Revisiting the Carnivore Lifestyle

In 2010, you might have run across me posting in Facebook groups and Twitter storms, fighting the misplaced passions of animal rights activists, health advocates, and citizens concerned with environmental issues. I don’t care to argue much anymore. I let the science speak for itself.

I went low carb, from paleo to keto in a progression from 2009 through 2017. I lost 80+ pounds and kept it off. For several years after that, I ate 100% muscle meat and offal. I could fast easily and was energized. I ate less volume and denser nutrition. Digestion and bowel habits were easy. My lipid labs and colon checks were excellent. The anecdotal evidence for the health of a carnivore lifestyle is overwhelming…and so is the research.

274 pounds of grassfed and finished beef, raised on a local farm. Buying local in bulk meant final price was $3.77/lb.

Today (2021) I have incorporated some carbohydrates into my diet, including starches. I’m in a bulking phase as I try to put on muscle and I do intense workouts almost daily. Honestly, I felt better on carnivore for those few years, so I have no doubt I will return. I still have good labs and energy, but planning and counting macros is a headache. In retrospect the only difficulty I had with carnivore was I ended up not eating enough protein. Seriously. As I ate more meat, especially beef, I calculated I was eating less than 100g of protein many days because I was filling up on fat. All that natural animal fat was great for health, comfort, convenience, and fasting while engaged in less intense exercise. Starches replenish glycogen in the muscles more quickly than waiting for the liver to convert fats, which matters if you exercise frequently and intensely.

If you are content with your plant-based diet, you probably won’t get much from this page and I wish you well. However, if you have poor energy, health issues, an autoimmune disorder or issues with digestion, if you’re fat, and/or you are open to exploring whether avoiding meat really helps animals or the environment, then maybe you will find something here that helps your life choices.

A few places to start if you’re curious:

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“Experts” v Science

I’ll be blunt: if you think someone eating meat is hurting more animals than a vegan, missing important nutrients in their diet, or damaging the environment more than a person consuming a plant-based diet, then you need to educate yourself with science, not the talking points of political entities like the USDA, PETA, or AMA.

I realize you, like all of us, grew up trusting mainstream medical and news sources — experts we were told. Well, most of the world already accepts the fact that the “experts” were wrong about the safety of cigarettes, sugar, and trans fats because they are political entities influenced by lobbying, payoffs, poor science, and even fraudulent science. I’m here to tell you the “experts” were wrong about other things, too, like vilifying saturated fat, salt, LDL, and ruminant agriculture, and exalting the health benefits of plants and the benevolence of plant-based agriculture.

Here are some nice infographics made by carnivore enthusiasts that I follow. It’s an easy way to share information, but these are not arguments. They are starting points. If you find they stir your curiosity, go read more. Below the gallery I have some bullet points.

Don’t take my word for anything. Do your own reading.

If you research, you’ll find that:

