Durianrider is a controversial health and fitness YouTube celebrity who speaks about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle following the raw food and vegan diet. He’s known for his tough love approach, zany sense of humor, and sometimes unconventional approach to getting his point across. This prickly exterior has won him many admirers and a few enemies, much like his namesake fruit.
Find out how the Durianrider legend was born in the 11 minute video clip below, or scroll down to read the entire interview which includes fun facts like DR’s favorite durian variety and favorite fruit. Thanks again Harley!
Who is Durianrider?
Lindsay: All right, so for my first question, if you could introduce yourself, say who you are what you do and why so many people love and hate you?
DR: So my name’s Harley from Australia, they call me the Durianrider, and I make a lot of videos on YouTube and run a raw foods and vegan website which has become the most popular raw foods and vegan website on the net, 30 Bananas A Day, with my partner Freelee, and we just put it out there. We share our experiences and some people love it, some people hate it, some people don’t know what to think. We just keep doing it, having fun with it, with the intention of helping people help themselves get fit and healthy.
Lindsay: How many hits are you getting right now?
DR: YouTube last 30 days 1.7, 1.8 million, FB 12,800 likes on the fan page, our website we get 40-50,000 a day, blog only about 1,000 views a day, those are the current stats, and I think its always increasing every month, a little bit here and there.
When Durianrider Met Durian
Lindsay: So, when did you first taste your first durian? Where were you and what did you think?
DR: My first durian, I read a book by Paul Nison called Raw Life, and he talked about durian in that book, and I went out, I think this was November 2003, I went out to the Chinese market and I bought a frozen durian and took it home and ate it in my back garden and it was okay, I could live without having one of these in my life. I wasn’t turned off, I wasn’t turned on. I was pretty neutral.
Lindsay: Did you like the smell?
DR: Yeah, I mean I was open to it, smelled sort of like garlic-onion. Sort of smelled like gas a bit, but I knew that. I was expecting that so it was all right. And then the first time I had some real durian was my friend Clinton gave me a frozen durian, an Australian durian just a little bit , and I sat in the orchard and I ate this durian. I was like, oh my god this is crazy! And I’m sitting in this orchard looking out at all the fruit trees and I’m thinking man, I wish there was durian here. And I ran inside after I finished the durian and I jumped on the internet and I found a website called the durianpalace.com, which I think has been taken down since.
Lindsay: Yeah, unfortunately he died.
DR: Yeah, he passed on. He was into the raw food lifestyle but he was still eating meat and stuff, smoking and drinking, but a nice guy all the same. So I found his website Durian Palace and that was in June, July 2004 and I went to Thailand short;y after and had my first fresh durian in Chanthaburi, Thailand.
Lindsay: Do you remember which variety it was?
DR: Yeah it was a Chanee. The first one I had.
Lindsay: Did you like it?
DR: Yeah I was almost crying. All these Thais just kept giving me free durian free durian and in Australia you how the durian costs you $80 for one durian, a whole durian will cost you 80 bucks and even then it might not be good. They were just forcing durian on me. I was just crying.
So why are you called Durianrider?
I guess because I like durian and I ride my bike. And I thought it was sort of an interesting name to call myself, a stage name for the internet.
So did you plan that you would become famous as the Durianrider?
I just wanted to share my experiences in the raw food and vegan lifestyle and help people out and people kept asking questions so I started making YouTube videos and that what’s brought me to where I am today.
A Durian Legend is Born
So how many durians could you eat back then?
I could eat about 2 kilos of flesh. I could eat at a sitting. That’s about 3,000 calories. No shell no seed just the durian flesh. About 2 kilos.
Wow. And I heard that you won a durian speed eating contest once
Yes. In Chanthaburi, Thailand and Rayong, Thailand it was the durian speed eating championships in 2005 and 2007. I won that. I was on national TV.
What did people think in Thailand when they see you riding around with a whole crate full of durian on your bike?
They think it’s funny. They love it. They appreciate that someone appreciates their local tradition of fruit eating. They’re really respectful. A lot of guys tried to marry their daughters off to me and stuff like that.
Really? Because of durian?
Because they see me and they say “oh this guy’s really cool, he loves the fruit.” And the girls like it as well but … I have lots of crazy stories in Thailand when I was a single guy. Quite funny.
Did you ever mono durian? For any period of time? (Mono-mealing is eating only one type of food at a meal.)
I think me and Freelee did that in Malaysia one time. The durian was so good that’s all we ate for a couple of days
Yep. Full 100% mono, I think maybe 2 days, maybe 2 1/2 , but durian can get pretty heavy if you have it for breakfast, so we started eating pineapple and mango.
Have you ever felt ill? I mean a lot of people say, especially to us when they see us eating durian and we eat a lot of it, they ask if we feel sick afterward. You know you get too hot or you feel nauseous or you get a sore throat or a headache. Have you ever experienced any of those things?
