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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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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273 thoughts on “Do You Really Need to Eat Vegetables to Be Healthy?”

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      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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!

        2. 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.

        3. 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 🙂

        4. 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!

        5. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.. 🙁

      3. 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”?

        1. 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.

        2. 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….

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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!

        6. 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!

      4. @ 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.

        1. Like BACON! I used to saute shredded carrots in bacon fat. Delicious!

      5. 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.

        1. I am a meat and starch eater myself. Never much cared for veggies.

        2. 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.

      6. 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.

        1. Properly cooked helps, but not as much as you think. Some people just don’t like veggies, for the reasons stated in the article.

      7. 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!

      8. I mean the concept isn’t hard to understand. Aren’t there something you don’t like?

    1. 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.

  1. Cool – might have to present this to my teen who believes in a limited veggie palate…great supplement to his curriculum, as well.

  2. 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!

  3. 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

    1. 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!

    2. You can always put the steak on the salad. 🙂 I do it all the time.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.


  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  6. 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.)

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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

      2. 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…

        1. Juicing is the wrong way! Stop it and EAT vegetables and fruits instead!

  7. 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!

  8. 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! 🙁

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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………….

    1. If you haven’t tried consuming some fermented vegetables for that gut of yours, you might consider it. It’s helped mine a lot.

      1. YEP. misery. i can tolerate probiotic supplements now, maybe i should try again?

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. After all, wasn’t this how Grok and Grokka ate their veggies??

  11. 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.

    1. “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!

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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??

    1. Gary Taubes described 2 physicians that experimented with an all-meat diet for a year. Both did very well.

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  14. 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)

  15. 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. 😉

  16. 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.

    1. Steamed vegetables are the reason people hate vegetables. 😉

      1. 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.

        1. Thanks! I am not fond of cooking so another quick and easy method helps a lot

      2. 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.

  17. “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.

  18. 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!

    1. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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?

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. “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!

      1. Because they all stop at Starbuck’s for a scone and a soy latte on their way to work these days.

        1. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

    1. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  24. I have always insisted that high-quality chocolate is a vegetable, and I am glad to see you agree!

  25. 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.

    ; )

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

    1. 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).

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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! 🙂

  32. 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!!!!

  33. ….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 ?

  34. My compliments on an article that nicely complements this fantastic website!

  35. 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.

    1. Yep, seems like most vegetarians are really pastafarians or something of that nature.

      1. Pastafarians revere the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, but they don’t have to be vegetarians.I doubt that most vegetarians are Pastafarians, though, otherwise there would be a lot more Pastafarians.

  36. 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 !

    1. I nearly spit out my tea laughing at that! Thanks for sharing this!

    2. 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.

    3. +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.

  37. How about touching on the topic of alkalinity? Plants help have more balanced PH levels and fight off inflammation.

    1. Chris Kresser wrote an excellent article addressing the PH balance theory.

      1. Thanks, found the articles. They look pretty extensive and informative.

  38. This article is misleading when talking about animal foods and Vitamin A.

    Sweet potatoes have the higest content of Vit A:

    Compare that to your salmon: or brisket:

    There is no comparing meats and dairy to vegetables when it comes to Vit A. Eat your sweet potatoes and enjoy them!

    1. Beta-carotene is found in plants and requires conversion into Vitamin A. Some people can’t convert at all while most only convert small amount of Beta-carotene into Vitamin A.

  39. Here’s a good veggie story for you. I was in South Dakota for my niece’s wedding, stayed a week with my brother. After 3 days, I was dying for some veggies, my parents and I went to the only Chinese restaurant in town, it was great. On my last night there after the wedding, my brother cooked up some wonderful corn fed beef steaks. My niece went to the store for red wine and asked what I would like, I asked her to bring some veggies to go with the steak. They came back with “corn on the cob.” When I said that wasn’t a vegetable, they thought I was nuts. Ended up just eating the steak and iceberg lettuce salad.

    1. I’m from SD, and I can corroborate your story. Growing up, I was lucky enough to eat from our garden, and as a result, I love all vegetables. Years later, however, when I brought home my future wife (who was vegetarian at the time), hilarity ensued on several occasions, including my sister’s wedding.

      1. Repeat after me: “Corn is not a vegetable; corn is a grain”. Amazed at how often I’ve had to tell people this little fact.

  40. doesn’t this throw Terry Wahl’s view out of the window, ie HUGE plates of veg every day? Would also be interested to know shelf life of spices, although I buy fresh turmeric roots from a Chinese grocer and freeze them and just grate them up like ginger as and when needed.

  41. Over the years since I’ve adopted a real food approach, the desire to eat according to the seasons gets stronger. I just don’t want a salad in winter. I like vegetable gardening but I can’t imagine how much time and space it would take to grow all the vegetables my family eats for a ear. I also join a CSA in summer. Nothing compares to local organic food picked at ripeness. I live in the Chicago area, so nothing is growing right now. I haven’t looked into cold frames or root cellars.

    1. Seasonal food is largely dependent upon your latitude. I grew-up in Michigan, and my wife is from the Philippines. My growing season was curtailed by wintery weather, hers was perpetual. My diet depended upon commerce, hers remained the same year round.

      What latitude or region of the world is the paleo diet based upon.

      1. There was and is no such thing as a “standard” Paleo diet. It depended on where you were.
        Closer to the equator far more plant foods would have been consumed, (with the possible exception of the Masai) whereas in the higher latitudes closer to the Arctic circle meat predominated. In the mid latitudes between the tropics and the halfway mark between the equator and the poles (45 degrees North or South) at least in the higher rainfall areas, it would have been about 50/50.

