Arnstein — and others — say the diet is one of the most life-changing ways anyone can eat. “I think it can be [cultish],” Arnstein concedes when I bring it up.“There haven’t been any people I know who have died from the diet or any crazy leaders who have started dating sixteen women or whatever,” he adds. In 2012, 400 showed up, and Arnstein moved the festival to Camp Walden to accommodate the larger group.
The week’s activities are typical of any retreat: The days are filled with workout sessions and lectures such as “Figs, Grapes, and the Diversity of Fruit” or “Create Raw Soup Recipes with Leftover Produce in Your Fridge.” So, who comes to something like this?Every movement has its leaders — who live in a world of micro-celebrity — and fruitarianism is no exception. Douglas Graham — inventor of the 80/10/10 diet (he literally wrote the book on it) — is the elder statesman, hosting daily talks and exercise classes (“He’s paid well,” Arnstein confides to me). She founded the fruitarian site 30 Bananas a Day and has nearly 70,000 subscribers to her You Tube channel.At the festival, Arnstein says, “Her exercise classes are like a mob.” He adds, “She’s like a god to the girls here.” Freelee the Banana Girl.For the lunch in June, Arnstrein made zucchini with a blended date-and-mango sauce and a second course of spiralized zucchini “pasta” with diced tomato and avocado.As is often the case with extreme diets, fruitarians cite amazing, incredible health benefits: Arnstein credits the diet with turning him into a world-class super-long-distance runner.