Fruitarianism (/frˈtɛəriənɪzəm/) is a diet that consists primarily of consuming fruits and possibly nuts and seeds, but without any animal products.[1] Fruitarian diets are subject to criticism and health concerns.

Varied fruits

Fruitarianism may be adopted for different reasons, including ethical, religious, environmental, cultural, economic, and presumed health benefits. A fruitarian diet may increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as reduced intake of vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3 or protein.[2]


Some fruitarians will eat only what falls (or would fall) naturally from a plant; that is, plant foods that can be harvested without killing or harming the plant.[3][4][5][6] These foods consist primarily of culinary fruits, nuts, and seeds.[7] Some do not eat grains, believing it is unnatural to do so, and some fruitarians feel that it is improper for humans to eat seeds as they contain future plants,[3] or nuts and seeds,[8] or any food besides juicy fruit.[9] Others believe they should eat only plants that spread seeds when the plant is eaten.[10] Others eat seeds and some cooked foods.[11] Some fruitarians use the botanical definitions of fruits and consume pulses, such as beans, peas, or other legumes. Other fruitarians' diets include raw fruits, dried fruits, nuts, honey and olive oil,[12] nuts, beans or chocolate.[13]

An even more extreme form is nutarianism, for individuals who only eat nuts.[14][15]

Ideology and diet

Some fruitarians wish, like Jains, to avoid killing anything, including plants,[11] and refer to ahimsa fruitarianism.[16] For some fruitarians, the motivation comes from a fixation on a utopian past, their hope being to return to a past that pre-dates an agrarian society to when humans were simply gatherers.[17] Another common motivation is the desire to eliminate perceived toxicity from within the body. For others, the appeal of a fruitarian diet comes from the challenge that the restrictive nature of this diet provides.[17]


Tropical fruits

According to nutritionists, adults must be careful not to follow a fruit-only diet for too long.[18] A fruitarian diet is wholly unsuitable for children (including teens), nursing mothers and their babies. Death can result from malnutrition.[19][18]

Nutritional effects

Fruitarianism is more restrictive than veganism or raw veganism, as a subset of both.[20] Maintaining this diet over a long period can result in dangerous deficiencies, a risk that many fruitarians try to ward off through nutritional testing and vitamin injections.[17] The Health Promotion Program at Columbia University reports that a fruitarian diet can cause deficiencies in calcium, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin D, most B vitamins (especially B12), and essential fatty acids.[19]

Although fruit provides a source of carbohydrates, they have very little protein, and because protein cannot be stored in the body as fat and carbohydrates can, fruitarians need to be careful that they consume enough protein each day.[21] When the body does not take in enough protein, it misses out on amino acids, which are essential to making body proteins which support the growth and maintenance of body tissues.[21] Consuming high levels of fruit also poses a risk to those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, due to the negative effect that the large amounts of sugar in fruits has on blood sugar levels.[22] These high levels of sugar mean that fruitarians are at high risk for tooth decay.[22] Another concern that fruitarianism presents is that because fruit is easily digested, the body burns through meals quickly, and is hungry again soon after eating.[17] A side effect of the digestibility is that the body will defecate more frequently.[17] Additionally, the Health Promotion Program at Columbia reports that food restrictions in general may lead to hunger, cravings, food obsessions, social disruptions, and social isolation.[19] The severe dietary restrictions inherent in a fruitarian regime also carries the serious risk of triggering orthorexia nervosa.[17]

Harriet Hall has written that a fruitarian diet "leads to nutritional deficiencies, especially in children. Fruitarians can develop protein energy malnutrition, anemia, and low levels of iron, calcium, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals."[23]

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, a bacterial product, cannot be obtained from fruits. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health "natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to foods that come from animals."[24] Like raw vegans who do not consume B12-fortified foods (for example, certain plant milks and some breakfast cereals), fruitarians may need to include a B12 supplement in their diet or risk vitamin B12 deficiency.[24]