  42. What about juicing? I can’t handle the texture of veggies and fruit, but I can drink anything blended or juiced? Am I receiving the same nutritional benefits?

  43. I’ll side with Dr. Kurt Harris on this that most of the beneficial properties don’t exist in the antioxidants in vegetables themselves but the hormesis they trigger in response to oxidizing them. 0 salads a week is probably bad and 300 salads a week is probably bad. Find what works for you!

  44. All vegetable lovers should check out Dr. Art Ayers website Cooling Inflammation. The go to site for all things related to diet, gut flora and health.

  45. As someone recovering from a long-term restrictive eating disorder ( arolling combination of anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and not to miss out, anorexia athletica), I have been refeeding under the direction of a therapist for 8 months. Where this time last year my food was ‘clean’ vegetable based, with lean protein and ‘good’ fats (as I perceived them then), I have spent the last few months eating barely any vegies or fruit. I eat what I want, when I want, and my minimum calorie intake is 2500 a day, (from 800 per day when I started) I have gone from being an insomniac, whose nails never grew, with terrible anxiety, cold body (temp around 95 – 96) to a warm bodied (98.8) sleeping machine with strong nails, and glowing skin. Yes, I have put body fat on, but I also grew muscle – yes – lean tissue – even tho I did not lift for 8 months. I have only just started eating veges again, because I feel like them, but they are not the main meal any more. My blood work is fantastic, except a little low (but in the normal range) for protein – mainly because I was also not eating much meat for those first few months. My understanding of what constitutes a ‘healthy diet’ has shifted so much and i no longer pour scorn on my poor husband who hates most veges and would happily live on meat with a few veges now and then, and who is lean, strong and hellishly healthy. Our bodies are wise – and we have been scared into giving up almost every food group at some time or another. Claiming my own body-wisdom for the first time in my life has had such an impact on me – and it is good to read a sane summary like yours!

  46. Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived for a year on an all meat diet with no ill effects- a lot of fat is necessary though and organ meats. Reading Weston A Prices work, it doesn’t appear as though the Inuits actually ate all that much vegetation from his viewpoint. In the book ‘The art and science of low carbohydrate living’ the authors researched the use of oolichan grease and pemmican in traditional cultures, which were the main dietary sources for these peoples.

    Check out Petro Dobromylskyj’s blog aka hyperlipid at He has some interesting posts on the toxicity of some plants and fruits

    If you believe that carbohydrate is an unnecessary macro nutrient, doesn’t that include all fruit and vegetables? Is there actual proof that eating copious amounts of fruit and vegetables is beneficial?

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating fruit and vegetables. But based on what I’ve read you can survive and thrive without them.

    1. “Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived for a year on an all meat diet with no ill effects…”

      Someone else has mentioned a year-long diet of some sort, but a year is not a long time!

      1. Long enough to prove a point. Owsley ‘The bear’ lived on an all meat diet for 47 years! I personally wouldn’t live on an all meat diet- it would be too impractical plus I like some veggies and fruit as my junk food.

        Vilhjalmur Stefansson also lived with the Inuit people for years using their traditional diet, the one year study of an all meat diet was based upon his travels in the polar regions and his stay with these people.

        There are other European explorers around in the early 20th century who traveled thousands of miles in polar regions who ate practically all meat diets.

        I just don’t agree that you need to eat copious amounts of vegetables and fruits to be healthy.

  47. I don’t mind veggies and do eat a decent variety, but I do notice some digestive discomfort with some. I normally always have some fermented veggies, spinach or leaf lettuce in the form of a salad and some broccoli or asparagus.

  48. Anyone else regret replacing rice/potatoes with cauliflower? We tried it once, and our guts were simply not prepared for the consequences.
    I think it was just because we ate so much of it, pretending it was mashed potatoes, and if we tried again, slowly, it would be fine. But, nooo, I can’t even mention cauliflower now without being reminded of “that one time!”

  49. I find that what I like is determined almost entirely by what I believe is healthy for me. I grew up in a household where bacon fat was collected from the skillet and used later to fry eggs. Then along came the saturated fat scare, and I learned to be repulsed by bacon fat–any animal fat, for that matter. I learned to reverse my repulsion toward starch and learned to love my healthy whole grains. Oh that sweet aroma of freshly baked bread! Then, about this time last year I discovered the wisdom of LCHF and paleo, and suffered a form of culture shock, which lead to a complete reversal of my culinary preferences. Now I cannot see a loaf of bread without thinking, “heart clogger”. I collect bacon fat and use it to “sautée” my 2 eggs every morning, and it is delicious. It’s all in my head!

  50. I don’t know anyone who hates ALL veggies. I imagine there are some out there, but it’s probably rare. Instead, what I see are people who hate a lot of the veggies, but are still fine with or enjoy a few, maybe onions, tomatoes, peas, potato, etc. I am not a big veggie eater myself but I still eat some and miss them if I go a long stretch without eating any. Also, since eating healthier, my palate has changed and I can taste the flavors in things better and differently now that sugar, wheat, and chemicals are no longer reprogramming my taste buds away from their natural state.

    From a historical perspective, what I see with most tribal eating patterns are peoples who eat a majority of meat and tubers and (in tropical areas) fruits, and a smaller amount of veggies. Veggies are so low calorie, native people would have trouble meeting caloric needs if they were wailing on the veggies instead calorie bearing foods, so this makes sense from a survival perspective too. I just do not see native tribal cultures eating huge salads for dinner when meat or other things are available. It’s not natural. Even in natural cultures, the taste buds do not crave such a thing and I think that is an important consideration and hint as to what is natural for us. What natural foods do we naturally want to eat? If veggies are so great, why do we not love their taste much more? I do think our taste buds are designed to make us want what is good for us and that worked well for a long time up until a whole slew of artificial and new chemicals and foods were invented for which we have not yet had time to adapt.

