Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Feb

Do You Really Need to Eat Vegetables to Be Healthy?

SteakThe idea that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet has been hammered into our collective consciousness by every authority out there. Parents, teachers, scientists, government health “experts” all stress the importance of eating your veggies. Problem is, they also told us that butter would kill us, margarine would save us, animal protein would give us cancer, and animal fat would give us heart disease. They said we should jog for an hour a day three days a week, that deadlifts would hurt our backs, and that we need to wear shoes with “good arch support.” Basically, conventional wisdom gets it wrong an awful lot of the time, so what should we think about the CW regarding vegetables? It’s a fairly common query I receive from readers:

Do you really need to eat vegetables – or plant matter in general – to be healthy?

Yes. Yes, you do. Maybe not a huge amount, necessarily. But you do need some.

With that out of the way, allow me to address some of the pertinent questions I receive from readers. See, MDA readers are an astute bunch. They don’t just send me one line emails with questions in all caps; they send questions and then proceed to lay out very persuasive arguments. Let’s look at some of them.

“What about the traditional cultures that ate little to no plants or vegetables and were healthy? Like…”

The Inuit – While they ate a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet consisting of the fat and meat from seal, walrus, whale, caribou, fish, and other wild game, the Inuit actually utilized a wide variety of plant foods including berries, sea vegetables, lichens, and rhizomes. They made tea from pine needles, which are high in vitamin C and polyphenols.

The Maasai – Milk, meat, and blood were the high-fat, low-carb staples of the Maasai diet, particularly that of the male warriors. But it’s not all they ate. The Maasai often traded for plant foods like bananas, yams, and taro, too, and they cooked their meat with anti-parasitic spices, drank bitter (read: tannin- and polyphenol-rich) herb tea on a regular basis, and used dozens of plants as medicines (PDF).

Or the Sami – The reindeer herders of the Scandinavian north, the Sami people eat a low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diet of meat, fish, and reindeer milk. They also gather wild plant foods, particularly berries and mushrooms (Finland’s forests produce 500 million kg of berries and over 2 billion kg of mushrooms each year!), sometimes even feeding their reindeer hallucinogenic mushrooms to produce psychoactive urine.

Plants played small but important roles in their diets. Not as a source of calories, necessarily, but as a source of micronutrients, plant polyphenols, and medicinal compounds. We can’t know that they would have gotten the results they did without the plants.

“Animal foods provide all the micronutrients a person needs.”

Animal products include some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They’re our best (and often only) source of vitamin A (retinol), DHA/EPA, and vitamin B12, as well as lesser-known nutrients like choline, creatine, and carnosine. But a diet devoid of vegetables and other plants will likely be a little low in certain nutrients that we need. Like:

Betaine – A vital liver-supporting nutrient, the best source is spinach.

Potassium – Important electrolyte and regulator of blood pressure, the best sources are avocados, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and bananas. Meat contains potassium, but you have to capture the juices to get it.

Magnesium – Involved in hundreds of crucial physiological functions, the best sources are leafy greens like spinach and chard.

Fermentable fiber – The best sources are plants.

Whoa, whoa. Fiber? What is this, the AHA? No. I’ve questioned the merits of insoluble fiber-driven fecal hypertrophy in the past, and I remain puzzled at the relentless pursuit of toilet bowl blockages, but I strongly support the consumption of fermentable fiber. If you’re convinced of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome populated with happy, vibrant gut flora – and you should be, by now – you can’t ignore their food requirements. They need fermentable fiber to survive and tend to your immune system, and the best way to provide that is to eat plants.

It’s also easy to miss out on nutrients like folate (if you don’t eat offal) and calcium (if you don’t eat dairy or small bony fish).

Plus, and this is an important point, we evolved eating wild animals. Wild animal meat and fat comes loaded with antioxidant compounds from all the wild plant matter they eat. Grass-fed beef (the more easily attainable alternative to wild meat) is also higher in B-vitamins, beta-carotene (look for yellow fat), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin K, and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Unless you’re hunting game or eating “salad bar” beef (what Joel Salatin calls grass-fed beef), eating vegetables, herbs, and spices with your meal will help emulate the ancestral steak dinner.

“What about people who just hate vegetables? Or who don’t like them all the time? Shouldn’t we listen to our instincts?”

I have a sneaking suspicion that the ability to sense nutrients noted in many animal species is also present in people. Like how salt-deficient cattle will gravitate toward the salt lick, maybe some people just don’t need that extra hormetic stimulus provided by the plant, and their bodies are letting them know by making vegetables taste bad. Maybe they’re so darn optimal that they only require the basic vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients to maintain their health.

But remember: the body is kind of a dumb instrument. It evolved in an environment when little mistakes could be very costly. A sprained ankle could mean death, destitution, or a limp that never leaves; these days, a sprained ankle means some ice, some elevation, and parking a little closer to the office/grocery store. Eating the wrong plant, or the wrong part of the wrong plant, might destroy your liver; these days, you just Google “[plant] toxicity.” So we’re subconsciously hypersensitive to things that may (have once) pose(d) a threat that we may miss out on some good stuff. Plant toxins, also known as phytonutrients, are one of those things.

Carrie already explained how some folks’ distaste for bitter plant toxins might be an adaptation from the days when a portion of the available plant food was too dense in toxins/phytonutrients for regular consumption – an adaptive holdover that prevents us from enjoying the extremely healthy, hormetic, moderate levels of plant toxins in cultivated plants.

I actually get where these people are coming from. I’ll go days where I don’t really want any green things on my plate, where a salad (even a Big Ass one) just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll also have days where I don’t really feel like eating a steak, where a few bites of it is plenty. I tend to listen my body in these cases.

People known as “supertasters” are particularly sensitive to the bitter compounds in plant foods and generally eat fewer of them as a result; some research indicates that they may be at a greater risk for certain cancers, while other research indicates that supertasters weigh less, with a lower risk of heart disease, than “normals.” However, that’s because they’re more picky about food and eat less of it in general, not because bitter vegetables are fattening. It’s not conclusive either way.

The Bottom Line

Plants complement meat. They make meat taste better, make it healthier by preventing the formation of carcinogens during cooking when you incorporate them into marinades, and reduce the impact of those harmful compounds when you consume them alongside. Cruciferous vegetables are a classic example; that broccoli you’re eating with your steak contains phytonutrients that reduce the potential mutagenicity (cancer-causing properties) of heterocyclic amines in well-done meat.

Vegetables also compliment meat. They notice when meat has had its hair and nails done, or when it’s lost weight. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard kale say the words, “Have you been working out?” to a lamb shank. Even if they’re not always totally sincere, they obviously care about making meat feel good about itself. That’s awesome. Harmony on your plate is always good.

If you hate veggies and refuse to eat them, fine. You can get most minerals and vitamins elsewhere (though it’s tough, and some spinach would take care of most of them), and using supplements is an option. But if I were you, I would at least strongly consider drinking tea, eating phytonutrient-rich fruits like berries, eating phytonutrient-rich legume extracts like dark chocolate, and using lots of different spices and herbs in your cooking. These won’t have a large caloric (or carb) load, but they will offer nutrients you simply can’t obtain from animals and they provide the largest plant bang for your buck.

