Tl;dr: meat = good. The rest = bad.
Hey, this article was originally published in my old blog in 2020. Now, it’s 2022, and things have changed.
I have effectively failed the carnivore diet.
This doesn’t change the fact that I stand by everything written in this article.
As you are about to find out, nutrition is a tricky business.
Table of Content
Click to expand/collapse
- #1 Plants Are Toxic and Dangerous
- #2:The Digestive System
- #3: Evolution
- #4: The Current Tribes Diet
- #5: Allergies
- #6: Sugar
- #7: Human Teeth
- #8: Basic Nutrition Science
- #9: The Results
- #1: Meat and Cancer
- #2: Proteins and Kidneys
- #3: Cholesterol Is Bad For Your Heart
- #4: No Vegetables Will Give You Scurvy
- #5: Potential Downsides and Risks of the Carnivore Diet
- #6 Why Do We Lose So Much Weight So Fast on a Carnivore Diet?
Homo Sapiens arose around 350 000 years ago. About 25 000 years ago (at the earliest), the first men became sedentary and practiced agriculture.
They shifted from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet, likely due to herd exhaustion (they hunted mammoths to extinction).
The most important impact that this shift in diet had was a decrease in brain size.
This isn’t surprising as our digestive system resembles much more that of a carnivore than a herbivore: small cecum, quick process, acidic stomach, and an inability to digest fibers.
It is supposed that anti-nutrients in plants lead to severe auto-immune diseases, which can be cured with a carnivore diet.
The carnivore diet is a diet made out of meat, fish, and eggs exclusively. It is important not to mistake it with:
- The animal-based diet: a diet based on animal foods only (meat, fish, eggs, butter, yogurt, milk, cheese etc)
- The carnivorish diet: a 95% carnivore + butter, yogurt, or some vegetables.
- The lion diet: a diet made out exclusively of red meat (beef, lamb, goat, etc)
This article is split into three parts. First, I explain below in nine points why I think we got nutrition all wrong. In the next part, we’ll debunk some health myths together surrounding the “dangers of meat”.
Finally, I’ll tell you how I discovered and adopted this all-meat lifestyle, and why you probably shouldn’t.
None of what is written below has been “invented”. It all comes from sources I have read.
Most of the time, I linked these resources. If not, you can find all the information (and more) in the book The carnivore diet by Dr. Shawn Baker, the book Carnivore Code by Paul Saladino, MD, or Carnivore Cure, by Judy Cho.
Check out my article on resources for more resources!
Disclaimer: This is no dietary advice. I am not a licensed medical practitioner and I only know as much as I read.
Should you try out the carnivore diet, make sure you do not suffer from any condition that could worsen on an all-meat lifestyle. Always consult a licensed professional before undertaking any dietary change.
Let’s dive into it.
Part One: Nine Reasons Why Your Diet Should Be Based on Meat
I know it’s crazy.
We have been told so many times to “eat five fruits and vegetables per day” by so many “doctors” and “scientists” that this very fact is the hardest to swallow.
However, it makes perfect sense when you understand the broader picture.
Let’s start by establishing that the purpose of all living beings, be it animals or plants, is to keep their species alive.
To do so, nature gave to every living creature a defense mechanism against predators.
For animals, most often than not, this mechanism is running away. Sometimes, it is fighting with claws, poison, teeth, arms, or even, poop. This is the famous “fight or flight” response.
Plants don’t have this luxury to fight, neither flight.
They can’t run away. They can’t fight with claws either.
As a result, the only way for them to fight predators is to manufacture powerful chemicals that will attack those that eat them.
These substances are called anti-nutrients. They decrease the absorption of nutrients by your stomach and make you feel sick when you eat the plant so that you stop doing so.
We only know about a small fraction of chemicals present in plants.
In all of the biggest pharma labs around the world, scientists work relentlessly with plants to isolate their complex molecules and test them to treat diseases.
The problem is that these anti-nutrients are not accounted for by current nutritionists.