  51. I barely eat veges any more unless someone else cooks them for me. But I do eat grass fed beef or lamb liver almost daily – the nutritional profile of liver will blow any plant matter out the window.

  52. You mentioned substituting with teas if you aren’t eating much vegetables, which teas are recommended?

  53. Broccoli and steak may go well together, but never ever never put broccoli and cauliflower on the plate together. They’ll go to fighting and mess up a good meal. Same goes for Brussels sprouts and potatoes prepared in any way.

  54. If you just eat meat, and who would want too, your going to be constipated big time! You need fiber not to mention all the vitamins and phytonutrients in veggies to be healthy. Make sense? Great.

    1. No, you don’t get constipated without veggies. A sudden change in the amount of fiber, water, fat in your diet can cause constipation or the opposite, but it has nothing to do with the amount.

  55. This makes me thinking:

    “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.”

    I live in Finland and I know Lapland and some sami people as well, but I have never heard feeding reindeer with hallucinogenic mushrooms. Where have you found this information? And what is psychoactive urine??
    Berries we pick a lot! That´s true!

    1. “I live in Finland and I know Lapland and some sami people as well, but I have never heard feeding reindeer with hallucinogenic mushrooms.”

      I believe you — this sounds like an urban myth.

  56. There’s a scene in Forks Over Knives where they talk about how other cultures eat very little meat, using it only as flavoring.

    Yeah, well, I do that with vegetables: Onions flavor my bacon and liver.

    Timely post for me–I’d been wondering whether I need to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, but rationalized that meat is more calorie- and nutrient-dense, so I can’t be missing out too much.

  57. I haven’t eaten any vegetables at all since I was a small child. I have always hated them. I occasionally go through periods where (mostly because of “conventional wisdom”) I have one V8 a day. But more often than that I go for months without even that.

    I am 48 years old, rarely get sick, and all the numbers from my last physical were in the optimal range.

    Sample of one, but there you have it.

  58. My daughter went vegetarian (from hot-dog-bologna diet) a number of years ago after reading some melodramatic slaughterhouse expose. But…she hated vegetables! Vegetarian for her was Mac and Cheese, Bread, maybe peanut butter for many years. When I called her “my vegetarian daughter who hates vegies” I did get the eyerolls!

    Seriously, have been listening to Dr. Terry Wahls talks about her “Wahls Protocol” for neurologic disease. It includes 9 cups of vegies/day: greens, sulfurs, and colors. She says that she designed it around the actual micronutrient content of modern agricultural foods rather than wild foods; seems reasonable to me. (She also adds grass fed meat, organs, fish, and seaweed.)

  59. So glad Mark wrote this article, thank you. I am one of those “veggie-haters.” And I am really embarrassed to tell that to people in real life. I can’t explain it, just the smell, look, and touch of just about all veggies makes me want to vomit (no joke). It’s so tough to be primal when that’s the case and I feel frustrated and at a loss. Strangely though, I can have just about all veggies when it’s in juice form, but it’s expensive and inconvenient to buy one every day (and having them in my house is out of the question). I’ve recently started to incorporate guacomole in my diet, and have discovered I can eat crunchy kale chips, which is step in the right direction, but I would love to somehow get real veggies in my system. Mark gives good advice above with how to deal with not eating veggies, does anyone else have advice? I feel like this is the one big massive obstacle in my life to a healthy lifestyle and I would love to solve it. It’s depressing and painful. Thanks!

    1. Check out the title essay in the Jeffrey Steingarten book “The Man Who Ate Everything”. Nothing about it is paleo, but it’s a very funny account of a food editor who decided to do an experiment to get over his food aversions. He mainly succeeds, incidentally.

    2. I started to really enjoy vegetables when I discovered that I could roast them in the oven. Really, what a revelation! Other than frying in an iron skillet, I can now enjoy most veggies after coating them in fat, putting them on a cookie sheet (often with bacon slices) and roasting them at a high temp until I can smell them cooking. I am now a cauliflower junkie — I coat it in powdered curry and roast it that way. Smothered in mayonnaise or aioli it’s just to die for. Cook root veggies this way (love beets & bacon) or even wedges of cabbage drizzled with olive oil. Try it sometime.

  60. One of the best things about going primal was exploring new veg. I made it a point to try things I had never had before, ranging from squash to jicama to kale to brussel sprouts to my newest favorite, chard. We were definitely a processed melted cheese over broccoli family while I was growing up, but it’s been insanely fun introducing my family to these new veggies and the great ways to cook them. My parents are slowly making the transition from meat, potatoes, and bread to meat and veg, and it’s awesome. Mashed cauliflower and roasted brussels have been hits with my family, right alongside my dads slow smoked ribs and grilled ribeyes.

  61. Having grown up hating most vegetables (I referred to them as forgettables), I can relate to the folks who say they don’t like most of them. But amazingly, as I got older, I began to like them and now I pretty much like them all, with a few exceptions.

    I strongly suspect that as I grew up and stopped having chronic ear infections requiring antibiotics, that my gut flora changed to a more functional state. And as a result of that, my “second brain” began to enjoy and even embrace the nutrients from such a wide variety of offerings from the plant kingdom. I actually started to enjoy the taste and feel of these foods. Nowadays, I can eat a huge 15-ingredient raw salad as my entire meal and feel completely content – and full for many hours.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the majority of people in the developed world have some degree of gut dysbiosis. And that dysbiosis in large part influences and even dictates our moods and energy levels as well as our likes and dislikes regarding food. Bad bacteria thrive on sugar and junk food, while good bacteria thrive in the absence of sugar and in a nutrient-dense environment.

