7 Days of Camping, Running, and Raw Food at the Woodstock Fruit Festival

WFF 2013-9017It was a few years ago when I first heard about the Woodstock Fruit Festival, a week-long event (back then) put on by ultrarunner and Fruitarian Michael Arnstein.

Camping, swimming, running, hiking, games, bonfires, demos and talks — the most notable of which, for me, have been Mike’s ultrarunning talks that I watched on YouTube. Part 1 and part 2 were instrumental in my preparation for my 100-miler last summer.

And of course, for seven full days, all the raw fruits and vegetables you could possibly want … but no cooked food.

That’s where I got stuck. I worried I wouldn’t fit in — that because I eat a lot of cooked food, I’d be the odd man out, and spend all week defending my choices, even as a vegan.

Well, I’m over that. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mike Arnstein a little bit this year, and I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot more to the Fruitarian and raw movements than the endless arguments in the comments section of the only two blog posts on the topic that I’ve published (both by guest writers).

I’ve gotten the sense that the festival is simply about having active fun with like-minded people, eating ridiculously high-energy (and yes, delicious) food, and basically just treating your body great for a week — even if you have no plans to become a raw foodist afterward. It’s a retreat, of sorts, for those who favor campsites over spas, lakes over infinity pools.

And besides all that? I’ve embraced my weirdness. I like new, niche, opposite-of-mainstream experiences with passionate people. The Woodstock Fruit Festival certainly fits that bill.

The festival is two weeks long this year. I’ll be there for the entire first week, August 17th through 24th, camping with my family. And while I’m really looking forward to all the activities and the food — both of which will be in abundance — what I’m most excited about is meeting people. People who, for once, eat in a way that makes me the mainstream guy, the least extreme when it comes to diet … that will be new.

And of course, I can’t imagine a better way to actually try eating raw for a week, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

But like I said, mostly I’m in it for the hanging out. This is a vacation for us. (And before the “That’s your idea of a vacation?” jokes come, yes, this is absolutely my idea of a vacation. Camping with a 4-year old and 1-year old for seven days is by far the scariest part, but we’ll be fine.)

What I’ll Be Doing at the Festival

Full disclosure: As a Special Guest, I’m not being paid directly for coming to the Woodstock Fruit Festival, but my family’s cost of attending is being covered. I also earn a referral fee when someone mentions me or No Meat Athlete when they sign up.

Intrigued? Check out the schedule of events. You’ll find talks and classes by Dr. Douglas Graham (author of The 80/10/10 Diet); swims, workouts and hikes with Mike Arnstein and Tim van Orden; running clinics and beginning exercise classes; mediation and yoga sessions; and lectures on diverse topics like raising vegan kids, homeschooling, and foraging, but also less-niche topics like basic fitness and food prep.

Oh yeah, and there’s go-karting. Plus music, movies, and all sorts of games. And that’s just in the first few days — really, the schedule is almost overwhelming to look at.

You’ll also see me listed on there a few times. I’m leading runs on Monday and Thursday, and giving a talk on Friday (about building a brand around your healthy lifestyle) and possibly another talk, too. And on the weekend, we’ll set up a table at the showcase with some No Meat Athlete shirts and books.

But like I said … mostly I’ll just be hanging out. Having fun with my wife and kids, making new friends, and hopefully meeting a lot of NMA readers.

At just over $1000 for a week (less for kids), the price will be prohibitive for some — Arnstein is the first to admit that eating Fruitarian is not cheap (and he said exactly that in our NMA Academy seminar). But the event is nonprofit, so the costs go back into making the festival great.

If you’re interested in coming, check out the Woodstock Fruit Festival site for all the details. I’ll be there the first week, August 17-24th, but I have no doubt both weeks will be incredible. If you’re there the first week, please come introduce yourself. I’d love meet you.

How We’re Preparing

Actually, I could really use your help on this one, if you eat raw, or have ever done it for any extended period of time.

Right now, my family eats what I consider to be a lot of raw food — about half our total calories. Most days it’s a raw smoothie for breakfast, a huge salad with (non-raw) beans and (sometimes raw) dressing for lunch. Fruits and raw trail mix for snacks, but often cooked hummus, whole wheat pitas, or sometimes cooked leftovers for lunch. Dinner is almost never raw.

