International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


Dr. Bircher-Benner conducted a Sanitorium in Switzerland which was the mecca for the ailing who came there from many lands to find health. "The Bircher-Benner" way to health has many adherent's owing to the Doctor's vigorous campaign for many decades. The above material is from from "Food Science for All" and "Sunlight Food"

The first thing we have to do is to recognize facts and the second to apply them. On this application depends our whole life from beginning to end. This booklet has been written with the purpose of putting into practice our new knowledge regarding nutrition. But this knowledge is new only to the scientific world; it has been the precious possession of mankind from time immemorial. Putting it into practice does not, therefore, mean introducing a new kind of food, but the food destined to be man's by the wisdom of the Creator. Raw food has, in fact, been known for thousands of years in China and India ; it is also mentioned in the Bible.

Nutrition is not the highest thing in life, but it is the soil on which the highest things can either perish or flourish. Erroneous dietetics or ignorance and contempt of the true laws of nutrition have done incalculable harm to mankind. Many see it, for illnesses appear sooner or later, but only a few know the real cause of them: wrong food. Illusion and error which so often rule men and mislead them, make us believe in connections and causes which on closer examination prove to be insignificant and secondary. We speak of chills and bacteria when we should say wrong nutrition. The harm created can only be prevented or remedied by attacking the real cause.

The following important facts should be noticed in connection with this new knowledge :

1. The quantity of albumen hitherto said to be required was far too high. The human organism requires a minimum quantity of albumen (not more than seven per cent of the calories required). The daily surplus quantity of albumen overtaxes the vital organs and produces chronic acidity of the tissues and juices.

2. The most extravagant and poorest kind of food is certainly meat, be it butcher's meat: game, poultry, or fish. It causes the greatest loss of energy in the metabolic combustion, too much acidity in the chemical proportions and, moreover, poisons the organs, the tissues, and the blood with uric acid.

3. Eggs and cheese, among other animal food, cause over-acidity, and milk often loses its value through cooking and becomes even dangerous through wrong feeding of the cows or the disease of their mammiferous gland.

4. The three chief nutritive elements hitherto known were albumen, carbohydrate, and fat. By themselves they cannot nourish the body. A mysterious "something" is needed which is found in the vegetable kingdom, built up by the power of the sun and called "Vitamins". This something is found in perfect quality and in sufficient, often abundant, quantity in fresh fruit, berries, the fruit of vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers), in green leaves (spinach, cabbage, salad leaves, vegetable spices) and in those roots which can be eaten raw (carrots, celery, onions, etc.). The milk which the cows produce when they have been fed on green grass during the months of May, June, July, and August also contains vitamins and so does the butter made from that milk. A few of the organs of animals in their raw state, contain vitamins. The vitamins are lost through cooking. roasting, sterilizing, and pasteurizing. This is equally the case when dried food is exposed to the air. The vitamins of cereals (rice; heat, maize, etc.) disappear when subjected to the usual grinding process, owing to the elimination of the epispern. White bread lacks vitamins.

5. Total lack of vitamins is the exception, but may occur when old-fashioned, dietetic prescriptions are ordered. In this case serious diseases occur after six or eight months, such as general inflammation of the nerves and scurvy. Partial lack of vitamins produces at first slight disturbances of health. such as digestive troubles, constipation, functional diseases of the heart and blood-vessels : it prevents the growth of the body and causes goitres, etc. After many years serious diseases occur, amongst which cancer is the most terrible.

6. The nutritive habits of civilized people have taken us out of the true way of living, for we have preferred animal food, white bread, preserves, cooked and roasted food. We have overtaxed our blood with a surplus of acidity and an accumulation of uric acid and in this way originated an immense number of chronic diseases. The causal connections remain wholly in the dark, so that hardly any one discovers the reason of his suffering to be wrong food.

