If you are a vegan or a raw vegan – it is more than likely that you will have heard who Harley Johnstone, aka Durianrider, is. Today, we are going to interview him.
We first met vegan athlete Harley and his partner, Freelee, in Bangkok back in 2012 and spent several weeks together, hanging out in the popular Lumpini park for our morning runs and fitness workouts, as well as having raw picnics and going out together.
Interview With Vegan Harley Johnstone aka Durianrider
Rawsomehealthy (RH): Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Your age, where you live, any children, occupation?
Harley Johnstone (HJ)/Durianrider: I am 36 this year (2013), spend summer in Adelaide in Australia and coach people in health and weight loss. I also make youtube videos. I am also a co-founder of a popular raw vegan forum, http://30bananasaday.com/
I don’t have any children. Had a vasectomy in 2005 and enjoy the carefree lifestyle. Having children changes everything. Its for some but not for me personally. I enjoy being able to do what I want, when I want without having to be mindful of the impact it would on a family situation.
RH: Why did you switch to a raw food diet and how long ago?
HJ: I went vegan in April 2001. Got into raw foods in 2002. I focus on high-carb, fruit based raw foods lifestyle as this is the best for weight loss and health.
My sport is cycling and cycling is about being as skinny as you can be healthfully. Fruit lets one do this the easiest. Low fat high carb vegan diet would be second best.
My body LOVES high quality tasty sweet fruit. It can be a challenge finding tasty fruit in this poor quality society though.
RH: Have you tried any other kinds of diet and, if so, what were they?
Durianrider: I’ve done them all. Paleo, Prima, Atkins, “Fatkins”, starvation style diets. NONE of them work lol! I’m lucky I haven’t died from a heart attack based on all the meat I used to consume.
RH: What was your health and overall well-being like before you became raw vegan?
HJ: My health was VERY poor hence my drastic dietary changes to get drastically positive results. I had clinically diagnosed hypoglycemia, chronic fatigue and asthma. I’d DEFINITELY be obese now if I hadn’t found out about the importance of the high-carb, low fat vegan lifestyles.
RH: What was your transition to raw like and how long did it take you?
HJ: I read a book by Paul Nison. He said it was possible to be a breatharian, so I sort of believed that for a while. I thought I was an emotional eater and would try to curb my hunger.
My fitness took a dive massively and then I learned about Doug Graham and started to pound in the fruits.
Took me a few more years to work out that emotional eating is a MYTH and we actually need more sugar than the status quo tells us.
I also tried to be raw without eating bananas or dates. It was ok during mango season but I was back on rice and pasta when my dates and bananas were absent.
I rate starches, but prefer fruits. Its good today knowing that its nothing mental or about discipline, but rather about carb caloric sufficiency.
RH: What challenges did you face along the way?
Durianrider: Not eating enough fruit because I thought it was about calorie restriction. Luckily my poor athletic performance indicated I was on the wrong path.
I tried cutting out bananas and dates as they were ‘hybrid sugars’ only to realise the snake oil sellers pedaling that myth were smoking hybrid dope/cigarettes, eating animal products and/or couldn’t even run around the block at pace.
RH: What is a typical day for you food wise and how many calories do you consume on average?
HJ: I like to get MINIMUM 3500cals a day even if I’m just sitting around on the beach reading books all day and watching crabs dig in the sand. I find anything less make my glycogen stores too low the next day and when glycogen is low, so is your strength and vitality, both mental and physical.
Bananas and dates are my staples. I’m actually chewing through 2lbs of dates right now. My desk is covered in date seeds!
RH: What type of exercise do you do and how often?
HJ: I like to move my body every day BUT it doesn’t always happen.
Today, I woke up at 5:50am with intentions to do a 30-minute bike ride. I opened up my computer and checked the weather and then started checking and replying to emails. By 4:20pm I had finished and did my 30-minute easy bike ride to the post office and back.
Once a month I do a low heart rate 200k bike ride in the local mountains.
I listen to an audio book and just roll around from 9am-5pm. Its a great way to wind down each month and get back to earth from being on the net 70+ hours per week.
RH: Has going raw affected your athletic performance?
HJ: Well, it means I don’t have as much sodium retention as you don’t need to add salt to fruit like you do cooked starches. I still have both salt and vegan starch dishes as a back up plan, but obviously fruit is my first choice.
It digests so quickly meaning you get full, but are soon empty 3 hours later which means you can breath sooner.
