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(Tom Billings: dietary bio--continued, Part B)

Generic Raw Vegan: 1990-1996

My experiments with sprouts continued, and I slowly increased the percentage of sprouts (and green vegetables) in my diet and decreased the percentage of fruit. This type of diet was easier to follow and more satisfying than the preceding diets. However, there were still a few problems, notably cravings (in the early 1990s) and fatigue. I was 100% raw for much (but not all) of this time. In the early 1990s I got addicted to dates again--an addiction that lasted nearly a year. (I ate approximately 1 pound or 0.5 kg per day.) Sugar was a real problem for me--probably a legacy of my many years on sweet fruit, i.e., the fruitarian years.

In 1994, chronic health problems developed, and I turned to yoga and Ayurveda, the traditional medical/wellness system of India, for help. A blood test done in late December 1994 showed a serious deficiency of vitamin B-12, an apparent legacy of my many years as a vegan and fruitarian. I now use vitamin B-12 supplements (and have been attacked by extremists for doing so) to make up for the deficiencies of the "perfect" 100% raw vegan/fruitarian diet I followed for so many years.

The primary influences on me during this period were, in raw foods: Ann Wigmore, Brian Clement, and Gabriel Cousens. I got into Ayurveda via the writings of Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Robert Svoboda, Bhagwan Dash, David Frawley, and others. (Please note that Gabriel Cousens is not, and was not, an Ayurvedic influence for me.) During this period, I also dis-associated myself from Swami Kailashananda (the raw foods yogi), as his behavior over a long period led me to the inescapable view/opinion that he was thoroughly corrupt.

In 1996, under the influence of writers and friends in the yoga and Ayurveda communities, I started experimenting with raw dairy in my diet. This led me to my current diet.

The Current Phase: Lacto-Vegetarian, 75-90% Raw

My current diet is 75-90% raw and includes some dairy--mostly raw milk or yogurt and a very small amount of ghee (a cooked dairy product). My diet includes sprouts, nuts, avocados, raw vegetables, fruits, dairy, and other foods (raw honey, etc.).

Humanely produced, sanitary, raw cow's milk is readily available in the area I live in (San Francisco area: I use Claravale Farms raw cow milk). Lately (August 2000) I have been using yogurt instead of raw milk, as it is more convenient. Adding dairy to my diet has helped me in many ways:

My current diet includes about 10-25% cooked foods: mostly steamed vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, string beans. Lately I have been eating some rice, in the form of khitcharee, a mixture of basmati rice and split mung beans, mildly spiced, that is very easy to digest. Yoga is also very important to me; I teach yoga in San Francisco as a volunteer (public) service. On request, I also give occasional talks on raw foods, nutrition, and related subjects.

Selected Lessons from My Dietary Experience

This section presents only a few select lessons; no claim of being comprehensive is made or implied. I encourage you to read my other writings on this site, and those written by others on this site as well.

Fruitarianism in Retrospect

In 1981, I learned of a type of mental illness, something called anorexia nervosa, a type of eating disorder. I looked back at my fruitarian years and wondered if I had had an eating disorder then. At that time, my research was very limited, and I did not reach any firm conclusions.

In 1983, Karen Carpenter, the famous pop singer, died of heart failure caused by ipecac poisoning. (Ipecac is an emetic or purgative.) She had learned to use ipecac to vomit up food--the behavior known as bulimia. The bulimia was part of her eating disorder; she also suffered from severe anorexia nervosa. After this event, I was harassed quite a bit because I was, in typical raw-fooder fashion, very emaciated at the time. Many of my friends and co-workers asked me if I had anorexia.

Although I did not appreciate such attention at the time, it did motivate me to find out more about anorexia. I read all I could find on the subject. I asked myself whether my experience with fruitarianism was: a spiritual experience, an eating disorder, or some kind of weird food-faddist diet. My conclusion then was that the fruitarian experience was all of those things (but not at the same time).

Some observant readers may note that fruitarianism does not meet the technical diagnostic criteria for anorexia: self-starvation caused by fear of fat. However, fruitarianism often is/can be self-starvation caused by fear--fear of cooked food, protein, mucus; these are a few of the many fears promoted by fruitarian extremists. Also, mental-health professionals often diagnose any kind of self-starvation as an eating disorder; whether it is caused by fear of fat or other fears (fear of cooked food, protein) is not important. The similarities between fruitarianism and eating disorders is striking, and will be explored in a later article.

I would label my experience in fruitarianism in the following way:

Spiritual fruitarianism: up until the crash in 1973.

Toxic fruitarianism: (fruitarianism as an eating disorder) 1973 to second crash, i.e., end of 1975/76.

Conventional fruitarianism: second crash to phase-out (burnout) of the diet, in 1980.

The above types of fruitarianism are discussed and explored in depth in a separate (offsite) article I have written. [A second, related offsite article is also available.]