    In other words, fix your gut and your mind, body and tastes will change for the better, too.

    Also, regarding this article and betaine – Mark says spinach is the best source, but what about beets? Aren’t THEY really the best source?

  62. I’m apparently a “supertaster”. I love sour foods but if you put bitter on my plate… not going to happen.

  63. The answer is YES, that is why I try to have veggies with every meal of the day.

  64. If veggies tasted as good as a chocolate iced, cream filled donut, I’d be good.

  65. I’m amazed at the number of people who approach this topic as an either/or – meat vs. veggies proposition.

    Physiologically, we are Omnivores. Our dentistry and gut design is comparable to other omnivorous species.

    Eat meat and eat veggies, it’s what our bodies are built to do.

    If you have a problem with eating one or the other…something is wrong with you either physically or mentally.

    Anyone can psychologically convince themselves into food aversions, than declare they are “allergic” or whatever to rationalize irrational aversions.

    Of course, if you’re the type to get physically ill from eating one or the other, something is certainly out of whack with your digestive system and you need to fix it…because a normal, healthy human gut is meant to digest both meat and veggies.

  66. 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.” – These are pretty much true.

    1. No, they really aren’t. That is pretty much the point of this site.

      I haven’t worn shoes with arch support in years, and my feet have never felt better. Love my Vibram Five Fingers.

      1. Goodie for you. An example of one doesn’t prove a thing. I’m a doctor and I treat plenty of heal pain and knee pain. Orthotic foot supports bring lots of relief. We were designed to walk on grass, dirt and sand. If that’s what you’re on then great. Most people aren’t and need the support.

  67. For humans: omnivory > carnivory. Even true carnivores like cats and dolphins still eat a decent amount of plants. And hell, do you really want to exclude dark chocolate?

  68. One beautifully cooked veggie dish a week would probably be enough , for most strict carnivores.

  69. Even though the Inuit, Maasai etc. didn’t seem to eat many vegetables, they did eat the whole beast. This included intestines full of fermenting vegetable matter. (Yum) Given the choice, I think I’ll just eat my veggies.

  70. I’m a vegetarian and I love to it all vegetables, If you’re all vegetables then you’re getting all essential nutrients for being healthy.

    1. No vitamin B12 which is vital for neurological health. I have permanent damage from an undiagnosed deficiency.

  71. According to Edgar Cayce, vegetables are necessary for PH balance.

    Cayce diet 101: keeping the body alkaline

    The recommendation to “keep the body alkaline” is a recurrent theme in the Edgar Cayce readings, and it is suggested that one of the ways we can achieve this is by centering the diet around alkaline-forming vegetables and fruits. We are advised that we can improve metabolic function, maintain a high state of health, and prevent colds, infections, and other illnesses by maintaining the body in an alkaline state. Reading 523-1 says, “Be mindful that the diet is such that it keeps.toward alkalinity for the body at all times; for this will not only prevent infectious forces but will aid in keeping the blood stream in such a manner as to aid in eliminations.”

  72. One of my favorite ways to eat veggies is a tomato-based soup. So, I’ll take 2 tomatoes, boil them down, then add another veggie such as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, etc.. add spices, add olive oil, and add a heaping load of grated parmesan cheese. The parmesan cheese really makes eating vegetables much more palatable for me. And I love the flavor of parmesan with the tomatoes.

    Or with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese baked in the oven.

    Another favorite is tempura ie japanese-style. Although it’s not primal because you need flour. Or maybe there is a way to make it primal. Add a dipping sauce (chili, soy, …) and it’s pretty darn good.

    Beef and broccoli.Never get tired of cooking the broccoli with sesame, soy, oyster sauce, chili etc… flavors really make the broccoli taste great.

  73. A tea made of pine needles , can be rich in C vitamin? I said that about the boiled water , casue temperature destroys C vitamin , isn’t?

  74. This is a wonderful blog post. I actually was researching this very thing a few weeks ago. I sometimes have to force myself to eat veggies this time of year, it is so cold and gray, and a salad has no draw to me. I noticed that what I found about nutrients is if I wasn’t eating offal, I was not going to get all of the nutrients I needed. I generally do eat some spinach or broccoli daily out of habit, though. Mark is so funny with the complementing of beef.
    When I have more time, I am going to reread this and click on all of the links included.
    Great job!

  75. What on earth would you supplement your veg with on a primal diet?! Guess it depends on your definition of ‘primal’!

  76. I do like vegetables, but they are not necessary at all. Liver contains vitami C and a lot of other nutrients so there is no “need” for vegetables as long as you eat the whole animal.

    1. You need vitamin C DAILY, or else you will simply excrete it in your urine and very rapidly and run out. This is because vitamin C is water soluble, not fat soluble. It won’t stick around in the body very long.

      How many people do you know who are going to eat liver EVERY day, even the most dogmatic of “eat your offal” folks?

      I mean honestly, you will suffer from copper overload, or vitamin A toxicity, both of which are possibly life threatening, and at the very least, uncomfortable, from the liver before you could even achieve your daily need for vitamin C from it.

      1. I didn’t say that one should eat liver daily that was your assumption. Kidneys is a better source vitamin C than liver since the vitamin A level is much lower.

        I actually do eat vegetables, I was simply answering the topic and the answer is: No, vegetables are not “necessary” at all, although they make things easier since you don’t have to eat guts at a regular basis.


