In Thursday evening’s debate with Harley Johnstone, aka Durianrider, of 30 Bananas a Day (see here for the debate wrap up and reader discussion), I issued a challenge for listeners to get a sense for comparative nutrient density by comparing some measure of beef liver with what it would take in any mix of fruit to roughly approximate the nutrition, buy which I basically meant: vitamins and minerals.
While not a precise comparison and we don’t have the actual nutrient breakdown, 30BAD member Harrison — to his credit — was honest and open enough to do just that. Basically, he compared his breakfast of 1800g of papaya and 450g of strawberries to a measly 113g of beef liver. That’s 79.4 ounces of fruit (5 POUNDS!!!) compared to 4 ounces of beef liver (1/4 POUND!!!). Here’s the chart, the top one being the fruit and the bottom one the liver.
In rough terms, this makes liver about 20 times more nutritious than fruit by weight. Also note the protein. Four ounces of liver and you get 10g more protein than in 5 pounds of fruit. What you don’t get, however, is 211g of sugar, a full 207g more than in the liver.
Now here’s where Harrison flubs the experiment all up, making it an apples to oranges comparison (who can fault him?).
I exceeded the vitamin and mineral content of 4 ounces of beef liver with my breakfast. It’s not really so tough.
He’s comparing a reasonable amount of caloric energy in his breakfast to a breakfast that wouldn’t satiate my 15 lb. rat terrier. So let’s do a little work on FitDay and see how his 850 kcal breakfast compares to a breakfast with the 4 ounces of liver, plus eggs, potato and fruit, to get up to an equivalent level of energy.
But first, let’s look at the actual nutritional breakdown for the fruit. You’ll need to click it to open up the full size version.
Green numbers are those nutrients that exceed the daily RDA and red, those that fall short (but in fairness, this is but one meal). Dashes mean the meal doesn’t contain the nutrient at all.
So here’s the full meal I constructed and again, click to open it to full size if you need.
Now, for a breakfast I would be more likely to go with double the meat (8oz) in the form of a sirloin or other breakfast steak and adjust the other stuff accordingly. At any rate, let’s stick with the 4 ounces of liver for continuity.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown.
And now finally, here’s a graphical comparison of both ~850 kcal meals, with the fruit meal at top.
So, while he was able to achieve a rough vitamin and mineral equivalent consuming 850 calories and 5 pounds of fruit to 150 calories and 4 ounces of beef liver, if you actually add the rest of what you would need for an 850 calorie meal from eggs, starch and fruit, you simply blow the 5 pounds of fruit out of the water by a very wide margin, on average. What’s more, you don’t have to eat five pounds. Estimating my meal at 650 grams total, you’re under a pound and one half of total food.
This ought to give any vegan pause, especially feeding infants and children.
So, commenters, what have you to add? Any other insights to glean from this? Vegans: see if you can do better. Better mix of fruit? Perhaps some leafy greens? Paleos, can you do better? Just how about everyone stick to the same 850 kcal meal so that we’re comparing animal flesh to animal flesh.