Growth and development concerns

In children, growth and development may be at risk. Some nutritionists state that children should not follow a fruitarian diet. Nutritional problems include severe protein–energy malnutrition, anemia and deficiencies including protein, iron, calcium, essential fatty acids, raw fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals.[25]

Notable adherents

Some notable advocates of fruitarianism, or of diets which may be considered fruitarian, or of lifestyles including such a diet, are:

  • Otto Abramowski, Australian naturopath who lectured on the fruitarian diet.[26]
  • Idi Amin, the Ugandan military dictator who became a fruitarian while exiled in Saudi Arabia.[27]
  • Sidney H. Beard[28]
  • Arnold Ehret[29]
  • August Engelhardt[30]
  • Raymond W. Bernard[31]
  • Hereward Carrington[32]
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Indian political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi, sustained a fruitarian diet for five years.[33] He apparently discontinued the diet and went back to vegetarianism due to pleurisy, a pre-existing condition, after pressure from Dr. Jivraj Mehta.[34][35]
  • Ben Klassen[36]
  • Author Morris Krok, who earlier in his life lived "only on fruits",[37] allegedly advised against a diet of "only fruit",[38] although it was subsequently reported that Krok's diet consisted of "just fruit",[39] with dietary practices of fruitarians as varied as definitions of the term "fruitarianism".
  • Actor Ashton Kutcher was hospitalized and said that his "pancreas levels were completely out of whack" after following a fruitarian diet in preparation for his role playing Apple Inc. CEO and onetime fruitarian Steve Jobs, in the film Jobs. Jobs died of pancreatic cancer.[40]
  • Apple cofounder Steve Jobs began fruitarianism as a college freshman, and practiced it later in life.[41][42]
  • The Order of the Golden Age published the journal Herald of the Golden Age (1896–1918), which promoted a "fruitarian system of living".[28]
  • Gustav Schlickeysen[43]

The minor character Keziah in the 1999 film Notting Hill (played by Emma Bernard) tells William "Will" Thacker (Hugh Grant) that she is a fruitarian.[44] She says she believes that "fruits and vegetables have feeling," meaning she opposes cooking them, only eating things that have "actually fallen off a tree or bush" and that are dead already, leading to what some describe as a negative depiction.[45]

Both fruitarians and nutarians are mentioned in Ulysses by James Joyce.[46] Dick Gregory also promoted the former in his book, Cooking with Mother Nature.[47]