7. The principle of energetics throws light on the mysterious nature of vitamins. It is a mistake to think that the living cell could feed on calories. It is only sustained by the electro-magnetic energies of the sunlight which are stored up in the vegetable kingdom and provide us with our food. The nutritive energy of a cherry, an orange, a green leaf, is sunlight stored up, composed of the scale of oscillations of the rainbow (sun-spectrum). But the oscillations of the light which are stored up in the substance will be lost through heating; they equally disappear when the episperms which are charged with fine mineral-containing molecules, are eliminated from the corn. Our food may contain a surplus quantity of albumen, carbohydrate, and fat and nevertheless have lost the sunlight. It contains, indeed, enough calories, but its Light is smouldering. Such food gives insufficient nourishment and is apt to produce illness. Sunlight food keeps us healthy and strong and has healing power. Nowadays with our knowledge of the construction of atoms, of the absorption and emmision of light rays through the orbits of the electrons, it should be easy for any scientific mind to understand the importance of the sun quality of our food. But we are so accustomed to our comfortable, old ways of living, this new knowledge of dietetics would bring about such a revolution that much that we have got used to, and love dearly, would have to be eliminated. We should have to acknowledge our mistakes, think out, and learn new ways. Far too uncomfortable a thing! and yet what really nourishes the body are the vitamins, the energy of the sun, not mere heat.

8. Lack of vitamins and bases, a surplus quantity of acids, lack of sunlight all these are really one and the same thing - such are in fact the chief causes of the most serious and widespread diseases to which mankind is subject.

9. All these diverse, protracted, and serious illnesses can be prevented by sunlight food.

10. The decision to part with the old ways and to adopt the sunlight food opens to mankind a new way to spiritual possibilities. In any case the sunlight food is amongst all remedies that are not of a spiritual nature, the most important one. The usual food of the civilized European leads men astray and produces diseases. Sunlight food, on the contrary, has tremendous curative powers.

-(Sunlight (Vitamin) Food)


I : SUNLIGHT LEVEL - Organized Unit - Highest Nutritive Value - Purest, Most Complete and most Powerful Diet - GREATEST CURATIVE POWER

Accumulators of the First Rank :
All plant organs that can be enjoyed in the natural, fresh, uncooked state; Orchard fruits, berries, nuts, almonds, vegetables, fruits, leaves, and roots or bulbs, seeds, including all cereals.

LOWER DIVISION: animal food units: mother's milk, cow's milk, goat's milk, eggs - in the uncooked state. The nutritive value of these is limited. The mother's milk belongs to the suckling, the cow's milk to the calf, and the egg to the embryo. Moreover, the consumption of freshly milked cow's milk or goat's milk is for the most part impossible on account of impurity, and of the danger of infection with tuberculosis. Fresh eggs have a composition foreign to human assimilation, and can therefore be considered only as a slight supplementary admixture.

II : ENERGY LEVEL MORE OR LESS LOWERED THROUGH THE INFLUENCE OF HEAT. Mixed with Category I, still very valuable foods; for centuries the mainstay of the diet of the masses.

Used in moderation, yields full physical working-power, spares the internal organs, maintains health. But used in excess (fattening) is injurious to health.

Accumulators of the Second Rank :
Here the first place is taken by the following cooked vegetable products: wholemeal bread, boiled, baked or roast dishes of cereals for which the grain with the husk is used, e.g., wholemeal, unpolished rice. leaf-, flower-, stem-, and root-vegetables cooked without pouring off the water, either in their own water or with a little added water.

FIRST LOWER DIVISION : further degradation through breaking up the natural nutrition-integral and formation of an incomplete food. One-sided diet with food of this category produces very severe constitutional diseases ; free use of one-sided foods causes insidious lowering of health. Such foods are : white wheaten flour, polished rice, soups, broths and pastry made from white flour and white groats, vegetables from which the water they were boiled in has been poured off, confectionery. fancy pastries, strongly sweetened preserves, sugar.

SECOND LOWER DIVISION : unsuitable composition as in the lower division of the First Category, through the process of cooking and through breaking up the integrals : boiled milk, boiled eggs and egg dishes, white bread and cheese, curds.

THIRD LOWER DIVISION : vegetables preserved by heat. Here there are several degrees of degradation : relatively good are preserved tomatoes, Week sterilization [in glass] ; or better Pasteurizing is to be preferred to any other method of preserving, and among trade products, the Hero brand deserves recognition. Coloured green peas and beans in tins are to be altogether discarded.

FURTHER : condensed milk.


By mixture with Animal Tissues,
By the process of Dying,
By the processes of fermentation and by cooling.

Composition not suitable for human assimilation. Overloading of the organs with inferior proteid material. Danger of acid poisoning. Lack of vitamins. Chief source of arthritis. Storing up of uric acid. Unsuitable source of energy for human beings.

