When perusing the produce section of the grocery store, have you ever wondered how our brave ancestors were able to determine what plants were edible or deadly?
Take Elderberries, for instance. They are packed with nutrients like vitamin C and also rich in vitamin B6. But not all berries are created equal.
Pokeweed berries, Yew berries, and Holly berries are just some examples of the kinds of berries that are not our friends.
Many of these have toxic compounds that can lead to nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps when ingested. At worst, eating them can kill you.
Beware of beautiful plants the next time you're out in the wild. Even touching them could be a brush with death.
Curious to be educated about plant life, Redditor RKola asked:
They may look good enough to eat, but some of these plants are a one-way ticket to the after life.
"This plant has killed an estimated 100,000 people on Madagascar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangena?wprov=sfti1"
How About Them Apples?
"Manchineels ('Beach Apples') look like small apples but eating them will give you a terrible time. Even worse the sap is really toxic and if you stand near a machineel during rain just a small drop of the sap can immediately cause burnlike blisters on the skin. Some people say that the sap is so toxic that it even destroys car paint. If you get sap on the hand and then in a moment of temporary dumbness touch your eyes, you could get blind.
The Spanish call them 'Manzanilla de la muerte"'which translates to little apple of death, although no deaths in modern times caused by Machineels are known."
"Water hemlock (Cicuta) is fairly common in North America and very toxic. It can be fatal when even small amounts are ingested and resembles other non-toxic plants that are edible. Even just touching your lips or skin to the plant has been fatal for children. It causes swelling in the brain, blood coagulation problems, tremors, seizures, kidney failure among other issues. Death is usually caused by respiratory arrest and/or ventricular fibrillation."
Hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family. But that doesn't mean you can chomp on them.
Photosensitive For Life
"Giant hogweed was the first that comes to mind for me also. I was told about it by a supervisor last year. She basically told me I probably won't run into it because it's pretty rare in our region, but that it could make your skin photosensitive for life. The possibility of lifelong consequences from simply brushing against a plant scared the sh*t out of me."
"Oooooh, pushkey is what we call it in Alaska. Its f'king everywhere. I didnt realize the photosensitivity just knew it was a pain in the a**. I was working as a groundskeep at a rec camp and I weedwacked the hell out of a quartermile portion of road, no arm protection. Arms burned like hell."
Never Know What You're Gonna Get
"The entire apiaceae family. It's like forager roulette: you either get wild carrot or poison hemlock. Such is the reason I don't f'k with these plants in the wild."
Beware Of Foraging
If you're not equipped with the knowledge of looking for provisions that won't kill you, you''re better off staying home.
Brush With death
"I remember playing with the PNW U.S. native water hemlock flowers as a child. I had no idea how close I was to accidentally killing myself. I always washed my hands before going inside. I'm glad you are mentioning this. I know a lot of people getting into foraging who are delighted to learn about our edible umbels, but I bring them back down to Earth by showing them comparison pictures and describing how the deadly ones can kill you."
Beware Of The Gympie-Gympie
"The mother trucking Gympie-Gympie plant. The pain can last for MONTHS, I've heard of people and animals killing themselves to escape the pain. Being caught in a slammed car door would be merciful compared to the level of pain this bloody plant inflicts."
"How can it be so painful? The leaves are covered in silica hairs, touching the leaf can break off the tip of these hairs that then settle into the skin and become basically a 'self-injecting hypodermic needle' full of what's essentially venom."
"Unfun fact, Gympie-Gympie leaves can still sting when they're off the plant and technically dead. People have been stung by leaves in botanical collections."
"The Gympie-gympie terrifies me. There was one story of a poor soldier relieving his secondary port in the bush and reached for a leaf to wipe. Cue the gympie covering his chute with what can only be described as Satan's cereal. The pain can last month's or even years if encountered that severely."
A little Google image research of what some of these botanical killers look like might do you some good.
Because you never know when you'll be stranded in the wild and feel the hunger pains coming on while you have no Cliff Bar on your person.
