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.
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!