Spiritual fruitarianism was a generally positive experience for me, while it lasted. I moved from spiritual fruitarianism to toxic fruitarianism when I allowed the bogus fear of mucus, and the drive to be "pure" (mucusless, per the title of Ehret's book), to dominate me. When fear dominates you, it poisons you (your mind), just as surely as drinking deadly poison will poison your body. Those extremists who promote fear (of cooked food, protein, mucus) are spreading mental poison, and are promoting eating disorders under the guise of their "ideal, perfect, natural" diet. Fear is not the basis for a diet; it is, however, a basis for an eating disorder! (I should mention that one can have a rational, scientific discussion regarding the pros and cons of cooked food, and one can even believe in the mucus theory, and not be an extremist. Such fear develops into an eating disorder when it becomes obsessive and/or has a significant negative impact on one's life.)

While on the subject of spiritual fruitarianism, the following comments are relevant.

Other Important Lessons

The above will disturb many readers, especially those who are idealistic, and/or who have self-identified with the fruitarian diet. I encourage you to face the above, for the above is, to me, the unpleasant (but honest) reality of fruitarianism in practice.

Lessons from the Natural Hygiene Phase

Avoiding the Trap of Worshiping Herbert Shelton

The trap and attraction of worshiping Herbert Shelton is that he was a supreme logician and a very rational thinker and synthesizer of ideas (for the most part--he had his blind spots, as all of us probably do); however, one's logic and conclusions are only as good as the premises, assumptions, and data one starts from. While a number of Shelton's observations may have been masterful given the available knowledge in his day, science has moved on. No one knew the necessity of keeping their mind open to new data more than Shelton, who made his motto and that of the movement he led when he was alive, "Let us have truth though the heavens fall." Many natural hygienists seem to have completely forgotten this, and elevated him to the status of something akin to a Greek god.

As my knowledge of Herbert Shelton was limited at the time, I did not realize (until later) that having the dubious T.C. Fry as my introduction to natural hygiene was, in a sense, optimal. Because of this, and my skepticism of Fry, I did not fall into the trap of worshiping Herbert Shelton that I see many hygienists in. (Many of these folks are really good people and are sincere; some of them are not even aware that their view of Shelton is unrealistic and spiritually/mentally unhealthy.) I refer to the syndrome of worshiping Shelton as:

"Turn ON Herbert Shelton, Turn OFF Your Brain." ;-)

Those who regard the writings of Herbert Shelton as being, in effect, the "holy scriptures of health" are the folks who have the syndrome. Coming to natural hygiene via Fry rather than Shelton helped me avoid the above.

Please note here that:

  1. One can respect (and quote) Shelton without worshiping him. I am not suggesting that anyone/everyone who quotes or admires Shelton worships him.

  2. Although I disagree with Shelton on a number of points, I respect his positive achievements. Shelton went to jail a number of times for his beliefs--I think that deserves some respect! Indeed, the courage Shelton displayed by standing up for the principles he believed in, is in sharp contrast to the blatant corruption, dishonesty, and moral cowardice that characterize the current raw foods movement.

Natural Hygiene-Style Diet, but Never a "Natural Hygienist"

A minor but important point: I did not (and do not) describe myself as a "natural hygienist." I use the term natural hygiene-style here because it provides a convenient way to describe my diet during a certain period, and because the natural hygiene movement was an influence on me. Most readers will realize this from the material above. However, I thought it best to make it an explicit statement, as I have received hate mail from fundamentalist natural hygienists who apparently don't (or can't?) read very carefully, and who attacked me starting from the false premise that I was a natural hygienist.

Other Lessons in This Period

Lessons From the Last Two Phases (1990 to Present)

End Notes

This is the first time I have written such a detailed bio. I have resisted doing this for years, and have instead operated on the principle of releasing a minimum of information about myself. I followed that policy because I have noted that many (far too many) rawists are very self-absorbed and talk about themselves all the time. I wanted to avoid the ego trap I see so many rawists in.

However, when I was asked if I would contribute my experiences for this site, I psyched myself up to do it. Having done it, I hope that my story helps you to avoid some of the problems I experienced. You can learn from my mistakes, or do the same things and learn the hard way--ultimately, the choice is yours.

Because previous bio info relating to what I have discussed above has previously been released only on a piecemeal basis, and because some of the dates herein are best guesses, there may be very minor differences with information released previously. Such differences are due to the uncertainty regarding the dates of certain events (for years, I tried to forget parts of my fruitarian experience), and the off-the-cuff/reluctant nature of earlier releases of information. I state this because, if extremists can find the slightest discrepancies with earlier, partial info releases, experience has shown they will likely be quick to attack and call me a liar to deflect attention from the numerous other observations made here. Such tactics merely reflect on the desperation of the extremists, who want you to follow their dogma rather than think for yourself. (Encouraging you to think for yourself is a prime goal of this site.) If enough people think for themselves, the extremists will quickly go out of business.


My writings, and those by others on this site, are an antidote to the nonsense and misinformation promoted by dietary extremists. Some extremists appear to be seeking followers and/or groupies; they want you to look up to them as "experts." I don't want any followers, groupies, or adulation: I want you to think for yourself, take charge of your health, and start being skeptical of the diet gurus and experts (including me, if you consider me an "expert"). When you think for yourself and use common sense, you will quickly figure out who the extremists are, and who is telling you the truth.

I wish you good luck in your diet and health experiments!

--Tom Billings, August, 2000

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