          10.6 mg of vitamin C in 4 oz of beef kidney. You would have to therefore, eat 1.5 lbs DAILY of kidney just to get the USDA RDA of 60 mg.

          Which I think is woefully inadequate for one of the most readily utilized antioxidants in the body anyway. Oh, you may not get “scurvy” if you eat kidneys daily, but will you optimize your health, saturate your blood and organs with vitamin C as needed? No, probably not. This is just my opinion on it however.

          Eat your bell peppers and your cruciferous veggies and even tea and yerba mate have appreciable levels of vitamin C. The aforementioned pine needle tea is also amazing.

          It’s water solvable, so it’s one of the most absorbable nutrients from any source, even fibrous plant materials.

  77. Thanks for this article. I’ve been playing with listening deeply to what my body is communicating to me, yet feeling uneasy when I just don’t feel like having a vegetable this day. I may go a day without, sometimes some berries and some spinach in a smoothie will do it. Then, usually the next day I’m looking for a BA Salad. So, for me, it’s about listening to the communications which are coming to you 24/7 from your body and not freaking over the balance…knowing that balance happens naturally when you are paying attention.

  78. Veggies are NOT essential. Not ALL Inuits ate them, either.

  79. I think the dietary need for vitamin C indicates that we should be eating some sort of plant food, just like the dietary need for B12 indicates we need some sort of animal food, and those are just two basic vitamins. It’s also pretty clear we can survive on an all meat diet or an all vegan diet for a time, but it doesn’t look to me like either one is optimal, or even preferable.

  80. What about the zero carbers who claim they are healthy and never sick all while not eating veggies? Can you feel good, never be sick, and not be in good health?

  81. Fat and fruit….I like to dip my apple slices into the left over lard after cooking…all I need… , to hell with meat or veggies =P

  82. This was an interesting article. I too dont like too many vegetable and ONLY two fruits. I also felt a lot of guilt and worried about my health for years.

    BUT I was always a big Atkins fans and had a spetacular weight loss on Atkins and and enjoyed wearing mini skirts and a bikini at age 48 (a few years ago) and having the energy of a sixteen year old. Love the way I feel and look as a primal hottie.

    After reading Marks article it kind of jibed with my thinking that you kind of only like the food that is good for you…ever since I was a little girl I have loved mountains of meat, onions and certain veggies and occasionally fruit. I always felt like such a weirdo around other people…and at my age I have seen a lot of food fads come and go.

    People should not worry about the fruit, veggie thing. EVERYONE like at least two veggies and two fruits…just eat those and if you feel good dont sweat it.

    Thanks Mark, I so enjoy reading your articles and the kindness and compassion that is also in them..Many blessings to your family!

  83. I can’t help but notice all of the comments going back and forth around taste and gut problems, so I thought I’d add something to help.

    In previous articles on this site Mark has made comments about all different types of diets and foods. When making any shift in diet we have to be conscious of what the diet was before and what our body will crave as we shift our habits. If it’s a tendency to not like the taste it could be the way our bodies interpret the taste, and since the majority of taste is rooted in our smell, it tends to be more of the psychological nature, and not necessarily physical. For example, if it’s the woody taste of broccoli you cant stand was that because you were bullied into eating wood when you were a kid? Or does the slimy texture of some cooked veggies gross you out because a sibling tortured you with worms or something of the sort? Remember, we’re not born to like something, we learn to like it through exposure and understanding, like Mark said there is a bit of a primal instinct but it’s very minimal to say the least.

    In terms of gut pains it’s very likely your eating too much of one thing at once, or you’re not used to it. For some people there are some homeobox genes that turn on and off when necessary. For example, some people can easily eat dairy for years, but suddenly they’ll stop for a few months. When they go back to eating it they’ll have adverse reactions like they were allergic, but they can slowly introduce it back into their diet slowly – we often site situations like these as food sensitivities. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat it all together it just means we are only made to consume low amounts of it, or when necessary.

    Hope this helps!


  84. Good article. I like all vegetables and can’t imagine a meal without them. I eat even more of them since giving up grains.

  85. Wow…another great article! Thanks for reassuring all of our nation’s children that they do, in fact, need to eat some veggies. 🙂

  86. Personally, I think vegetables are important and I’m one of the lucky ones who likes them! But I did hear someone on the radio with a valid point regarding eating what we don’t always like.

    With the availability of salt and sugar, we have turned away from eating for survival toward eating for pleasure. And while nothing is wrong with eating for pleasure, eating for survival takes precedence. If your goals are to be healthy.

    I wouldn’t gag myself, but I do eat things where my taste buds would prefer something else. Sometimes. Not always. 🙂

  87. Roast your veggies with your meat and I believe you will enjoy them! 🙂

  88. Damn, people, if you don’t like your veggies so much, don’t eat them! Mark is not trying to shove veggies down your throat!

    Did he not mention fruits, dark chocolate, teas, coffee, and herbs? Hell, even mushrooms and other fungi count!

    There are lots of ways to consume plenty of plant attendant obtain their benefits even if you don’t like your veggies. I think part of this article’s point was to tell us how easy it is to integrate plantsintoour primal diets. Low carb, high carb, or in between, there are lots of plants you can use!

    Even you “meat only” folks can’t tell me you’ve never used coconut oil to cook pork chops or a steak in. You seriously never marinade your meat in vinegar or wine or lemon juice or give it a good rub-down with some herbs? Guess what? Those are all… *gasp* PLANT PRODUCTS!

    It really is that simple!