See also


  1. Ashraf, Hea-Ran L. Diets, Fad. In Andrew F. Smith. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. p. 264. ISBN 9780199734962
  2. Wells, Ken R. (2008). Fruitarian diet. In Jacqueline L. Longe. The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets: A Guide to Health and Nutrition. Gale. pp. 440-444. ISBN 978-1-4144-2991-5
  3. Gollner, Adam Leith (2013). The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession. Simon and Schuster. p. 100. ISBN 9781476704999. Some factions eat only fallen fruit. Others refuse to eat any seeds because they contain future plants.
  4. Rod Preece, Sins of the Flesh: A History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought, UBC Press, 2008, "Since plants have life, it is necessary, if one is not to starve, to live from the fruit of the plant in such a manner that the host plant itself does not die."
  5. Catherine G. Ratzin Jackson, Nutrition for the recreational athlete, p. 95, CRC Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8493-7914-8, ISBN 978-0-8493-7914-7. "The fruitarian diet usually consists of consuming those parts of the plant that are cast off or dropped from the plant, and that do not involve the destruction of the plant itself."
  6. Patricia Samour, Handbook Of Pediatric Nutrition, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2003, p. 143. "A fruitarian diet consists of only fruits. Any plant food that is botanically a fruit or can be obtained without killing or harming the plant is considered a fruit."
  7. "Information Sheet — Definitions". The Vegetarian Society UK. Archived from the original on November 28, 1999.
  8. Dr Johnny Lovewisdom, The Ascensional Science of Spiritualizing Fruitarian Dietetics, Ecuador: International University of the Natural Vitalogical Sciences, 1999, Introduction: "Nature is betrayed when man ingests the seeds of plants, depriving them of their means of propagating their own species"; chapter: Sugar & Starch-Friends Or Foes? "grains, nuts and other seeds are wrong as food sources"
  9. "Ascensional Science teaches the damaging effects of chlorophyll leafage, earthly roots and lower passion producing seeds. We are healed by levitational forces in fruit sugars and acids." Introduction to Ascensional Science of Spiritualizing Fruitarian Dietetics, Johnny Lovewisdom, International University of the Natural Vitalogical Sciences, 1999
  10. Cathy Hainer (October 27, 1997). "Living and Raw Foods: Alternative Eating Plans". USA Today via Living and Raw Foods.
  11. "". Archived from the original on April 4, 2005.
  12. Marie V. Krause, Food, nutrition, and diet therapy: a textbook of nutritional care, p. 343, Saunders, 1984, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized August 19, 2008, ISBN 0-7216-5514-9, ISBN 978-0-7216-5514-7. "The fruitarian diet consists of only raw or dried fruits, nuts, honey and olive oil."
  13. John McCabe, Handbook of Sunfood Living: Resource Guide for Global Health, North Atlantic Books, 2008, "other fruitarians also consume cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, melon, avocados, berries, grapes, figs, dates, carob, chocolate, goji berries, nuts and even coconuts."
  14. Clio Medica 1995, International Academy of the History of Medicine
  15. The Science and Culture of Nutrition, 1840-1940, Andrew Cunningham, Harmke Kamminga, 2020
  16. "ahim-sa" - "the Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of refraining from harming any living being", Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary,
  17. "This means raw: extreme dieting and the battle among fruitarians | Alexandra Kleeman". the Guardian. December 3, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  18. "Baby death parents spared jail". BBC News, September 14, 2001. Accessed March 31, 2011.
  19. Alice!, Health Promotion Program at Columbia University, Health Services at Columbia, August 23, 2002. "Go Ask Alice!: Fruitarian teens". Accessed May 20, 2008.
  20. Audrey H. Ensminger, Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia, CRC Press, 1993, "Severely restrictive vegetarian diets, such as fruitarian and Zen macrobiotic diets, increase the risk of malnutrition and deficiency diseases."
  21. "The strange eating habits of Steve Jobs - NBC News". NBC News. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  22. "Fruitarian Diet: Is It Safe - or Really Healthy for You? - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic". Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  23. Hall, Harriet. (2014). Food myths: what science knows (and does not know) about diet and nutrition. Skeptic 19 (4): 10–20.
  24. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12". National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  25. Holden, Chris, et al, Royal College of Nursing. Nutrition and Child Health, p. 59. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2000. ISBN 0-7020-2421-X, 9780702024214.
  26. "Death of Dr. Abramowski". The Mildura Cultivator (December 17, 1910). p. 10
