Milk and Potatoes Is All You Need?

I’m reading this article on a proposed new law that would make it illegal to put your child on a vegan diet.  The law itself sounds a bit heavy handed, but after a few well publicized cases of parents showing up to the hospital with very malnourished children, and one of them even dying, it wasn’t happening in isolation. These were obvious cases of parents not making sure their child’s diet was working for them.  They were doing very egregious things like giving a six week old nothing but soy milk and juice.  I’m not a doctor or a parent, but even I know that doesn’t make sense.  In the article comments on ArsTechnica one of the commentators stated, “If you have a non vegan diet, you can live exclusively off potatoes and milk. Not the best diet, but it’s livable and you get most of the vitamins and nutrients you need.”  I thought to myself, “I don’t think that’s correct.”  So, I went to figure out if it was true…

My new go-to tool for doing nutrient analysis is CRON-O-Meter.  It is the most detailed, most comprehensive, and best sourced system I have ever seen for this sort of thing (at least for mere mortals).  The test is simple, can I load up a diet with literally nothing but whole milk and potatoes and get all my macronutrient, micronutrients, amino-acids, and do it in a relatively balanced way.  I added three ingredients to the list: whole milk, white potatoes, and sea salt.  I then started incrementing each one until I hit just over 2000 calories (2117), and a reasonable nutrient ratio.  You end up drinking 48 ounces of milk and eating eight medium baked potatoes.  The results were surprisingly good:

As you can see, this diet gets you a decent, but not great, amount of fiber.  It is certainly heavy on saturated fats and has some transfats, I guess from the milk, however the omega-6/3 ratio looks pretty good.  You get all of the amino acids you need, and most of the vitamins.  The only vitamins severely lacking are E and K.  A couple of handfuls of kale and nuts would round that out. I’m sure I could tweak this a bit more, throw in some variety into the potato selections, and get even better results but that wasn’t the point.  The point was can you do more than just get your calorie requirements met by solely eating potatoes and drinking milk.  The answer, in short, is a resounding yes.

Please don’t go out and pick this up as a new fad diet, I’m certainly not. I’m not advocating for this sort of a diet, but it is surprising how complete and not so horrible such a simple diet turned out to be…

Picture of Me (Hank)


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