Yeah definitely, if you don’t drink enough water. I like to drink at least 3 kilos that day before a big durian dinner. If I don’t drink 3 liters that day, then my digestion isn’t going to be as good as when I have the durian .. the durian is.. I don’t know man what’s going on with durian. That’s some magical fruit. But it’s nutrient dense and it needs a lot of water to process it well in my opinion. I like to have at least 3 liters minimum the day of a durian dinner feast.
What about a speed eating contest? Do you have any tricks for that?
Hydration that’s why I won, because those guys weren’t as hydrated as me and when the bodies so dehydrated the throat just sort of closes up, and when the body’s hydrated the throat really opens up, so that’s my personal experience there. Drinking more water than them.
What’s your favorite durian?
You’ve probably had it – the Red Prawn, Ang Hair? Have you had it?
Yeah, that’s the best.
Or Horlor. Did you have Horlor?
Sure did. I didn’t like that one quite as much.
The Ang Hair, I like the young Ang Hair from a tree that’s only 15 years old.
|Red Prawn with a black spot|
Really you like the young one?
Yeah, I like the young one. I don’t like the 80 year old tree. Once the tree gets that black flesh, yeah I appreciate it, but if I’ve got the choice I’ll go for the 15 year old tree
That’s really interesting. I definitely prefer the old one. Is that preference for all the durians?
It’s opposite with the Monthong and the Thai trees, I prefer the old ones. But just the Ang Hair I prefer the sweet young one.
Where would you say you had the very best durian ever?
Probably Bao Sheng‘s. Yeah probably there. What I like about Bao Sheng, you’re there, it’s got a good view, the durians are dropping around you and you can ride your bike back down the hill, go to the dam or the waterfall. Yeah I like the Bao Sheng experience. It’s a pretty complete experience.
Durian or Bananas?
So recently you’ve been called the Banana Boy on Australian News Networks. Why bananas? And not durians? I mean your site is about bananas, 30 Bananas A Day, why not 30 durians?
We uh, I wanted a name that..
Freelee: We both know I created that name buddy.
We wanted something that represented an objective guideline. So 30 bananas a day roughly translates to 3,000 calories a day which is what we recommend that active or aspiring active adults should consume. Bananas you can get any where in the world, get them organic most of the time and you know when they’re ripe. But durian – durian’s hard to get. And eating durian for breakfast is probably going to be a bit too heavy. So 30 Bananas A Day. Everyone loves bananas. Durian is mixed.
Which one do you prefer, if you absolutely had to pick, would it be durian or bananas?
Flavor wise it would be durian, but for high energy it would be banana.
Durian and a Low Fat Diet
And why is that? I hear from people that durian is really high energy food.
I find that durian because of the fat content, even though it’s pretty low fat — it’s like 97% fat free by weight, but about 20% calories fat — I find that durian is heavy just because its low water content. It’s a little bit fatty versus the banana, which is still low water content but almost zero fat. Bananas are a little bit cleaner burning. And the durian has protein and fat so it’s a little bit harder to digest as far as a fruit.
So what do you think about that? I know that people following this lifestyle tend not to want to mix fatty foods and very sweet foods and fatty foods, but durian is both, and it just grows on the tree that way.
It’s crazy! Well, if we look at the fat content of durian lets say 100 grams of durian is roughly 3 grams of fat approximately where as avocado is about 15 or 16 grams of fat per 100, so durian has about as much fat as oats have per 100 grams, so compared to bananas, but at 3 grams of fat per 100 grams, that’s not a lot compared to avocados at 16 grams of fat per 100 or almonds which are 60, 70 grams of fat per 100. So its still very low fat but its going to be harder to digest because of that fat and protein content I find. If I’m going to have durian I’m going to have it for dinner.
You follow a really low fat diet now. Like what do you think you’re at now, 90-5-5 or something like that? (90% carbohydrate, 5% protein, and 5% fat by total calories)?
Yeah, over the years probably more 80-10-10, but during the last days probably 90-5-5.
Where does durian fit in to someone who’s following a diet like yours?
Yeah, durian fits in. To be honest I had a durian in New York. At the Woodstock Fruit Festival we had frozen Thai durian, I don’t normally eat the frozen Thai durian I’m not a fan of it but there was some good stuff getting around so I had a total of about one durian there and then before that it had been a year since I’d had a frozen durian, which was at the Woodstock Fruit Festival 2011, when you guys were there. And I haven’t been to Asia inc… months. The last time I had fresh durian was February last year. Even when I was living in Bangkok I would eat durian maybe 2-3 times a week, but definitely it doesn’t work as good as it used to work for me.
So you’re not really the durian rider anymore –
Not really Durianrider…..I guess Bananarider would be more accurate, definitely, but that sounds a bit pornographic, banana rider. Maybe durian-banana rider.
Have you ever blended the two? That actually sounds pretty good.
I didn’t like it, but my friend Grant we did that in Chanthaburi one time. Maybe just because we were so full but we didn’t appreciate it. I’d be open to trying it again.
What’s the most durian you’ve ever consumed?
