Erim Bilgin was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. Unhappy with being overweight at 14, he developed an eating disorder. He fought anorexia for a year before deciding to learn more about health and optimal nutrition, which led him to raw veganism and 30 Bananas a Day — a site for vegans following the low fat raw vegan (LFRV) lifestyle that Dr. Douglas Graham proselytizes. Graham says the optimal macronutrient ratio for humans is 80/10/10: 80 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat and 10 percent from protein. This means a diet of raw fruits and vegetables, but mostly fruits, a program that Erim obediently followed for three years.

Posting under the alias “Apple-Man,” Erim was a frequent and welcome contributor to the 30 Bananas a Day message board, until he recently quit veganism at the age of 19. Now they don’t much like him in low fat raw vegan land.

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What happened between you being a true-believing 80/10/10 low fat raw vegan and you eating animal products again?

Sickness happened, and as a result, a whole lot of questioning. I really was a true believer in the low fat raw vegan lifestyle. I totally got the message. I believed in it fully. I followed it perfectly for three years, during which my health didn’t really get any better, but for the first two years, it didn’t get any worse either.

About a year and a half into it, I started to get weak, mentally, though this didn’t become apparent to me for years. I was extremely susceptible to stress. Anything would get to me, and I had to learn about self-mastery and breathing techniques and all that shit. It’s funny, because I was saying I was eating a raw vegan diet because it was “natural”, but here I was depending upon all these “unnatural” techniques. It never occurred to me that mental strength should come naturally. I just thought today’s world was too hectic.

I would skip school a lot, because just the thought of getting out of bed made me anxious some days. Speaking of the bed, I also had some difficulty sleeping once in a while around my second year of LFRV. Not only was my sleep too light, I also had difficulty falling asleep, since I had to shift my legs all the time. I would later learn that this is a medical condition called Restless Legs Syndrome, a neurological problem. (I’m looking at you, B-12! Why weren’t you formed in my gut as promised?)

My mood depended entirely on outside conditions. Talk about ups and downs. Cloudy sky meant bad mood. Cold weather meant bad mood. I became addicted to my mp3 player, because I just didn’t have the zest to go through the day without some stimulating rhythm. All this, even though I knew pretty much everything necessary to remain calm and centered. But, like I said, I didn’t acknowledge this as a problem with me, I just thought today’s world was too harsh.

The problems started to become more physical sometime around the first quarter of 2010. My teeth started getting incredibly sensitive, and there were clear signs of heavy acid erosion. I thought the tips of my teeth were always this transparent and that the darkened spots near my gum line were just stains from all the colorful food I was eating. My gums started to recede, I broke a molar by biting a tiny piece of a hazelnut shell by mistake, and a few months later my dentist would find six cavities in my raw vegan mouth. Jokingly, she told me I had “basically every dental problem that we have a name for”. But I was taking batter care of my teeth than ever! I even avoided those acidic animal products! You know, the ones that leech calcium from your bones? I wondered how I remained cavity free before when I didn’t even brush, let alone floss, let alone brush and floss thrice a day. And clean my tongue.

I chalked it up to bad genetics.

I started to get more and more fatigued. I would come home from school (if I ever DID manage to go to school that day), and I’d wonder how people manage to still do things after school. Sure, I exercised regularly, but even that was strange. For the life of me, I couldn’t increase the intensity no matter how hard I tried. It was mostly endurance running, the vegan favorite. And it wasn’t TRAINING, it was only maintenance work. I just couldn’t improve my performance.

Speaking of performance, I also had no sex drive. Now, believe me when I say that there is a difference between LOW sex drive and NO sex drive. Because I had NONE. And it wasn’t just because all girls were evil, smelly, meat-eating murderers either. I was even indifferent to Jenna Dewan Tatum’s PETA ad, so that says something. But it didn’t bother me much. After all, getting rid of those nasty animalistic desires was a bonus!

So all in all, this healthiest lifestyle ever gave me the shining gifts of health: Low energy, pale skin, anxiety and a mouth that looked like battlefield ruins. But I could definitely brag about how my poop didn’t smell, or that my urine was crystal clear! Raw vegan ftw!

Did thinking about suffering animals add to your impression that the world was too harsh?