Before you throw in the towel, be sure to try lots of different plants. There are thousands of edible and medicinal ones out there, with tens of thousands of recipes and preparation instructions available right this instant just a few keystrokes away. You’ll find something you like if you keep looking.

What does everyone else think? Can you be truly healthy without including plants, particularly veggies, in your diet?

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. As a veggie lover I think this post is so important and informative!

    Heather wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • +1 People who hate all veggies bewilder me.

      Harry Mossman wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Everyone is different. Everyone has a different palate. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. No need to be bewildered. Just understand that not everyone likes what you like, as I’m sure you don’t like everything I like.

        basil cronus wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • OK. Doesn’t make me any less bewildered. Maybe bewildered is too strong. But I don’t understand how someone could dislike all veggies with the huge number of ways they can be prepared, e.g. swimming in butter.

          I don’t particularly care for sweets but I don’t dislike them. I still don’t much like liver but I eat it because I know it is great for me. I haven’t tried other kinds of offal but I would be willing to try something that was good for me.

          Pretty much all standard healthy foods of many cultures taste good to me.

          Harry Mossman wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • So what do you really like? Butter or veggies? I’m sure most things bathed in butter are yummy. Unless you hate butter, now those people bewilder me!

          basil cronus wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Yeah, we’re all unique snowflakes…. I’m kinda with Harry here; I suspect a lot of people don’t like veggies because it takes away stomach room that could be occupied by bread and cakes and donuts.

          Roy wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Not a huge fan of them, although prepared right I will eat them. It’s kind of a thing, “what do you want to eat tonight?” I usually say meat. It’s not an aversion so much that I won’t eat them if they’re put in front of me, but when left to my own devices I don’t usually proactively cook them. I have to push myself to eat veggies, and that’s usually either in the form of a salad (carrots, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, whatever) with a can of tuna slapped onto it, or fried/roasted in bacon fat :)

          Kathleen wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Just add butter….loads of butter!

          Mikey UK wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Nothing I like better than a bowl of buttered kale! My friend told me she saw kale chips with cheese on this website but I’m not sure if it’s good. Has anyone tried replacing veggie requirements with veggie snacks? I’m thinking of trying that especially if its certified organic and nutritional!

          Charmaine wrote on February 17th, 2014
        • To me its the texture of most vegetables rather than the taste. I can put away some raw carrots, celery, and from time to time will enjoy a salad made of various mixed greens…but I eat vegetables more because I have a concept that they provide nutrients rather than something I actually WANT to eat.

          Steve wrote on February 27th, 2014
      • I’ve disliked most vegetables and fruits for most of my life, despite trying repeatedly to learn to eat the things. The texture of iceberg lettuce, or cabbage, or onions, or even apples, makes me gag. Green beans taste like flowers to me. Even ranch dip can’t hide the woodenness of broccoli. Watermelon has never tasted sweet to me, just earthy and slightly bitter.

        Funny thing, though–the few veggies I can tolerate, are the ones Mark mentions in the article. I love spinach salad, blueberries, and blackberries, and will eat cherries. Dark chocolate is a wonderful thing. Once I discovered that sweet potatoes could be cooked in some other way than slicing them thin and frying them to a leathery consistency in Crisco (as my mother used to do), I quite liked them. I can choke down a small banana, if it’s ripe enough.

        It bewilders me, too. It isn’t something I’m proud of.

        castlerobber wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Iceberg lettuce has so little nutritional value, that I think it is a waste of chewing effort (celery, too)! Raw broccoli can harm your thyroid, onions can be toxic if not eaten immediately after chopping (so I read), and apples have a higher carb count than high-quality fruits like the berries you love. It sounds like your body knows what it’s doing!

          I dislike watermelon and bananas, too. I never liked them and have no interest because I find better health value in berries.

          I have my own dietary shame: I am the worst Italian in the world because I cannot STAND raw tomatoes. BUT, tomatoes are healthier once they’re cooked, so I stand by my body’s decisions.

          Nicole wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • I have found a can of tuna will mask the taste and texture of many a vegetable. Not sure what to tell you on fruit, though.

          Some textures make me gag, too. Celery, for one. I can only eat it if it’s chopped into tiny pieces. I hate the stringy crap. I also have a similar aversion to mangoes for the same reason. Fibery yuckyness. Also have to thoroughly peel my oranges/bananas.

          Kathleen wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Kathleen – canned tuna makes me gag!

          mightywindmill wrote on February 13th, 2014
        • Wow. This is me. I dislike most vegetables and fruits. I recently expanded the vegetables I eat from 4 to 9. Although the additional 5 have to be hidden in certain foods, but at least I eat them sometimes now. I also dislike most fruits, I can handle apples and bananas.. and berries in a smoothie. I can’t eat meat either.. unless it’s fake meat or hidden like in a lasagne. I also found I can handle spinach now (cut finely in pasta dishes or a handful in a smoothie) and I quite like sweet potato.

          I’m on this site because I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. I’m nearly 30 and I can’t eat real food (Which makes following a diet super hard). I can’t stand alcohol, coffee or tea. I don’t eat many vegetables, meat or fruit. I don’t eat legumes (what is this???), nuts, lentils, rice or noodles.. I can’t eat mixed foods like curry, stir frys, fried rice (they freak me out), I can’t handle anything spicy, I can’t do pepper.. I can’t do rich sauces, seafood.. Its SO hard to dine socially without having people criticize me.

          It would be quicker to write a list of what I will eat then what I won’t, and I WILL choose to starve then eat what I don’t like. I’ve always been like this, and its terribly frustrating.. I have been trying new foods, but most of it tastes like vomit .. or makes me vomit. I have this feeling I have a few issues.. picky eating, aversion, supertaster.. *sigh* I’ll keep trying to eat healthy though. I use to live on chocolate, cakes, etc.. but for the last 3 years I’ve been off fructose/sugar, which leaves salty foods.. :(

          Dawn wrote on January 23rd, 2016
      • I like vegetables — they just don’t like me. A big-ass salad would mess up my intestines for days. I have a nightshade sensitivity as well as problems with FODMAPs, cruciferous vegetables, thiol-containing and histamine/tyramine/salicylate-containing and -provoking foods (fermented vegetables are to be indulged with tremendous caution).

        I am simply much better off minimizing the amount of plant matter I consume! I take a little bit of various vegetables and even less fruit. I know what I can handle and try not to overdo that.

        Before someone tells me, “you need to improve your gut biome” — I haven’t had antibiotics in DECADES. I’m not “too clean.” I make my own “yogurt” from half-n-half and use it judiciously. MY BODY SIMPLY OBJECTS TO A LOT OF VEGETABLES. Why should I make myself miserable because “everybody” considers vegetables as “healthy”?

        tess wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Yeah, my stomach doesn’t like it if I eat too much veggies either. I don’t think you should eat more than you can handle – look for better ways to eat them or different ones, maybe, but it obviously isn’t good when it makes you miserable.

          One thing I’ve found great is making soup with veggies (ie:, where you cook them for hours to get most of the minerals out, then throw them away.

