As we know, it's possible to eat a very unhealthy diet that is still technically vegan. For example, eating nothing but spoonfuls of peanut butter would be technically vegan but you would develop scurvy within a month or two. Veganism guides us on what not to eat in order to avoid harming others.

But in order to not harm ourselves, we should also focus on what we include in our diet. Enter Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen Checklist where he suggests the inclusion of foods from several food groups every day.

Here's my question: does this checklist guarantee nutritional adequacy? It seems pretty well-rounded. If the checklist isn't a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, it should be possible to devise a proof by counterexample that fulfills the checklist but still shows some kind of weakness.

For reference, here's The Daily Dozen checklist with number of servings for each group.

  • (3) beans
  • (2) greens
  • (3) grains
  • (3) fruits
  • (1) berries
  • (1) cruciferous vegetables
  • (2) vegetables
  • (1) flaxseed
  • (1) nuts
  • (1) spices
  • water
  • exercise

(And of course, a B12 supplement.)

  • Consider this a vegan game of code golf.
    – Nic
    May 18, 2018 at 4:10
  • Adding the word "guarantee" sets this question up to turn on the meaning of "guarantee" and not the merits of this methodology vs the likely alternatives, namely ad libitum feeding, i.e. eating whatever strikes your fancy or is available. Dec 9, 2018 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


No, the Daily Dozen guidelines are not a guarantee of nutritional adequacy. I was able to construct a plan that ticked all boxes on the Daily Dozen checklist but was still low in protein, lysine, vitamins B2 and B5, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, selenium, and zinc (as computed by Cronometer).

Example (1500 kcal)

  • 3 FDA servings pinto beans
  • 2 FDA servings of romaine lettuce
  • 3 FDA servings of brown rice
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1 FDA serving cabbage
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 FDA serving flaxseeds
  • 1 FDA serving macadamia nuts
  • 1 dash black pepper

Adding a few more foods like almonds, mushrooms, and avocado helped to square up the vitamin intake. Mineral intake was rounded out by adding calcium-prepared tofu, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.

The Daily Dozen provides a good foundation on which to build a diet, but is not necessarily a complete diet on its own.

  • A singular, one day plan which is minimally compliant to the "Daily Dozen" misses that well balanced eating includes a variety of foods over time. In my understanding, Greger's "Daily Dozen" intends to include variety. "Nuts" can include almonds. "Greens" is certainly more than just "Romaine Lettuce" (e.g. Kale, Arugula, etc.) This answer, as currently written, misses that an underlying premise of variety is at the foundation of the "Daily Dozen". Sep 5, 2019 at 17:18
  • ... and yet, yes, it is valid that one needs to pay attention to various nutritional elements beyond just completing a "Daily Dozen Checklist". Thus, an answer which contemplates "nutrional sufficient" could be more complete & useable if the following question was also addressed: If variety is applied the Daily Dozen, then which nutrients would one most likely need to pay attention to? Some key nutrients to pay attention to are noted in Dr. Greger's related "Optimum Nutrition Recommendations" posting. Sep 5, 2019 at 17:39

It really depends on calorie intake, its absurd to imagine getting all the nutrients needed with so few kilocalories. I would starve to death on a 1500 kilocaries diet even if was in comatose, my basal metabolic rate is 1987 kilocaries... i don't think i would even survive more than a few weeks on 1500 kilocalories.

Test it on calorie calculator with multiple heights and weights.

2000 kilocalories is the minimum for a sedentary teen that stays in front of a computer 5 hours a day and does 0 physical activity... basically close to comatose since 8 hours of sleep + 5 hours of computer = 13 hours of inactivity yet a diet with 1500 kilocalories would result in deficiencies, weight loss and stunted growth.

2300-2700 kilocaries are the minimum for a physically active teen who does cardio/calisthenics/weightlifting or any other sport .

And 2500-2800 are the minimum for sedentary male adults.

If you don't get enough calories to begin with there's no way you can get enough proteins minerals and vitamins, not even with supplements because supplements have calories.

The daily dozen only works if you are not actually starving yourself to begin with. If you want to lose weight, don't starve, instead of eating 500 less kilocalories do 500 kilocalories worth of cardio which translates to 45 minutes of bodyweight training or 30 minutes of incline running on a treadmill/hill (most people can do 1000 kilories on the tradmill easily) or a 90 minutes slow walk... even playing guitar for 2 hours consumes 500 calories.

Also tomatoes are berries...

  • 1
    Can you add links or citations for those daily kcal numbers you’re providing? I tried the first calorie calculator result from a Google search and got very different numbers than what you wrote here.
    – Nic
    Sep 4, 2018 at 4:07
  • @Nic I don't have a good counter source, but my sports watch which records heart rate and stuff 24/7 says I barely use 2000kcal when sedentary even though I'm a 75kg male who usually does around 1000kcal of additional sports per day. This checks out with my eating habits.
    – Nobody
    Sep 10, 2018 at 21:08

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