Actually, no. I’ll be honest, when I first watched Earthlings I somewhat MADE myself dislike it. You know, you don’t really care about those anonymous pigs getting pushed into that spiked wheel of death, but by that point you’ve spent way too much time cheering to vegan message boards and you feel you SHOULD be horrified, otherwise you’re just an indifferent sick fuck. So you cover your eyes with your hands and go “oh god, make it stop, oh it’s so horrible” and all that shit. You make yourself BELIEVE that you’re uncomfortable with this.

But it didn’t, at least in my experience, add to the impression that the world was too harsh. After all, just a day later I was joyfully bouncing between the rows of sweet, ethical fruits and vegetables as usual, getting ready to show Earthlings to meat-eating peers while I would go, “Oh, it’s so horrible don’t you think? The first time I couldn’t even watch this because I was puking so bad.”

What draws people to the low fat raw vegan lifestyle?

Promises of health mostly, but also environmental awareness, moral hypersensitivity, a desire to end inner conflict and “take the next logical step”, or heck, I don’t know, maybe they think losing their sex drive is a sign of no longer being bound by mere physical desires. But mostly it’s promises of health. Those who aren’t that interested in health remain in the cooked vegan stage.

What are some of the results that LFRV advocates promise?

What are the results that they DON’T promise? The list would be too long. Usually the promise is more energy, better cosmetic appearance and just higher quality of life in general. The list goes on from perfect teeth to world peace. Oh, and your poop won’t smell bad on this diet, count on it.

Do the actual results often turn out to be different?

Ha ha. I don’t want to give spoilers and ruin the surprise for those excited newbies out there…

You made it three years. Does that seem to be longer or shorter than average?

I would say it’s definitely longer. Most of the “known” raw vegans out there brag about how they’ve been on the diet for 10 years or whatever. But these people are the exception, not the rule. The majority of the people I’ve personally talked to lasted about 6 months, on average. But you gotta give me credit, I was determined as hell! Some evenings I would eat 4 lbs. of leafy greens and I spent almost every penny of my earnings on high quality food.

A lot of raw foodists have a good experience at first, but then their health nosedives. Why do you think this is?

A raw food diet has a lot of things going for it. It cuts out all processed foods (whether or not hybridized agricultural fruits are “processed” depends on the definition), drugs, alcohol and grains, usually. Not only that, folks usually get told to also start exercising, get sunlight daily, think positive, sleep well and breathe fresh air. So of course, the initial reaction is positive. When you remove the causes of disease, the body gets well. But there are two sides to the health coin: You need to avoid unhealthy things, and also supply the healthy stuff! The raw food diet does the former but somewhat lacks at the latter!

Eventually the carbohydrate loading and the low amounts and even lower bio-accessibility of nutrients starts taking its toll. And before you know it, you’re wondering why everything about your health is on the “lower” end of the spectrum: Lower body mass, paler skin, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower body temperature, lower energy, thinner hair, weaker bones, etc. Sadly, I have witnessed some vegans say that this is natural, and that we’ve been conditioned by society to think as normal all the unnaturally thick hair or bones supported by industrial growth hormones. Hmm.

What made you think you needed to leave veganism altogether and not just low fat raw veganism?

Ever since I was me, I loved philosophy. I loved questioning, although I’m sure my paragraphs above don’t really hint at that. But believe me, I did!

When things started to go obviously downhill for me, all those questions that I previously ignored about the diet started to look much more real all of a sudden. Did humans really have these big brains just for writing animal liberation manifestos? Were these super sweet agricultural fruits really what humans ate for millions of years? Had all those hunter-gatherer cultures been mistaken about the hunting part? Did cavemen make those paintings to tell us how much they loved their animal friends and didn’t want to see them getting hurt? And why the hell WERE my teeth getting annihilated, anyway? Veganism had some answering to do, and it all happened randomly as shit.

I was watching Fight Club for the first time. Yeah, I know. I had always thought it was just some stupid macho fight movie. After watching it and having my brains blown away and reading the novel, I went online and discussed the themes with other film critics (read: hopeless virgins) like myself.