  89. Human digestive system is not prepared to receive plants or herbs, search on google. Veggies are useless or to put it better, for usless hunters 🙂

  90. what about people who actually can’t eat vegetables. My friend can taste chlorophyl. Eating green vegetables such as green beans, or peas etc… makes him sick to his stomach.

  91. How should I reconcile this piece with Terry Wahls who advocates like 8 cups of veg per day?

    I have IBS so I can’t eat a ton of veg myself, and feel perpetually worried that I’m not getting enough of all good vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.

    1. I love veggies, but I can’t eat a ton of them either, and I don’t think the Terry Wahls approach is a particularly good idea since everyone is different as to the amount of plant fiber they can tolerate. You have to do what works for you, personally.

      You might try a high-quality powdered green drink if you feel you aren’t getting enough nutrients. I like Garden of Life, but there are many good ones on the market. Most health food stores have a good variety, but they are also available online. Some are more nutrient-dense than others but less palatable. If the flavor of pulverized grass clippings leaves you cold, try one of the flavored ones until you get used to the taste. Amazing Grass has a chocolate version that’s pretty decent.

  92. I had the thought pop up today as I was eating spring mix again after going to Whole Foods yesterday. I felt fine the days I didn’t have any fruits/vegetables and was curious. Now I concluded that just a little is enough for me. One apple a day will do, and a little veggies will be okay. I don’t like being controlled by my paranoia or conform to societal rules or standards. It’ll also save me money as a college student 😀

  93. I always wonder why people refer to the diets of certain traditional cultures when trying to justify their own preferences. E.g. the Inuit. Yes their diet was high in animal protein and fats, but they did not have modern day processed junk in their diet. Zip. Zilch. Of course, the moment that changed and they introduced bread and sugary sodas and Bic Macs to their diet (like with so many cultures that changed from their ‘traditional’ diet to a Western diet) as well as a sedentary lifestyle, they also got the lifestyle diseases that go with it, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is an ongoing process happening to many cultures as we speak.

  94. What’s the verdict on frozen vegetables? Yea? Nay? I find them the easiest and cheapest way to go for me. I HATE chopping stuff up…and fresh veggies always go bad so quickly.

  95. I’m really liking the light-hearted writing style in your blog Mark.

    Looks like I’m saving your blog in my bookmarks.

    Keep up the great work and stay healthy.


  96. Ummm, so hang on a minute… Why do the Sami want to produce psychoactive reindeer urine? Wouldn’t you just eat the shrooms yourself?

    1. The mushrooms vary wildely in the amout of psychoactive compounds and poison they contain. Some are so strong that a nibble will knock you out, while you may need to eat five others to get a similar effect. Also, overdosing is deadly. The reindeers metabolize some of the compounds, producing a diluted and relatively uniform solution.

      By the way, amanita muscaria (fly agaric), the mushroom in question, tends to produce visions of flying. It is red and white. And fed to reindeer. Ring any bells? 🙂

  97. What if we also added organ meats and bone broth? Would that enable us to remove vegetables and still get the nutrition we need? I mean, don’t wild carnivores live off these things (except they eat the bone as opposed to making bone broth, lol)?

  98. I eat blueberries almost every morning. They’re incredibly high in anti-oxidants.

  99. My son, 17 yo, still growing period.
    But he goes to gym 1 hour/day, only eat chicken, brown rice, tuna tomato pasta, 1 apple, milk, musli bar, milk, oats only. Again n again, everyday so he can get muscle man.

    I’m just worried.. Think he should eat coloured vegetable like pumpkin, broccoli etc

  100. I have not ate a fruit or veggie besides potatoes in over 20 years. N i dont take vitamins either.

  101. The Best source for Magnesium is WATER.
    Read the article “Is your bottle water killing you”
    Water naturally has alot of magnesium, but it gets filtered out by water companies and your local municipality.
    I drink gerolsteiner

  102. I grew up hating veggies. There was always a war at dinner time so it became more of a power struggle then anything. Now that I’m older I find I like them more and more and have broadened my horizons with different types. I find that I can eat – and truly enjoy – any veggie that’s been grilled or oven roasted.

  103. I love that you mentioned supertasters. I’m a supertaster, mostly vegetarian, sensitive to dairy, and low carb. It tends to greatly limit the amount of foods I am willing to eat. I’ve had some success retraining my taste buds by removing added sugar from everything and slowly adding greens to my smoothies over time. 3 years ago I wouldn’t eat any type of green vegetable. Now I eat zucchini, peas, broccoli, spinach, onions, garlic, black beans, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers…all foods that I used to gag on, even if they were “hidden” in other foods.

  104. Thx u so much! This information was exactly what I was looking for when I searched about vegetables.

  105. I’ve just been reading about salyctite (can’t spell) Intoletance and also oral .. ragweed, birch, mugwort etc. Seems the healthier we all easy the less tolerant we are. Everyone on low carb and clean eating had similar symptoms. Already I was looking into this because I was getting dry mouth and white spots and burning tongue after eating hazelnuts, zucchini, chamomile, all of which I don’t usually have. I eat little veg as it is and no fruit as I think I’m insulin resistant, I love veg and already keep limited to mushroom, Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers as a rule.. So now remove night shades and the others? Left with.. What.. Iceberg lettuce? Yum. Maybe I’ll keep to spinach at least for the nutrient’s.. I’m sure the weight and the moon face will disappear eventually……..

  106. I hate veggies. Even the ones I’ve tolerated in the past, I cannot bring myself to eat anymore (probably because I would eat them over and over and got really sick of them). I used to be able to shove down broccoli but now it made me sick just typing it; same thing with cabbage. I have GERD and a inflammatory disease therefore berries are out and so are nightshade veggies and root veggies; anything starchy is out. My choices are more limited than most people because of that and unfortunately, I just don’t like most of them. Salad is hard cause I only eat lettuce in it. I can’t have cucumber or tomatoes etc. I do try to use lettuce wraps when I can. It’s just a palate thing for me. I don’t like anything really sweet, sour, strong. It just overwhelms me.