          Sofie wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Wow Tess that’s really interesting… I’ve had IBS for over a decade and obviously back then there was nothing they could tell me to do. Since then FODMAPs has come out and my gastro keeps insisting I get on it… for years I was vego so the though of removing all FODMAPs meant I would have such little food choice. Now I’m more primal with meat again I’ve considered it. But I am such a HUGE veggie lover. I eat nearly a kilo of cooked veggies daily. But I still have on and off gut issues (a lot less since cutting out gluten and less again since primal – though seemingly way more sensitive now as one candy will throw my guts into turmoil within minutes). Perhaps it truly is a vegetable issue… fascinating….

          Krissy wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • I totally understand the issues you have. I like fresh vegetables but some of them do not like me all that much, burp. However, one of the things that I’ve noticed as I have aged a bit is that my body likes to change it up a bit as we go. I now like some that would make me gag when I was younger. I’m done with laying awake whilst my digestive system that works well on beef but not so well with veggies, grumbles and shoots pains at whatever it can until it’s all done in there. The absolute best thing I’ve done for my digestion is to rid my diet of grains, compared to that the veggie issue was “nothing”. Glad you know your body.

          2Rae wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Same here. I absolutely love vegetables & fruit, & hate the fact that I can’t have many of them, due to FODMAPS, salicylate & histamine sensitivity. I also cannot eat cruciferous vegetables, due to having gallbladder & liver problems, as they make the symptoms worse.

          The only fruit I can eat is 1/2 pomegranate a day (in 2 x 1/4 servings at separate meals).

          I make my own yogurts from certain probiotics, but cannot tolerate very much of it at a time, due to histamine problems (some strains of bacteria encourage histamine & some help, so it’s a case of finding out which ones help).

          I personally think it is important to have plenty of vegetables to give alkalinity to the meal, because meat is acid forming in the body, & candida & cancer grow in an acid body, so we need some alkaline things to balance it out. I eat loads of meat, but not many vegetables unfortunately, as portion size is important with FODMAPS & salicylates & not a great variety either, as I am very restricted.

          The only herbal tea I can have is chamomile, so I try to have that for alkalinity & also a little yogurt.

          Christine wrote on February 13th, 2014
        • I am sooooo with you on the FODMAP’s! When I first went Paleo, my gut got better at first but then it got worse again – all those Paleo-friendly veggies, and don’t even get me started on the coconut!

          It is definitely the most important to listen to your body. I find that lettuce is my friend – I usually eat two giant salads every day – my lettuce bill is ridiculous. I can also eat spinach, zucchini, and bell peppers, and I often use carrots, parsnips, and celery in long-cooked soups. That’s about it for me. I occasionally have grapefruit or a banana.

          There is NO POINT in eating veggies that don’t agree with your gut!

          Laura wrote on February 13th, 2014
        • Don’t let anyone tell you that you need lots of veggies to be healthy. I personally enjoy all of the veggies that my family makes because I grew up with them and I’m sure having a family that cooks like our culture has for centuries kinda helps. I’m Japanese, Scottish and Cherokee; my family eats most of the veg-matter that you would find in those areas and we stick mostly to it. You may have a body that is just not from an area that was veg-dense and so by not eating a lot of veg is just fine because it is sticking with your genetic roots. My veggies consist mostly of carrots, celery, onions, spinach, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. But that is my family and those really are the only veggies that my body likes so we are all different in that aspect. It’s just good that you actually listen to your body instead of just forcing yourself to eat what others are pushing on you!

          William Wolf wrote on February 17th, 2014
      • @ basil. I love both veggies and butter. I personally eat lots of veggies without butter or anything else. I was just pointing out that if you don’t care for them as much as I do, there are yummy things like butter that may make them more palatable to you.

        Harry Mossman wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Like BACON! I used to saute shredded carrots in bacon fat. Delicious!

          MargieK wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Frankly they are all gross. I hate veggies no matter how they are cooked and I am a good cook to boot. I dont like the taste, texture or smell of them. I choke them down anyways but it is a misery every day. I feel best on a diet of meat/offal and fats and some starchy foods like rice or taters.

        Warmbear wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • I am a meat and starch eater myself. Never much cared for veggies.

          Angel wrote on February 13th, 2014
        • I understand completely about “choking them down”, especially the sour/bitter ones. The last time I did both Swiss chard and kale they were so bitter I couldn’t eat them, so the work was for nothing. This from somebody who REALLY likes broccoli! So, I eat the milder ones like zucchini and its relatives, green beans, spinach, nappa etc.
          Fruit is a big issue d/t sourness–I am extremely sensitive to sour; except for some milder salad dressings when I eat anything w/ a lemon or vinegar condiment on it that’s all I can taste. Most fruit except bananas and pears are just too sour. Eating most fruit tends to be a craving trigger for me anyway so I eat it sparingly.

          shrimp4me wrote on February 19th, 2014
      • I’ve realised that most people hate veggies because they have never had them properly cooked. A well cooked veggie must be tasty as well as healthy.

        Keen wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Properly cooked helps, but not as much as you think. Some people just don’t like veggies, for the reasons stated in the article.

          Angel wrote on February 13th, 2014
      • While I don’t hate veggies, they aren’t something I reach for. I have to make a conscious decision to add them into my meal plan so that I eat them, and even then, I am still lacking in the amount I eat. I have forced myself to try a veggie multiple ways before throwing in the towel on it. I have found that I like roasted veggies more so then steamed. Oh, and butter is always good!

        Heather wrote on February 13th, 2014
      • I mean the concept isn’t hard to understand. Aren’t there something you don’t like?

        BLake wrote on June 4th, 2015
    • I love veggies!! I can’t imagine going without them. I feel better if I include more of them in my diet. Too much meat and I am out of balance.

      sarah wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • It’s a widely known truth that veggies with ghee and perfectly cooked marinated meat rock.

      paleocrushmom wrote on February 12th, 2014
  2. Cool – might have to present this to my teen who believes in a limited veggie palate…great supplement to his curriculum, as well.

    Kerstin wrote on February 12th, 2014
  3. I can’t tell you how timely your posts seem to be. Whether or not my family is getting enough veggies is constantly on my mind (I’ve got 3 kiddos under 5). Now I can take a breather. Thanks!

    Ali Rountree wrote on February 12th, 2014
  4. I am glad you remind us of this – because all i really want is a good steak some cheese and some walnuts – but i guess i will have a spinach salad for lunch today

    N.Lockard wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • I eat a spinach salad for lunch and a nice chunk of grass fed beef for dinner on a daily basis. You can have the best of both worlds!

      Nicole wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • I would suggest mixing it up a bit, and not eating spinach on a daily basis…

        MR PALEO wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • You can always put the steak on the salad. :) I do it all the time.

      Aria wrote on February 12th, 2014
  5. Carnivorous Diet v. 1:

    Carnivorous Diet v. 2:

    As for us, we don’t eat much vegetation around here, because more than 2 types of veggies in the soup/salad/stir-fry causes our blood sugar to climb. We do eat sprouts, though, and make liberal use of herbs & spices.