But perhaps these botanists have failed to mention the most terrifying plant of them all.
Just remember what Little Shop of Horrors has taught us: whatever you do, "don't feed the plants."
Living on a smart, comprehensive and healthy diet is an essential part of living long and with energy. We all try so many different ways to nourish our bodies and most of the time... we're doing it wrong. It is an arduous task to stay with some of these ways of life. Not eating meat or cheese or eggs? I don't know how people do it. Yes we want to save animals and it's not ideal that we harvest their bodies for our own fulfillment but when your starving... the guilt fades.
Redditor u/eitakvo wanted to hear from all the people who gave in and went back to gobbling meat by asking...
I became vegetarian specifically to fuel an active eating disorder. When I got on the path to recovery, I started eating meat again. TheDrunkenGiraffe
Restrictive diets are pure fuel for eating disorders, and both of us have suffered in one way or another from them. fklwjrelcj
I was vegan for 3 years and had gone home to my community which is tremendously poor. To have cold cuts and a bag of Doritos is a luxury. My Aunt who was going blind made a family feast and everyone came, and she made a very traditional Lamb Stew. My heart broke when I thought of how much of her income she must have spent to make this possible and felt like a completely entitled outsider when I told them I was vegan.
They couldn't comprehend when food is so hard to come by, why anyone would choose to not eat any protein available to keep from being hungry. Being vegan comes from a first world position of entitlement. It is a luxury to choose what you eat, when so many eat whatever is available, not out of an ethical decision, but out of necessity. jad3dcr0w
I became homeless and couldn't afford to be picky about my food.
My life is stable now finance-wise and i now eat a balanced diet with meat, try to eat a lot of veggies, and i sometimes eat fast food and candy, which i didn't do when i was vegan.
Reason I became vegan was i thought meat is gross, and i still think it is so i still don't eat it too excessively. jgoigjfs
I lost a lot of weight (to the point that people asked if I was ok). I was tired and had low energy. I ended up being anemic. I slowly ended up getting to a point that I started eating meat again. HamfastFurfoot
Fairly stupid reason, because I broke up with my ex.
I was game a vegan to support her, and it felt weird eating meat while she was so against it. When the relation was over however, I no longer felt the need to support my ex in that way. Thus meat was back on the menu boys!! PJSegers89
A friend had to abandon it when they finally got treatment for their eating disorder. They were already malnourished, and 15 years ago in the Midwest there weren't a lot of good vegan options around. Their therapist also kind of insisted, because it was somewhat being used as an excuse to not eat or not eat anything substantial. Over time they just transitioned back into eating a normal, non vegan/non vegetarian diet.
Now its kind of a mindscrew that they can go just about any fast food restaurant and get Beyond or Impossible, various nut and soy milk is sold everywhere groceries are available (including some well stocked gas stations), and no one looks at you funny if you ask about the ingredients in a dish. say592
Just a heads up....
Just a heads up, as both a vegan and a doctor here - most doctors have little idea of how nutrition works outside of a few modules they learned back in med school. If you want proper advice on a substantial diet change see a dietitian (not a nutritionist).
Your own doc is going to know your medical results and labs of course, but their diet advice is often (not always) fairly broad and not even remotely comprehensive or up-to-date.
The best thing to do is see a doctor and a dietitian where possible, and have them work together to get things sorted. Lazy_Raccoon
The First Sign of Blood....Giphy
Not vegan but vegetarian,
I was vegetarian for a good 4 years, once I hit the 4 year mark, energy was at an all time low, my whole body felt weak, and the kicker I had very, VERY frequent nose bleeds.