  • meat is the most nutrient-dense food on earth
  • the standard American diet (and also the diet recommended by the USDA) is overwhelmingly a processed and plant-based diet (grains, seed oils, fruits, and vegetables comprise the greatest share of volume and calories), NOT a meat-heavy diet, and Americans are eating less red meat than they were 40 years ago and getting sicker
  • you don’t need plants for nutrients like vitamin c — you get plenty from fresh meat
  • vitamin deficiencies rarely arise from a diet that lacks them, especially a nutrient-dense diet with meat; deficiencies arise more often because a plant-based diet blocks absorption of many nutrients, like calcium, fluoride, vitamin C, and iron
  • recommendations to take omega 3 fish oil supplements are a reaction to the amount of chemically-altered seed oils (these are poly-unsaturated or PUFA oils like canola, soy, corn, “vegetable”, etc.) that are consumed in everything you eat; if you consume less seed oils that are high in omega 6, you don’t need to balance your intake with supplemental omega 3
  • when you lose weight, your body is eating your own fat, which is all saturated fat and not an unhealthy fat at all
  • gallstones are more common on a low fat high carbohydrate diet, and converting to a high fat diet can reduce or remove existing gallstones
  • a carnivore diet is the only realistic completely local diet for anyone living outside the equator, which contributes much less processing and transportation pollution than a plant-based diet that raids southern climates for their bounty
  • Anti-meat activists often quote UN data because ruminant animals are raised less efficiently in third-world countries, while meat advocates often quote EPA data because first-world countries, though eating more meat, cause less environmental impact; regenerative agriculture is achievable throughout the world
  • livestock primarily consume foods not fit for human consumption and meat production requires less cereals than generally reported
  • ruminant animals put more carbon into the soil than they take out, just the reverse of monocropping farms that create deserts
  • cows consume foods mostly inedible to humans and create more protein than they consume
  • the past was not more plant-based, as today the average U.S. adult eats a little more than half as much red meat (100 pounds/year) as an average adult did in the 19th century (175 pounds/year), and less than what was considered adequate even for slaves at the turn of the century
  • human brains grew when our ancient ancestors started consuming more animal fat
  • human brains shrunk, our jaw shrunk, and our teeth gained more caries when our ancestors domesticated grain
  • saturated fat is a foundation for much of your body, including your hormones, your cell membranes, your brain
  • probiotic gut bacteria consume your plants and give you back saturated fat which is the value to you of the plants you consume; your body doesn’t use most of the plants, your bacteria do
  • saturated fat is a fuel source even for herbivores like rabbits, since they, too, rely on their gut bacteria to create the fat they can use (and herbivores like rabbits, deer, and squirrel will eat animals opportunistically, as well)
  • your digestive system breaks down the meat you eat without the need for bacteria, and it’s almost completely absorbed before it reaches your colon, which means your stools are much smaller
  • humans with the lowest LDL die sooner and those with highest LDL live longer
  • the lipid labs to focus on are not your LDL value, but getting your HDL higher (with exercise and meat) and getting your triglycerides lower (with reducing carbohydrates)
  • heart disease is not a “clogging” problem but an inflammatory and metabolic resource problem; your heart prefers fat for fuel, as does most of your body, and inflammation arises from the presence of high levels of insulin and intake of polyunsaturated fats (chemically-altered seed oils)
  • animals preserve themselves through fight and flight but plants are filled with poisons meant to deter predators, such as lectins and oxalates; nutrient deficiencies, nerve pain, autoimmune conditions, kidney stones, gas, and bloating arise from the consumption of plants
  • you must consume essential fatty acids and essential amino acids, but you can live the rest of your life healthy and active without eating a single carbohydrate; what glucose your cells require can be made by your liver…and it’s a very small amount
  • deriving protein from plant-based sources requires a great many more calories (from accompanying carbohydrates in things like beans, lentils, peas), while supplements like pea, hemp, and soy powders supply incomplete proteins and are less bioavailable, meaning you absorb less protein than your package tells you
  • Laboratory-grown real meat is not cruelty-free, needing a constant supply of live pigs, cows, chickens and other animals from which to take cells as live donors
  • Lab-created synthetic meat is not cruelty-free, beginning with an animal product (bovine serum) taken from fetal cows during slaughter.
  • Seminal work from 1930 a year of a supervised carnivore diet. CLINICAL CALORIMETRY. XLV. PROLONGED MEAT DIETS WITH A STUDY OF KIDNEY FUNCTION AND KETOSIS.* BY WALTER S. MCCLELLAN AND EUGENE. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS. 1. Two men lived on an exclusive meat diet for 1 year and a third man for 10 days. The relative amounts of lean and fat, meat ingested were left to the instinctive choice of the individuals. 2. The protein content varied from 100 to 140 gm., the fat from 667 200 to 300 gm., the carbohydrate, derived entirely from the meat, from 7 to 12 gm., and the fuel value from 2000 to 3100 calories. 3. At the end of the year, the subjects were mentally alert, physically active, and showed no specific physical changes in any system of the body. 4. During the 1st week, all three men lost weight, due to a shift in the water content of the body while adjusting itself to the low carbohydrate diet. Thereafter, their weights remained practically constant. 5. In the prolonged test, the blood pressure of one man remained constant; the systolic pressure of the other decreased 20 mm. and the diastolic pressure remained uniform. 6. The control of the bowels was not disturbed while the subjects were on prescribed meat diet. In one instance, when the proportion of protein calories in the diet exceeded 40 per cent, a diarrhea developed. 7. Vitamin deficiencies did not appear. 8. The total acidity of the urine during the meat diet was increased to 2 or 3 times that of the acidity on mixed diets and acetonuria was present throughout the periods of exclusive meat. 9. Urine examinations, determinations of the nitrogenous constituents of the blood, and kidney function tests revealed no evidence of kidney damage. 10. While on the meat diet, the men metabolized foodstuffs with FA: G ratios between 1.9 and 3.0 and excreted from 0.4 to 7.2 gm. of acetone bodies per day. 11. In these trained subjects, the clinical observations and laboratory studies gave no evidence that any ill effects had occurred from the prolonged use of the exclusive meat diet.

A Philosophical Note

 The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth. – Laozi

Finally, as someone who grew up with tremendous compassion for animals and as a person who has had many pets, I used to feel conflicted about loving animals and yet eating them. I don’t have that conflict anymore because I came to accept the cycle that makes me food, too. Living things of all kinds are constantly trying to consume me, and succeed daily — from mites to bacteria and viruses, and in the summers the flies and mosquitoes.

To starve my body of nutrients it needs in order to save domesticated animals means I would be consuming a greater volume of nutrient-poor food that isn’t even sufficient, yet costs the lives of more animals that are pests to monocropping agriculture, such as mice, deer, hare, ducks, cranes, blackbirds, gulls, gophers, porcupine, squirrels, voles, etc.

When you study the working of plant-based farms, you realize just how much killing of wild animals (not to mention insects and plants, if you care about living things without faces) is required to preserve the crops meant for human consumption. And this kind of killing is much less humane than what happens at a meat locker.

To preserve my house or food I’ve killed mice, squirrels, bats, raccoons, voles, and an unlimited number insects. Traveling by plane routinely kills birds. Every product I use has some animal part in it or tested with it or killed to produce it. How many animals have I killed with my car or even by walking across a lawn? I kill living creatures every day just by washing my hands or taking medication.

Every waking moment of my life means the death of another creature. But it doesn’t really bother me, because one day I’ll be one of the deaths that allow other creatures to live. One day the worms and beetles, maybe mice and rats, and who knows, maybe even a large predator will get their fill from my corpse. And yours, too.