    Limiting the perishables helps keep our “vulnerable food” bill down and keeps waste in check. We just don’t eat as much as we used to–we used to go through a head each of romaine, chard, and kale a week torn and mixed in salads.

    Wait until you guys get older, ad see what happens to your blood sugar when you reach 50. You’ll find the same things we did.

    Wenchypoo wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Actually, that’s not necessarily true.
      While that may be your individual results, I’m 57 and my blood sugar is fine.

      I went Paleo about 2 years ago, and in the process, cut 52# off my weight, removed a lot of aches and pains from my daily life as a result of the weight loss and dietary change, and overall feel better.

      Making it a factual statement that eating veggies will foul up blood sugar levels at a given point/age is simply incorrect, sorry.


      Gordon wrote on February 17th, 2014
  6. I get really edgy if have a meal without veggies. If someone else cooks for me (friends, family or restaurants or whatever), I can’t help this overwhelming feeling that it can’t possibly be healthy if there’s little or no plant matter in sight. Its not quite OCD, but it just feels wrong to not include veggies, or at least some fruit, with every meal. Its probably years of CW and habit, but in this case, I reckon it’s a good thing.

    mightywindmill wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • I feel the exact same way, I am constantly seeking out large amounts of vegetables in all of my meals so when other people happen to be cooking for me, or hosting something, I tend to worry if vegetables will be a large part of the meal and often times they do make veggies, but to me it’s not enough. It is kind of a little thing I need to get over, because we can’t get hung up on that small stuff. In the scheme of things its only a meal and as long as we can eat a hefty portion of meat we are likely nutritionally stable anyway.

      But I just thought it was interesting how I feel the same way.

      Andrew Yanik wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • +1

      paleocrushmom wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • I hear what you are saying, it’s as if you feel something is missing when all you have on your plate is a thing of meat. For me, pairing vegetables with meat adds the volume necessary to prevent me from eating a pound of meat at a time. Vegetables are filling and delicious and naturally helps me to stretch a pound of grass-fed ground beef to at least 3 servings. #TheCashSavingsIsReal

      Chika wrote on February 22nd, 2014
  7. I do not like vegetables; never have. Out of some vague sense of duty I will occasionally get a bag of mixed greens and eat them over the course of a day but I am simply incapable of eating a meal of leaves and twigs.

    I seem to do well. My blood glucose now stays below 100 mg/dL, my blood pressure is WAY down, and I’ve lost weight on this primal menu, all on a minimum of vegetables.

    I do however use a scoop or two of “green” powder in my milk kefir most days. It’s processed–desiccated vegetables, dehydrated grass juices, etc.–but the container brags about all the health benefits, including all the probiotics, so I figure “eh, what the hell.” The stuff does no apparent harm and surely some of that vegetation, once rehydrated in the gut, actually does some good. (One is assuming truth-in-labeling of course.)

    For those who may be interested, I get my particular form of green powder–Green Vibrance, Ver. 14–from Amazon. The initial outlay is a bit expensive but since I rarely use the recommended volume, nor use it every day, my per diem expense is a lot lower than a daily supply of veggies from the grocery store, some of which is always wasted. (I am not affiliated with in any manner, shape, or form.)

    James H. wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • sounds interesting – will look it up –
      i like the preemptive strike with telling where u get it, then disclaimer of not working for amazon, haha i like it.

      N.Lockard wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • That’s a great way to take in veggies, I don’t like vegetables at all either. I actually despise them. My wife just recently helped me by getting a juicer and we juiced some Kale, Romaine Lettuce, Lemons, Apples and Celery…. I was actually afraid what it was going to taste like, but I ended up actually liking it!
      I did feel a bit of a headache afterwards, I think because veggies are detoxing my system, I never eat veggies and downed a juice that had kale, celery, and lettuce… I think my body’s fast food reservoir was getting attacked.

      I'm here wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Your headache is probably the apples without the fiber. Juicing is meant to be vegetables only. Forget the taste. It’s not fun to drink but it sure provides what you need. Do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach so nothing blocks nutrient absorption

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Part of my “healing protocol” is the following juice, first thing in the morning, at least a half-hour before eating…

        Carrot/Celery/Beet/Ginger/Parsley/Cilantro/GREEN apple

        Go easy in the beginning, if you have not juiced before. Cilantro detoxes “heavy metals”, so if you have amalgams, and haven’t had them removed yet, skip the cilantro until after you do…

        MR PALEO wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Juicing is the wrong way! Stop it and EAT vegetables and fruits instead!

          Mire wrote on February 15th, 2014
  8. I think diversify is a better guarantee of good nutrition and more interesting although it would take me a hell of a long time to get sick of meat, meat and more meat!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on February 12th, 2014
  9. It would seem that a large source of vitamin C, as well as other vitamins, for the traditional Inuit people was raw organ meats and blubber of various marine animals.

    “Sue Munro of the geography department of North Toronto Collegiate points out that the muktuk of the narwhal, on an ounce-per-ounce basis, contains more vitamin C than lemons do.”—get-vitamins-from-blubber/article4263080/

    Muktuk is whale skin and the blubber attached to it.

    The important thing is the we are talking about raw versus cooked meat, organ meat, skin, and blubber. Yum! Yum! :-(

    D. M. Mitchell wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Actually, most of their vitamin C intake came from the stomach contents…

      MR PALEO wrote on February 12th, 2014
  10. I also really love rooting (pun intended) through the big boxes of produce at my local greengrocers. I’m lucky enough to have three dedicated greengrocers within walking distance of my house, amongst all the other mini-supermarkets that also sell fruit and veg – gotta love living in England!

    I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when I’m in the greengrocers, picking out all the best bits of all the brightly coloured veggies and fruit, trying the new exciting stuff they have on a regular basis. I tried ‘flower sprouts’ for the first time last week. They’re a bit like the leafy bits of purple sprouting broccoli, but you don’t get all the touch stalks.

    How can you not love all the bright colours and variety of fruit and veg? You don’t get that with meat. Even when you’re including organ meats and all the different animals, its still all just different shades from pale cream to dark brown.

    mightywindmill wrote on February 12th, 2014
  11. i LOVE veggies. esp raw. but since an hpylori infection, and subsequent leaky gut, i cant eat them without pain (even with enzyme supplements). i wonder how long i can keep up the meat diet? i do eat some nuts, olives, and juice spinach, carrot and celery. hope that will do it until i can repair this damage.

    annabelle bone wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Here’s some counter-intuitive info on gut issues, Annabelle.

      Brian Root wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Hmmm, having had a look at the site you mentioned I have two major reservations about what he is saying:

        1.) It is all his opinion, lots of argument from authority, not much evidence.
        2.) It all builds up to the selling of his Colon Recovery Program “patent cure” – I couldn’t find a list of what is actually in the pills.

        This makes me extremely dubious, as it looks like an infomercial site to sell supplements.

        Lupa wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Lupa nailed it. When someone ends their nutritional findings with, “but if you use my wonder pill” I bail. The bummer is, sometimes the info may be reasonable. I drink carrot juice ,(home made) for after workout breakfast, then eat meat and steamed veggies for dinner. When I stick to this, I feel best. Skipping lunch feels good. Reminds me of being hungry as a kid, everyday, all the time. You know, when most of us were lean and fit………….

          dave wrote on February 17th, 2014
    • If you haven’t tried consuming some fermented vegetables for that gut of yours, you might consider it. It’s helped mine a lot.