One guy told me that the movie had a primitivist tone and that there were some interesting similarities between the movie and the life of Theodore J. Kaczynski. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about, so Wikipedia was my next stop. I learned about primitivism and this weird domestic terrorist, Kaczynski. I had heard about the Unabomber, but didn’t really know who he was. Out of curiosity, I read his “manifesto”, and bam! I couldn’t sleep all night, because I was busy walking up and down my room as my entire vegan story flashed in front of my eyes and I was talking to myself and taking notes on a piece of paper and just having the biggest brainstorm of my life. I’ll go ahead and say my life totally changed that night.

In the following months, I had the good fortune to be on a trip so I didn’t have access to all the vegan forums I frequented. I kept eating raw vegan, but I could see everything from the outside now, objectively. I went ahead and started questioning the values that civilization injects into us in order to keep the system running. I didn’t stop there, I questioned ethics, laws and even the idea of an observable objective reality. As you might’ve guessed, I came to the conclusion that none of them really exist.

Even though I kept eating raw vegan at that point, the countdown had begun. Somewhere within me, the rebellious adolescent was finally waking up at 19 years of age. I was giving the finger to every ideology out there, and veganism got its share. I didn’t care who thought what or how much my family would laugh at their determined vegan-for-life ideologist, I was vegan no more.

Why was reading about Ted Kaczynski such a big influence?

I must say the primary reason was the clarity and precision with which he described the city-dwelling liberal personality. It simply hit me in the face, he was so direct, there was no evading it. He was describing me in his text, and for the first time I could see myself for what I really had been all my life: Not a courageous moral warrior walking alone the path of righteousness in a world of sin, but rather a butthurt scoundrel trying to grab onto every piece of power he can find while disguising it as being morally superior in order to feel better about himself.

Seeing that, seeing how I was a part of it, things were clear. I would be loyal only to myself — what I wanted out of life, not what society told me I should want. It was then an easy choice, I would reject civilization, I’d embrace the animal. Time to stop playing Dungeons and Dragons and get out and swim in rivers, chop through thick forest, open your chest against the blazing ice wind and sleep under a million stars.

How did the 30 Bananas a Day folks react to you leaving?

Mostly people seemed to be extremely surprised, and then I got banned.

Did you get emails from people saying they were secretly struggling on a vegan diet?

A little less than a hundred, and lots of personal messages on forums and such. I’m still getting new ones every single day. Usually people are telling me they can’t make the diet work but are too afraid to talk about it on forums, because they will get ousted and called a troll.

Did you get any death threats?

So far I received two death threats but they didn’t sound very direct. One was something like “You should be killed like the animals you kill” (this is what they mean by Karma I guess), and the other was like, “How dare you put your own life before animals, human life isn’t any more valuable than animal life, you’ll get what you deserve.” But I think the person was maybe wishing for cholesterol buildup, you know, “the animal’s revenge!” OoooOOOooooOOo! Yeah, okay. Both mails I responded to telling them they’re welcome to try, I don’t lock my doors and I accept all challengers.

Had you previously criticized other people who left the LFRV diet?

They didn’t get the idea! They didn’t eat enough! They probably didn’t get enough sunlight! They were just looking for an excuse to go eat meat! Oh, those shameless traitors! I hated their omnivorous guts! Every once in a while one of them would really try hard to succeed with the diet and would ask for help, but those threads quickly got deleted by the moderators of vegan forums so we never really got what the real deal was and were told that the person was merely a troll, trying to harm to movement with scare tactics.

Are the vegans in your life disappointed about your change?

"Disappointed"? How about fucking enraged and insecure as hell? I have a few vegan friends who I respect beyond measure, and they are not the ones I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the people who just think they know everything without even having talked to me directly once. I’m always being nice to these people because I really don’t care for the drama, but god damn they’re relentless! They make stuff up about me left and right, trying to make themselves believe that everything is okay and I failed because "I did veganism wrong." I actually told one of them how I did everything "right" and he just went, "No, no, I don’t believe you. If you had done everything right, you wouldn’t have had problems." Jeez. Okay, then, whatever. I really don’t care at this point. People who are this stupid should be left to eat a vegan diet and ruin their health, at least badly enough so that they lose their ability to reproduce.

Durianrider (aka Harley), the 30BaD leader, has a reputation for accusing opponents of anorexia and banning people who complain of health problems. Have you noticed that too?

To be honest I don’t like talking about other people a lot, but since this is also affecting me, I’ll make a polite exception.

