Brenda de Groot
Health & Food Vegan

Fruitarian: What to eat, food lists & info

The upcoming week I will submerge myself in the wonderful world of fruitarianism. Oh goodies how I anticipate on eating nothing but the godsends of nature that spontaneously fall from a tree. As usual, I wanted to prepare myself the best I can possibly do so, and therefore I read everything I could find written about it on the first two pages of Google. With this article as a result: a comprehensive informative piece on fruitarianism, what fruitarians eat, why they eat like that, and at the end of the article a fruitarian meal plan. Enjoy.

What is a Fruitarian?

A fruitarian is someone who only eats fruit and the edible products coming from a plant, that can be harvested without harming or killing the plant [1]. Fruitarianism is a subtype of a vegan diet. Fruitarians thus don’t eat animal products like meat, fish, dairy or eggs, but also not the vital parts of plants, like their stems, roots, and leaves.

Reading on, you’ll learn the basic principles of fruitarianism and find the answer to the questions:

  • Why does one become a fruitarian?
  • What does a fruitarian eat?
  • What do fruitarians not eat?
  • Is fruitarism healthy?

At the end of this article you’ll read more about what I plan to do in the next week, eating like a fruitarian. For now, let’s start at the beginning: why going fruitarian?

Why Fruitarianism?

The motivation to become a fruitarian varies from environmental reasons to health-related ones, and from religion to ethics [2,3]. The most popular argument for fruitarianism is not wanting to harm or kill any life form at all. Animals nor plants. Which leads us to the biggest misconception about fruitarianism, namely the idea that:

Plants have feelings too.

Well no. Most likely they do not. Of course, there will be fruitarians that do believe that, and make it their reason behind their diet. Live and let live (the fruitarians, and yes, the plants too if you insist). But the assumption that plants have feelings is not every fruitarians motivation to eat like so [2]. I found a brilliant video that explains quite spot-on why it is very unlikely that plants feel pain like animals (incl. humans) do:

Extremely peaceful

During my search for information about fruitarianism I repeatedly stumbled upon the following statement: that fruitarianism is “an extreme form of veganism”. I get it, because the idea of eating solely fruit is kind of a far cry from most people’s plates. But the word ‘extreme’ just doesn’t fit fruitarians.

I personally find fruitarianism the most peaceful and compassionate way of eating I know of. There are even fruitarians existing on this planet that literally only eat food that spontaneously fall from a tree, because the way people harvest fruits often damages the plant (super cute, but unless you live on a Hawaiian orchard, not too practical).

And you know? Actually fruitarianism isn’t as extreme as you might think at first. It doesn’t differ that much from a standard whole foods, plant-based diet (a.k.a. a healthy vegan diet). I was quite surprised that if you follow the broad meaning of fruitarianism (eating stuff that you don’t need to kill a plant for), how many products you can still eat as a fruitarian! I’ll show you now.

What does a Fruitarian Eat?

A fruitarian only eats the fruits of a plant, but that doesn’t mean that a fruitarian only eats fruit. Like, fruity-fruit. The sweet stuff. You don’t need to go bananas all the way. Seeds are also part of a fruit. And nuts, pits and grains are seeds too, and therefore foodstuffs that fruitarians can eat.

Since a fruitarian can eat quite a lot still, I’ll start with a list of what a fruitarian doesn’t eat:

What a Fruitarian doesn’t Eat:

  • Animal products like meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, bok choy and kale. Also stems (leek, rhubarb), cabbage (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel’s sprouts) and seaweeds are off the menu.
  • Root vegetables like potatoes, red beets, turnips, radish, onions, garlic, carrot and ginger. Also, asparagus and salsify are out of option.
  • Herbs like basil, thime, oregano, parsley, coriander, etc.
  • Sprouts like bean sprouts or luzerne. Also, bread made from sprouted grains is a no-go.
  • Mushrooms and truffels also a no. Although mushrooms are fungi, they resemble plants so closely, that most fruitarians do not eat them either.
  • Yeast. To grow yeast, you need a form of sugar – mostly this is glucose. Glucose from beets or cane comes from beets or cane. So say bye-bye to most breads and beer..!
  • Peanuts. These grow underground, and by harvesting them, the plant gets killed.
  • Products that contain animal products or parts of plants. 

