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Fruitarians (or ‘fructarians’) are a subgroup of vegans, who are in turn a subgroup of vegetarians, most of whom adopt their particular dietary preference for reasons of health, ecological/environmental responsibility, or ethics.
A Vegetarian diet excludes meat and fish, and products derived from them (such as cochineal, lard, tallow, gelatin), although it can include honey, milk and other dairy products, and eggs.
A Vegan diet goes further by excluding dairy and egg products – only vegetables are eaten.
A Fruitarian (fructarian) diet goes further again by excluding all parts of all ‘vegetables’ (that is, plants and trees) except the fruit of the plant.
In a fruitarian diet, the only parts of plants used are the fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
In other words, ‘culinary’ fruit (apples, oranges, pears etc) and ‘botanical’ fruit or seed-containing reproductive parts of flowering plants (beans, berries, capsicums, cucumbers, grains, nuts, peas, pumpkins, seeds, squash, tomatoes, and the like), can be eaten, but not carrots, potatoes or spinach etc., which require destruction of the plant.
A true fruitarian believes that removal of a vegetable from its roots (say a potato or a lettuce leaf) injures it, which is against the fruitarian concept of causing no death or injury to anything in order to consume part of it (the tomato and avocado are considered either fruit or vegetable, and thus are exceptions to this rule).
The fruitarian diet may appear to be limited in variety and in nutrition, but nuts of any type provide a protein source, and grains and pasta are suggested for a balanced diet. Eggs may also be eaten if from organically grown chickens.
Negative factors to Eating Only Fruit
A fruitarian diet is difficult to follow, and long-term fruitarians can develop health problems, such as:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency – B12 is essential for normal nervous system function and the production of blood cells. To be absorbed by the body, B12 must bind to a protein (secreted by glands in the stomach lining) called ‘intrinsic factor’. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is produced exclusively by microorganisms (bacteria), and the main sources of vitamin B12 are meat, eggs, and dairy products, all absent in the fruitarian diet. B12 is not present in any fruit, and even if found on the fruit’s surface due to bacterial action, there will be nothing left after cleaning/preparing the fruit. Of course, there are other causes of B12 deficiency apart from it being low in the diet, such as:
- Abdominal/intestinal surgery or disorders affecting the production or absorption of intrinsic factor
- Chronic alcoholism
- Crohn’s disease
- Fish tape worm
- Pernicious anemia, due to a lack of intrinsic factor
- Diabetic or hypoglycemic-type symptoms, due to the high sugar content of the fruitarian diet, which also lacks protein, minerals, and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Eating disorder symptoms – long-term fruitarians are prone to food cravings and consequent binge-eating of either ‘allowed’ or ‘illegal’ foods, and often become addicted to dates (for their high sugar content) and avocados (for their high fat content). Some may develop a type of eating disorder for which a name has been coined, “orthorexia nervosa”
(“ortho” meaning straight, correct, and true), which has similarities to “anorexia nervosa”. Orthorexia nervosa refers to a pathological fixation on eating so-called ‘proper’ food.
Maintaining nutrient levels
Care should be taken with a fruitarian diet to ensure sufficient consumption of certain nutrients, by identifying and including the appropriate sources of:
- An iron supplement
- vitamin B12
- vitamin D
A Fruitarian Diet Book Review
Fruitarianism: The path to paradise is written by Anne Osborne who is a long term fruitarian. For eighteen years Obsorne has eaten only fruit and has also raised her two children on a fruit diet.
Osborne says that she wrote this book to share her personal experiences about a fruit diet and she claims that she does not profess to know which diet or lifestyle is the best for everyone.
Fruitarian Diet Basics
Osborne believes that the natural diet of humans is one based on fruit and supports her statements with comparative analysis charts that show how human anatomy relates to other species.
Osborne says that when we live on fruit alone it is vitally important to eat the highest quality fruit. She believes that when fruit is of excellent quality it can give us everything we need in order for our bodies to be healthy.
Osborne brings our attention to fruits high in calcium (figs and oranges) as well as those high in iron (prunes, watermelon, dates, raisins and apricots). She recognizes that a fruit diet may be low in minerals unless it consists of top quality, wild, organic fruits and berries.
In these situations she says that the solution is either to improve the quality of the fruit or to add good quality green vegetables to the diet. She also believes that green vegetables can have a role in healing and well being and states that if you are attracted to them in their natural state, without salad dressing or other methods of preparation, then they are most likely a good food for you.
Osborne recommends the use of avocados as a transitional food, in colder climates, as well as for those who are underweight. She does not recommend eating seeds because many of them contain chemicals that are poisonous to the human body. She believes our role is to eat the fruit and scatter the seeds so that a new tree can grow and provide us with nourishment.
Fruitarianism includes chapters on raising fruitarian children, cleansing, juice fasting and sunlight as well as entire chapters devoted to many individual fruits.
Sample Meal Plan
Osborne says that “exercise and a healthy diet are inseparable if we truly want to flourish”. She highlights the benefits of exercise to improve appetite, increase circulation, enhance the function of the lymphatic system and allow us to appreciate a better quality of life.
Costs and Expenses
Fruitarianism: The path to paradise is available on the author’s website for $27 AUD.
- Eating more than five serves of fruit a day is associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
- Food preparation is easy.
- Fruit is easy to digest.
- Includes tips on how to select the best fruit.
- Beneficial for the environment.
- Most people will develop nutritional deficiencies on a fruitarian diet.
- Does not provide adequate protein or essential fats.
- Deficient in many important vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, zinc and selenium.
- May be expensive to buy the large quantities of fruit that are required.
- Not very appealing in a cold climate.
- May be socially alienating.
- Book is not available in stores.
Fruitarianism: The Path to Paradise provides unique information about fruit and the fruitarian diet and will appeal to those who are interested in raw food and cleansing diets.
It is however vitally important for readers to be aware that it is extremely difficult to maintain health on a fruit diet as many essential nutrients are missing or in short supply.
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
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- Roberts, I. F., West, R. J., Ogilvie, D., Dillon, M. J. (1979). Malnutrition in infants receiving cult diets: a form of child abuse. BMJ, 1(6159), 296-298. link
- Jarvis, W. T. (1983). Food faddism, cultism, and quackery. Annual review of nutrition, 3(1), 35-52. link
Last Reviewed: March 31, 2017