I don’t consider myself an “opponent” of Durianrider, mostly because I don’t care too much about what he thinks. But yes, it is true that he has that reputation of finding rather ridiculous ways of brushing inconvenient things under the rug.

Back when I was doing well on 811, Harley would compliment me on it, saying I was an example of how you reap the benefits when you live a LFRV lifestyle.

But when I said I left the diet, immediately he started posting stuff “reminding” people that I had a history with anorexia and I must’ve relapsed, of course making sure to point out that I’m a “cool dude no matter what he eats but he just needs to get back on the sweet fruit track” or whatever.

I don’t know what to say. It’s very hard to reason with people when they’ve already made up their mind and just want to believe they’re right. Even if someone can prove, with absolutely irrefutable evidence that they’re not anorexic or otherwise sick, these people will just find another excuse. There is absolutely no winning that fight. I mean, even if you brought down every argument they can come up with, at the end they would just say, “this ‘Apple-Man’ character is obviously an agent for the meat industry trying to bring down the movement from the inside”. So I just don’t bother.

Weren’t some people on 30 Bananas a Day promising to debunk Denise Minger’s critique of The China Study? Whatever happened with that?

I honestly don’t know. I think they just gave up after a while because they realized they couldn’t touch it. Seriously, if I was Denise, I’d set up the front page of that blog to play Mc. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” on endless loop.

A raw food advocate wrote on his blog: “In this day and age where everything seems to be dull, dead and decaying, the raw food lifestyle flips that all on its head and presents a totally different picture of reality. A reality of life, of living, of joyful activities, and of living in tune with Nature.” Does this sum up how a lot of raw foodists see it? Is raw veganism a way of embracing life and avoiding death?

There is no avoiding death. However, even when I was raw vegan, I realized that a lot of vegans and raw vegans were incredibly scared of death. In fact, I made a thread once about dying young vs. living to old age, and somebody actually told me that they were disturbed by the thought of death, that they didn’t want to accept the fact that they would die one day, and that they would appreciate it if I deleted the thread please.

However, the aversion towards killing in veganism, and to an even greater extent in raw vegansim, isn’t about a fear of death. Basically it’s about conformity to society’s values. Society says killing is wrong, so these people blow that out of proportion and apply it to everything.

Veganism presents itself as a rebellious movement, but in reality it doesn’t go against the core values of the system at all. It takes the system’s existing values, enlarges the sphere these values apply to, and then blames society for not consistently abiding by its own rules. Concepts such as non-violence, equality and justice were created to allow an unnaturally large human population to live with each other. So these values help the system work. Veganism defends these values, in fact wishes to enforce these to an even greater extent on the population, and then it goes and calls itself rebellious.

The most common trait of people who get pulled into veganism is powerlessness. Most people who become vegans have weak characters. They cannot step up and decide their own values for themselves, so what they do is become the guardians of society’s values — they become model citizens. But then they look around and see that the very society whose values they loyally adopted don’t actually abide by those values themselves! They tell us to be non-violent yet they kill animals by the truckload, and so on.

And so, like a teenager whose dad tells him not to smoke and then lights one up, they get pissed at the contradiction. And veganism just gives them a way to channel their anger towards a cause: animal rights. Now, not only can they express their anger over society tricking them, they can also feel like they’re rebelling against society’s values, so by rebelling they feel like they’re establishing a personality, for the first time in their lives stepping up and establishing something for themselves. And that’s how “vegan” becomes part of their personality.

Veganism allows them to hide all these primordial emotions under the guise of “compassion,” so they also gain the moral high ground. But is it just me, or do vegans give off a wave that’s not very compassionate? Yeah, it feels like their primary motivation is to settle the score with society, doesn’t it?

So these people, with their weak characters, haven’t really accomplished much in their lives. And naturally, when they are reminded that someday they’re going to die, they reject that, because deep down they feel, “But I haven’t even LIVED my life, it can’t end just yet!”

Is veganism wrong to defend society’s core values and expand them? Are vegans wrong about non-violence?

There is no wrong. It only depends on what consequences you want to have happen.

Before humans even existed, there was this planet, and there was no meaning. And yet things still existed. Trees still shook in the wind, and monkeys still fucked. And it was all emotion. Animals lived according to their instincts, their emotions.

