Fruitarian for a week
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?
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 fruitarian.info 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.
In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain...Read more
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