I am new on the forum and am curious as to whether vegetables are a necessary element in the diet. Nutrient-wise can one get away with total abstinance and simply derive the nutrients needed from other sources(animal fat, etc.)? How would this affect contipation/digestive transit of paleo-friendly foods? How would constipation be avoided without taking a fibrre supplement for example? Anyone out there feel the need(verified by scientific evidence or sound theory/speculation) for VEGETABLES? What substances, if any are exclusive to vegetables(and which kinds; and which are best??) that can't be derived from the aforementioned paleo-friendly foods? Any feedback would be great as I am attempting to create a cost-effective(time/$/effort) diet plan that will support my athletic endeavors--ideally without pesticide-laden vegetables and a stomach digeting veggie matter. -PersonMan
I don't eat any vegetables (or fruit) per se and I've never felt better. My reasoning was digestive. I simply can't tolerate sugar and fiber. Bacteria food in the small intestine = not good for me. I tolerate meat, fish, eggs, and cream very well.
I eat a lot of meat stew. I load up my stews with spices, including paprika, dried chilis and chili powder, turmeric and other curry spices, cinnamon, bay leaf, etc.. I also add bone broth, of which I always keep a supply in the fridge and freezer. I'm pretty sure I'm getting all the micronutrients I need, although the vitamin C content of my stews is certainly lower than the RDA. The paprika and chilis help. I'm not convinced the RDA has any scientific heft, anyway. I don't think I need supplements, although I take some vitamin C because I'm paranoid.
I don't make recommendations based on what works for me because I seem to be a bit of a mutant. But I'm very happy with the results. It is my personal experience that fiber is utterly unnecessary for digestive health, as are probiotics; in fact these are about the worst things I could include in my diet (except for gluten and soy, which cause me pain and grief).
I'm actually sort of perplexed at the notion that vegetables are Paleo. Don't get me wrong, I love my veggies, but they're a totally neolithic food for the most part. Most of the veggies we eat are all derivatives of the Brassica family and date from maybe 3,000 or so years ago. Asparagus and lettuce showed up with the Egyptians. Carrots show up around the 1st century CE. Okra showed up around 1200. Spinach in ancient Persia, but not widespread until the middle ages. Celery ancient Egypt and Greece. And then we have all the various new world "veggies"--your potatoes, tomatoes, squashes, eggplants, avocados, etc. And even the oldest of those only go back to 10,000 years or so (e.g. basically neolithic).
I'm looking out on this hillside by my house in Southern California and I see chaparral. I've spent a lot of time growing up hiking all around California and I'm pretty familiar with the sorts of goodies available in the chaparral and oak woodlands. And I don't see anything at all like my big bowls of salad greens, kale, chard, squashes, brussel sprouts, asparagus, etc. There's some various flowers in bloom right now that have some tender, edible green bits, and if I foraged carefully enough I could find some edible herbs, but mostly it is nasty, tough drought resistant plants that aren't really edible. What I do see up in those hills are lots and lots of rabbits (probably because there's not many coyotes and foxes anymore) and lots and lots of various rodents. If I were a Paleolithic person in SoCal I would have focused by efforts on getting those rabbits, not rummaging through bushes to gather some greens. I would go through the oak savannah and collect as many acorns as possible (which is precisely what the natives did) because they're an easy to collect, nutrient dense source of energy. Maybe, if I were down by the coast, I'd gather up some seaweed that washed up on shore. But mostly, I reckon that I'd be eating lots of rabbit, deer and acorns. I guess back in the day when we had salmon, I'd eat some that. If I were really ambitious and we still had bears around, I'd try and spear one of those. We also used to have Steller's sea cows in the waters off SoCal, so I might rig a kayak together and go out and harpoon myself a nice fat sea cow and haul that in. Point being, there's no natural salad bar around here. And that goes for a lot of regions. I've spent a lot of time in the Hill Country of Central Texas, which is a lot like SoCal. Lots of oaks and little shrubby things, lots and lots of deer, but no salad bar.
This all leads me to question just how much "veggies" Paleolithic people really ate. I know Cordain and folks like that argue that they ate a lot. But where? In the US, pretty much except for the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast/Florida, you're not going to have green stuff growing year round. And the Great Plains, Rockies, and Southwest it is just too dry to support foraging on greens if you're a person. This pattern would hold for lots of places in the world that aren't tropical. There just weren't gardens laying around, we hadn't selected veggies yet, so what were all these greens and veggies people were eating at the expense of eating mammals, birds, lizards, amphibians and fish?
