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Vegetables - Do We Really Need Them?

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  • Vegetables - Do We Really Need Them?

    What do you think? Do we really need to eat vegetables? Based on GCBC it appears we really don't need them but I suspect most primal/paleo folks are hanging on to them as the last vestiges of CW and for variety and for "insurance".

    Then again, there is no way to know for sure that Sisson et al have it 100% correct so keeping veggies in the mix gives us a bit of insurance I guess. That and some carefully selected supplements.

  • #2
    Need to eat them for survival, or for optimum health?

    I'm going to go with no, and probably yes, given the lack of goat brains and elk guts in my current diet. But then again, we can survive on just bananas, so the first part is kind of moot.
    If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


    • #3
      I do believe we need some for a diverse gut flora. They both provide us with the diversity as well as feed it. And paleo-man would have eaten quite a bit of plant matter in the form of berries, herbs, assorted leafy greens, roots and so on.
      Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.


      • #4
        i don't think we absolutely need them to survive. look at the cultures living in a more frozen climate who get by just fine eating animals...not a lot of veggies grow on ice. but, i agree with needing them for better overall health...particularly in the gut.

        plus, they taste good.


        • #5
          Perfect timing, I was kind of going to start a thread about this.

          First, an important and worthy read: Stefansson 1 - Eskimos Prove An All Meat Diet Provides Excellent Health.

          It’s rather long, I suggest printing it out. To heavily summarize, V. Stefansson ate nothing but meat for MANY years. At one point he had a study conducted where himself and another subject ate nothing but meat for an entire year and were under close watch (to ensure they didn’t eat anything but meat) and had tests done on them to determine their health throughout and both of them were more than okay. The diet breakdown is reported to have been 80% fat and 20% protein. They ate a lot of brains fried in bacon… yum, good old 1920s.

          Obviously, some things are important to note:

          - Given the time (early 1900s) the quality of the meat was (I’m assuming) considerably better and properly raised.
          - Although they didn’t eat a ton of offal (no mention of kidneys, liver, etc) the fact that they were eating brains lets you know they weren’t against it either. They did not mention which animal the brains came from. (In fact, he says a lot of those went to the dogs and the men mostly ate fat and muscle meat, I think some say he was of the opinion that too much offal wasn’t good but I haven’t read that myself)
          - Stefansson opens up with telling of his life with the Eskimos, who mostly ate boiled fish (so fish + broth) and water. Other animals he reports eating through the years is whale, caribou, seal, it’s very clear he considered fat to be of utmost importance.
          - He “cured” scurvy on a few of his ship-mates by taking them out of the ship and putting them on a strict diet of caribou and seal, after a month they were cured.

          Then you have more modern characters like The Bear who ate only meat for over 40 years and unfortunately just died in a car accident but was reportedly in good health. Also the Zeroing in on Health blog + forum were most members are pure meat eaters.

          I tried to dabble, but not eating veggies is hard! I love the irony: one year ago not eating grains was like “how do you LIVE like that?” and now the flipside is “how do you not eat veggies, they’re healthy!” so I gave it a go eating mostly meat and eggs, which wasn’t a big diversion from how I always eat. I was just trying to not eat any vegetation. I felt okay, but I ran into opposition from my gf and since we’re in the habit of cooking for each other she sabotaged my efforts by making me vegs and I just can’t NOT eat them especially since she’s going primal herself … I did tell her about what I’ve been reading and all, but she’s not ready to entertain the idea that veggies aren’t all they’re made up to be. Can’t blame her, right now I’d rather her get off grains and sugar so whatever.

          I also read this Free the Animal entry which cracked me up, warning, foul language: I Told You To Go Ahead and Fuck Those Vegetables | Free The Animal

          And in that article there’s this interesting link: 5-a-day fruit and vegetables is a myth claims nutrition expert | Mail Online

