As I understand it, the advent of this new fad for eating ALL THE MEATZ, ALL THE TIME started with a surgeon and weight-lifter called Shawn Baker appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast, announcing that with an all-meat diet he had managed to regain his energy and strength, reduce inflammation in his body, and control his blood pressure and weight among other things.
Since then he wrote a book called The Carnivore Diet, in which he promotes an all-meat diet for the health benefits he has perceived (I should say mostly meat, it seems he will sometimes eat eggs), and other well known figures like Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson have revealed that they too are on a 90-100% carnivore diet.
It’s not me who will tell Shawn Baker that he’s not feeling better if he says that he is. He’s a grown-ass dude, a surgeon no less, and knows how he feels.
He should also know however, that there could be a multitude of reasons for his health improvement, there is no way of establishing exactly just what the cause is.
It could be as it is with the paleo diet – when people eliminate dairy, refined sugars and processed food from their diets they can experience major health improvements. The science would say that this is more likely to be due to the elimination of these other foods than to the increase in meat.
There are lots of other factors we don’t know. He could’ve had a food intolerance or allergy to anything he was eating previously, perhaps one he didn’t know about, that cleared up on elimination of the food allergen.
There are so many possible other reasons for his health improvements, it’s just not scientific or truthful to categorically state that they were definitively due to an all-meat diet.
And Baker never tried a whole food plant-based, or even junk food vegan diet, so we can’t compare how he felt on either of these to how he feels on an all-meat diet. For all anyone knows, all his health issues could’ve been solved by transitioning to an all-plant diet, he may even feel even BETTER than he does now if he were to try it. We just don’t know. And neither does he… because there’s not any science behind it as far as I can see, his claims all seem to be anecdotal.
On Googling ‘The Carnivore Diet’ I was startled to see many books, not just Shawn’s, with the same or similar titles, all promoting an all or mostly meat diet.
Here are all the reasons why
this sh*t is insanity I believe we are not meant to eat this way:
There are so many reasons why eating only meat isn’t the best idea – I’ll stick to 8 so the post doesn’t get too long. I’ll include some obvious arguments and a few less so. I’ve left ethics out of it because it’s blindingly obvious that a Vegan Coach would find a meat-based diet unethical! 🙂
- Saturated fat. Animal products contain far greater levels of saturated fat than plant-foods. High consumption of saturated fats, especially from animal products, are linked to inflammation; oxidative stress; liver disease; diabetes; breast cancer; cognitive decline and Alzheimers.
- Cholesterol. Only animal products contain cholesterol. All animals (including us) produce cholesterol. If you are consuming animals, you are taking their cholesterol on board, on top of your own. Having high cholesterol maximises your risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
- The planet anyone? Even the highest quality organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised (or whatever the f**k the latest feelgood marketing term is) meat is at best, as bad for the planet as intensively-farmed meat; at worst it is more harmful because intensively-raised meat has a shorter lifespan and so emits less climate destroying methane. You’d have to really not give a shit about future generations to be happy eating an all-meat diet.
- Sustainability. The high quality meat that these human carnivores supposedly eat is not sustainable. It needs much bigger areas of land to be raised and produced. If everyone wanted to eat that kind of meat, we’d need several planets!
- We are not carnivores. Lions and tigers are carnivores. Our bodies and digestive systems do NOT resemble theirs. They have:
- Long canines (all the better for piercing the jugular veins of their prey), which we do not.
- Very short intestines, so they can digest meat in an effective way and in the correct amount of time. We have very long, narrow intestines, designed to digest fibrous plant food in an effective way, while meat can get stuck in them and can fester and putrefy there for years.
- Acid in their stomachs that can kill any pathogens, to stop them getting sick when they eat raw meat. We have to cook meat to kill the bacteria; otherwise we can get very sick.
- Speed. They can run extremely fast to catch their prey. If we were to try and catch any animal other than those that are advertised to us because of their docility and cheapness to feed and shelter – if we were to try and catch a gazelle or an impala for instance, just as other carnivore mammals do, we’d fail miserably. We’d need tools like guns to shoot them. Real carnivores don’t need guns.
- Long claws – so they can better kill and then rip their dead prey apart. We have rather pathetic nails in comparison. Again, we’d need tools like knives to achieve what carnivores do with their claws.
- Fibre is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies. There is no fibre in an all-meat, or all animal product diet. Fibre is only found in plant foods. We need fibre for healthy digestion, healthy weight loss, heart health, and cancer prevention among other things.
Fibre is the main nutrient that helps us attain great gut-health . Maintaining gut-health is arguably the most important aspect of achieving optimal health. In case you haven’t heard, 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, and it’s now thought that dodgy gut-health is linked to many, many diseases, including fibromyalgia, ME, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, some cancers, and all the currently ubiquitous mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bi-polar syndrome and schizophrenia. We know that red meat is bad for gut-health, so how on this sweet earth can eating an all-meat diet (at least one of the self-professed ‘carnivores’ eats only red meat), be beneficial long-term?
- Hormones. Even if you are eating the best quality meat in existence, you are STILL consuming extra mammal hormones. Doesn’t matter if this meat is labelled as ‘hormone free’ – this just means there are no added hormones. But animals, just like us, produce naturally-occcurring hormones. These are over and above what your body needs, and may mess with your own hormone levels.
- Blue Zones and Inuits. There is a book by Dan Buettner called The Blue Zones. The Blue Zones refer to all the areas of the world that have clusters of centenarians. Buettner investigates what the determining dietary, social, economical, spiritual and community factors are behind so many living to 100+ in these regions. In terms of the dietary factors, all ate either a 100% plant-based diet or very, very close to that.
Inuits on the other hand are an ethnic group that, due to their location and climate eat huge amounts of meat – more than most other populations. Their life-span tends to be 10-15 years less than that of non-Inuits.