What a Fruitarian Eats

Although the list you’ve just read may look daunting, there is still ample foodstuffs you can eat while maintaining a fruitarian diet. I myself was quite surprised to see how many products are actually (parts of) fruits from plants. I put the products in a handy list here (I ♥ lists) – which will also come in handy for myself for the next week!

Fresh fruit Apples, pears, bananas, mango’s, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, sharon fruit, papaya, pineapple, melon, kiwi’s, lychees, grapes, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, oranges, tangerines, lemon, lime, grapefruit, coconut (etc.).
Dried fruit Dates, mulberries, goji berries, dried plums, apricots and apple parts, grated coconut.
Fruit vegetables Avocado, tomato, courgette (zuccini), cucumber, paprika, peppers, aubergine (eggplant), pumpkin, pickles, olives.
Legumes White beans, brown beans, black beans, red beans, kidney beans, fava beans, soy beans, lupine, lentils, chickpeas, marrowfat peas, green beens, sugar peas. Not peanuts.
Grains Wheat, rice, oat, rye, maize, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, millet, amaranth.
Nuts and seeds Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamias, brazil nuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chiaseeds, flax seed, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, poppy seeds.
Meat substitute Seitan, tofu, tempeh, vegan meat replacer without plant parts
Drinks and fluids Coffee, fruit juice, tomato juice, coconut water, coconut mil, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, almond milk (all without plant ingredients), wine, gin.
Sugars Coconut sugar, date syrup, malt syrup, rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose.
Flavourings Salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, chili sauce, cacao, cumin, paprika powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg.

Example of foods you can eat as a fruitarian:

  • Oatmeal
  • Bread without yeast
  • Rice cakes
  • Soy yogurt
  • Tomato sauce
  • Apple sauce
  • Nut paste
  • Dried fruit bars
  • Dark chocolate (without plant sugar)
  • Soy lattes
  • Hummus (without garlic)
  • Guacamole (without garlic)

Raw Fruitarian

Raw fruitarianism is a form of fruitarianism that quickly gains popularity. Like the name says, it means that you only eat your food the way nature gives it to you. In other words: not baked, fried or cooked, but raw. And guess what.. I’ll eat like a raw fruitarian 3 days during my fruitarian challenge..! Oh boy.

Many raw fruitarian enthusiasts eat by certain rules. Mostly, a diet consisting for 70 to 80% of fruit, out of all that you eat, and/or that your total calorie intake is made up from at least 80% of carbohydrates, 10% of fats. and 10% of protein (also called 80/10/10). If you live by these rules, it means that you shouldn’t binge on fatty products like nuts, seeds and avocados. I wouldn’t recommend raw fruitarianism, as you will likely fall short on some essential nutrients. Especially women need a good amount of fats for their endocrine system (hormone production and function) to work properly.

Ingrediënten voor een gezonde smoothie bowl

Is Fruitarianism Healthy?

According to me, a fruitarian diet is fine to maintain for a few days or weeks, if you make sure you get enough nutrients from it. This can be tricky, especially as a raw fruitarian. That is why in my humble opinion, a fruitarian diet does not make a good long term food plan. Below you will read four frequently asked questions about the health aspects of fruitarianism and my respons.

1. “Doesn’t fruit contain too much sugar?”

This is one of those great myths I need to bust. Thanks to the low carb diet hype going on for decades now, there is the assumption that fruit contains sugar and is therefore bad for your health and/or waistline. Utter nonsense. Eating fruit has a totally different effect on your body than eating processed sugar or drinking soda. Fruit serves you not only sugar, but also a lot of fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes – nutrients that help you to process the sugar slowly. In that way, the sugar in fruit doesn’t cause the adverse health effects that refined sugar does [4,5,6].