Your glycogen stores restock quicker as you are consuming foods rich in healthy simple sugars. NOTHING beats fruit. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get enough sugar-rich tasty fruits.
RH: Do you find fruit gives you enough energy for long distance running and cycling?
HJ: 1000%! The ONLY challenge is finding enough ripe fruits. Dried fruit can help with this. Once I cycled Paris Brest Paris, a 1243km bike race in France in 51:30 on 100% fruit and water.
NO caffeine or any other stimulants. That proved a lot to me the power of fruit in allowing more blood to the working organs and muscles.
RH: Can you share with us your athletic achievements and your personal bests?
HJ: I’ve cycled over 210 000km as a vegan. My current best watts per kg is 5.8 for 15 minutes. I’ve ran 5k in 16:19 and my best week on the bike is 1750km. In a month it’s 6190. All as a vegan since 2001.
RH: Do you ever have any cravings?
HJ: For sure! For delicious fruits! I can eat whatever vegan foods I want. There is SO much variety.
Vegan pizzas, icecreams, burgers, chips, cookies, etc., BUT fruit is my ultimate craving that I love to satisfy daily.
RH: What do you eat and drink, including quantities, before, during and after your running races/long-distance cycling trips?
HJ: I MUST have banana smoothies.
There is something in bananas that makes my legs and lungs work so strong on the bike. Before a 8am 5k race I eat nothing, but a cup of water then I will have a litre of water followed with in 30mins, 1500-2000cals of sugar rich fruit straight after.
I like to leave 3-4 hours between a meal and anything physically challenging that will raise my heart rate over 175bpm.
RH: What other benefits apart from your physical health have you experienced on a raw food diet?
HJ: Just a greater participation in my daily reality. It’s made me even more street wise.
BUT you MUST eat enough sugar calories each day otherwise its easy to end up ‘with the fairies’ and buying into all sorts of nonsense that is pushed out there by the hucksters!
RH: Do you take any supplements at all?
HJ: I was diagnosed with an intrinsic factor deficiency back in 2009. I had supplemented B12 all my life by eating B12 fortified foods and multi-vitamins.
Then when I stopped taking B12 supplements, my levels dropped down. Now after eating so clean for 12 years, my B12 levels drop to 450 with no supplements, but I like to keep them over a 1000, so I give myself a B12 shot of 1000mcg once a week.
I’ve read of bodybuilders on the internet forums using 1000mcg of B12 a day via intramuscular injections. I find that level to be uneccessary.
Most of my NON vegan friends take around 15-40 supplements a day from fish oil, protein powder, b12, iron, zinc to testosterone, epo etc. Many of them tell me my diet is deficient though lol! It’s quite amusing.
They also run on caffeine.
RH: What would you say was the main factor that has helped you to succeed with this diet and lifestyle?
Durianrider: Just learning to be objective with caloric intake so I could learn how to eat ENOUGH. I was always trying to eat less because I thought that’s what you have to do to be lean but the reality is YOU JUST HAVE TO EAT RIGHT!
RH: What is your darker side? What fears do you have?
HJ: Well, my youtube channel just got deleted. Over 27million views and 5 years of hard work gone in a click. I was earning youtube over 70K USD per year so obviously for them to give up money, they must be getting paid more by someone else.
So, my fear is how messed up society is and if we will ever correct it in time to save the planet..
RH: Do you have any advice for someone thinking about going raw vegan?
Durianrider: GET ENOUGH SWEET FRUIT CALORIES! If you fail to get enough calories for carbohydrates, you WILL fail with your energy aka health long term.
RH: What are your passions in life? What drives you?
HJ: Helping people help themselves with their health & fitness and at the same time we save the animals, the planet and humanity. That’s what keeps me up late and gets me up with the sun.
RH: If you had to travel your raw food journey all over again is there anything you would do differently with hindsight and if so what?
Durianrider: I wouldn’t try and avoid eating bananas cos some cigarette smoking, cracao peddal’n snake oil seller said: ‘Bananas and dates are hybrid fruits! They have hybrid sugars! Beware!’. I also would have gotten into the habit of going to bed a lot earlier than pretending that I needed less sleep. Healthy animals go to bed near sun down.
RH: Is there anything else you would like to share?
HJ: Find your life purpose and LIVE IT DAILY TO THE MAX! That purpose might change but its all about living with purpose and living on purpose. Thanks for reading and see you on the net! 🙂
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