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To Those Considering A Fruitarian Diet

by Tom Billings

Copyright © 1999 by Thomas E. Billings. All rights reserved.
Contact author for permission to republish.

INTRODUCTION: Clarifying what qualifies as a "fruitarian diet" to eliminate confusion.

The material on this site is predominantly (but not totally) critical of fruitarianism. However, for the sake of clarity, readers should note that the criticism of fruitarian diets here is based on the following definition: a diet that is 75+% raw fruit by weight, and the remaining foods vegan and raw.

The word fruit as used here refers to the reproductive output of a plant that propagates itself by seed, and that contains juicy or oily flesh. Hence the term fruit as used here includes all the usual sweet, juicy fruits, e.g., mango, orange, apple; acid fruits like lemon, lime, kiwi; and oily fruits like the avocado. Also included as fruits in this definition (as is done by many fruitarian proponents) are the so-called "vegetable fruits" (e.g., tomato, peppers, cucumbers), although some fruitarians choose to exclude (some of) these from their diet. The word fruit as used here does not include seeds, grains, nuts. (Remark: the botanical definition of fruit, which is not used here, does include all seeds, grains, and nuts.)

A significant issue that presents problems in the fruitarian movement, and also in discussing fruitarianism, is the vague and hazy way the diet is often defined (or rather, often not well-defined). This inevitably causes considerable--and often unrecognized--ongoing confusion and/or misunderstanding about what different individuals mean when using the term "fruitarianism." Often, also, proponents may change their own definition of what constitutes fruitarianism as their own views about the diet change over time. Therefore, to preclude these problems, please bear in mind the "75+% raw fruit by weight" definition used in this article (as well as the definition of "fruit" itself used here) and in a number of others on this site.

A principal problem is the lack of credible long-term examples of success.

The principal criticism given here of the fruitarian diet is that it almost never works in the long run. Specifically, credible successful examples--healthy individuals (both physically and mentally healthy) who have strictly followed the diet (i.e., no significant binge-eating, "cheating," or "exceptions") long-term for more than five years--are either rare or non-existent. Readers should note that the vast majority of individuals who identify themselves as fruitarians do not meet these success criteria.

As a further clarification, note that there are a very few potentially credible examples of successful "fruitarians" who are one or more of the following: non-strict, non-vegan, consume some cooked food, or have a pattern of being intermittently on/off a strict fruitarian diet. That is, the only potential examples of success (that are known to this writer) actually do not meet the above criteria for long-term success on a strict fruitarian diet.

This also raises another relevant point: Since the word fruitarian, as discussed, has different meanings to different people, one must first specify a meaningful definition (as was done above), then carefully check whether those claiming to be fruitarians actually meet the definition.

Potential positive aspects of fruitarian diets.

Despite the problematic nature of fruitarian diets in the long-term, we want to acknowledge the following positive aspects of fruitarian diets:

We respect individuals as people no matter what their dietary choices. The criticisms given here are of the diet itself, its likely effects, and the behavior of some who promote the diet in dubious ways.

To the sincere, decent people who follow (or are interested in) a fruitarian diet, we want you to know the following:

The information given here on fruitarianism is intended to be helpful and empowering rather than discouraging or deflating.

At first it may seem that the information presented on this site regarding fruitarianism is primarily intended to cause disillusionment. However, we hope you find instead that the material expands your horizons by introducing you to perspectives and possibilities other than fruitarianism to think about (including new ways of thinking about diet, not merely alternate dietary programs) that can potentially free you from beguiling but ultimately deceptive illusions.

We believe that the material on this website is potentially of great value to you--i.e., the articles you will find here openly discuss false assumptions commonly used in promoting the fruitarian diet; look at the striking similarity to eating disorders; examine the psychology of idealistic diets; and try to furnish helpful information about the problems that can occur on such diets. Such information may help you recognize (or avoid) some of the problems of the diet and, furthermore, the material here can be used in assessing or gauging the credibility of the "leaders" of the fruitarian movement (i.e., how deep is their denial of reality? are they providing you with factual scientific information or crank science? etc.).

In the long run, such information may help protect you from the (sometimes serious) health problems that others have experienced on such a diet. And the long and hard experience of many who have gone before you has shown that health problems are the almost certain result, rather than the exception, for those who actually follow a strict fruitarian diet in the long term.

Our interest is not in targeting specific extremists but instead exploring how extremist behavior can be changed.

Some of the writers on this site have been the target of intense hostility, malicious lies (including use of fabricated, falsely attributed quotes) and character assassination (such as deliberate misrepresentation of attributed material while withholding crucial and relevant context), and even threats of physical violence from allegedly "compassionate" fruitarian/vegan extremists. You will read more elsewhere on the site about how and why the aggressive, hostile behavior of such extremists suggests they have become severely mentally unbalanced/unhealthy. We specifically invite such fruitarian extremists to change their behavior, and to rejoin the world of civility and common decency.

We want to make clear here that we do not view such extremists as targets to be destroyed, or as inhuman "mutants"--to use the hateful language promoted by one fruitarian extremist group. Rather, we view such individuals as misguided souls (perhaps well-meaning ones, at least in the beginning, until succumbing to anger and hostility) whose energy and enthusiasm are misdirected. We invite such extremists to end their denial of reality, and to make their future efforts honest and positive rather than intellectually dishonest and negative.

The purpose of this site is to encourage critical thinking and self-assessment rather than conversion to a particular dietary philosophy.

If this article or the other material on this site offends you, then we would suggest that you try and not take it too personally. After all, assuming that you are not an extremist, please note that we are not criticizing you, although we may be criticizing your lunch. If you consider criticism of your lunch to be criticism of yourself, then you may have a problem--you may be unintentionally identifying with your lunch. This is a process labeled elsewhere on the site as "lunch-identification," discussed in the article Functional and Dysfunctional Lunch-Attitudes. If you are offended by criticism of your lunch, then we invite you--sincerely and without condescension--to consider utilizing the occasion as an opportunity for self-examination and analysis of the attitudes you may hold regarding diet and its role in your psyche (and life).

We also encourage you to make use of the wide range of material available on this site with a bearing on such issues. This site does not seek to convert you to a particular dietary philosophy. Rather, the goal of Beyond Veg is to encourage you to think--critically, carefully, and clearly--about your diet, dietary philosophy, and health. Once one begins to think critically on these issues, the (fruitarian and other) extremists who peddle their diet as the "one true religion and science of perfect health" will become irrelevant and obsolete (serving primarily as examples of unclear thinking--the lunatic fringe--and as occasional comic relief).

In closing, whether you agree with us or not on fruitarianism, we wish you good health and good thinking!

--Tom Billings

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