a coconut and half a bag of pistachios. Caffeine headache still dominating the experience, and I'm feeling really tired.



9am While walking the dog this morning, I considered eating some his dry, tasteless biscuits. Don't judge me. Another big plate of bananas, peach, strawberries, figs, dates and pistachios. Starting to feel a bit more familiar now, but the caffeine headache is making the experience quite unpleasant.

12pm I've had enough of the headache, so one cup of coffee later and I'm feeling great! Lunch is a big plate of salad and avocado, followed by watermelon and coconut. Still not sure I can do this for a week.

7pm We're going to out to celebrate with a friend tonight at a restaurant, so instead of behaving like an idiot and demanding a fruitarian meal I've decided to eat a normal dinner. After all, it's only 50-75% raw fruit, and I need some vitamin B12, right? Dover sole never tasted so good!




9am Back to a fruity breakfast this morning with a banana, mango, strawberry and blueberry smoothie, some figs, nuts and coffee.

12pm Another big plate of salad, loads of coconut and pistachios. You get the idea. I'm amazed how just one cup of coffee a day sorts me out.

6pm My Wednesday evening exercise class almost kills me. Need more food.

7pm Another social do at a pub tonight with a noticable lack of anything fruity. I settle for a pork pie, sausage rolls and a cheese sandwich.



9am I'm really enjoying a pure fruit breakfast, I might carry on with this after the week is up. Melon, banana, strawberries, blueberries and passion fruit.

12pm Getting in my stride now, I make fruitarian sushi rolls using grated cauliflower instead of rice. It's pretty decent, although the cauliflower doesn't have the same sticky properties and fragments a little.

6pm Trying to keep up the diet this evening, so I have a big plate of salad for dinner.

10:30pm That didn't work at all, I'm really hungry so I scoff a bowl of Weetabix and a Magnum.



9am Another big plate of fruit for breakfast. Still enjoying it, but I'm going to be so happy when this is over.

12pm Another big plate of salad. Finding it hard to be excited about salad.

6pm I need all my energy for poker night, so consume a burger, a bag of cookies and bunch of soft drinks. And it works!



9am Yet more fruit.

12pm Yet more salad. Just holding out for dinner.

8pm Meat feast pizza, hooray!


8am Squash match this morning. A breakfast smoothie just doesn't cut it, so I munch a mid-match Mars bar.

12pm The diet restrictions are starting to crumble as I have a plate of pasta, cheese and salami for lunch, followed by sweets and cake at the town fair.

7pm Hunger takes over and I go into a feeding frenzy, consuming anything I can find in the house. The dog is lucky he doesn't have bite marks on him.



I won't lie, this week's been really hard. I'm not a natural fruit eater and I've found it very difficult indeed to get enough calories when I'm doing any kind of exercise. I'm now 2kg below my target weight.

I can just about see how people follow diets like Raw 'til 4, but I just don't understand how anyone can be fruitarian for any length of time! But somehow they do. Michael Arnstein has been a fruitarian since 2008 and he can run a hundred miles in 12 hours, so my original hypothesis has been proved - fruitarians are hardcore.

To some people, this experiment will look like a total failure - I was 100% fruitarian for around 36 hours. But I see it as a real success - I've got a new appreciation for fruit. I can see myself continuing with fruit for breakfast, but not every day.

Have you ever tried this? Think you'll give it a go? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.



Recent posts

Basic car mechanics

Friday 17th July 2015

I've just finished the second part of a two-part car mechanics course at Truro College, and it's been one of the best courses I've ever attended. Before I started the first part (they also run a ladies-only class) I barely knew how to change a wheel, but at the end of the second course we just stripped down an engine and re-assembled it.

It's given me huge amounts of confidence to fix cars myself, and I can now have conversations with garage mechanics without feeling like an idiot.

The main thing I've learned about cars is how incredibly basic and old-fashioned they are. Engines have barely changed since Karl Benz invented the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886, and even then it's the same basic principle as Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine from 1712. Hot gas makes a piston move out, which is used to power something.

Cars have got faster, more efficient and cleaner, but the underlying concept has hardly changed. Even electric cars aren't a new idea: Thomas Parker, who electrified the London Underground, built the first working electric car, with rechargeable batteries, in 1884. According to Wikipedia, in 1900 "40 percent of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline."

So here's a slideshow of my final lesson, showing our engine strip down. If it goes too fast for you to read, roll your mouse over the image and it will pause the slideshow.

