Consuming food isn’t wrong. First of all, eating is enjoyable – so much so that entire magazines and websites (cough) exist to discuss all of the world’s wonderful eating experiences. But second, we also need food to live… or at least that’s what the vast majority of people believe. Last week, however, an article in the UK’s The Sun provided a pulpit for the opposite opinion, interviewing a couple of “Breatharians.” Think “vegetarians,” except instead of only eating plants, they survive on air alone. So they claim.
“Humans can easily be without food – as long as they are connected to the energy that exists in all things and through breathing,” said Camila Castello, a supposedly 34-year-old mother of two who supposedly splits time between California and Ecuador. (When you say you live without eating, suddenly everything you say comes into question.) According to The Sun, Castello and her husband, Akahi Ricardo, have survived on nothing but the occasional fruit or broth a few times a week for nearly a decade. Castello even claims she didn’t eat for the entire pregnancy of her first child. “For three years, Akahi and I didn’t eat anything at all and now we only eat occasionally like if we’re in a social situation or if I simply want to taste a fruit,” she said, explaining her eating habits since 2008. “With my first child, I practiced a Breatharian pregnancy. Hunger was a foreign sensation to me, so I fully lived on light and ate nothing.” Well, at least she had light.
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Setting aside that experts assert that these Breatharian claims are completely unsubstantiated, let’s address a larger issue: Why advocate against eating? Sure, eating isn’t perfect. Overeating leads to obesity. Sugary drinks might need warning labels. Meat can give you cancer. (So can light, for the record.) But I’m not talking about gorging on an entire meat-lovers pizza and regretting it the next day. Instead, why are some people so reluctant to the simple pleasure of enjoying food in a responsible way? Celebrities tout juice cleanses. Silicon Valley wants you to survive off of Soylent. Apps exist to help you track your fasting on your iPhone. Meanwhile, Breatharian-like claims of surviving off of “the universe’s energy” have been going on for years, if not centuries.