Carnivore dieters and other animal food aficionados frequently claim that plants are completely unnecessary for human health and are, in fact, largely responsible for many modern diseases like obesity, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. 

They’re right in that you can survive without eating plants because you can get every nutrient needed to sustain life from animal products, but they miss the mark in claiming this as evidence that their way of eating is superior to omnivorous eating. 

Although you don’t need to eat plants to survive, most research shows you probably do need to eat plants to thrive—to maximize your health, longevity, and wellbeing. 

The reason for this is plants contain an abundance of nutrients that are difficult to get from animal products alone. 

For instance, while you can get enough vitamin C from organ meats to stave off scurvy, studies show that you’ll probably enjoy a number of health benefits from consuming more than the absolute minimum amount needed to not die, including better immunity, mood, and blood cell health.

The same thing is true of fiber and phytonutrients, which are only found in plant foods. Although you don’t technically need either of these nutrients to live, thousands of pages of research show that you’ll probably be healthier, live longer, and feel better by regularly eating fiber and phytonutrients.

For example, studies conducted by scientists at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Imperial College, the University of Minnesota, Harvard University, and Tufts University, as well as many others from universities all around the world, have shown that eating more fiber helps reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and diverticulitis, to name a few. 

Research also shows that various phytonutrients offer similar benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, improved brain health and function, improved colon health, lower blood pressure, and improved blood vessel function and lower blood cholesterol.

So no, you don’t need to eat plants to survive, just like you don’t need sunlight, fresh air, sex, friendship, or soap. But unless dry humping a cardboard box in Tyler Durden’s basement is your idea of fun, you yearn for more than mere survival.

+ Scientific References