A Survey of Fasting, Vegetarianism, and Paranormal Experiences | Michael Daw

Michael Daw is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Northampton with a lifelong interest in parapsychology. His first degree is in social science and he has an MSc in computation. He is currently trustee of a local environmental charity focused on action on climate change and increasing biodiversity. He has worked as a mathematics teacher, software engineer, a senior manager in higher education, and has supported academic research at three of the UK’s largest universities.


Introduction: We present an analysis of surveys of those who fast and/or are veg*an in order to examine potential associations between these dietary practices and paranormal experiences. A number of spiritual traditions include accounts of supernormal powers that are sometimes associated with fasting and veg*anism; for example, shamans may fast to support apparent psi-like abilities such as healing (Wright, 2013), and yogis who are strict vegetarians are said to exhibit powers such as mind-reading (Lamb, 2011). Some authors have related fasting and veg_anism to both spirituality and psi (e.g. Aivanhov, 1982; Carrington, 1920; Cousens, 2009). At the SSE-PA Connections 2021 conference, we presented an analysis of interviews with psi adepts who use fasting and veganism to enhance sensitivity to psi (Daw et al., 2021), which provided insights into the putative relationship between these, and related, dietary practices and psi. This paper builds on our research to examine reported paranormal experiences and abilities of those who follow these dietary practices but who do not identify as particularly adept at psi.

Methods: We developed a questionnaire containing measures related to fasting; dietary choices including meat and dairy consumption; demographics; and the paranormal experiences and abilities subscales of the Anomalous Experiences Inventory (AEI) (Gallagher et al., 1994) using a Likert-type scale for frequency of experience. The AEI contains items related to a range of paranormal phenomena including telepathy, precognition, psychokinesis, survival after death, and mystical experiences.

The questionnaire was hosted using JISC Online Surveys and was publicised during Nov-Dec 2021 through twenty-six Facebook groups focused on either fasting or on veg*anism. This exercise yielded 154 valid responses for the fasting sample and 804 for the veg*an sample (N=958).

Results: We conducted a preliminary content analysis of open-ended items to determine variables amenable to statistical investigation. We then compared average AEI experience and ability scores against all dietary-related variables.

We found an association between AEI scores and each of fasting and reducing meat and dairy consumption. In addition, those whose maximum length of fast extended to three or more days in our fasting sample were found to have higher AEI scores. Vegans were also found to have a higher AEI ability score than vegetarians in our veg*an sample.

Responses to many of the individual AEI items reflected these associations. For example, the respective proportions reporting at least one experience of precognition (item P3) in the fasting sample were veg*ans 74%, meat reducers (e.g., those who avoid red meat) 64%, and omnivores 46%, X2(2, N=153)=7.3, p=0.026. Many items also showed an association between frequency of experience and dietary practice.

Discussion: The most obvious interpretation of these results is that they confirm our psi adept study findings. Respondents who fast, and those who reduce their meat and dairy consumption, report more paranormal experiences and abilities than those who do not. If it is indeed the case that these dietary practices are conducive to psi, then we might expect similar results, although the strength of associations found is perhaps surprising.

Our studies so far have attempted to build a systematic understanding of the effect of dietary practices on psi in a natural environment as a basis for experimental research (Roe, 2019). We plan to explore this putative relationship further in experiments to test whether fasting and veg*anism, and perhaps other dietary modifications, offer improved performance in psi tasks.


The Parapsychological Association is an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.

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Published on September 8, 2023