      Fyre wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • YEP. misery. i can tolerate probiotic supplements now, maybe i should try again?

        annabelle bone wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • If that’s the case, I’d actually start with just the *juices* of the cultured veggies. They’d have more good species than the pills do.

          Fyre wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Eat no carbs for two days and most vegetables will taste ok. Best to eat them immediately when collected from where they are growing; eat them there and then. To do this one really/probably needs to grow them at home. This is also a good thing to do for mental health.

        Kit wrote on February 13th, 2014
        • After all, wasn’t this how Grok and Grokka ate their veggies??

          shrimp4me wrote on February 19th, 2014
  12. I wonder why this article doesn’t mention this study from 1930:

    McClellan, Walter S.; Du Bois, Eugene F. (February 13, 1930). “The Effects on Human Beings of a Twelve Months’ Exclusive Meat Diet”. Journal of the American Medical Association.

    Two arctic explorers ate a 100% meat diet in a closely observed laboratory for one year and they were perfectly healthy.

    gge wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • “Two arctic explorers ate a 100% meat diet in a closely observed laboratory for one year and they were perfectly healthy.”

      Why do these one-year meat diets keep cropping up? One year is NOT a long time!

      SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • This study was done on Stefansson (he was a Canadian arctic explorer.) The study was only a year long, but Stefansson ate that way for many years of his life while living with the Primitive Inuit. I did a 14 page essay on him in one of my college classes. Read, his book: The Fat of the Land.

        Michael wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Also, I have only eaten meat for over 4 years. I dont know if I am deficient in anything or not, but I don’t have any signs of a Deficiency. I havn’t even eaten liver in over 3 years. Only steak. Me and my girlfriend do this and eat the same way. My nails and hair grow just as fast as they ever have. I dont have asthma anymore and havn’t even had a cold in years. I dont even get a runny nose anymore. I dont take any supplements.

          Michael wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • During that yearlong study, Stefansson was “compensated” by the American Meat Institute.

          SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Because like all other meat-eaters, they got their plants from what the ANIMALS themselves ate. The more grasses and plants they eat, the higher their Omega-3 content is…and the less vegetation WE have to eat.

      Wenchypoo wrote on February 13th, 2014
  13. I got serious about food, health and cooking when I went on a beef and broccoli bender in 2001 and noticed how amazing I felt eating mostly that for a week. I lost a lot of weight. I have to say though that I didn’t really get down to my desired weight until I cut all carbs out and supplemented with fat. I added veggies in (green beans, broccoli and cauliflower almost exclusively) and the weight crept up. I’m still looking for the happy medium with veggies.

    John Myers wrote on February 12th, 2014
  14. On the one hand you say

    Do you really need to eat vegetables – or plant matter in general – to be healthy?
    Yes. Yes, you do. Maybe not a huge amount, necessarily. But you do need some.

    On the other hand you say

    If you hate veggies and refuse to eat them, fine. You can get most minerals and vitamins elsewhere (though it’s tough, and some spinach would take care of most of them), and using supplements is an option. But if I were you, I would at least strongly consider drinking tea, eating phytonutrient-rich fruits like berries, eating phytonutrient-rich legume extracts like dark chocolate, and using lots of different spices and herbs in your cooking. These won’t have a large caloric (or carb) load, but they will offer nutrients you simply can’t obtain from animals and they provide the largest plant bang for your buck.

    SO – which is it – yes, no, maybe??

    charles grashow wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Gary Taubes described 2 physicians that experimented with an all-meat diet for a year. Both did very well.

      Russell wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • A year is not a long time….

        SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • True, a year is not a long time. Certainly not long enough to decide whether or not a diet will shorten or prolong life. But it’s long enough to induce deficiency diseases, and none were apparent in the 2 men who ate only meat for an entire year.

          Russell wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • It’s not a contradiction, it’s a clarification. He’s just saying that the best and easiest way to cover your non-meat nutrient needs is by eating vegetables. A secondary option for the pickiest eaters is suggested, but with reservations.

      Mantonat wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Listen to your body! And erring on the side of “eat veggies” can’t hurt in any way. Veggies will never make your meal less healthy.

      Nicole wrote on February 12th, 2014
  15. As per one of your suggestions Mark- I had a bowl of cooked spinach with a heap of butter last night–mmmmm gooood.

    BTW– for some people, tobacco is a vegetable (Kentucky)

    Pastor dave Deppisch wrote on February 12th, 2014
  16. I guess it depends on where you’re starting from. If you’ve lived on burgers & fries and 7/11 burritos, chips with cheese sauce (ew-hhh, I’m gagging just writing this), then switching over to a mainly meat/fat based diet probably isn’t your best option. When my husband was a kid, he knew a girl who went to the eye doctor for a check-up. The doc said her eyes, during examination, looked like the eyes of an 80-year-old, not a teen-aged girl. The girl never ate vegetables while growing up. Don’t know how much quality meat she ate either.

    I’m a veggie lover and have taught my kids to enjoy them, so full disclosure. We fight over the crunchy kale. 😉

    Kim wrote on February 12th, 2014
  17. Excellent and thoughtful information, as usual. For myself, I find that if I eat veggies every day, my digestion works well and nothing else I eat or don’t eat seems to bother me very much. To make this easy, most of the meals I cook for myself are a piece meat grilled in the George Foreman, and a double portion of steamed something. When I eat this for breakfast, and am seldom hungry before noon, or later. If I’m having the occasional beer and a fish taco after work, it really messes me up unless I’ve had enough veg during the day. And lately, I’ve been noticing that if the rest of my diet is mostly nice and primal, I can even cut back the portions of veg. But I don’t want to.

    Kay wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Steamed vegetables are the reason people hate vegetables. 😉

      Mantonat wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Thanks for giving me a chuckle! Yes, it’s true that not everyone loves steamed veg like I do. For them, I warm some olive oil in my trusty sauté pan, put in the veg and turn them until they are brightly colored and lightly coated (or use butter and get them brown if that’s the mood you’re in). Then I add just a bit of water, cover and let them get cooked just to the level that works for the people they are for. Takes a very short time. Sauteeing first keeps them bright colored, covering gets them tender but not mushy, the oil lends flavor and mouth feel. This is especially good for broccoli, green beans, zucchini, and pea pods, and almost everyone likes at least one of those when they are cooked like this.

        Kay wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Thanks! I am not fond of cooking so another quick and easy method helps a lot

          Lunasma wrote on February 13th, 2014
      • My grandmother used to boil vegetables until they were mushy. Also fried the heck out of all meats then used the juices mixed with milk and flour for gravy which was poured over everything.

        Lunasma wrote on February 13th, 2014
  18. “Vegetables also compliment meat. They notice when meat has had its hair and nails done, or when it’s lost weight.” I loved this paragraph! Thank you.

    Rosie wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Right? I was chuckling through that entire paragraph.

      Stacie wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Me too! Totally made my day. I’m such a grammar nut.