One thing that has been pretty much constant throughout human history is that humans have gotten progressively less and less emotionally driven and more and more logic-driven. It’s the continuum between the pure animal and the cold computer.

However, we probably all know from experience that answering animalistic emotions is more satisfying than using logical solutions. When somebody fucking pisses you off, it’s more satisfying to punch them in the fucking face, rather than sitting down, taking eight deep breaths and realizing that nothing constructive will come out of violence. This is the sort of bullshit that is taught by Eckhart Tolle and all those enlightened idiots. First of all, why should I aim for constructive behavior in the first place? Am I obliged to do so for some reason? No. Second of all, it’s not as if life has some sort of intrinsic goal that we should strive towards. Life is a process, not a destination. I’ll do whatever the fuck I want, thank you very much Mr. Tolle, you self-proclaimed psuedo-prophet (redundancy!).

Because I don’t believe in right or wrong, I don’t think that veganism is “wrong” to expand the system’s reach. However, it depends on what kind of future you’d like to live in, or would like your children to live in; a world where “negative” emotions are dismissed, suppressed and omitted, and emotions in general are lowered in intensity just so we can all “get along,” or a world where you follow your heart? In my subjective preference, lowering the intensity of emotions makes life bland and not worth living, no matter how many exciting logical arguments we might spin during our days.

I believe that the emotional spaying of humanity has already begun in the veganism front and in the conventional nutrition front (and let’s be honest, conventional nutrition is really just another name for veganism with a little bit of animal products). Have you noticed that veganism and conventional nutrition in general tends to tell us to lower our fat intake? Well, we already know that neither one gives a damn about our health, so why are they doing it? How do emotions occur, in a biochemical sense? Hormones. What does fat, especially the evil, evil saturated fat do in the body? It forms hormones. Interesting, huh?

Did cultural relativism and nihilism play into your abandonment of veganism?

Oh boy, relativism in general, which later proceeded to turn into nihilism, saved my life. Not only did it help me realize that I’m not tied to veganism in any way, it also set me free in other ways, free to do whatever I want. Today I would define my stance as “Objective nihilism, subjective individualism,” because while every argument that nihilism makes is objectively accurate, we’re also “damned,” if you will, to live this life seeking accomplishment and meaning, while at the same time possessing the mental capability to realize how it’s all meaningless.

I honestly think humans were never meant to come this far to understand this, because really, what’s the prize? Lifelong depression? Fuck that. We were born into this world, and it is what it is. Just forget about the facts of nihilism and get on with your life, now free from arbitrary things such as values, ethics, laws, goods and bads and rights and wrongs. Go ahead, be smart and do what you want. Or take the next logical step and kill yourself to spare us all the emo bullshit.

Is ideology a crutch?

Yes. I believe that with ideology we create an “invisible prison” around us, limiting our possibilities for no real reason. “I am a raw foodist! I don’t eat cooked foods!” “I am a vegan! I don’t eat animal foods!” So after a while, even if it would become more convenient for us to make little changes, we can’t, because now we have this grand ideologist persona that we have to live up to. Ideology is a giant ghost, it exists only in our mind, it has no footing in the physical world. All you need to do to be free from ideology is to stop caring about it. It’s as simple as that. “You eat bacon? But that’s wrong!” they say. I tell them, “Whenever you’re talking about anyone other than yourself, you’re swimming in objective waters. And sorry friend, but ‘objective’ and ‘wrong’ don’t go together.”

If humans are meaning-making creatures, is it possible to live without ideology?

I’m not necessarily for rejecting ideology, but yes, it is possible to live without ideology. I saw quite a lot of that in high school. And although back then I thought the popular kids were just shallow and unworthy, I now realize that although they didn’t know about all this shit, they were enjoying their lives more than I was by not letting stupid ideologies shape their lives. Rather, they did it themselves.

But even if you don’t want to become “a mere grunt,” you can create your own ideology. Since the way to live is not carved in stone (sorry, theists), we’re all free to decide the best way to live.

Also, saying things like “humans are this” and “humans are that” is just a slight form of collectivism. I’m not speciesist, I’m definitely not anti-speciesist either, but I reject the concept of “species” simply because, well, it is nothing more than a concept. There are no “species” in nature. Nature works with individuals. It’s not like the individuals of a certain “species” are bound to each other with any kind of a physical bond. “Species” is just a form of categorization that humans (oops, contradicted myself! But I’m using “humans” just for convenience, what I mean by that is “the individuals in question”) have created to make it easier to categorize and understand nature, the world around them.