Studies have reported that the volume of man-made pesticides spread on plants is much LOWER than natural pesticides manufactured by the plant itself.
And since plants have existed much, much before we did (about 450 million years ago), they had all the time in the world to perfect their defense mechanisms against predators.
So when we think we’re eating the plant, it is the opposite that happens: the plant is eating us.
Then we may ask, why are we actually eating them?
Well, we don’t.
We only eat a very small percentage of all the plants that exist, and as we will see below, most of the plants we eat have been domesticated and mixed to become edible.
Vegans may fear GMOs, but almost all fruits and vegetables we eat today are the results of gene manipulation that happened over a span of about 13 000 years.
And even that wasn’t enough!
Most plants still need to be detoxified through pealing, cooking, boiling, fermenting, processing, and more.
Very few plants can be consumed as such from nature, and when it is the case, the plant is more often than not an evolved version of what it was originally.
After all, had we been made to eat plants, we would have had a stomach to digest them in the first place.
#2: The Digestive System
Let’s start by establishing something even vegans can’t deny: the human stomach cannot digest fibers.
It can’t, which is why vegans poop three times a day.
Fibers SPEED UP (and not “improve”) the digestive process because the stomach gets rid of these harmful components as soon as possible.
How is it with other animals?
The cow, one of the “veganiest” animals ever, has four stomachs and a three days digestive cycle.
First, the cow eats the grass and swallows, then the grass gets digested the first time, then comes back in the cow’s mouth and the cow chews on it for one or two days, then the grass is finally digested, after a…96-hour digestion process.
That’s how a digestive system made to eat plants looks like.
However, I admit that it’s difficult to conclude anything about the human digestive system since we are not close to cows.
So let’s have a look at the chimpanzee.
The chimpanzee, an omnivore (eats animals, fruits, insects, and leaves) has, for example, a big great intestine, a smaller small intestine, and a big cecum where leaves come to ferment to allow for easier digestion.
For humans, it is the exact opposite. Consider the image below (we compare humans to gorillas, which are slightly different than chimpanzees).
We have a small large intestine, a big small intestine, and a very small cecum.
It is further reported that while some apes don’t digest fibers well (among which is the chimpanzee, despite its different stomach), some other apes have a digestive system much closer to the cow’s which allows them to be happy herbivores, like the gorillas.
Finally, the human stomach’s acidity measured in pH, is 1.5, one of the highest acidic stomachs in the animal kingdom.
What does an acidic stomach do best?
Don’t believe me? Then run a test on yourself.
Do you ever feel bloated after eating a lot of vegetables or fruits? Most likely, yes.
Now, try once a meal with only meat.
You won’t feel any of these symptoms, and digestion will go smoothly.
Another effect that has been noticed with carnivore people is the number (and amount) of pooping: it is almost insignificant.
I practice bowel movement once every 7-10 days, and what I poop is always very little compared to when I used to eat a rich carbohydrate diet.
That is because the absence of anti-nutrients we talked about in the first point makes absorption of food much easier. Furthermore, the absence of fibers does not stimulate bowel movement as much. Finally, there is very little in meat that the human body does not absorb.
Better absorption means less waste, and if you add to that the absence of fibers…you significantly spare on toilet paper!
It has been shown that a bunch of Australopithecus at some point started eating meat.
After all, meat was available everywhere at all seasons, while plants (the digestible ones at least) were scarce, low-nutrient dense, and were not available at all seasons.
Furthermore, there were no possibilities to check for a plant’s safety: a red berry could have been comestible just how it could have been deadly.
While herbivores can recognize the plants they eat by instinct, we recognize our food visually: they usually run away as we approach.
As we transitioned out of a plant-based diet to a meat-based diet, animal foods helped boost the brain, which got bigger and Sapiens/Neanderthals (they later split) appeared.
There is a direct correlation between the period when we started eating meat and when the brain started growing.
Furthermore, this growth of brain size is the biggest and fastest of all of history.
As such, while Australopithecus’ brain size was about 1100 cm3, the Neanderthals (big carnivores that went extinct about 40 000 years ago) had a brain size of about 1750 cm3 as it was about to go extinct.