  27. Goline, Adam Leith (2013) The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession New York: Scribner ISBN 9781476704999. Quote: "Idi Amin, the tyrannical Ugandan dictator, lived his final years in Saudi Arabia as a fruitarian (his affinity for oranges earned him the nickname "Dr. Jaffa")."
  28. Kuhn, Philip. (2017). Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1893–1913: Histories and Historiography. Lexington Books. pp. 73-74. ISBN 978-1498505222
  29. Kuske, Terrence T. (1983). Quackery and Fad Diets. In Elaine B. Feldman. Nutrition in the Middle and Later Years. John Wright & Sons. pp. 291-303. ISBN 0-7236-7046-3
  30. "Failure of a Womanless Eden in the Pacific - Strange Story from the South Seas", The New York Times, October 15, 1905, "For days he lived alone, eating nothing but bread fruit and cocoanuts," "Of the food of choice, he lacked none.", "Weeks of life under the sun in the salt sea, and living upon fruit, had brought him to a state of wonderful physical perfection.", "For nearly two years more he continued to live the 'pure, natural life' but the charm had been completely broken by the death of his two disciples.", "in 1903, came a drought which reduced the fruit crop. The little left of it was wiped out in the Spring of 1904 by a storm. Engelhardt had the alternative of casting in his lot with the natives and eating on hogflesh, or sending a request for succor to Ulu or Herbertshohe. He did neither in his stubbornness, and starvation and thirst did their work."
  31. Raymond W. Bernard, Organic Way To Health Vol. 1-4, Health Research Books, 1996, p. 2, "I have tried non-vegetarian diets, vegetarian diets, raw food diets, fruitarian diets, and many other kinds of diets."
  32. Albala, Ken. (2015). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues, Volume 2. Sage Publications p. 694. ISBN 978-1-45-22-4301-6
  33. Gandhi, Mohandas K., Desai, Valji Govindji (trans.)"Tolstoy Farm III" Archived January 13, 2017, at the Wayback Machine in Satyagraha in South Africa ~ XXXV. Quote: "[D]uring five years of a purely fruitarian life I never felt weak, nor did I suffer from any disease".
  34. Autobiography: the story of my experiments with truth, Social Sciences Series, Mohandas Gandhi, Gandhi (Mahatma), Mahadev Haribhai Desai, Dover, 1983, p. 318. "Dr. Jivraj Mehta treated me. He pressed me hard to resume milk and cereals, but I was obdurate."
  35. Gokhale's Charity, My Experiments with Truth, M. K. Gandhi.
  36. Salubrious Living (Creativity Book Publishers, 1982, and World Church of Creativity, 2003), chapter 'The Fruitarian Diet': "The fruitarian diet is composed of the products of the plant kingdom which are delicious and appealing to our taste in their natural uncooked condition. As fruits, vegetables and nuts are the foods which meet this qualification in an ideal manner they are the primary foods used by the fruitarian."
  37. Krok, Morris (1961) Fruit: The Food and Medicine For Man, Connecticut: O'Mangod Press. p.17, Chapter 8: Quote: "It had taken me almost ten years of continual reading and meditation before I had the courage to live only on fruits."; p.40, Chapter 19: Quote: "At the time of the incident I was living on all fruit."; p.46, Chapter 21. Quote: "After living on fruit for about four months, raw vegetables tasted flat."
  38. "Tom Billings: dietary bio--continued, Part B, section, Other Important Lessons, August 2000"."By the way, Morris Krok now advises against a diet of only fruit, and he is an open, honest, and very nice person."
  39. Klein, David (2007) "Who Was Morris Krok?" Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Living Nutrition Quote: "Someone who attended the talk reported he said that at the moment he was eating a diet of just fruit. I’d never heard that he ate exclusively fruit; however, it would not be surprising if he did so for varying periods of time."
  40. Child, Ben (January 28, 2013) "Ashton Kutcher landed in hospital after following Steve Jobs's fruitarian diet" The Guardian. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  41. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson. "Finally Jobs proposed Apple Computer. 'I was on one of my fruitarian diets,' [Jobs] explained." p. 120.
  42. Melissa Dahl (October 31, 2019). "The strange eating habits of Steve Jobs". NBC News. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  43. Mehdipour, Parvin. (2017). Cancer Genetics and Psychotherapy. Springer Publishing. p. 942. ISBN 978-3-319-64548-3
  44. Marthe, Emalie (September 3, 2016). "Inside the Strange World of 'Fruitarians,' Who Only Eat Raw Fruit". Vice News. Archived from the original on October 1, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  45. Tyrone, Nick (March 15, 2019). "What will the woke folk make of Notting Hill?". Unheard. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  46. Ulysses Annotated, by Don Gifford, Robert J. Seidman, University of California Press 2008
  47. African American Foodways Explorations of History and Culture, Anne Bower, 2008. ISBN 9780252076305, University of Illinois Press
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