2. “Do I get enough protein with a fruitarian diet?”

Vegans already get sick of this question – can imagine how it would be for fruitarians! But as the answer goes for vegans (here you can read the facts on vegan protein): yes, as a fruitarian you can get more than enough protein from your diet. Good protein sources are legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Especially tempeh, tofu, seitan, bean sprouts, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds are high in protein. As a raw fruitarian you do need to watch your protein intake though. Since most legumes and grains are out of option, you want to make sure you stack up on the oats and seeds. This extensive list with plant-based protein will help you calculate the amount of protein you get from a vegan / fruitarian food item.

3. “Does a fruitarian diet contain enough healthy fats?”

In general you do not have to worry about a lack of fats when eating a fruitarian diet. Nuts, seeds and avocados contain enough healthy fats to keep your body going and glowing. What is important though, is that you eat enough flax seeds. Flax seeds are the greatest source of ALA omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid your body needs. Since fruitarians don’t eat seaweed, they cannot take an omega-3 supplement from algae oil. The lack of DHA en EPA-omega-3 fatty acids may be a point of criticism on fruitarianism, although DHA and EPA are not essential, and ALA (in flax seeds) is. But this is a whole different discussion. What you just need to do is having 13 grams (1 big tablespoon) of flax seeds every day. This contains 100% of your daily required amount of ALA omega-3.

4. “How about deficiencies in vitamins and minerals?”

A legit point of criticism on (especially raw) fruitarianism is that you are in serious risk of getting deficient in several essential vitamins and minerals, of which:

  • Vitamin B-complex – especially B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Calcium

If you want to give fruitarianism a go, then educate yourself. Make sure that you have a meal plan that contains enough macro- and micronutrients for your body to function properly. Consult a doctor, dietician, or other health expert if you feel uncertain about this.

Wat eet een fruitariër als lunch of avondeten

Fruitarian for One Week

Yep. Together with two other vegans I will experience how it is to live of fruits for one week. We start our fruit adventure on Monday and end on Friday.

In this week I will try out different types of fruitarianism. I’ll start with two days eating as an ‘ethical fruitarian’, where I am allowed everything on the list you came across earlier in this article, and that I can prepare in any way – cooking, baking etc. Then the next two days I’ll follow a raw fruitarian diet. The last day I will go ‘all the way’ and eat nothing but just fruit. Fruity fruit. The sweet stuff. Yes.

Monday: ethical fruitarian
Tuesday: ethical fruitarian
Wednesday: raw fruitarian
Thursday: raw fruitarian
Friday: fruit only

Fruitariër boodschappen - Hier vind je een fruitarier eetlijst en mijn ervaring

Let’s do it!

I am super enthusiastic about the upcoming week! I love these kind of try-outs (like my week following Raw Till 4). But I am also a little worried, as I saw some of my daily essentials on the cannot-have-as-a-fruitarian-list. Being green tea, peanut butter, cinnamon and carrots. I also know I’ll suffer that Friday, around 4 pm, when I will be sick of bananas and cannot stand the sight of strawberries anymore. But it will be an experience! Bring it on. 🙂 You can follow my adventure on Facebook (which is written in Dutch, so you can practice your Dutch language skills ;)) and Instagram (which is just pictures so no need for a translator). Stay tuned!

This post is also available in NL

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Carla
    29 September 2018 at 10:32

    Except the part of the fungi that’s actually eaten is like the fruit of a plant. The difference is that all of the sexes contribute to the development of the fruit, unlike in a plant where only the female part contributes. Essentially it’s MORE ethical to eat the fruit of a fungi than that of a plant.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      29 September 2018 at 15:05

      Interesting viewpoint, Carla! Mmm, would eating fungi then be the ultimate feminist fruitarian action you could act upon? 😉

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