Wiley Brooks, the founder of a strange US diet cult called ‘Breatharianism’, preached a daily intake of nothing but sun and air and Scarface actress Michelle Pfeiffer admitted to being drawn in by it
The leader of a cult that preached humans can exist without food or water was rumbled by followers who found him eating a McDonald’s dinner.
Wiley Brooks, the founder of a diet cult called “Breatharianism”, preached a daily intake of nothing but sun and dust.
It was sold as a way of keeping trim while expanding spiritual consciousness and gained a large following in the 1980s – even in Hollywood, screenshot-media reports.
In an interview in 2013, Scarface actress Michelle Pfeiffer admitted to being drawn in by the diet cult and its leader Brooks in the early 80s.
Brooks himself claimed that he had fasted for 19 years non-stop and obtained his nutrients from the air and the sun. On a US talk show he announced that anyone could and welcomed others to do the same.
He told the host Tom Snyder: “Breatharianism is a philosophy that believes that the human body, when it’s in perfect harmony with itself and nature, is a perfect Breatharian—you know, all the constituents that we need. [are] taken from the air we breathe.
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“There is only one thing that keeps the human body alive, and that is breathing. The food that we take is the same as any other thing we take into the body as it becomes a habit. In other words, eating is an acquired habit, just like alcohol or smoking cigarettes.”
But he wasn’t finished there, and went on with more wild claims including that Breatharian mums don’t need to feed their babies – and that infants are born with the capacity to live without food or water.
To dispel perhaps the most obvious examples of death-by-starvation, he claimed hunger strikers died from their “death wish” rather than from not eating.
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Despite its absurdity, the movement gained a strong following in the US.
And in 1982, Brooks grouped his followers together and opened a Breatharian Institute in California.
Rather than throwing them straight into starvation, he asked them to consume 24 food items of “yellow vibration quality” – including grapefruit, chicken, and Haagen-Dazs ice cream – that were designed to “clean the blood”.
But scandal struck the community after Brooks – who claimed to have fasted for 19 years – was repeatedly spotted slipping out of fast-food joints with hot dogs in hand, or being rumbled with a bedroom full of room service grub.
Lavelle Lefler, who was co-founder of the movement and Brooks’s partner, revealed she caught him repeatedly breaking his own rules.
In 1983, he was spotted carrying a Slurpee, hot dog and Twinkies out of a 7-Eleven convenience store. He was also rumbled with trays of food delivered to his hotel room in Vancouver, including chicken pies and biscuits.
Lefler said he made a habit of waiting until everyone was asleep before going out on a snack run.
She said: “The truth is, he sneaks into 7-Elevens and fast food places and eats just like the rest of us—except worse because he has to rely on places that are open late into the night.”
The revelations about his midnight feasts irked followers, and he started losing them rapidly.
Responding to Lefler’s comments, he said “No one can prove I’ve taken any food.”
But after he was caught scoffing at McDonald’s, he weaved the fast food giant’s fare into his philosophy.
According to Brooks, McDonald’s branches are built on areas that are protected by higher energies and that they even contain spiritual portals.
He then told followers to slurp as much Diet Coke and gobble as many Double Quarter Pounds with Cheese as possible before meditation.