If you haven’t worked out what fruitarianism is by now, then you’re probably scratchin’ the old noggin trying to figure out what on earth I’ve been talking about. If there were ever an ‘ism’ that was so self explanatory, then this would have to be it.
Fruitarianism is no new concept; in fact quite the contrary. According to alternative medicine expert Steven Bratman MD, fruitarian – and breatharian (although that’s a whole other documentary) – ideas have been around since as early as 500BC.
To followers of this restrictive diet, there is no absolute consensus about what can and cannot be eaten, and varying interpretations of fruitarian ideology mean that the finer details are a little bit hazy. Yet, you’re probably already thinking along the right lines. You got it – fruitarianism involves eating fruit!
In his 1912 book, The Natural Food of Man, Natural Hygienist Hereward Carrington defined the fruitarian diet as consisting of ‘fruit and nuts, in their natural and uncooked state’. This can be used to describe fruitarianism at its most preliminary understanding, although beyond this is where things begin to get inconsistent.
Generally, fruitarians, or frugivores, survive on a diet that consists almost wholly of fruit – or, at least, it makes up the majority of their daily intake. Whilst some fruitarians will try to stick solely to conventional or ‘sweet’ fruits, others will include vegetable-fruits such as tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados in their diet. Some may even include a small amount of green vegetables, nuts and seeds to supplement the vitamins and minerals that fruit does not provide, whilst others are so restrictive that they won’t even drink water, as they believe that fruit provides enough.
Different beliefs and motivations exist within fruitarianism, and they often overlap; they might be spiritual, religious, ethical, environmental, or for health purposes. Fruitarianism is an extension of raw veganism, and for many within the raw food community, it is seen as the next restrictive step in reaching the optimal human diet. That said, health is not the sole motivator for fruitarianism; religion often factors in. There are examples of fruitarianism within religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism – Ghandi himself was a fruitarian for six months of his life – and much of this can be ascribed to the strive for spiritual enlightenment. The Buddha himself, as the young prince Siddartha, experimented with dietary restriction in many ways, and in certain parts of Asia, the Buddhist ideology of Ahimsa is often applied to plants as well as living beings. This is why many fruitarians are motivated by ethical concerns, and will only eat fruits because this does not kill the living plant.
Ethical considerations, can, however, have Christian associations as well. In the 2011 film Pure Fruit, the lives of ‘Eden fruitarians’ Mango and Kveta are followed, as they stick to a regimented diet consisting of only sweet fruits, and no water. Mango published his own book titled Destination Eden in 2014, which outlines the concept of reverting back to Eden – a place where no harm is done, and both sentient beings and plants live in symbiosis.
There is also a nod to science as well. Plenty of fruitarians believe that we should be eating the same frugivorous diet as our relatives in the animal kingdom, such as apes or bonobos. The design of our teeth, our lack of predatory instinct and our human physiology are all cited as indicators that we are not natural meat eaters.
The most considerable thing to note, however, is that this topic has not been widely researched – medically, or academically. Most of the information that can be grasped about fruitarianism – about its origins, its motivations and its dietary requirements – comes from blogs, forums and unverified web pages. This makes it even more difficult to form a consensus of information.
So what better topic to explore?