  107. I think we should eat whatever we like, whatever doesn’t make us feel bad and obviously doesn’t kill us 30 years prematurely. I love onions, they give me an ache, i no longer eat onions because my body obviously doesn’t like them. Same goes for food, we can eat what we want and stay perfectly healthy. It the processing that destroys our health. Natural whole foods, reasonably lean meats fish or whatever. If you lived on an island with no way off and no animal population youd have to eat fish when veg wasnt available or sufficient, i bet you would die from neber eating a cow or a cucumber.

  108. I LOVED the paragraph about veggies complimenting meat! Sooooo funny!

    Thanks for the laugh, Mark!

  109. Ah, the ongoing battle with vegetables.

    I’m okay with vegetables, some more than others, but they’re not my favorite food. In my perfect world, I’d eat steak, potatoes, roasted asparagus, and strawberries for dinner every night of my life. I don’t like greens, no matter how they’re prepared, and I have to force myself to eat them.

    I’ve been trying to incorporate a wider variety of vegetables and fruit into my diet, but some of them don’t agree with me, so I’m about to try FODMAPS.

  110. I hate veggies and greens, but what I did was bought a vitamix blender with a bunch of freezer bags. I also bought a bunch of spinach, kale and chard, plus a bag of mixed berries and some avocado.

    I then take an hour or so to make a bunch of “smoothie bags” I put a bit of everything into a freezer bag so it’s good to go whenever I need it. I make about 20 bags at a time which lasts a bit more than a week.

    It’s great for a quick side to a few eggs at breakfast and also at dinner with meat.

    I supplimant daily with a multi vitamin.

    I think I’ve got it covered for the most part. 🙂


  111. On one hand, I always believe having meat and vegetables on a plate is extremely satisfying. On the other hand, carbohydrates such as rice and pastas make me tired and bloated most of the time. I believe the saying vegetables complements the meat and prevent cancer causing agent in our body. Anyway, a good read. Thumbs up!

  112. As a supertaster I can tell you that most green vegetables are very bitter to me and I just can’t eat them. Even smelling some, like green peppers, make me gag, forget picking them out, once cooked with something else that something else now smells like green peppers. In fact I’ve adopted the motto: “Plants don’t want to be eaten”. My dad’s response is “…and animals do?” Then I say “no but they have legs and can run away, what defense has a plant evolved?” Then we’re at an impasse…

  113. Problem for me is that I do enjoy vegetables but whenever I eat them, no matter if it’s salads, bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, ANYTHING vegetable. ..I have indigestion and belch it ALL NIGHT LONG…

  114. I can’t eat vegetables. I used to but always got violently ill. Doctor told me not to eat them anymore as they are not as healthy as everyone says. Vegetables are animal food. The animal eats the vegetables and we in turn eat the animal. The animal processes the vegetables for us, rids them if their toxins and impurities and when we eat the animal we only eat the healthy portion absorbed but the animal bodies. Our instincts tell us not to stay away from putrid smells that is why poop smells so people don’t eat it. Naturally we only are suppose to eat pleasant tasting things that’s how we know it it healthy. Vegetables taste terrible for a reason.

  115. Maybe Mark ought to have made mention of the smoothie for those of us who hate the cruciferous vegetable types. The smoothie goes a long way in making them far more palatable while remaining low carb, not to mention less of a preparation hassle.

  116. The more I get into eating LCHF the less I care for veggies honestly lol. Other than herbs, spices, and salt I’m all about meat, dairy, and fats. Some plant based fats, but not too much. Previously I had Crohn’s disease and the monthly cost was over $1000 for meds, so I replaced the meds with quality foods instead and the Crohn’s disappeared. I hunt for specials on top quality animal fats, order in bulk, and deep freeze and use when I need them, and eat only grass fed organic yada yada, and never really go out to eat. Every once in a while I do ferment some veggies and drink the juice, and sometimes use the other bits as condiments, but other than that, I’m not really a veggie fan. I honestly don’t know if I ever was. Just felt for a while that they were necessary for my health. Anyway, I saw a caveat in the article above that hinted that if we eat primarily the animals that eat all the right stuff we need then we should be good.

    Thoughts? Do I STILL “need” to eat my veggies? ugh..

  117. I was listening to Mark on the Aubrey Marcus podcast. I heard something that confused me a bit. Mark said that fiber does not convert to glucose. Now was he talking about supplemental fiber or fiber in veggies? I should still be factoring the carbs I get from vegetables into my macro count for the day correct? Forgive my ignorance and thank you to anyone who can school me on this!

  118. Just want to point out that “eating phytonutrient-rich legume extracts like dark chocolate, ” is wrong, as chocolate isn’t a legume. Yummy and delicious and good for you, and not a legume. it’s in the mallow and hibiscus family.

  119. I struggle with veggies. Love them, but they don’t love me back. Is it really necessary to eat them if all they do for me is cause painful gas and bloating. I did the Carnivore diet for a few months and never thought that my digestion could run as smoothly as it did. No gas or bloating ever!!

  120. I’m an omnivore. Some nights I’ll come home from a bartending shift and eat an entire package of raw kale or arugula with a little dressing. I just sautéed asparagus, zucchini, garlic, scallions, and sage in olive oil right now for a snack. But believe me, I’ll eat a double portion of steak tartare with glee. Rock the veggies, they’re delicious and nutritious.