      Alyssa wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Hint hint wink wink to compliment ladies

      maria wrote on February 12th, 2014
  19. I’ve always hated veggies and still prefer meat but one of the best things this diet did for me is help me to enjoy vegetables more. I love my big ass salmon salad!

    glorth2 wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • I wish I were like this! I love veggies and fruit, and don’t particularly like meat. I’m a good cook, but I’d be happily vegetarian if I thought it would be good for me. Sadly, I’m not just primal now but fully keto for health reasons. Wish I could trade with you.

      Allison wrote on February 12th, 2014
  20. Eating veggies as part of a ‘diet’ runs against the spirit of primal in my book. So for veggie haters what to do? Here at home we found it to be based on the quality of the vegetable. Store bought broccoli is barely suitable for the compost heap compared to home grown or, second best, fresh from the farmer’s market. My wife claims to have spent years hating broccoli. Now when I walk in from the garden with a fresh crown she can’t wait to see it on the dinner plate. The same is true across the spectrum of veggies we regularly consume. Freshness counts. Soil quality counts. The care of a farmer who is not just thinking about profit counts. If you hate veggies it may be the veggie and not you.

    rawmeat wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Nothing can be more true. The taste changes so much that, for me, it ranges from a “I love it and I can eat only that for a meal” to a “I hate it and would rather eat pills than that”. It’s really crazy. I think I’m more sensible than others though because I bewilder many people with it. Maybe I am a supertaster?

      Coco wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • +1, grow your own

      Dan wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Hear, hear. Growing your own vegetables is also good exercise (sunlight, lots of slow movement, meditative). I’m looking forward to “cultivating” a few dandelion plants this year-the greens are supposed to be off the charts in micronutrients, though I suspect a little bit of them goes a long, long way.

      Gordon Guano wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • This has me dreaming of summer…..sigh.

        Stacie wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • YES! There’s NOTHING like fresh veggies, and fruits, ” right off the vine”! One has to be a bit careful about this, but asparagus freshly clipped and raw is (gushy word alert!) DIVINE. Broccoli too. Ever had Brussels sprouts raw and straight off the plant? OMG!

      Wandering off into a little different zone, peaches, cherries and apricots just don’t have it if they aren’t right off the tree. But right off the tree on a sunny day… ohh hohoho WOW.

      I’ve delved somewhat into survival plant eating, and again, right off the plant, beautiful. (know what you’re doing) If you have a shot at miner’s lettuce (vit C is there), good stuff, kinda radishy.

      I think part of the deficiencies that are indicated by the kinds of illness we see a lot of these days are partly due to not really getting much variety. This is one reason I’m into survival plants–ya never know what good stuff might be there (just know what you’re doing). …and if you find yourself needing to know, there ya go.

      BUT. And this is one reason I’m all for the primal diet: survival food rule #1: if it walks, swims, wiggles, crawls or flies… REALLY HIGH probability that it’s edible, while plants… much trickier… much MUCH trickier.

      Aw man… I’m hungry now. And not a one of those things to be found where I am.

      kldimond wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • This is very true!!! I lived in Okinawa Japan for 4 years. Veggies are fresh from the farms on the island. I don’t know what they do to thier gardens there, but the vegetables were amazing! More brightly colored and the taste was great. I am constantly disappointed in store veggies here in america – even organic and farmer’s market (that could be because a lot of the supposedly fresh veggies are trucked in from over the border here, so no telling how old they are – plus, it matters how fertile the soil is). They are bland and just don’t taste good compared to the ones in Okinawa. *sigh* If only I had a yard.

      Nomad wrote on February 13th, 2014
    • You are so right!

      Lunasma wrote on February 13th, 2014
  21. Very interesting information about how primarily meat-eating societies got their veggies.

    Don’t forget that a very important part of getting optimal nutrition from vegetables is making sure that you eat them with a good fat such as butter, other animal fats, or olive oil in order to be able to utilize their fat soluble vitamins A, D, & K. Magnesium and Zinc are also synergistic here.

    Caryn Lipson wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • “Very interesting information about how primarily meat-eating societies got their veggies.”

      Why are the Inuit, Maasai, and Sami being referred to in the past tense? They still exist!

      SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Because they all stop at Starbuck’s for a scone and a soy latte on their way to work these days.

        Mantonat wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • Unlikely, as Starbucks has managed to gain “only a toe-hold in Norway and Sweden”, and, as of 2012, two outlets at the Helsinki airport.

          SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
  22. I am a carnivore, I like my meat rare with a hint of a pulse, saying that, I eat MORE vegetables than most vegetarians. I enjoy cooking and learning to cook vegetables is where a skill comes into play. Learn to braise, and sauté rather than steam or boil. Add spices, some while cooking, others after cooking is complete but done bury veggie either. Toss in a good animal fat, too. Give your palete a chance to catch up to you. If you do boil anything, save the water and use it for soup or in place of any cooking liquid a recipe calls for. Vegetarians do NOT own the rights to Vegetables. Use them.

    pjnoir wrote on February 12th, 2014
  23. A big part about liking vegetables is making sure there fresh. I had tomatoes not long ago from the farmers market that tasted incredible (not a huge fan to begin with). The tomatoes at the store don’t compare, they’re bland and flavorless.

    Using vegetables as a vessel also helps. Cucumber or zucchini as “chips” for guacamole and salsa is an option. Asparagus, or cooked zucchini slices topped with spaghetti meat sauce is great too. It’s easy to put steaks, chicken and meat on top of dark greens and eat a bite of both together. The flavor of the meat usually dominates the leafy greens.

    Mark you’ve done posts on herbs and spices before, but I would be interested in hearing about how long spices last, and how to maximize the potency of them. Is my 8 month old jar of Tumeric doing much at this point?

    Luke wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Hi, I’m not Mark or any other kind of authority, but here’s my two cents’ worth. Spices lose a lot of their flavor in storage, but if you can still smell them and taste them, you can keep using them. Turmeric, for example, keeps indefinitely, it just gets less potent. So use more! I can’t afford to toss expensive spices every few months, so I buy small quantities from a good source like Penzey’s and use them liberally. Herbs, being vegetative, lose their quality faster in most cases. But you can go through a lot of your favorites in soups, salads, sauces, garnishes, and so forth, so buy a few faves, use them a lot and replace them often. Well, at least yearly. Hope that helps.

      Kay wrote on February 12th, 2014
  24. I got curious about the above mentioned psychoactive reindeer urine of the Sami people. This is what I found on It is a little long but worth a read.

    Coca-Cola’s advertising campaign in the 1930s may have solidified Santa’s image as the jolly rotund guy we know today, but Santa’s true origins stem from the traditions of the pee-drinking reindeer herders of Northern Europe. Reindeers are fond of eating fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), the red-and-white toadstools often associated with Christmas, because they contain compounds that are hallucinogenic and euphoric. Reindeer digestive systems are able to metabolize the more poisonous components of the toadstool, leaving urine with the psychoactive elements of the mushroom intact.

