Obituary:Wilfred Crone

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The Independent Online
Wilfred Crone was often seen as one of the great British eccentrics, as he was a virulent promoter of the prehistoric fruitarian diet. He was one of a small minority that have existed throughout history around the world, but played an important part in a growing movement that is gaining increasing popularity, advocating a diet that encompasses personal health as well as the sustainable conservation of the planet.

Greatly loved and respected by those who embrace the reasoning of such food choices, he was however also widely mocked by those whom he saw as ignorant of the full scientific and ethical basis of his chosen life-style.

He was raised in Newcastle, one of a family of 12 children with an alcoholic father; and his experiences of a violent background, alongside witnessing the ravages of terminal cancer in his father and amongst his siblings, gave rise to a strong conviction that a diet based on death and the killing of animals had direct consequences on health and behaviour.

Aged 19, he set sail for Australia under a government scheme to relieve unemployment in the North-East. Here he witnessed further hardship and as a farm worker saw great cruelty to the animals. This helped his decision in 1948 to become a vegetarian and then to veganism (a diet that excludes all animal products such as meat, dairy products, fish, and so on).

In the following years he embraced more fully what he termed "the Eden Diet" of fruitarianism where only raw fruits, nuts and seeds are eaten, which he felt was the ultimate compassionate diet; it does not even demand killing the plant for food. He chose not to cook his vegan fare, as heat destroys most of the enzymes, anti- oxidants and other vital life- giving vitamins and basic components of optimum nutrition.

Crone was a realist, though, and understood well human weaknesses. He always encouraged others not to take the diet too extremely and to include other vegan foods at times, especially at first, making changes very slowly. He himself ate in excess of 90 per cent raw fruits and nuts and for the last 15 years publicised the diet by distributing leaflets detailing his experiences and ideas, from his home town of Christchurch and in the surrounding areas. In his later years he chose not to travel great distances, but much preferred only to use his bicycle that he continued to pedal until his death.

In the winter of 1991/92 he encouraged me, a young mother of two who had recently chosen a raw food vegan diet, to continue publicising fruitarianism and to relieve him of the responsibilities of this work. The resulting information network, Fruitarian and Raw Energy Support and Help (the Fresh Network), was able further to expand the publicity of a whole range of raw food diets and consequently to reach a far greater number of people. This gave him more time to spend with his friends and his treasured, highly productive garden of fruit trees and bushes.

He was never one to complain about the hardships of seeing those close to him suffer, age and die from diseases he felt were so easily preventable through changes in diet. He kept his jovial sense of humour even though he was also often ridiculed for following what some termed as an extreme and dangerous diet - despite the scientific data he encouraged such critics to study.

Opponents often claim that the fruitarian diet is nutritionally incomplete, and yet on close scrutiny the standard nutritional tables show that raw fruits and vegetables contain all the essential minerals, vitamins, proteins, essential fatty acids and carbohydrates needed even by growing children. Nutritional deficiencies tend to occur when people have an enzyme-depleted diet (most enzymes are destroyed when food is cooked), or if their digestive system is weakened by a lifetime of inappropriate cooked foods. Gradual healing can take place if there is a slow increase in the proportion of mineral-rich raw vegetables and fruits in daily meals so that the body gently cleanses and repairs (this can take many years).

Wilfred Crone chose to remain a bachelor, as he once jokingly said, "in case a vegetarian wife should wish to revert to meat-eating, and a chap has to eat what his wife cooks!"

Susie Miller

Wilfred Crone, fruitarian: born 1909; died Christchurch, Dorset 17 August 1996.