I reckon me and Grant back in 2007 we had…I reckon we had 5 kilos each. It was…it was over bout 4-5 hours. We
had a mountain of durian. It was in Chanthaburi and I ate so much durian that my chest was so sore I felt like I was going to have a heart attack
You know that can actually happen. There’s a guy who just died.
I think what can happen is the blood pressure rises, and most people
are dehydrated and they’re drinking alcohol and the hot sun and they’re
having durian as well, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Have you ever felt drunk from eating durian? Because sometimes we feel that way
Yeah that’s how we’re meant to feel. That’s humans natural state is to feel high, that’s our natural state but in a good way.
So you don’t think that’s a reason not to eat durian? Because the feeling is a little bit similar to to getting drunk.
is a natural food definitely, its like running, you want to be
hydrated though. If you run when you’re dehydrated you can kill yourself
you know. It’s like if you breath too fast you can hyperventilate. Durian is like a teacher, it teaches us hydration and eating the heavy
food in the evening versus the morning.
Well would you tell your followers about eating durian? Any tips or advice for them?
Tips for durian. Number one would be drink 3 liters of water at breakfast and lunch before we have durian for dinner. And try to eat durian around sundown, or a bit beforehand. A big mistake would be not drinking enough water before my durian and then the durian sort of dries you out. Then you have to drink water after the durian that’s just sloshing around your belly so you’re not feeling your best. So you’re eating late at night. I’ve eaten durian at midnight and gone to bed at 2 a.m, then woken up with a durian hangover. So my tip would be to get up early and see the beautiful Asian sunrise, and have your breakfast of mangoes and lunch of bananas and mangosteens, whatever you’re eating, then you have your water between. Start your day with a liter of water, then start your durian dinner around 3, 4, 5, and finish by early evening, 7 o’clock so then you can go to bed 8-9 o’clock, just try to finish eating early I guess so you have a bit of digestion time. So that would be my tip. Stay hydrated. Make sure your pee is clear vs yellow or straw.
Well thanks Harley, I just have one more question. I hear all these rumors about you stealing durian. Is that really true?
Yeah, are you a durian thief?
Let me think we did, that’s right I am a thief. I’m not convicted yet but in Australia there was a durian farm, this is back in 2008 but me and Freelee we were living on the bike back then, very poor, and there was a durian farm that would just let the durians sit on the ground, and they were beginning to sell a few but in the mean time a lot would rot. So there’s an electric fence around the property, and you can smell the durian, you can see the durian, you can see the durian on the tree and occasionally you could smell that a durian had dropped, and you could see a durian on the lawn there. The place had these dogs, and I was jumping up trying to get the owner’s attention but it didn’t seem that they were at home at the time, just the barking dogs, so I told Freelee to go to one side of the property and distract the dogs while I go in the back and jump for the durian. So the plan worked so Freelee rode her bike around and got the dogs to come over to her, so to get through the electric fence I had to zap myself, so I had to zap myself in, grab the durian, and then the dogs turned and saw me, so these rabid dogs are running across the farm to bite my legs off and I’m running with the durian, I throw the durian over the fence, and then I had to zap myself out on the way again, so I stole the durian but I definitely paid.
Was it worth it? Was it a good one?
Fantastic durian. Fantastic durian. And then we went back to that property, 26 year old trees they were, so I told the owner this story. I saw a durian on the lawn the other day and I’ve got to confess I didn’t want it to go to waste so we stole it and he said that’s all right, he was pretty cool. And we bought durian off him and he gave us a good deal because he was pretty excited that we were so excited about it. So that worked out well. But in Asia I definitely wouldn’t steal the durian unless it were from an abandoned tree I have found durian on the road though that’s fallen out of the back of a truck. Durian is so cheap in Asia and I want to support that culture that I’m happy to pay for it, because I want to support that, the durian forests, definitely.
So, do you prefer Thai or Malaysian durian?
Malaysian, definitely, although I’ve had some certified
organic Monthong that was just out of this world. Just awesome Monthong.
In general the Malaysian durians are better because they’re more organic,
and in Thailand they’re more chemical, in general. It’s so funny,
because then you go to Thailand and the bananas are better and the mangoes
are better, and the mangosteen are better, and the pineapples are
better, and the dragon fruit is better, in Malaysia most of the bananas
are crap except for the raja, and the pineapples are crap and the
watermelons are crap, generally, the mangoes are crap, that’s what I
find, but the durian. The durian is better. Have you had marang yet?
Lindsay: Yes. I had it in the Philippines, in Davao. It happened to be season, it
was like the best fruit ever. I had a hard time wanting to eat durian
when it was around.
Yeah I can eat marang breakfast lunch and dinner no problem. I
reckon marang is the best fruit. That would be my ideal.. the
Marangrider. That’s the best fruit in the world I reckon.
So, do you ever think about changing your name? Or are you just stuck as the Durianrider?
Yeah I guess people know me as the Durianrider so I’ll just stick with that.
Well, I have to say I like it better than Banana Boy. Thanks again for sharing your durian experiences!
End of Interview
Harley currently has five YouTube channels, each with a focus on one aspect of health. Learn more at Durianrider’s Blog.
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