I wouldn’t say we’re concerned about eating exclusively raw for a week — I actually think my son will have the easiest time of anyone; he’d eat nothing but fruit if we let him — but we do want to be fairly accustomed to it, before it’s our only choice.

So with that in mind, any suggestions on how to get ready? I’ve got a copy of my friend Gena’s brand new book, Choosing Raw, which has a nice mix of cooked and raw food (review and recipe coming soon), so we’ll “cook” mostly from that for the next few weeks. But beyond that, I’m not really sure where to start.

I appreciate any advice you have!



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  1. This event sounds pretty awesome. As a former high raw foodie, I think you will be ok transitioning into 100% raw for the week considering over half your diet is already raw. Maybe including a few more raw meals leading up to the event would help. I sort of doubt you will have any serious detox like symptoms since your diet is already so clean.

    My daughter would also LOVE this event. Every time we finish dinner she exclaims, “blueberries, strawberries” which is usually her desert. She also geeks out over her smoothies every morning.

  2. So glad you’re coming, but bummed we’ll be there different weeks. I think it would be wise to pack extra diapers for your kids because… well I’m sure you understand. Otherwise, you eat pretty clean as it is, you should be well prepared especially if you’re already doing smoothies for breakfast.

    Definitely take advantage of all the waterfront activities. The inflatables are awesome and the unlimited canoeing/SUPing/kayaking is pretty cool too. Other must do’s: Dan McDonald’s nature hikes, Dr. Robert Lockhart’s talks, Dr. Graham’s fitness classes, Chris Kendall’s yoga class.

  3. I tested out the fruitarian diet for a few weeks a couple of months ago. There were actually some pretty phenomenal differences I found in myself in only a couple of days (I have an odd skin condition that causes my face to break out and it became perfectly clear, my sense of smell went from good to ridiculous). I did end up detoxing the next morning pretty hard during that time if I even had one beer the night before (and this is coming from a very clean eat to live-style diet previous to the fruitarian switch). I think you’ll be fine, especially if you’ve been sticking to your smoothie + big salad every day before. You could experiment with monomeals (or close to), which I found to be fabulously easy to plan for, filling and digested great. For example, one of my favorite lunches during this time was half to a whole watermelon or a 10-banana smoothie (often with dates and some romaine or spinach). I did feel like I was lacking energy at times (I was consuming next to no fat and zero grains, beans or starchy vegetables) and I really missed my salads, so that’s mostly why I kicked off and went back to a plant-based diet with more variety. Overall it was a great experience! I’m excited to hear what you and your family have to say about it.

  4. Being raw fir a week will be a piece if cake for you guys. The main issue that I usually have is not eating enough calories. So just make sure you eat enough which with fruits and greens will be a lot. Add avocadoes and nuts and lots of bananas and you’ll be fine. I often miss chocolate so I’d recommend taking a stash….hehehe

  5. Matt, As you know Joe and I eat pretty much as youb do now, so I am interedted in hearing about your week of raw experience. I have done a week of raw before to detox and felt amazing afterwards. I don’t remember ever feeling hungry. Good Luck.

  6. Ease your body into it with naturally raw stuff like greens, fruits, and veggies. When I first tried to go raw (although I am not any longer) I made the mistake of eating too many sprouted beans and nuts and grains and not enough fruits and veggies and I had digestive issues quite a bit during the transition.

  7. What a great week you have to look forward to! I’ve been vegan for almost a year, am an ultra marathoner, ran 2 100s this year as vegan.

    I think it would be SO much fun to spend a week with like minded people. Although you are the ‘moderate’ one of the bunch, what a great group to spend time with. What a concept-you, the moderate 🙂

    I’d love to find a vegan ultrarunning group to spend a week with-cook, run, eat, vacation…hmm…what a great idea!

    Enjoy yourself.

  8. Hey Matt, nice post. Really enjoyed your talk and you have inspired me to give blogging a try. Here’s a vid I made at the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5kIX3zYmxU&list=UUvmR3VNNU-YO-q_DpSpIUvA

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