I am a long term vegan-fruitarian who radically changed her lifestyle as a teenager, at 18, and maintained and adjusted it during two following decades. I doubted fruitarianism, but my fruitarian position remains surprisingly strong. This a short version of my fruitarian story, about five-page read.
My personal reasons to be fruitarian are of ethical, and partially aesthetic and habitual nature, and are based on appreciation of other forms of life, on considerations about efficiency, win-win properties, and perceived beauty of fruit-based diet.
To be concise and personal, I find the ethics of fruitarianism beautiful.
I do not like destruction of complex life forms without need. I like the notion of symbiotic coexistence. I like individual beings, and able to see their efforts to stay alive, to be. Many human products of mass-production seem to be of an insignificant value to me, compared to the destruction caused, and I believe many people might share my opinion if they give it a thought.
At the time and in the culture I changed my way to nourish myself, I had no moral support whatsoever. I was told in a variety of ways that my decision was pathetic, that my health and brain function will drastically decline very soon. I was young and idealistic, and was ready to live a shorter life. And all I did at first was become vegetarian. Everyone seemed to expect that I would overgrow that phase, and when I did not, and even changed further, my father called me infantile, my mom - stupid, and many friends told me I won't be able to bond with people because of it. In that culture, which is not mine any longer, women were supposed to cook meat, and not doing so actually drastically reduced my chances of having a happy personal life. But I was persistent - what helped me was my love to being alone, and I also had a large network of acquaintances for candid conversation without mentioning my choices.
In the beginning, I was a poor student, living first with one of my divorced parents, then alone. Sometimes I had only apples and walnuts to eat, for weeks (in winter). It was 11 years later, when I met the first vegetarian person, in another country: she was a fellow-student in a Spanish course. In this next culture I lived, I have never came across the word "vegan." As to online communities, I had no internet access till late 1990-s, there was virtually no information on fruitarianism or veganism on it in early 2000s that one could easily come across, and I discovered the first other fruitarian and another vegan person (and learnt the terms) in 2004.
Nowadays, multiple benefits for health from high fruit consumption are even suggested by modern research, and there are plenty plant-based foods available in my area, and most importantly, I know many like-minded people - I feel lucky.
First, I stopped eating all meat. I was reading philosophical books and lots of poetry, and some of the ideas in them led me to the adaption of the concept of non-violence. Two of my favorite poets were Buddhists, and therefore vegetarian, as I found out with a difficulty. I also loved zen artists, and started to research their philosophy and lifestyle. I learned about Ahimsa when I was 17, studying yoga, but it took me more than a year to realize that I need to stop eating any meat. In the earlier years, I also had a few challenging conversation with my family's friend, a well published philosopher, and they raised my standards for human spirit, including the will to protect other forms of life (trees in particular). I spent most of my adolescence studying in two schools and reading - I grew up in a subcultural bubble of a large city, and was exposed to some tragedies of animal life only in my early childhood.
Meat. When I was 4 or 5, I saw how a white goat calf, with whom I used to play, was slaughtered. I only remember the picture of it and not much else, and even this faint memory surfaced into my consciousness only when I was much older, and made me wonder on our ability to suppress such experiences. Our cultures developed many instruments for that, I believe, to adopt humans to the violent reality of survival.
Fish. I never distinguished between meat and fish as pescatarians did. When I was around 7-8 years old, my mom once "cleaned" "fresh" fish - she scraped their skins, complaining how hard it was. I came into the kitchen and saw that the big fish she was holding was trying to escape, moving its body, eyes and lips. I shouted something like "they are alive!" My mom told me that fish did not feel anything. It was obvious to me they did.
The moment I stopped was trivial: I saw a photograph of a sea lion, looking out of the polluted by an oil spill water, in a political magazine. The same or next day, I found close to my home a low quality print picture of a cow, standing in front of dirty walls of a farm (probably distributed by local activists). And that's was it, I became a vegetarian, holding it. I saved the photographs and looked at them a few times to stay focused in the first days. Stopping eating meat was difficult for me. I remember my embarrassing wish one time to take some boiled fish from our cat's plate.
