Article Thumbnail

Can I Just Take a Vitamin Instead of Eating Vegetables?

It sort of depends on how attached you are to the whole ‘being alive’ thing

Very few of us are getting enough vegetables. Only one in ten people regularly get their recommended daily dose, while the remaining nine of us vary: Some are trying our best, working in a side of broccoli whenever we can, while others are perfectly content with their vegetable-averse lifestyle. They walk among you, just like people who don’t drink any water or haven’t picked up a book since high school. 

It’s unclear exactly how the vegetable-averse manage to survive, though there are some possibilities. One is that they simply don’t, and are actually rotting from the inside out. Or maybe, they’re really good at taking vitamins. But say, hypothetically, you wanted to give the latter possibility a try — eating nothing but meat and carbs, skipping the salad at every turn, replacing those missing nutrients with supplements. Is it even viable? Could vitamins replace vegetables?

No, you fools!

“Supplements aren’t a replacement for eating vegetables,” confirms Alexandra Oppenheimer Delvito, a registered dietician in New York City. While you could technically replace some of the nutrients you’d miss from not eating vegetables with vitamins, nutrients aren’t the only thing veggies have going for them. “In addition to being a rich source of a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and fluids, eating vegetables offers even more benefits, including unique phytonutrients and even the benefit of the exercise vegetables give your digestive tract, starting with chewing,” says Delvito. 

Basically, vegetables are multifaceted in their nutritional perfection. They contain all sorts of micronutrients that can be difficult to source elsewhere, they’re low in calories, and they’ve got enough fiber to ensure your tummy processes it all smoothly. While you could hypothetically hack your diet with vitamins and find some alternative source of fiber, it’s unlikely those alternatives would be great for you, and if you’re filling up on veggies, you’re less likely to be filling up on less healthy foods. “According to 1,259 registered dietitians in the Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian What’s Trending in Nutrition Survey, eating more servings of vegetables per day is their top nutrition recommendation for 2020,” says Delvito. 

So there you have it: Exit the bogus supplements section and head back over to produce. Why would you want to entirely avoid vegetables, anyway? There are infinite possibilities to enjoy them. Put them in a smoothie. Fry them if you must. Best of all, even if you cover them in ranch, it still counts.