Monkey diary – three days as a fruitarian

    Plagued by the reality of industrial farming described by Michael Pollan, I’ve decided to try a fruit-and-seed diet, which would consist of only things that can be harvested without killing the plants. At first I thought it would be pretty restrictive, but a lot of vegetables are fruits: tomato, cucumber, bittermelon, bell pepper, chayote, green beans, eggplants, etc. Cereal is the hard part. I wasn’t sure if I should include corn, rice, wheat and other grains in my experiment because technically they can be harvested without killing the plants, but in reality the plants are killed after the harvest. The same goes for soy beans. Then I figure the industrial farms also kill tomato and cucumber plants after harvesting, and my experiment is geared toward whether I can survive on only fruits and seeds, so restricting to heirloom produce is “beyond the scope of our study”.

    Bought $29.72’s worth of avocados, navel oranges, blueberries, plums, cultured coconut milk (i.e., coconut yogurt), and bananas from Berkeley Bowl.

    – First day –
    Brunch: one plum, one avocado smoothie. Snacks: blueberries. Work from home. At about 4 pm I was doing ok, then I saw UmamiMart‘s picture of crispy golden fried gyoza on Facebook and my stomach started feeling a little empty, so I had to snack on a banana and some toasted coconut chips. Dinner: white rice with muối mè (salt-sugar-sesame mix), one orange and one cup of coconut milk yogurt. I was excited to open the coconut milk yogurt but quickly regretted buying it: the sour taste mixed with the familiar coconut smell, which has been hardwired in my brain as sweet and rich, made me instinctively think that this coconut milk has gone bad. It was only an instinctive reaction, I told myself, and managed to finish the whole cup. The chocolate flavor didn’t help very much. There are still 3 cups in the fridge, I wasn’t sure if that’s enough to get me used to the taste.
    Later that evening, I fixed a bowl of rice cereal with soy milk.

    – Second day –
    Brunch: blueberries and one avocado smoothie. Work from home. I was so busy I didn’t even feel hungry until 7:30 pm. Dinner: vegan instant ramen, rice with muối mè, one fresh cucumber and one banana. I didn’t have any room left for dessert, but around 11 pm I ate an orange and a plum. I began thinking that this fruit only diet is pretty efficient time-wise.

    – Third day –
    Breakfast: one banana. Didn’t have time to pack lunch because I had to rush to the bus stop, only to find the bus arrive 20 minutes later (the bus is supposed to arrive every 10 minutes). At school, I was thinking of the alternatives around campus but couldn’t come up with anything except Jamba Juice and the avocado smoothie at UCafe. Just my luck, UCafe was closed that day, and the only thing I ever like from Jamba Juice is their fresh-squeezed orange juice, which certainly won’t fill me up for lunch. So I caved. I bought 2 chocolate donuts from King Pin Donut. After I ate one of them, I felt dizzy.
    Dinner: a can of corn (I couldn’t even put butter into it), two bananas, one avocado smoothie, one plum. I felt full but it’s the weird kind of full where I felt tired and hardly satisfied, as if something was lacking. (Of course something was lacking! It’s called protein.) In fact I felt so tired I couldn’t do anything productive for the rest of the night.

    – Fourth day –
    Breakfast: one plum. I was debating whether I should continue this experiment and finally decided that it’s fruitless to die of malnutrition now. So I bought an egg and chicken sausage muffin from Julie’s Cafe. It’s the worst egg muffin ever but it revived me. Two minutes after I finished the muffin, I felt a rush of energy spreading to my fingertips and my vision got clearer (no way the body can process food that fast?!). I could just be imagining all this but the point is I didn’t feel so tired anymore.

    A few conclusions I can draw from this experiment:

    1. Fruitarianism is not sustainable for me, when I work 12 hours a day and has no motivation to cook. There are not enough cooked options in what I can buy, I’m too picky about taste, and fresh fruits alone are not enough.

    2. Fruitarianism is not economically practical. Fresh fruits go bad way too quickly. My bananas are spotty 4 days after I bought it from the store. (Now I have a theory to explain why Berkeley Bowl is ALWAYS so crowded everyday: people with a lot of free time go there to buy a tuft of salad just enough for three meals in one day, then they go back the next day and repeat. That way their produce stays fresh.)

    3. Assuming that I’m human, I should accept my fate as an omnivore instead of eating like a cockatoo. It’s advantageous because human can survive if one type of food vanishes, but it’s disadvantageous because human needs many types of food to healthily survive.

    4. A diet where the human restricts itself to one type of food is not healthy for the environment. If everybody starts eating only fruits and nuts, the demand will soar, the scientists and the farmers will start thinking of ways to enhance the plants’ production even more than they already have, the soil will be overworked, trees with no fruits or inedible fruits will be killed to give land to orchards, farm animals like chicken and cow will go extinct because raising them will no longer be profitable. Something that started out as harmless as a fruitarian diet will inevitably harm many species if too many people adopt it. (Not to mention that after some time, supply will surely exceed demand, the price per unit will drop, overproduction will lead to even more overproduction just like the story of corn and milk.)

    5. June is stone fruit season, which is unfortunate for me because I don’t like peaches and plums are neither filling nor tidy to eat (every bite guarantees at least one squirt in some direction, usually forward and up by 30 degrees). Had it been apple season this experiment would have lasted longer.

    6. I wonder if I can survive on avocados alone. That stuff is amazing.

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