I was considered to be a generally healthy kid, but my first vegetarian diet turned out to be problematic, and I tried to fix the new health and appearance issues (indigestion, very dry skin) by trial and error. I had no access to, or even knowledge of soy products. I hated eggs all my life, but I tried to eat them. I also tried to eat goat cheese (a cruel irony), because I used to drink their milk in early childhood. Then I switched to rye bread, then to other grains.
I started eating only fruits and seeds only a while later. I used to spend big part of my free from classes Summer time, sitting on the window in my apartment on the fifth floor, drinking espresso, and watching birds in the branches of the big tree right next to me. The tree had not only provided a home for the love couple of pigeons, but became close to me, as a living being. It reminded me about the special relationships I developed to the orchard plants, living second to fifth years of my life with my grandparents. I never again had been close to plants, but I did not have a perception that they are just "growing machines."
At that time, I revived my interest to plant medicine: when I was ten I read and draw illustrations for a book about healing plants, and in my early twenties read several more of similar books, presenting use of plants in other traditions. I tested on myself many self-prepared mixes for their nutritional value (one of the books listed not only vitamins and active substances in plants, but also macronutrients. I went so far and read Gyud-shi and other ancient books, and also all I could find about frugivorous animals and fruit plants, and even went on my own through a biochemistry textbook. Slowly sorting out the information, I came to realization that plants are very complex organisms, and many of their fruits were found by humans to be beneficial in general, while green parts of plants were mostly used as medicine.
The pressure from the people around me was growing, and to improve my diet, I found a few books on vegetarian nutrition - bad ones, as I understood much later. In one of them though, a few words by a cited author, whose name I didn't know, made me stop reading by its significance. It was something like: if you eat foods other than fruits and nuts, you must think about consequences (or impact - the book was poorly translated). For some reason, the idea that one might be able to survive on only edible fruits and seeds - as I interpreted it for myself - had blown my mind. I was thinking about this idea for straight three days intensely, making all sorts of connections to other parts of my perceived reality. The freedom I found in this idea, personal moral relief, and the clarity of a bigger picture, resulted in unprecedented happiness. Shortly after I started my first version of a botanical fruit diet.
During my experimentation, at first I did not differentiate between raw and processed, or fresh and dried foods. I ate lots of preserved fruit (mainly apricots and cherries, just because they were my favorite) and vegetables (like spicy eggplants), drunk bottled juice and such, when fresh fruits that I loved were unavailable to me. I also experimented with seeds and grains, because I was not used to poverty, in which I found myself around that time, and desperately tried to reduce the cost of my food - cereals, bread, and some seeds were cheaper. I had high energy expenditure, because I trained with a modern dance group five times a week, and started running 5K to keep my body beautiful. I had very hard periods when I tried to nourish myself for weeks and weeks with, for example, only oats and pasteurized tomato juice, or almost only with sunflower seeds (first I ate them roasted, then soaked). I tried so many combinations of foods I could get, so after a while I was able to sort out my experiences and come up with a better plan with more fresh fruits, less meals, etc. I tried it and it worked: after only several weeks on only a few types of fruits every evening with some nuts, I felt amazing - I never experienced my body and mind like that before.
Additionally, I do believe that my fruitarianism can partially be viewed as an individualistic protest against societal norms, as a psychological personal reaction on tragic events in my life, as an attempt to experience existence in uncommon ways, as a manifestation of my drive to experiment on myself and to take risks. My main motivations are probably to live the one life I have the way I want: it is my way to maintain self-respect, and to bring myself close to my artistic aspirations.
For now, since 1993, I am on experimental fruitarian or frugan (ethical vegan fruitarian) diets - fruits and seeds, mainly fresh, but also dried, sometimes unfrozen or heated.