    The Sami people of Northern Europe would regularly feed fly agaric to reindeers and collect their urine to get a high similar to LSD. Under the hallucinogenic effects of reindeer piss, the Sami thought their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world. When the first missionaries reached Lapland, they heard stories of flying reindeer and integrated them in the existing Christmas folklore of Western cultures. The practice of drinking reindeer urine was reserved for those who had the time to collect the mushroom, which meant that the poorer class would drink the urine of the better off, which was collected in bowls or skin bags. Evidence suggests that the drug’s hallucinogens remained active even after having passed though five or six people. Some scholars maintain that this is the true origin of the expression “to get pissed.”

    The Koryak shaman (holy men) who collected fly agaric in Siberia wore special attire consisting of red-and-white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots. They would gather the mushrooms from under sacred evergreen trees and collect them in large sacks. They would then enter their tepee-like homes called “yurts” through the smoke hole at the top, carrying a sack full of dried fly agaric. Once inside, they would share their gift with those gathered inside, and then leave back through the smoke hole. Sound familiar? From climbing into chimneys and gift giving to dressing in red and white, and flying through the air with reindeers, storytellers and travelers fused the ancient customs of shamanistic pee-drinking rituals with other pagan traditions, and these were integrated by early Christians into our modern Christmas traditions. Santa does exist, and he’s a pusher.

    Sharon wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • “Santa does exist, and he’s a pusher.” LMAO!!!

      Patty wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Sharon, that was great. Ha, Santa’s a “pusher”. Love it. But now he mostly pushes plastic crap on the unwary. Reindeer piss could do us some good.

      Jeff wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Santa pushes sugar most of all

        ValerieH wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • As well as consumerism.

          Wenchypoo wrote on February 13th, 2014
    • Since we’re citing dubious sources, how about this one from Wikipedia:

      “The ethnobotanist Jonathan Ott has suggested that the idea of Santa Claus and tradition of hanging stockings over the fireplace is based centrally upon the fly agaric mushroom. He argues that Santa Claus’ suit, with its red and white colour scheme, is related to the mushroom. However, Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast first changed the color of Santa Claus’ coat from tan to red, and it was popularized by early Coca-Cola Christmas ads. Jonathan Ott also draws parallels with flying reindeer: reindeer had been reported to consume the mushroom and prance around in an intoxicated manner afterwards. American ethnopharmacologist Scott Hajicek-Dobberstein, researching possible links between religious myths and the red mushroom, notes, “If Santa Claus had but one eye [like Odin], or if magic urine had been a part of his legend, his connection to the Amanita muscaria would be much easier to believe.

      The connection was reported to a wider audience with an article in the magazine of The Sunday Times in 1980, and New Scientist in 1986. Historian Ronald Hutton has since disputed the connection; he noted reindeer spirits did not appear in Siberian mythology, shamans did not travel by sleigh, nor did they wear red and white, or climb out of smoke holes in yurt roofs.”

      Bear in mind that a lot of cultural research is of the “humour-the-foreigners” variety. Anthropologists have been taken for the proverbial ride many, many times, with hosts telling their guests what they think the guests want to hear, or hosts deciding to have a bit of fun at the expense of their guests.

      The field of Anthropology is littered with the corpses of theories for which evidence was manufactured, or adulterated to suit the whims of the researcher.

      SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • I once saw a cartoon. Native shows his son how to mess with the visitors: “Hide a nut in your hand. When you go to eat, Palm the beetle, eat the nut.”

        Heh. Who knows?

        kldimond wrote on February 12th, 2014
        • This probably went on (and still goes on) more than we like to think. The “natives” would see the “visitors” coming from miles away and have to do rock-paper-scissors to see who had the first go at them! The Irish are still experts at this.

          SumoFit wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • love it!

      allison wrote on February 13th, 2014
  25. I have always insisted that high-quality chocolate is a vegetable, and I am glad to see you agree!

    Mike wrote on February 12th, 2014
  26. Be creative with veggies I made Brussel sprouts my way the other night and my friend who said he has always hated b-sprouts ate 3 helpings.

    ; )

    Greg wrote on February 12th, 2014
  27. I need to eat beef or fish every day. Veggies just don’t give me that full, satisfied feeling. I only eat veggies for their health benefits and not because I ever crave them.

    Jade wrote on February 12th, 2014
  28. What I see missing from all of this is the very real possibility of toxicity from over consumption of vegetables. I experienced some rather severe health effects from daily consumption of spinach. Oxalates contained in spinach caused me to have prostate stones. What became clear to me was that fruits and vegetables should properly only be eaten in season. I do believe that fruits and vegetables are indeed necessary for good health, but 5 servings every day? This was never even possible until modern canning, refrigeration and transportation methods. And the Paleo idea that fruits and vegetables were available to ancient man on a daily basis is simply preposterous.

    Tom wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Completely agree up until the last sentence. I am sure for our ancestors in Africa, certain vegetation was available year round, other plant foods were likely seasonal (think fruits especially).

      Colleen wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Although I don’t worry much about toxic effects of veggies, I do like your point about eating seasonally. I grew up when that was pretty much the only choice. Not having them all the time taught me to look forward to the seasons for lettuce, peas, broccoli, raspberries and so forth. Lamb, even. Now we are only limited by seasonal variations in prices, right? But it feels really good to eat a lot of dark greens in the winter and a lot of herby greens in spring, and to be excited about the strawberry and asparagus seasons. The way I do it now is to subscribe to a community organic farm. I automatically eat whatever is plentiful, and I love the weekly surprises. Yay! The fennel is ready! The tomatoes are ripe! The green beans are finally coming in!

      Kay wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • I’m convinced that fermenting veggies was a way to keep some for winter. Having looked pretty far into fermented foods, … from meat to dairy to veggies and fruits and shredded and not shredded… LOT of choices.

        …and when you look at what fermentation does in terms of making nutrients bioavailable to your system, it makes a lot of sense.

        Again on the survival thing, and since virtually anything can be preserved by fermentation if you have an understanding of how to do it safely, the options in preservation by fermentation for times when shipments may be large, spoilable and infrequent seem worth noting.

        kldimond wrote on February 12th, 2014
  29. Another reason people dislike vegetables is the nutrient (fertilizer) regime under which they grow. I am not a huge fan of many vegetables from grocery stores. Sometimes organic veggies are better, but not always.

    From my own garden or root cellar, nutrient dense (because I know I fertilized appropriately), they are delicious. My 3 year-old can attest to this as well. From the store he’ll eat the really sweet stuff like yams, but pass on many other types of veggie. From the garden the only thing he refuses is alium (garlic, onions, leeks). I’m a big believer in the honesty of the young human whose tastes haven’t been distorted by processed foods.

    Edmund Brown wrote on February 12th, 2014
  30. You started down a complimentary article when you said, “They’re our best (and often only) source of vitamin A (retinol), DHA/EPA, and vitamin B12, as well as lesser-known nutrients like choline, creatine, and carnosine.” with emphasis on “only.” Do you really need to eat meat?

    Over the past 20 years I have found myself eating less-and-less meat. I no longer consume red meat or pork. Occasionally I will consume a small portion of chicken in soups. My diet mainly consists of veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. I do consume fish, seafood, cheese, and yogurt, and my berry-banana smoothies include whey protein powder with creatine monohydrate made with almond milk.