          But surely, people ask, even if there is no evidence that increasing our intake of fruit and vegetables will help prevent disease, they remain good things to eat?
          I don’t think so. If people try to add five portions of fruit and veg — let alone eight — a day to their diet, it can be counterproductive. Fruit contains high levels of fructose, or fruit sugar.
          Among dieticians, fructose is known as ‘the fattening carbohydrate’. It is not metabolised by the body in the same way as glucose, which enters the bloodstream and has a chance to be used for energy before it heads to the liver.
          Fructose goes straight to the liver and is stored as fat. Very few ¬people understand or want to believe this biochemical fact.
          Another argument that is often put forward by dieticians on behalf of fruit and vegetables is that they are ‘a source of antioxidants’.
          They believe we need to have more ¬antioxidants in our diet to counteract the oxidants that damage the body’s cells, either as a result of normal metabolic processes or as a reaction to environmental chemicals and pollutants.
          But I would rather concentrate on not putting oxidants such as sugar, processed food, cigarette smoke or chemicals into my body.
          The last paragraph is of importance to me as I don’t buy into the overt need for antioxidants.
          Continuing, the only thing that I’m weary of going almost no carb is performance when working out. However, I’d be fine with a diet of meat, eggs and some starchy source every now and then. However, there are veggies I actually do LIKE so I don’t want to quit them “just because” but I think this discussion is important for folks that really just don’t love vegetables and are eating them only because they think they have to.
          Reportedly you stand to lose weight when dropping so many carbs but I don’t think it will happen so radically.
          Last edited by iniQuity; 04-12-2011, 06:44 AM.
          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Adrianag View Post
            What do you think? Do we really need to eat vegetables? Based on GCBC it appears we really don't need them but I suspect most primal/paleo folks are hanging on to them as the last vestiges of CW and for variety and for "insurance".
            Can you tell me what GCBC says about that? I'm reading WWGF and haven't gotten to that point yet ... don't know if he will mention it.
            I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.


            • #7
              Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
              Then you have more modern characters like The Bear who ate only meat for over 40 years and unfortunately just died in a car accident but was reportedly in good health.
              He did? I can't find any news item about that. When did it happen?

              Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
              Primal since July 2010...skinniest I've ever been and the least stressed about food


              • #8
                Great info iniQ!

                Also, I read GCBC and I don't recall him downplaying the roll of veggies. He was more focused on studies debunking Key's hypothesis and providing ample studies in support of fat and cholesterol and the role fruits and grains (carbs) play on our insulin release.

                I'm with you though iniQ, could probably live without but I enjoy veggies.
                Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"


                • #9
                  The Inuit didn't necessarily eat a 'just meat' diet. If they caught a caribou, for instance, they would eat the stomach which would contain lichen and moss and, in summer, they would eat some plants and berries. Maybe they got bored of just eating meat all the time. Same old. Same old

                  A little variety is a good thing.
                  Newcomers: If you haven't read the book, at least read this thread ... and all the links!

                  Jan. 1, 2011: 186.6 lbs PBSW Mar. 1, 2011: 175.8 lbs
                  CW: 146.8 lbs
                  GW 140 lbs
                  A proud member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals


                  • #10
                    And sea vegetables, no?


                    • #11
                      I'm not going to dump the veggies just so I can be an Inuit any more than I am going to eat rice just to be Chinese.

                      Veggies are like exercise, you can live without it, but the benefits are real. There is good nutrition in the right veggies.

                      I like to shred squash and make up spicy things to cook with it, and mini sweet peppers with a lot of color varieties. Plus I do a fair bit of celery and natural peanut butter, salads, and organic tomato soup.


                      • #12
                        If you track what you eat on something like FitDay or CRON-o-meter, you'll see that it's difficult to get enough of the micronutrients listed over time without eating a variety of (red) meat, vegetables, and seafood. Of course, these online trackers aren't exact, but just because the Inuit supposedly ate no produce (and they did when they got the chance) and managed to survive (which is why they ate every part of the animal) doesn't mean that it is the ideal diet (or even a desirable one).
                        Last edited by spakesneaker; 04-12-2011, 07:46 AM.


                        • #13
                          A lot of people cite the Inuit as being veggie free but this has pretty much been debunked - Hunt Gather Love has done a few writeups on the topic.

                          I find that most people who ask "do we need veggies" don't like veggies and are looking for an excuse not to eat them. If you want optimum health, you will need to eat a variety of foods of all types, and that includes plants. AND offal. If you don't like plant food, or fish or meat or fat or whatever, you don't have to eat them but don't pretend you're healthier because of it.


                          • #14
                            I can not imagine anything more boring than an all meat diet.

                            I guess I feel about veggies the way some folks feel about bread. I would rather die than give up my veggies.
                            MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

                            "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7


                            • #15
                              I like Kurt Harris' take on it, which is that vegetables are probably good in moderate quantities.

                              Archevore - Archevore Blog - William Munny eats his*vegetables

                              Taubes also hasn't said "don't eat vegetables", he's said that there's not clear scientific evidence one way or the other. Much like his stance on exercise, I think his position on vegetables is greatly misinterpreted.

                              Besides, I eat my veggies because they taste good and I (subjectively) feel better when I do. Also, vegetables are a fantastic fat carrier mechanism--sweet potatoes with butter, spinach with bacon fat, and so on. Mmmmm.
                              “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

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