Veganism is primarily a social movement – the vast majority of vegans eat what they eat because of their beliefs around the rights of animals. But, once that’s out of the way, the health benefits of the diet are a major talking point for many vegans. Some (including this writer) lean towards John McDougall’s starch-based diet; others have combined veganism with the growing fad for a ‘paleo’ diet and created paleo-veganism; some have dropped sugar from their diet entirely, whilst others have upped their carb intake and dropped their fat intake. The interesting thing seems to be that different diets genuinely do work for different people, at least as far as their own sense of well-being can tell us. Below are four diets you might not have heard of; they are all vegan, but don’t expect to find these groups going to the same restaurant any time soon!
A subset of raw veganism, fruitarians eat a diet that is (surprise surprise) high in fruit. And when I say high, I mean high: this diet lives firmly at the opposite end of the spectrum from the zero-sugar diet. In order to meet the caloric intake required by the human body, a well-planned fruitarian diet requires the amount of fruit in a day that most people eat in weeks. Just check out this fruitarian YouTuber’s “What I Eat in a Day” video – eleven mangoes for lunch? No problem!
Most fruitarians also consume nuts and seeds, and a some eat small amounts of raw vegetables. Contrary to what you might have seen in Notting Hill, it’s not a requirement of the fruitarian diet that food be allowed to fall from the tree before it is consumed. Those carrots, it would appear, have not been murdered.
This relatively recently coined term refers to any vegan diet that also includes some oysters, mussels, and other molluscs which are almost certainly insensitive to pain, and function more like plants than animals. Given these organisms lack of a central nervous system or brain, ostrovegans argue it’s highly unlikely they are capable of suffering, and therefore little is gained by refusing to eat them simply because they are biologically animals. You can read more about ostroveganism in this Daily News Service article.
Ever chuck out a potato because it’s started to sprout? Stop! Wait! According to the small but growing sproutarian movement, sprouted foods are the basis to a healthy human diet. A sprouted food is essentially a seed or grain that has already started to grow a shoot. Pulses, cereals, cabbages, onions, seeds and even some vegetables can be sprouted, which can reduce the antinutritional content of some foods (such as the lectins naturally found in unsprouted lentils). The diet is controversial, given the high bacteria content of uncooked sprouted foods – but for many people it does seem to be the answer to their dietary struggles.
Freeganism – a portmanteau of ‘free’ and ‘vegan’ – is a dietary and social movement that involves reclaiming discarded food items, taking oneself outside of consumer capitalist culture. It’s estimated that around 15 million tons of food is thrown away in the UK each year, and a huge proportion of it is completely edible – a fact freegans have exploited for some time. Rummage through a supermarket dumpster on the right night and you’ll find bags of fruit, vegetables, cakes and other products discarded simply due to minor imperfections. An apple is still an apple, though, even if it’s a bit weirdly shaped, and most food is completely edible well past its over-cautious sell-by date. It’s worth mentioning that not all freegans are vegan and, amongst the majority who are, the question of whether it’s unethical to eat a non-vegan product that would otherwise just be wasted will garner different responses.