ACCUMULATORS OF THE THIRD RANK : Fresh meat of every kind, fish, poultry, game, sausages, smoked meat. The flesh of young animals (lamb, calf) is more injurious to health than that of fully grown animals (ox, swine, sheep). In general white meat contains more uric acid formers than red and is by no means to be preferred ; the most poisonous are calf's sweetbread, glandular organs, and brain.

The so-called edible fungi, whose nutritive value comes not from sunlight direct but from decomposing material.

In this new table of values of human foods - it may strike many of you - you find neither alcoholic drinks nor the solaces of all the tired folk: coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, mate, kolu. They have no place among foods, for they are consumed not on account of the admixed food-stuffs, but for the sake of their intoxicating and stimulating effects. Their importance and their effects need a separate treatise even when we are all convinced that these luxuries exercise a powerful influence on the processes of nutrition in the interior of the organism. This influence proceeds not from nutritive values but from poison. A single mouthful of bread exceeds a glass of beer in nutritive value, and a grape contains more nourishment than a glass of wine. And to say the least, we pay much too dear for the oats in the oatmeal cocoa and the fat of the chocolate.

This doctrine of nutrition has only one drawback : it is in complete contradiction to the valuations and customs which prevail today among our people from the highest to the lowest, among the "uneducated" and the "educated." A breakfast consisting of coffee with milk, white bread, butter and jam is considered correct even for growing children At dinner the flesh dish forms the middle point and the centre of gravity round which everything is grouped. Fruit is eaten, if at all, right at the end when the stomach is full of all the rest. It is scarcely considered as food but rather as a luxury, and many attach no value to its consumption but actually look on it with a superstitious fear.

This nutrition doctrine falls at a time of confusion, of interregnum in the scientific world. The dominance of the old food-values is broken. No one any longer believes in them. Instead, too much value has lately been attached to vitamins and amino-acids. The science of nutrition has become so vastly complicated that only a few really know anything, and for the others, there is nothing left but to snap up a bit here and there, and so to simulate a knowledge which after all life requires. Hence it is possible for vitamins to be "produced" in chemical factories, or to be prescribed in cod-liver oil, not, if you please, in fresh vegetables! This sort of one-sided precaution tells of anxiety for vitamins, and so completely soothes the disquieted spirits that they comfortably return to the old habits.

What was lacking was the red thread that should lead out of the labyrinth, the middle point round which everything can be arranged, the measure, the central nutritive value. And this central nutritive value stands now before your minds, firmly realized - the sunlight value of the food.

According to what I have experienced and realized in three decades of work as a physician, this sunlight value is in the realm of nutrition the rediscovered Grail, which heals wounds, and has shattered Klingsor's world of illusion.

- Food Science for All

A. E. in an introduction to Dr. Bircher-Benner's book comments :

(1) There is a greater desire for food on sunless days, and this beyond what any difference in temperature might account for.

(2) I often begin a sun-bath hungry and end it less hungry.

(3) A prolonged sun-bath sometimes give a feeling of languor comparable to the satiety caused by a full meal. It is possible that sun has formed in the skin vitamins in excess of the needs of the system? If so, it is time we modified our policy of consuming all the vitamins possible, and began to guard against excess of them as of other foods.

(4) In Barbados, where - so far as material food was concerned - a great part of the population was sadly underfed, I found universal cheerfulness and even gaiety. which I could only attribute to the perpetual sunslight in which the people were bathed.

(5) I know a girl who was born in June and who from then till the end of September was exposed to the light for many hours a day in the open air. According to her mother, she took during this time not one-tenth of the food ordinarily consumed by an infant of her age. (So the mother suckled another child as well.) She was offered food four times a day, but usually she would suck once or twice and then contentedly and persistently turn away and go to sleep. Yet by the end of September she weighed only one pound less than normal, and in energy and vivacity was far above normal. During October, with less light and air, she took more food (three ordinary meals a day), and at the end of that month her weight was normal. At eight and a half months she walked freely; and now that she is a woman and a mother she is far above the average in health and energy.

These observations are not sufficiently definite to serve as proofs, though they may serve as incitements to research; but now at length they are supplemented by the definite proof that a vitamin (D) is formed by the action of sunlight on the skin. It is probable that this action will be most marked during a fast. Then, the vitamin being needed by the system, and used up as fast as it is formed, a greater speed of formation may be expected. In this nay we may train ourselves, as it were, to receive more energy from the sun; and our descendants should inherit this capacity in enhanced degree.

