Can we live without eating vegetables? Why does the World Health Organization recommend eating more of them? Here are a few facts about vegetables to answer these existential questions.
Our need for vegetables is linked to evolution
Human evolution shows that human populations have always adapted over time to their environments. In Europe, for example, plants benefit from regular rain, an ideal amount of sun, and generally favorable temperatures, so people live in a “green” world nearly year-round. This ecosystem has affected people’s bodies, which, for example, learned to no longer synthesize the vitamin C provided to them regularly by their diet.
Furthermore, vegetables provide fiber, which can also be found in grains. This fiber is the substrate for the intestinal flora, today probably considered one of the most important “organs” in the human body because of the way it controls essential functions like natural lines of defense, hunger, and satiety. In other words, the environment created a “plant-dependent” human, which means that, today, we need fruit and vegetables to live.
Can a human survive without ever eating vegetables?
Living without almost any vegetable is nonetheless possible! Some groups of people manage to survive while consuming very few vegetables: the Inuits in the Arctic and the Tuaregs in the desert, for example. Once again, their bodies adapted to the conditions of their environment. However, without eating fruits and vegetables, life expectancy takes a hit!
Indeed, the WHO and the majority of world governments encourage eating fruits and vegetables because many studies have shown their positive impact on health. Experts at the World Cancer Research Fund International estimate that eating more fruits and vegetables probably lowers the risk of certain cancers. We also know that certain varieties of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of hypertension and that of birth defects, and promote health in general. Furthermore, they are low in calories, helping maintain a normal weight.
Vegetables are therefore indispensable for a healthier, longer life. So develop good habits, and fill up half your plate with vegetables!