    I am convinced that my diet and exercise routine supports an active and quality life for maximum longevity.

    I would be interested how you would approach a persuasive article that will leave the reader no choice but to eat animal meat.

    Duane wrote on February 12th, 2014
  31. Sharon, I think I love you!

    Nocona wrote on February 12th, 2014
  32. I have never liked vegetables, and the drum of “vegetables are HEALTHY!” that you hear constantly simply gets my goat. It’s just so irritating to see meats and good fats continually slapped in the face while vegetables are touted as wonder food. It’s ridiculous. Give me a salad on the side in the summer, and some spinach scrambled into eggs is OK any time, but the main thing you should eat? No.

    Jennifer wrote on February 12th, 2014
  33. All I see here is a lot of anecdotes. Veggies are good-I hate veggies, etc., etc. How about some real information? LIke how mich of the so called nutrients are actualy bioavailable and truly absorbed. What do the palnts do to survive – like containing anti-nutrients that cause IBS or worse. What actual nutrients are in veggies given all the (anecdotal) evidence that our veggies are deficient in minerals. Why is raw better? Why is cooking better? Everyone has their own experience and that is fun to hear about. But, lets not mistake personal experience for biology and science.

    Pauli wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • You may be interested in the recent posts of Art Ayers at Cooling Inflammation, he asserts that we do not need any of this and many of the so called nutrients are not helping anything.

      Colleen wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Seems like the links in the article provide the science/research. If not, that information is Google-able. I’m guessing most of the commenters are not scientists and are not conducting research into the efficacy of eating vegetables as bioavailable sources of micronutrients. The anecdotes are what make the comments section enjoyable to read.

      But if you have any scientific information or good links, please share! :)

      Mantonat wrote on February 12th, 2014
  34. Ever since I was little, my preferred food of choice has always been meat, and I’ve also always loved most fruit. Other than that, I hated cooked vegetables, it felt like all the good stuff was gone immediately after getting them cooked, never liked the taste of it.
    Eating tomatoes (fruit, I know) raw, standing on the balcony in the summer, or eating a cucumber with some salt, or stuffing a pepper with some lovely salamura-cheese… :) I love my food wisdom when I was a child!!!!

    ADI wrote on February 12th, 2014
  35. ….relatively speaking (as of course you must know) there’s no such thing as a “high protein” diet per se..isn’t it at max 33% cals can be taken in from protein ?

    Justin De Quim wrote on February 12th, 2014
  36. My compliments on an article that nicely complements this fantastic website!

    Brad wrote on February 12th, 2014
  37. Could it be that people seem to think that the act of purchasing, cleaning and preparing vegetables is too much trouble? I love them now. I challenged myself to add more variety this past six months and it’s been amazing. The bonus is my husband loves them too and at least one of the boys tries them. My boys may not be huge veggie fans but at least they eat the ones they like and certainly know the importance of eating even minimal amounts.
    My friend is a “vegetarian” but would rather eat carbs. Even before I went primal/paleo I ate way more veggies than she did.
    Your taste buds do change when you cut out sweets and crap from s.a.d. diet.

    Laurie wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Yep, seems like most vegetarians are really pastafarians or something of that nature.

      Mantonat wrote on February 12th, 2014
  38. It used to puzzle me when people I know would talk about how they hated vegetables …. until I began to ask more specific questions. The majority of the people I spoke to all grew up eating canned vegetables or vegetables coated in fake cheese sauces or in some noxious casserole. Most of them simply did not know what vegetables were supposed to taste like, and trying something that wasn’t coated in processed cheese, or drowning in margarine and sugar, they rejected them because it was so unfamiliar to their palate.
    Children who are brought up on processed foods and have their meals built around crap that comes with a toy, don’t have the opportunity to develop their taste to eating clean …. and as adults, most will continue to reject anything that is not SAD.
    When my son was in kindergarten, his favorite “sack lunch” consisted of a plain baked potato (he loved them cold !) and a thermos of hot steamed cabbage, with a touch of sea salt and a fresh orange for a snack later. As strange as it may seem, one day when I went to pick him up after school, two of the teachers who had lunch duty that day came over and asked me what he had brought for lunch. They saw him happily scarfing down his cabbage and neither of them knew what it was. I had to laugh later when he was in the car and telling me that his teachers didn’t know what a cabbage was !

    Orannhawk wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • You just made me laugh… thank you for that… classic.

      Duane wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • +1

        Colleen wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • I nearly spit out my tea laughing at that! Thanks for sharing this!

      Tanya wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Haha, funny 😀
      But also a little sad 😉

      Tribe of Nature wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • i have to disagree. i think we all have genetics that evolved to eat what was available to use depending on what part of the world our people came from. i think we tolerate certain foods the way we tolerate the sun; differently than people from other places. i am of purely celtic descent. i do not like most fruits and vegetables. i never have. here is what i do like: leafy greens, onions, mushrooms, tubers and berries. i have always loved shellfish, red meat, egg yolks and butter. i ate red meat and butter raw as a very small child. these days i acknowledge and accept that small children have intact instincts and will eat what is best for them if it is provided. as a very young child i had no real use for wheat products. i did not like pasta, was indifferent to bread, ate the frosting and left the cake at birthdays. oh, i learned love the stuff-we all do; but guess what? turns out i am gluten intolerant and my child’s instincts were correct. oh, and before anyone jumps on the sugar thing, let me remind you paleo people that the quest for sugar is a very deeply ingrained, very primitive instinct. the sugar itself is not the problem, the modern ease of attaining it is. and grains are a source of sugar.
      i was raised in the tropics and tropical fruit was all around me, yet i ate little of it. i actually gag at the smell of bananas. i have never eaten one. there was a period of years in my teens, when my sister and i were basically living on the streets and literally starving- as in lucky to get a piece of bread every day or two- as in you could see our hearts beating beneath our sticking out ribs. even then i would not eat a banana.
      that some people do not like fruits and vegetables does not puzzle me at all; it simply means they don’t need them much.

      allison wrote on February 13th, 2014
    • +1 all of the people I know who hate veggies had very poor diets as children or were not exposed to veggies. Children learn a lot in the first years of life and exposure to different things helps them to be more well-rounded and open to new things.

      I understand not liking certain veggies or fish or what have you. But I don’t understand how someone can “hate all vegetables”. Ever single vegetable tastes completely different. How can you not like the taste of ANY? It sounds psychological. Sort of like there are people who say they are allergic to cats, but are fine until they realize one is there.

      Nomad wrote on February 13th, 2014
  39. How about touching on the topic of alkalinity? Plants help have more balanced PH levels and fight off inflammation.

    antoniya wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Chris Kresser wrote an excellent article addressing the PH balance theory.

      ValerieH wrote on February 12th, 2014
      • Thanks, found the articles. They look pretty extensive and informative.

        antoniya wrote on February 12th, 2014
  40. Coffee is a vegetable. So is chocolate. So what’s the problem here?

    George wrote on February 12th, 2014
    • Coffee is NOT a vegetable. Thats where your WRONG.

      Michael wrote on February 12th, 2014

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