I don't eat vegetables, and I'm certain they are not "necessary" for optimal health. On the other hand, I don't think optimal health necessitates avoiding them either for most people, though it may be true for some, including me.
It makes sense that they are not necessary for a number of reasons:
most vegetables, especially in their ancients forms, are simply not palatable. Spinach on it's own? Kale? Cauliflower? There's a reason almost all little kids don't like them. Add some fat and you can get them down. Apparently olives before brining are inedible. Why would our ancestors eat something that doesn't taste good?
most ancient vegetables were far more toxic. The ancestor of lettuce was very high in opiate properties and would put you to sleep. The common ancestor of broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts was toxic. All plants have toxic defenses - they don't want to be eaten! We have simply made them a lot better through 5-10000 years of cultivating they less toxic ones. This is the same reason paleos don't eat grains - why are they accepted in veggies?
many vegetables were simply not available in paleolithic times. Tomatoes and peppers are new world veggies. Variety compared to today's supermarket was not even close.
ancient veggies return on investment would be extremely low. Wild plants were probably half the size of today, and even today's plants provide little caloric return. They wouldn't be growing in neat rows. The cost of finding, gathering and processing would be greater than the calories expended.
you can thrive on an all meat diet.
All signs point to veggies being anti-starvation foods that we learned to farm. Prior to grain cultivation we needed something with a lot of calories to feed our needs - meat. Why would our ancestors waste time on low returning and toxic veggies?
This is one aspect of convention I can't get over, fruit and vegetables are surely good for you and they taste lovely
I couldn't live on just meat, eggs and fat!
I guess there is lots of speculation and discussion possible on the amount and sort of vegetables. The answer will probably be something like: 'you have to experiment for yourself'. And that is probably right. Another possible answer could be: 'make sure to vary a lot and eat all the colours of vegetables'. That is probably right too.
Just some food for thought: there is no hunter gatherer population that only ate animal foods. Even the Inuit, known for their diet heavily based on animals, eat quite a variety of plants. I know this does not necessarily mean that you cannot live without plants (although it could).
Why would you not eat vegetables? Especially for an athlete worried about cost effectiveness, I think plants are very useful.
I'll leave the technical stuff (minerals, phytochemicals, polyphenols, vitamins, macronutrient ratio brakedowns, hormetic effects, ...) to the real paleohack nerds ;-)
For years I had asthma and a weird dry feeling in my mouth that goes away after I hadn't eaten in a while. I lost 34 pounds on an organic vegan diet. I even tried raw vegan. I felt great and full of energy. I never missed a beat to exercise on top of that. My mental focus was excellent---until i developed severe respiratory issues and dark rash on my face. I came to a point I was dependent on my long acting and short acting inhalers. I first suspected citric acid allergy because after eating oranges for one weak, I developed symptoms of allergies. However, then it became mushroom, kiwi, eggplant. On top of that, I have gastritis. I developed a small tumor in my pituiatary gland (that is in the brain) while eating this organic all-vegetable vegan diet. I always suspected I would get a tumor or cancer because I always didn't feel well. Plus, I have insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian. I developed uterine fibroid while on a very healthy diet. My stomach wouldn't stop blowing up and I was negative for celiac disease. I have a fluid in my gut that doesn't get obsorbed. I think there is fluid all over my body that is not getting absorbed. It occurred to me gastritis means you cannot eat ANY plant products. Fruits have citric acid and it is inflammatory. Vegetables have fiber and I can't tolerate it. My asthma disappeared, but I do better on a meat and rice diet. I read online histamine causes the prolactin level in the blood to go up, which is what the tumor does. Well, histamine comes from fruits and vegetables for me. Elevated prolactin can cause tumors in other organs too. Never had I felt better. But my intolerance includes chocolate, tea, and coffee, because they are plant products too. I also read inflammation is what causes tumors and cancers and allergies is a form of inflammation. I found an organic milk that is unhomogenized and unfortified to drink and now I don't retain fluid anymore. Fortification of foods come from vegetables.
There is an article about a Crossfit athlete who has done this, https://games.crossfit.com/features/leonid-soubbotine-lion-chaser
yes vegetables are needed for the average person. You can live without vegetables: yes! but most likely a long term diet without carrots, squash, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, or fruits will not be optimal: your cholesterol might be too high, your risk of cancer too, etc. I would not do that!