And here, to show that the physicists are looking in the same direction as our author (a physician), let me quote from a book which may well be read in conjunction with the present volume:

"The radiant influence of light nourishes life and within the human body forms the fabric of consciousness; ... it is certain that life, light, and, consciousness are bound together by some undiscovered law. The secret of nature's alchemy is still l hidden from us within our own bodies. By revealing it physics will create a new hope for man. (Archimedes, or the future of Physics, by L. L. Whyte)


How are we to apply the new knowledge of dietetics? What is our food to consist of?" Dr. Bircher-Benner asks :

"Many changes can be introduced into our daily meals: the quantity of meat can be reduced or meat can be omitted altogether. Instead of white bread we can eat whole meal bread (the best is made of wheat and rye.) We can feed chiefly on cooked vegetarian diet (vegetables. farinaceous food, rice, potatoes, etc.) To this can be added raw fruits of all kinds, nuts, roots, and salads. The use of alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, can be omitted or reduced. This is a step in the right direction, but the curative power of such a diet is small.

"In connection with this it may be mentioned that a lady patient had been consulting a doctor who was a great authority and had been recommended by him to give up meat. She did so, but grew weaker and weaker. Why was this the case? Because her vegetarian diet consisted of vegetables, the boiling of which had deprived them of all nutritive value; also of fine flour dishes, eggs, rich milk, cheese and butter which contained neither enough vitamins and bases, nor was it rich enough in 'sunlight' value. The lady now consulted another specialist who, indignant on hearing of the treatment recommended before, said that a meatless diet was nonsense and that she was at once to begin with 'nourishing' food, especially meat. This also was carried out, but the illness grew worse. A third doctor abroad was consulted who advised her to give up meat and to begin the diet which is put forth in this booklet [Sunlight (Vitamin) Food]. This she did and after six months she came to Zurich, paid me a visit and told me how grateful she was for the advice of my booklet which she had followed carefully, A considerable improvement of her condition had already taken place.

"When we have to get rid of an illness, a greater effort is necessary on the part of the patient than if we have only to maintain health. Lack of vitamins has exhausted the tissues and organs. The surplus acidity can only be got rid of gradually. Because of the accumulation of the poisons of metabolism the body needs a long time for the diet to take its effect, so that the dislodgment of the secretions can begin. A crisis has to take place sooner or later before any improvement is noticed.

A firm resolution is therefore required on the part of the patient. He has definitely to give up his old ways and begin with several days a week, perhaps even several weeks of raw diet. This has to consist of all sorts of fresh fruit, nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, sweet almonds, etc.), the fruits, roots, stalks, and leaves of
vegetables, and green herbs.

Experience has shown that in consequence of the weakness of our teeth and digestive organs, this raw food must be chopped to a large extent, A savoury combination must also be made, for by making it appetizing, one succeeds more easily in winning the patient over to the new diet, thus hastening the healing process."

Cooked as well as raw food or "mixed food" may be eaten alternately with the raw foods, and Dr. Bircher Benner's excellent little book gives many attractive recipes, such as the one listed below. He assures us that "the mixed but meatless diet can by itself show its curative power and also prevent illness."

A typical Recipe from Sunlight Food :

Apple or Fruit Diet Dish : Take a level tablespoonful of rolled oats (or a level tablesponful of wheatflakes, or tablespoonful of whole wheat-meal, or rye meal.) Soak for twelve hours in three tablespoonfuls of water. Add the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoonful of sweet condensed milk (or a tablespoonful of cream; or a tablespoon of honey). Mix it all well together in a dish. Take two clean apples, including the skin, core, and pips. Grate, and stir into the mix, continually, so that the apples do not get brown. (For apples may be taken bilberries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries ; cherries, prunes, apricots, carefully stoned and minced, bananas skinned. Also dried fruits can be used if first mashed in hot water; then soaked in cold water for twenty-four hours, or until well plumped.) [If soaked too long they will start to ferment-Ed.]

This dish is served fresh, before anything else, and on no account as a dessert. Only quite exceptionally may it be warmed, in the case of a very nervous patient. In order to increase the quantity of proteid and fat, a tablespoonful of grated nuts should be added.

It should be well chewed and will thus be sufficiently warmed to suit the most sensitive stomach.