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Interview with a Fruitarian Harry Mather interviews John Rhodes, Vegan Views 70 (Autumn 1995)

More and more people nowadays are turning to Raw Food eating and Fruitarianism. So we thought we would ask John Rhodes, who has been on this diet for over 12 years what he eats and why.

If you were not born vegetarian, what made you become one?

I was not born vegetarian. I became vegetarian after reading three volumes of 'Zen Macrobiotics' by George Ohsawa. This led me to recognise the possibility of diet as a route to self-awareness or a path toward a more natural way of life, as in Anna Yoga (Yoga of Food), the Chinese Tao, and Buddhist teachings.

I became vegan soon after realizing the misguided and maybe unconscious brutality of the dairy industry. I remained vegan for about 24 years during which time I met fruitarian and fruitarian influenced people. These people demonstrated to me that fruitarianism is possible.

How did you become fruitarian and how long ago?

I became fruitarian after absorbing these various influences and with the help and guidance of a long term fruitarian in 1982 after reading an article by Leslie Kenton: 'Seven days to make you a new women'!! My sex didn't change but my philosophy did! This article spelt out clearly the many nutritional advantages in following a fruitarian type lifestyle. My fruitarian friends had explained the ethical and environmental reasons.

I was also influenced by Dr. Barbara Moore who walked great distances on a fruitarian diet (Land's End to John O'Groats!) and Dick Gregory who was doing similar things in the USA.

What is your definition of "Fruitarian"?

"Feeder on Fruit" (Oxford English Dictionary). Fruit is defined as 'plant or tree's edible product of seed with its envelope'.

So this definition could encompass everything from pulses, grains, seeds, nuts through to tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, rosehips, cherries, apples, etc. I believe, as Wilfred Crone does, that it is important not to be fanatical about this way of eating. I would exclude vegetables, alcohol and as far as possible those stimulants which excite or unbalance the mind or nervous system and believe it or not, there could be several of those within the Fruitarian diet.

Many fruitarians feel that the ideal is to move away from eating seeds to eating the surrounding fruit alone.

Why do you feel the need to go beyond veganism, which most people regard as the ultimate in Compassion. Is it for health or is there more to it?

For the Northern countries of the world Veganism is a huge step forward. The influence of Indian philosophy in the 1960s and the influence of the Environmental movement now make this an ideal time for veganism, Vegetarianism and Fruitarianism to spread. Fruitarianism attracted me because: You don't have to cook food, thereby saving energy and vitamins! Washing up is easy (no greasy plates or greasy tummy upsets!).

It encourages reforestation of the planet and respect for the providers of those products that you might find in your local Oxfam shop, like Brazil nuts or cashew nuts. A tree is clearly capable of producing a far greater harvest than plants occupying the same area.

Permaculture combines trees and plants in an environmentally friendly way, but perhaps the most successful provider of food is nature itself when free of human interference and misguided greed.

Dick Gregory has stated that he feels the fruit diet is the closest a diet comes to perfection, 'because it comes closest to body chemistry. Your body is 97 per cent liquid against 3 per cent solid, and fruit tends to have more water in it than anything else! This water is much finer than even spring water, it is like the whole fruit itself, easily digested and assimilated by the human body; it is rich in vitamins and minerals, a living food, vital and beautiful.' Fruit is given in abundance by trees and plants and there is no need to harm them when we gather this harvest.

To quote Dick Gregory again when asked by an interviewer: "In your 'Natural Diet' book you point out that in the antebellum South, the master and his family lived on the choicest cuts of meat whereas the slaves, drawing on their African heritage, lived on organic fruits and vegetables, with only an occasional sliver of meat. Do you think they were healthier than the master by virtue of this diet?" Dick Gregory answered: "In many respects they were physically, mentally. They had to be strong to withstand slavery".

I heard a statistic recently that astonished and heartened me, that this country, per head of population is second only to India in the number of vegetarians it has. I believe this is part of an inevitable movement towards a more fruit based diet. Experiments performed on plants have proven that they respond to human thought. Biodynamic gardeners have demonstrated that plants are directly influenced by the lunar cycle. It may sound odd to suggest that plants have a right to existence too, but we should also remember that by the wholesale destruction of rainforest to produce grass for grazing cattle or for the monocropping of plants, that we upset the balance of nature and wind up injuring ourselves. We need these trees, mixed woodland is preferable to mono-forestation, mono-forestation preferable to mono-crops, mono-crops preferable to desert; but once the loggers arrive and the chain-saws start their deadly work, one thing very quickly leads to another.

What foods form the mainstay of your diet?

I live on whatever fruit are available to me at any given moment. Wild fruits seem to have the highest energy giving levels - Hydroponically grown greenhouse fruits grown partly or wholly by artificial light the lowest energy levels. My preference now is for wild native fruits. I have eaten and probably will do so again in the future, cooked seeds because it takes so long to learn certain lessons!!

There may be a need to supplement with other foods. The principle ones that might from time to time concern me would be: Minerals Kelp or Dulse seaweed (ie iodine) but be careful where it comes from as the Irish Sea is the most Radioactive in the world! Vitamin B12 this is manufactured in the lower intestine but absorbed in the upper intestine. If our habits are very clean we may not be able to get it. Some additional source could be needed. Vitamin D Following experiments, Vit.D is thought to be contained in Avocado pears. Growing children have a far greater requirement of this vitamin, so supplementation would be advised, possibly with calcium.

I have heard that oil (olive oil for instance) will create its own vitamin D if left in direct sunlight.

Could you survive on food that can be grown in this country only or do you need (or long for) foods from hotter climates?

Given the constraints of city life and a low income, I would find it hard to live entirely on food grown in this country, but with good storage facilities and the freedom to experiment, I am sure it can be done, and would be clearly preferable for health, the environment and Third World exploitation. Apples used to be stored for up to two years by the ancient mariner explorers!

Do you find it expensive?

I have found that with determination (i.e. shopping around when time permits) I can survive well below the national poverty level but within the boundaries set out: accepting that fruit encompasses everything from pulses to apples.

Are you happy with the way food is produced (e.g. picked when unripe, being irradiated)?

There are some terrible things happening now to our food. All food is being affected. Fruit is being irradiated along with potatoes, grain and almost everything may be affected. People who eat meat might be interested to know that oil recovered from the public sewage system is being added to cattle feed and being fed to cattle!

It may take a while to figure out the difference between ripe and unripe fruit, but bearing in mind that shops prefer unripe to ripe, the chances are that the ripe stuff tends to be sold off cheaper!

Is your family also fruitarian?

My own family are vegan and my 'in-laws' are vegetarian.

Books used or quoted from:
Concise Oxford Dictionary (for definition)
The Vegetarians, Rynn Bernie (for Dick Gregory)
Plant and Planet, Huxley (Plant experiment)
Biodynamic Gardening Steiner Foundation (Plants and moon)

For more information on food irradiation:
Food Irradiation - The Facts by Tony Webb & Tim Lang (or direct from London Food Commission)
Food Irradiation: edition of the 'Food Programme' Radio Four.
Sewage Oil in Cattle Food: also The Food Programme
The Composition of Foods HMSO (food analysis)

It is recommended that you contact an information or support group before turning fruitarian

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Cross-reference: Raw Food Diet