The experience that changed all this happened whilst climbing a hill on my way to university. I lived in student digs at the bottom of the hill, and the university campus was at the top of the hill! It was the day after I had become a vegan. This was an overnight change made purely for ethical reasons because I was no longer comfortable with certain practices in the dairy and egg industries.
Normally, as I climbed the hill up to the university campus, I would be wheezing and out of breath as I neared the top, but something was very different that day; as I approached the crest, it suddenly hit me like a bang on the head—I was not wheezing or out of breath!
I had embraced the vegan diet purely for ethical reasons without a thought of any health consequences, yet the very next day I was experiencing a significant positive change in my physical well-being. From that moment on, I was very interested in finding out more about the connection between what we put in our mouths and how we feel. I enthusiastically read about and researched all different kinds of vegan diet and I also tried out quite a few in the process!
I embarked on a vegan macrobiotic diet; an Ann Wigmore-style diet and a vegan whole-foods diet, excluding refined and highly processed foods. And whilst I felt good on all of these diets, I did not feel that good that I stuck with any one of them for more than a couple of years.
Then in 1990, at my local animal-rights group meeting, in a small room above a bar in my hometown of Leicester, I met the man who was to ignite a spark that would change my life forever! David Shelley was lean, toned, tanned, full of energy and a fruitarian! That evening, David gave a very inspiring and uplifting talk to our group about his experiences on a fruitarian diet. Whatever he was doing was working very well for him, and myself and a whole bunch of my friends wanted some of the magic that David had found. So we all started out together on the fruit diet.
I was in the early stages of pregnancy at the time, so I decided to do the transition slowly—something that, in hindsight, I am very much thankful for. One huge advantage of starting out with a group of friends was the great support this offered and the ability to buy bulk fruit. We started an organic buying group, which I believe really helped all of us in those early stages because we were able to source top-quality fruit from all around the world—very helpful when you live in the U.K. After just over a year transition period, I was on a 100 percent fruit diet, and I have stuck with it, and it has stuck with me ever since.
I have also raised two very happy and healthy children on the raw fruit diet. Both have never got any of the usual childhood illnesses, and both have been a joy to raise and have had abundant sweet energy. I think the bottom line is that every parent wishes their children to be happy and healthy. Before I had children, I was always concerned at how mealtimes seemed to be a battle between parents and their children; I was disturbed at the lack of flow regarding diet and eating. However, I have experienced none of this with my own children. I simply always had a good selection of fresh seasonal fruits in the home, and my children would chose what and when they wanted to eat.
It was so simple—there were no dramas, no upsets, no coercion to eat a certain food, and we enjoyed this very wonderful and natural flow to eating and mealtimes. I found that both my children ate very instinctively, and they would be guided by their inner needs. For example, many times they would leave one grape on a bunch of grapes or one cherry in a bag of cherries if they had had enough; neither of them felt a need to eat any more than they needed.
I do believe that a very important aspect to raising healthy and thriving children on a raw fruit diet is long-term breast-feeding. I personally believe that children need human milk for the first three to four years of life. I believe that here is no ideal substitute for breast milk. If you are a raw vegan, then milks from other animals or cooked plant milks are unsuitable. So if you are considering raising raw vegan children, then I feel that the issue of long-term breastfeeding needs to be considered.
When we are raising children in a natural manner, we are often up against the irrationality of our modern society, which sees nothing wrong with a mother giving her 3-year-old milk that has been stolen from a different species of mammal but considers it strange when a mother willingly gives her own milk to that same child. And I think we need to take into account that we may need to stand up against irrationality when we strive to bring up children in a rational and healthy way.
In my personal experience, raising raw vegan children has been very joyful, special and wonderful. I believe that a healthy and natural diet is the backbone that holds together all the other necessary factors for happy and healthy children such as unconditional love, attachment parenting, sunshine, fresh air and play.
I see three major factors in succeeding long-term on a fruit diet:
1) To be physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared for the diet. A transitional diet can help the body both physically and mentally prepare for a fruit diet. And I am grateful for the experiences I learnt whilst on my own transitional diet. These experiences helped me to see what really worked for me and convinced me that, for myself, fruit was the optimal food.
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2) To be able to source great-quality fruit. Wild, local, home-grown, organic and biodynamic fruits all tend to be higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than conventionally grown fruit, especially if the fruit has been transported for long distances or stored for a long time. Since adopting a fruit diet, it has been a priority for me to take the time to source great-quality fruit. I believe the success of my diet and the health of my children depends upon it.
3) To have faith in the diet. I believe that if we have faith in the diet, then this will be mirrored back to us, by our families, friends and acquaintances. I also believe that faith is built up by knowledge. So by continuing to research and learn about this diet, we will build up our inner faith and belief in it. By faith, I do not mean blind faith; I believe we should always have our eyes open to see how the diet is working for us personally and to see if any changes need to be made.
In conclusion, I have enjoyed great health and vitality over the past 22 years on a raw fruit diet. For me, the fruit diet ticks all the boxes: This diet resonates with me at an ethical, environmental, physical, biological and spiritual level. This does not mean that I believe that this is the “best” diet for everyone. I think each person needs to find the dietary path that works for them personally and fits in with their ethics and beliefs as well as giving them great physical health.
I feel very blessed to have found this path and I very much appreciate the pioneers who have gone before me and have helped to show me the way.