It is true, man does not live by breadfruit alone; although I very much believe that diet is the backbone that holds together all the other elements needed for a very happy and healthy life, there are many other important factors needed for vibrant health and well-being.
These include fresh air, sunshine, love for self and others, exercise and community. Of these various factors needed for wellness, community is one aspect that may bring challenges for many raw food vegans.
The majority of us live in communities where barbeques and a day out at the races are perfectly acceptable social events, and fruit-lucks or raw vegan meetups are more of a rarity. I believe that the social aspect of living, as a raw vegan, in communities where omnivorous diets and social activities that cause other sentient beings fear, harm or suffering are commonplace can cause many of us to feel isolated and disconnected.
I think it is very useful to be able to connect to other like-minded souls, and to be able to come together to share, connect and learn from one another. One of the ways in which we can do this is to attend one of the fruit festivals that are now occurring all over the world.
The first fruit festival I experienced was the 2011 Woodstock Fruit Festival, and it really was one of the best weeks of my life. Although I very much enjoyed the lectures, classes and entertainments, what was of most value to me was the opportunity to meet up with so many others on a similar path in life. Many people I met there I had previously known only through e-mails, forums or social media or seen their videos on YouTube.
After a week of fun, fruit, learning and sharing, the most precious things that I took away from this event were some very special friendships and many deep emotional connections.
The Danish festival held its inaugural event in 2009, which makes it one of the longest-running raw vegan festivals, whilst the U.K. festival is in its second year.
Living in Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, it always seems a bit of a cheat to leave the Antipodean winter and head into someone else’s summer, to experience their sunny season’s weather and fruits.
I attended with my son, Cappi, and it was our first time in Denmark; it really was a great time of year to visit this beautiful country. The summer fruits were in rich abundance, and the long days meant for wonderful lengthy sunny evenings.
We had a few days exploring wonderful Copenhagen before the festival started and found plenty of delicious fruit to fuel us whilst we were enjoying the amazing architecture and beautiful parks.
One thing that surprised me about Denmark was how many people cycle, and there were thousands of beautiful bikes in the city, with cycle paths at the side of all the roads.
The festival was held at Ofsted Efterskole, which is a teenager’s boarding school and situated about a 45-minute drive from the capital. It is surrounded by beautiful verdant countryside and fields of fragrant wildflowers.
This location offers spacious, clean, light-filled rooms with great views. The school has wonderful facilities, which include a large hall, yoga room, gymnasium and beautiful grounds with meadows, play areas and woodland. There was even a half-pipe so that Chris Kendall could give some skateboarding lessons.
There was a very friendly and intimate atmosphere at the event. All the lectures were in English due to the international nature of the festival.
From a presenter’s point of view, everything was really well-organised, which made presenting at this event a very enjoyable and stress-free experience.
The fruit was simply wonderful and ranged from the sweetest local organic strawberries to the further-travelled fresh Thai durian and Pakistani honey mangoes.
Evening and lunch-time meals were created by Chris Kendall and Marina Grubic and provided daily. So whether you prefer monomeals or gourmet 80/10/10 dishes, there was something to satisfy every fruity palate.
In addition to the lectures, there were fitness classes, social and evening events, children’s activities and free time that gave an opportunity to explore the wonderful grounds, have some quiet time or connect with the other attendees.
The combination of a beautiful setting, wonderful people and delicious fruit and the long, long days meant for a truly memorable experience.
I felt very blessed to experience so much love and fruitful connections in the four days and would definitely recommend this festival as a great opportunity to meet and connect with the European community of raw vegans.
Then in August this year, we attended our second UK FruitFest; the event took place from the 5th to the 9th August. This year, it was located in the very charmingl English village of Pulborough in West Sussex; think rustic green hedges, quaint country cottages and 4,000-year-old yew trees, and you get an idea of the area!
Similar to its sister event in Denmark, this was a festival that included educational, fitness and social activities. Presentations were given by Rozalind and Dr. Doug Graham, Grant Campbell and myself.
Something that I really appreciate about the smaller festivals is their more intimate nature; you get a chance to meet and speak with all the other attendees. There is a closeness that is very bonding and precious.
It has been said that it is harder to form trust bonds in a group that is over 150 in number, and the smaller, more family-like nature of the European festivals certainly allows a special intimate environment.
As a community, the raw vegan world often needs to connect and communicate via social media and digital technology, and I believe this is a wonderful development that has allowed us to connect with others on a similar path. It is just so special, however, to come together face-to-face in the real world with others who love fruit and are interested to share and learn from one another.
Every time I attend a fruit-based festival, I am so appreciative of how much the experience enriches my life. I have made the best friends and had some of the best days of my life attending these events.
Although we may dream of living on a tropical one, no man is an island, and it can be challenging if we rarely or never come into physical contact with others who share our dreams, ethics and visions for a future world.
The essential elements for me about these festival are the relationships and networking that are fostered when a group of like-minded people come purposefully together in one location; there is a synergy and a special energy that is precious and profound.
So I would really recommend that if you feel that you would benefit from attending a fruit festival to go ahead and research more about the various events that take place each year.
And if these events seem to be out of your current financial means, most of them have volunteer or work exchange opportunities that offer a lower-priced entry in exchange for working several hours per day.
I have worked at all the Woodstock Fruit Festivals and still had the best time, and I have been greatly inspired, impressed and encouraged by the amazing team spirit and work ethos of the volunteers.
As a mother of a raw vegan child, I have also appreciated the experiences my son, Cappi, has benefitted from by attending these events. Being with other children who are living similar lifestyles has been invaluable, but also very important for Cappi has been learning from older role models at the festivals; he has a whole family of older fruit brothers and sisters, who show inspiring examples of the happiness and health that can be achieved.
At each event, Cappi has made so many new friends, conversed, played and learnt from them, and I believe this has been a significant part of Cappi’s life education.
The memories from the festivals I have attended will stay with me forever, and the friendships I have made are very special and treasured. I have seen many people’s lives change forever from attending these events.
If you are feeling like you are the only person on the planet who lives on a fruit diet and you feel that your shopping trolley is the only one at the checkout full of real food, or if you feel that you are isolated and yearn to be part of a like-minded community; then I would suggest considering attending one of the fruit festivals.
If you have financial challenges, maybe consider volunteering and affirm and cultivate the belief that you will be able to attend. These festivals were all started by one person’s vision or faith that led to the creation of an event, so keep the thought and conviction strong in your heart.
I have seen so many people’s lives change from attending these events, whether they met their life partner there or made the best friendships or simply had the support to be able step out with confidence on their own desired health path.
I believe that being part of a loving community is something all human beings require, and I think that fruit festivals can help fulfil this important need and bring our community and its members closer to the wonderful health and happiness that is our birthright.