But when we accept a mere idea such as “species” as being grounded in reality, it allows us to say things like, “Humans are meaning-making creatures,” “humans walk on two feet,” “humans show compassion,” and we all know how all that is determined: by what the majority is doing! So by using these concepts, if anyone ever steps out of the line, they call you out on it. “AHA! You think you’d be better off without civilization? YOU’RE SICK!” Or, in a vegan future (which I’m sure is near), “AHA! You think killing and eating the corpses of animals is ‘normal’? YOU’RE FUCKING SICK!”

When we instead realize that we’re all individuals totally separate from each other, and that morals only exist in the individual’s mind, we start to see that there’s no “right” or “wrong” ways to live, just different ways to live.

But of course that doesn’t make for a very stable large-scale society, now does it?

Why do some base their ideologies around food?

There are multiple factors that can come into play. One of these is the one I’ve already mentioned, powerlessness. You make your dietary choices an outlet for your inability to stand out as a unique individual, and so food becomes your definition of who you are.

Another is eating disorders. People can come to equate food with all kinds of “states,” the most common one being a state of purity. If they eat a certain way (strictly raw, strictly vegan, etc.) they feel proud, accomplished, complete. Then they eat something cooked or something that’s otherwise outside their parameters, and now they’re dirty. They feel unworthy, they feel like the scum of the earth. And then they have all kinds of “re-initiation rituals,” they take long showers, they clean the house, take out the trash, iron their clothes and get a good night’s sleep. Now they’re ready to begin their new, perfect lives. This is called orthorexia, it’s an eating disorder. These people are obsessed with dietary purity, and so food for them is the defining factor of their emotional state.

The third most common way food can become a big issue seems to be nutritional deficiencies. If the body is lacking nutrients, it will not stop thinking about food. If while you’re browsing through a magazine you find yourself stopping to check out pictures of those savory foods, or if you’re dreaming of food, or day-dreaming of food, or if you’re getting really weird cravings, odds are you have a deficiency. Consult your charlatan.

What’s your biggest problem with veganism?

That it requires intervention in order to work as a real system. I’m totally fine with people eating vegan diets or even spreading vegan propaganda, I don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect me. But I think we all know that if veganism becomes mainstream enough, people will start to actually think “meat is murder” (which, it really is, it’s just that right now we have the freedom to not give a fuck), and will create laws against it. This will just be another step towards the total taming and domestication of nature, essentially destroying wild nature since “wild nature” means nature that is not under human control. When humans try too hard to make the entire world fit their world views, they won’t hesitate to destroy or change everything as they see fit.

If this sounds unlikely to you, please keep in mind that genetic modifications will eventually roll along, having been perfected. It’s likely then that it will be possible to remove all animalistic desires from humans, making us a sterile, clean, pure, ethical, bland, logical society with no place to run, since nature will also be totally controlled — perhaps still nice to look at and camp in, but controlled nonetheless. In vitro meat is already being discussed. Genetic engineering will make it possible to turn carnivores into herbivores, or maybe even allow us all to perform photosynthesis, all in the name of living up to an ethical ideal. In the end, western civilization is built upon the ideas of those great western thinkers, and look at all those pro-vegan quotes from them all that vegans so enjoy posting on every goddamn message board.

Pro-meat authors Lierre Keith and Simon Fairlie believe that veganism is the natural conclusion of the march of civilization. Do you think they’re right?

Yes, I believe they are absolutely right.

When you look at the history of humankind, one thing that remains pretty much constant is the enlargement of our sphere of “compassion.” Only a well-fed man has the luxury to think of others. As civilization removes more and more of our life struggles, we tend to lean more towards other issues, for the fulfillment of our power process if for nothing else.

All throughout history, society has pretty much evolved to preserve social order. That’s all they end up caring about. And as well-fed, hypersensitive people start becoming disturbed about the “violation of rights” of others, the social order will be threatened. The obvious and efficient solution by the techno-industrial system then is to provide the necessary propaganda to make the changes.