  121. It was about 2 years after I went paleo (and had started eating a lot more veggies) that I developed hashimoto’s, as well as leg cramps. I’m wondering if my increased veggie intake could be related. Yes I have tried everything with electrolytes, and it helps with the cramps, but I shouldn’t be so prone to cramping. And I never had an autoimmune disease until after a couple of years of heavy vegetable consumption.

  122. You say that you have to eat vegetables in order to maintain a healthy life. Then your only reasoning is that they contain a few simple nutrients and fiber that your body “needs”. You can accomplish all of your above stated nutrient needs with a simple multivitamin. You do not need fiber unless you are an extremely unhealthy and overweight person.

  123. “contains phytonutrients that reduce the potential mutagenicity (cancer-causing properties) of heterocyclic amines in well-done meat.”

    I would like to note that there has been no scientific or clinical correlation with heterocyclic amines (from steak) and colon cancer. The article you referenced is not about cancer rather about the metabolism of amines in a veggie diet. You are being quite deceitful with this statement and seem to have quite the biased view.

  124. I came here because there are times like here lately that I just cant makes myself eat much plant matter and other times where I crave it. I feel a little better reading this. Thanks.

  125. I like artichoke, and baba ghanoush and pinjur. Oh and peaches in the summer. Outside of that, fruits and veggies aren’t good to me unless they’re pickled or used in sweets. I’ve had IBS my whole life and do best on a diet VERY low in fiber and high in fat. I think ancestral roots matter very much in a person’s digestability of certain foods.
    I’m Russian, Balkan, Mongolian, and English descent. Traditionally higher fat diets, makes sense. If I eat too much grain, fruit, or vegetables the fiber clogs up my intestines and I (TMI WARNING!!!) have VERY large and painful stools. Also, grains and legumes like corn and rice bother me. To stay safe I just eat a high fat, low fiber, moderate protein diet.

    1. I sound like you. Digestive problems suck.

      Only real difference is my Germanic and Siberian background.

      Take it easy.

  126. I can’t digest most veggies, so I just eat like my ancestors did. That is, meat (usually raw), seafood, raw dairy, lard, fermented grains (sometimes), and some other things on ocassion. I feel excellent and have lots of energy.

    Guess what? People in my family are known for longevity and few get diseases. Why should I fix what isn’t broken in the first place?


    1. If people wouldn’t be so bull headed and read about how bad veggies can be for you, maybe we would have a lot less sick people. Vegetables are FULL of oxalates, which are very harmful to the body. I am 68 years old, never have had any health issues, I am very healthy and feel terrific. I eat mostly meat, seafood and some dairy. I follow the carnivore way of eating.

  127. Eliminating vegetables is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve been sick frequently since my 30s; within the last few years (I’m 49)I’ve had pneumonia twice and developed asthma. I’ve followed all major diet fads since 1990-everything from vegan to paleo- and have finally concluded that no, vegetables are not necessary. Last year after I’d been sick a few weeks I read a book by a Canadian engineer named Grant Generoux which I found on Matt Stone’s blog called Extinguising the Fires of Hell. Grant says he cured himself of eczema by eliminating vitamin A containing foods; he lost 50 lbs effortlessly on a diet of meat and white rice. Very eye opening and a total must read. His books confirm and add to what the carnivores are saying; vitamin A it turns out is one of the many harmful toxins in plants. He explains the science of why this is true, how vitamin a becomes retinoic acid after the liver reaches capacity, which it easily can today because of vitamin A fortified foods, 5 fruits/veg dogma, etc. As the carnivores explain and are correct, we only eat vegetables if there’s nothing else to eat; they are actually not fit for human consumption. Also, there are almost no vegetables found the wild, most are cultivated and should therefore be considered agricultural/Neolithic foods. Some vegetables such as lettuce are recent inventions, more or less, not something humans have eaten regularly for millions of years. Since eliminating them I’m amazed at the increase in body temperature and feeling of well being which I literally have not had for decades. Vegetables not only did not improve my health, they made me sick and did nothing to improve my metabolism. I’m better off without them.

  128. what strikes is me that all vegetables are GMO
    Ever come across wild broccoli, carrots etc.
    Maybe Mushrooms are the only wild vegetables I can think of . Ever come across wild corn while hiking
    Google what fruits looked like 500 years ago….nothing like now

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  130. I completely disagree with Mark, and I believe he is just about ready to see the light on this topic.
    There is no doubt in my mind that humans can eat vegetables and get nutrition out of them, but as humans, judging by how our digestive systems are designed, we are perfectly able to survive and thrive on a vegetable free diet, and I would go as far as to say that meats are humans preferred food.
    I believe us humans evolved the ability to extract a small amount of nutrition from plants, but our digestive system is just like a carnivores’ is.
    Our ancestors ate fiber and veggies when they could not find meats, and that was a lot of the time. Just because our predecessors ate veggies does not mean they needed to eat them. They just helped keep us alive until we could find meat.
    There are many people, like Kelly Hogan who thrive on a completely vegetable free diet. Also, it’s estimated that 25 percent of all Americans don’t eat ANY vegetables at all.
    Until I see a clinical trial proving that veggie are good for us, instead of the current veggie dogma, I’m not going to believe we have to eat them.
    That’s why kids hate them. Because they are not good or necessary.

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  132. Wow i love your site. Some people are not good cooks and ruin vegetables. Restaurants ruin vegetables. It so easy to over cook veggies. Then they are not appealing. It may start in childhood with parents serving unappitizing glop. Or tinned vegetables. Start fresh and explore. Learn to cook.