This is one of the student engines from the course, it's a 1.3L overhead valve petrol engine from a Ford Fiesta. The first thing we're going to do is remove the cover at the top that says Endura-E on it.
Now that cover's gone, you can see the top of the valves. This is a four cylinder engine that has two valves per cylinder, one to let in the fuel/air mixture and one to let out the exhaust gases. Each of the valves is opened by a rocker that sits above it. The one on the far left is missing, probably eaten by a student. Now we're going to remove all the rockers.
With the rocker shaft removed, you can see the valve springs more clearly, and behind them you can see where the pushrods come up through the engine block. Now we're going to remove the cylinder head and see inside the engine.
This is the top of the engine block, with the head gasket at the top of the picture. The gasket is a just piece of soft metal that sits between the engine block and the cylinder head to keep the gases, water and oil separated. In the block you can see the four pistons, the inner two are at the bottom of their range of travel and the outer two are at the top.
This is the other side of the cylinder head, which fits onto the engine block. You can see the pairs of valves - the smaller, light coloured ones are the exhaust valves. Just above the valves you can see the spark plugs, which ignite the fuel/air mixture. On the left side is the missing valve.
This is a close up of one of the valve pairs, they're pretty dirty and so don't close perfectly. This lets gas leak out and will affect how much power the engine can produce. On the right side you can see the tip of the spark plug again.
This is a valve that's been removed. You can see the spring on the right side which forces the valve closed, and on the left side is the head which sits inside the cylinder. It's shiny round the edge because it has to make a very tight seal.
Here's the top of the cylinder with that valve removed. The seat, where the valve sits, should be perfectly clean and shiny too, but this one's really dirty. Enough about valves, let's look at something else.
This is the clutch, on the side of the engine. It attaches the engine to the transmission (gearbox). When you put your foot on the clutch pedal, the spines pointing into the centre get compressed and separate the engine from the transmission, which stops the engine powering the wheels. Let's take the clutch off.
Behind the clutch, attached to the engine block, is the flywheel. This is a really heavy bit of metal that helps to keep the engine spinning smoothly, as it evens out the changes in speed as the cylinders fire.
On the other end of the engine to the clutch and flywheel is the timing chain. Most cars have a rubber timing belt, also called a cam belt, but this particular engine uses a chain instead. Chains last longer, but they're much more noisy than a belt. At the bottom of the photo is the crankshaft, which is the power output from the engine, which drives the camshaft on the left side.
The engine is now upside down. This is a particularly bad photo of the oil sump, a large box that covers the bottom of the engine into which the oil drains. The engine pumps oil all around itself to keep it lubricated and cool, and eventually the oil all collects at the bottom, in the sump.
We've removed the sump, and this is a view looking at the bottom of the engine. You can see the sump strainer, which looks like a tea strainer, and keeps any shards of metal or other objects from getting back into the oil. There are five bearing caps, which are held in place by the large bolts, which keep the crankshaft in place. Let's remove the bearing caps.
With the bearing caps removed, you can see the whole of the crankshaft running across the middle of the engine. We've also removed the caps from the connecting rods, which attach to the pistons, and we've removed the piston from the far right - you can see the floor through the hole.
This is the piston we removed. On the left side is the connecting rod, which attaches to the crankshaft. When the piston is forced down by the expanding gas, it pushes on the connecting rod which pushes the crankshaft down and round. On the right side is the piston itself. There are three metal rings on the side of the piston which stop the gases inside the engine blowing out past the piston.
Now we've removed the crankshaft completely, sadly the picture I took of the crankshaft was completely blurry so I can't show you what it looks like. You can clearly see through the cylinder to the floor on the right hand side, and you can see the bottom of the other three pistons in their cylinders. Let's take the other pistons out too.
Now you can see through all four cylinders. The only part left to remove is the camshaft, which I also don't have a decent picture of. The camshaft is at the bottom of the picture, and has metal lobes that open and close the valves at the top of the engine.
With the camshaft removed, you can see the tappets, the shiny pins that the camshaft pushes to open and close the valves.
Finally, this is the top of the engine block with the pistons removed. It's still pretty heavy, even after we've removed all the parts, because it's a big solid lump of metal.


Recent posts

Are Facebook ads worth it?

Friday 10th July 2015

Every time I post a new blog, Facebook hassles me to Boost this post so I thought it would be interesting to see whether it makes any difference to how many people read my blog. I'm not that bothered about actually increasing my readership, but I'm curious to see what happens. 

At the beginning of May I wrote about an experiment to find out who I should vote for in the general election.

So I gave Facebook £15 and told them to promote my post for 3 days, so £5 per day. Facebook estimated that it would show my post to 2,200 to 5,900 people. Apparently 13 of my friends have boosted a post too, if you're one of them please leave a comment at the end of the post!

After three days, it gave me some pretty stats. The image below shows the number of people reached. Facebook showed the post to 8,086 people (more than they estimated), roughly 50/50 male to female, mostly in the 18-24 age range and overwhelmingly using mobile devices.

The next image shows engagement - the number of people who actually clicked on the post. Out of those 8,086 people only 62 clicked on it: a 0.77% click rate. It's still split pretty evenly between male and female, still mostly 18-24 and entirely on mobile. There is however a spike in the 45-54 age range too - maybe this age bracket is more interested in politics?


Finally,it gave me a summary of the costs to attract each of the clicks. This is interesting, it cost me 25p per female click but only 22p per male click. Clicks from the 18-24 age range are 19p each but a whopping 53p from the 45-54 age group. Why are these people so much more expensive to target?

I was expecting a lot more for my £15; 62 clicks and just two likes seems very expensive.

Have you ever tried Facebook advertising, and did it work? Leave a comment below.


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