Most of my food, and very often all of it for a day, is a few types (typically, 2-3) of fresh fruits, sweet and not, depending on their availability. Usually, I slowly eat one type of fruit at a time, but I have periods when I make salads. On most days I eat some seeds in addition to fruit (my favorite are sweet peas). Now and then, I add other vegetables and grains. There were times when I ate less than average for me 90-100% raw happily - I do not believe in dietary purity and do not support unreasonable extremes. My longest periods of being raw only were shorter than a year: 11 month the longest, and many of 4-6 months - seasonally.
I eat rye when I feel emotional discomfort, because it was my favorite along with fruit when I was a child. I did not like buckwheat, but I tried to eat it too. Sometimes, especially when I felt financially insecure, I ate baked potatoes, tubers (we used to bake potatoes with my childhood friends, seating in a circle around fire, and that memory seems to pacify me; also potatoes are readily available and cheap, and have a nice amino acid score).
Since 2004, the time I learned the word “vegan” and discovered the realities of milk and egg industries, I don't eat any animal products at all, even in sensitive social situations. During the years before that, I occasionally ate some cheese (mostly with wine on friend's parties or in restaurants), or had something vegetarian with eggs in it (e.g. a pancake on a fair), and in 2002-3 I tried organic yogurt and ice cream a few times. I stopped wearing leather clothing and fur when I turned vegetarian, but finding vegan shoes was at times an overwhelming challenge, I still keep two old pairs. Considering that animal products are in many things around us, I just strive to do my reasonable best.
So, I am strictly vegetarian, almost vegan for over 25 years now, in 2017, and for over dozen years (14 by now) - strictly vegan.
Most of this time there were almost no greens in my diet. I cannot recommend it to anyone, because scientific studies suggest that leafy greens can be greatly beneficial for our health. In the recent years though, I ate fresh arugula and basil on multiple occasions: it felt like I needed it.
Since relatively early age (13) I practice short fasts, 20-50 hours. I also have an unusual meal plan - I almost never eat in the morning, and seldom during the day, which suits me well, but I will not recommend it, the same way I cannot really recommend my whole diet and lifestyle - you can manage better for yourself, I suggest individualistic approach to diet, with consideration of main lifestyle factors.
Irregularly, lately I take B12 (once a month, methylcobalamin), Iodine (or Kelp, in salads), Zinc (if I feel under weather), or something like that, in a pill form.
I believe, I have a manageable addiction to caffeine: I seem to return back to it even after years of not having any at all, despite the fact that it destroys my healthy sleep pattern each time I start drinking coffee or tea again. Occasional social caffeinated drinks do not trigger me, strangely, but emotional difficulties do.
Generally, I avoid buying any new wooden things or paper books, and just any unnecessary stuff, and I lead an "optimally" minimalist lifestyle. I try to use things made out of recycled materials, to re-purpose and to recycle, to choose environmentally-friendly products.
I prefer creation over consumption, and believe that the real future economic growth is intellectual.
Owning less allows me to be more mobile and spend less time caring about my belongings. In my early 20s I had a period of asceticism - it was neither efficient nor sustainable - and compared to that my followed "optimal" minimalism felt luxurious. I like long-lasting and multifunctional things. If I would need to move again right now, all my stuff, including professional equipment, would fit in a small car without blocking the rear view (though I would need to scan some unavoidable paperwork and give away a couple of temporary things first). Early in life I trained myself to sleep in savasana, so most of my adult life I slept on hard surfaces, often on the floor, and I still sleep on yoga mats. I don't cook (never learned, and do not have any talent in it - I tried, it was fine, but the process is not my thing at all), so I can pack my utensils in my shopping bag.
For many years I used to run and swim in open waters, long and medium distances (usually 10K runs, half-marathons in the past). Regularly I practice asanas (along with zen-meditation, which I merged over time with my daily activities), and have my own short exercises routine for home. I have never been an athlete. I love dancing.
I cannot offer any extraordinary facts about my fruitarian lifestyle, but my health is fine, my BMI is great. I can keep mental concentration for long periods of time. I do not seem to age faster than others, and I do not have any other unusual problems (yet) that might have been caused by dietary deficiencies. We will see.
Thank you for reading,