People are preoccupied with acting “morally” out of this inner urge to preserve social order. And even that comes from a lack of power. A powerful individual is impulsive, they do what they want and they don’t care about what society thinks, since they can take it. As individuals feel less powerful, they become more dependent on the outcome from society. Like the weak kid in a group of stronger, popular kids, who anxiously laughs at every joke by the group and gives up his character to fit in, these people garner a hypersensitivity for social acceptance. They adopt society’s values to the absolute FULLEST, and this gives them an upper hand, a higher ground in society’s own game. Now, they can judge society with not abiding by their own values. And since societies are often based on values that make the system work more efficiently such as justice, equality, understanding and comfort, the end result usually takes civilization FURTHER. Because belief in an objective moral system makes these people feel obligated to iron out the logical inconsistencies. Each time we enlarge our sphere of “compassion,” it’s only a matter of time before we “take the next logical step.” Never do we stop to question the validity of the core of this belief system, we just take it as the truth and keep expanding it.

You and I can see the flaws within the vegan argument, but it’s harder for us to explain that to the general population than it is to explain how “meat is murder.” In the end, the vegans will win. Because their arguments are so much simpler to grasp, and because they are based on the currently existing value system, just a multiplied version of it. Even current omnivores admit they “know” that what they’re doing is wrong, it’s just that they “could never give up meat” or they believe it is necessary for their health. But thanks to the propaganda industry demonizing animal products day and night, I believe it is only a matter of time before veganism becomes the norm. Or, when in vitro meat rolls along, there will be no “justification” to continue killing animals, and so we will be “morally vegan” anyway.

In the end, yes, veganism will win. It’s cheaper, more efficient, and dissolves civil dissent about the improper application of morals. In the system’s eyes, veganism is win-win. Nobody cares about individual freedoms. That’s a pipe dream according to hypersensitive uber-citizens who just want social recognition. Those people couldn’t even IMAGINE going against society’s values.

Are you still seeking dietary perfection?

Nope. Although I’m not looking forward to downing Twinkies, I have actually realized that a more relaxed diet of whole foods also happens to be more nutritious. I still think health is the greatest wealth, but now I’m wary: we don’t yet know everything there is to know about the science of health, and every time we think we know it all and try to zone in on a very restricted diet, we gamble big time. The body can usually throw away the nutrients it doesn’t need, but it cannot make nutrients out of nothing. So I say it’s better to risk ingesting some “toxins” and getting a greater variety of nutrients from different foods. We have some historical evidence of what worked and how well. Hunter-gatherer diets consisting of meats, fruits & vegetables, nuts and seeds, and pretty much every darn thing other than grains and legumes seem to work well. And that’s been my experience, too.

What is your diet like now? Do you think you’ll get into offal and aspire to insect eating as many ex-vegans do as they counteract all their years of strict limitation?

Don’t make fun of me, but it’s still pretty close to a low-fat raw vegan diet, except with lean meats and some eggs every now and then. Yeah, I know, I already don’t buy the cholesterol paranoia, but it’s not easy to give up years and years of conditioning, especially with a history of having trusted one extreme diet too many. For now I can safely say that I can’t ever imagine myself eating insects. Ew, Rhys, you disgusting freak. Nowadays I’m getting like 30 mails a day asking me what I’m eating, and I don’t particularly enjoy telling these people “Mostly LFRV with some meat and eggs, but I expect to make further changes!” But what can I do? This is where I’m at right now.

Do you find meaning outside of diet now?

This may sound like I’m a bit too enthusiastic about my primitivism, but I’ve always liked the feeling of survival. I’m finally getting the chance to experience wilderness and subsistence for myself, and I’m loving it. I loved it when I was a vegan, too, but I could only camp near fruit orchards and would have to go and steal fruit regularly, which didn’t feel very “wild” at all, using agriculturally grown “human” food made specifically for humans.

Nowadays I’m experiencing, maybe not necessarily the meanings, but the thrills of life. Not domesticated, controlled life, but wild, free and unpredictable life, where every day is another adventure. I don’t have any misunderstandings about wild life, I know it wasn’t no garden of eden, I know it’s unforgiving, but such is life. The feeling of knowing that I can go anywhere in the world and live on the habitat there opens up an endless list of possibilities, so many trees to climb, so many ice cold waterfalls to collect seashells in.