it was so often I was use to it for a while, eventually the nose bleeds came to be too much, and I started eating meat again, then the nose bleeds stopped all together I haven't had a single nose bleed thus far, mind you I quit being vegetarian 2 years ago. Cringing_Regrets
Was vegetarian for 12 years. Had a mental breakdown after a death in the family and instead of drinking or getting high, I went out and got a steak taco. Life is too short to miss out on tacos. AAM13353
I divorced my vegan wife. cramburie
Same reason I stopped eating chicken breasts after broke up with the gym-animal ex boyfriend. failedtester
Wife and no Bacon / New girlfriend and bacon. SquanchingOnPao
I was using veganism as a guise for an eating disorder for well over a year. When I finally realized I was in trouble, after losing 80lbs, I went and bought lamb chops and devoured them. Also therapy. SassBerryPie
I still eat mostly vegetarian food and have done all my life. However my husband was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and coeliac which means that a high fibre/lower iron diet is not an option and a lot of the substitutes aren't gluten free. More often than not when he has meat I'll leave it or have the veggie equivalent but there are just not enough hours in the day to make 2 separate lasagnes and sauce etc. Reddit
I was on a diet for health reasons. When I was told I was allowed to eat meat again my fridge started looking like a Mexican fever dream. DasDoesSomeThings
I'm imagining that as lots of dancing tacos, quesadillas, beans, and chickens while mariachi bands play on a swirling tie dye background. Sapper501
Got a genetic illness which makes me permanently anemic. My body only absorbs a tiny amount of iron from food and that amount is "burned" pretty fast. Turns out it doesn't help to cut that tiny amount as well. Also i didn't replace the meat, i just left it out so i basically ate less food.
Edit: The genetic mutation i have is called Thalassemia (specific type: Thalassemia Beta intermedia) Its pretty common especially in mediterranean people usually only severe cases are properly diagnosed since you cant really do more than iron infusions blood transfusions etc. stolenkar
When in Japan....Giphy
I'm still as veggie as possible but I moved to a country where is is 10000% harder to be vegan (Japan). This is mostly due to not knowing a ton of Japanese and the fact that there is fish or meat in soooo many restaurant foods and the culture here isn't like in America where you can ask for items to be removed or substitutions... Not that my Japanese ability would allow me to do that anyway. SummerMournings
How Much? For Food?
I was vegan for a year when I lived in a big city that had lots of inexpensive options for what one could eat. When I moved to a small town in beef country, the cost of good produce quadrupled, as did the cost of meat substitutes. I quickly learned that if I didn't eat whatever I could get my hands on, I would starve, so I started eating meat again.
Some people say food deserts aren't real. They are. Ivytongue
I was traveling in Africa (edit: this part of the trip happened to be in Zambia, not that the specific location really matters for the point of the story), and stayed in a small village off the beaten track. I had just arrived and as the matriarch of my host family was showing me to my room, and helping me get settled in, her boys were out back slaughtering a goat for me.
I couldn't turn down that meal, because that goat represented a substantial part of the family's assets.
The whole experience made me realize that the social constructs around sharing food are far more important to me than what the food is.
If someone is serving it, I will eat it with gratitude.
Edit: yes, my stomach did not handle it very well. That said, my stomach was having difficulty anyway. There were unspeakable things done to the pit latrine.
Edit: no, I would not knowingly eat human flesh. Fortunately societal taboos on this are much more universal than are taboos related to eating goat. grindermonk
For a Stretch....
My brother-in-law went vegan for a stretch. One of his pet causes is donating blood. As soon as he's able to, he's down at the blood clinic donating again.
Anyway, on a vegan diet, his blood iron levels got too low to donate blood. So it was back to meat for him. But his daughter (my niece) is still vegan, and it's driving them nuts, because she'll only eat those vegan chicken nuggets, and they're getting pricey. originalchaosinabox
I wanted to see if it made me sick. I've since eaten it here and there but it's not often. I was vegan (food and otherwise) for near a decade. I'm planning on going back because I can honestly say that I've not been missing out. It's possible to veganize about anything these days.
Oh, also. No it didn't make me sick at all. SquizzleSE
Life's Too Short!Giphy
My aunt was a vegetarian for health reasons. The day she got diagnosed with cancer she went to In-n-Out. lovelymoth