If this proof that meat is based for us is not enough, here’s another one, much more troublesome: brain size started to shrink about 20 000-10 000 years ago.
Our Homo Sapiens’ brain is only 1400 cm3 and lost 25% of its size compared to Neanderthals.
And what happened 20 000-10 000 years ago?
The agricultural revolution.
Now, it is interesting to pause and reflect.
Neanderthals, a big carnivore, went extinct as Sapiens started domesticating plants.
If you have read Harari’s masterpiece Homo Sapiens, you know that big animals always went extinct as humans were moving territory.
One of them is the mammoth and luckily, we recently discovered some giant mammoth traps, confirming that mammoths (and highly probably other big animals) were hunted down for their meat, and did not disappear out of nowhere.
We can therefore propose the following narrative: as humans were spreading, meat became scarce because they were eating and hunting faster than animals could reproduce.
Neanderthals died of hunger while Sapiens had but no choice to start eating plants, which they later domesticated during the Neolithic.
As Sapiens ate foods that weren’t tailored to his needs, brain size, height and health drastically decreased, and only modern medicine and lifestyle have allowed humans to gain back on body size.
The brain, though, kept its slow shrinking phase.
About 340 000 years ago, Homo Sapiens appeared and shared the planet with Neanderthals. They were both hunters. For 300 000 years, life was great, no government, no police, no vegans, food was plentiful and the air was pure.
About 40 000 years ago, food started running low.
Sapiens, to avoid hunger, started eating plants and ended up domesticating them while Neanderthals pursued their carnivore lifestyle.
The Neanderthals eventually all died out with their big brains while Sapiens’ were shrinking.
The sedentary lifestyle bored Homo Sapiens to the extent that they started studying their environment, building villages, writing laws, waging wars…until today.
While science has not validated entirely this theory, it is getting more valid as time goes by.
Has the sedentary lifestyle made us evolve?
It would make sense.
The nomadic lifestyle was full of adventures and comfortable: the cavemen worked about 25 hours a week, lacked nothing, life was safe, and nobody was lonely.
They had no reason to do anything else than they had been doing for 300 000 years. When food went scarce though, it created such a change of dynamism in Sapiens’ society that we ended up with what we have today: a tired, sick, neurotic, suicidal, auto-destructive, and depressed society.
Should this theory be valid, this period of decadence famously theorized by Oswald Spengler or Michel Onfray would not have started a thousand or so years ago, but about…20 000 years ago with the agricultural revolution.
It would further mean that what we mistake for a cultural decadence actually is a species decadence induced by food.
Species annihilation would be final and complete once carnivore humans would go back to the diet of their ancestors the Australopithecus: veganism.
The species would eventually disappear due to weakness, as their size, strength, and intelligence decrease.
Does it seem too crazy to believe?
#4: The Current Tribes Diet
The Inuits and the Masaï have both the particularity to eat very little plants and plenty of meat and have an impressively low rate of about any western diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular problems, cancer, obesity (these four usually go hand in hand).
Vilhjalmur Stefansson didn’t think so.
In 1928, after he discovered the all-meat diet of the Eskimos, the Icelandic explorer decided to prove that an all-meat diet was healthy by spending a year eating just meat, under observation at the hospital.
And so he did.
After a year, the results were clear: he was perfectly healthy and lacked no vitamin (see below for questions about vitamin c).
The key to the diet, he discovered, was to not cook the meat too much as to keep the vitamins inside, and to eat a lot of fat because the body can’t run on protein alone.
The most common allergies on the planet are tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, soy, fish, cow milk, eggs.
See any meat here?
Fish and shellfish can be expected because we didn’t evolve in water.
As for cow milk, humans are the only species drinking milk from another animal, which is unnatural.
In fact, only Europeans can digest milk due to the fact that we have been drinking it for 13 000 years.
Cow milk allergies mostly exist where there are non-European people.
Plants though, even though we have been eating them for about 15 000 years, are still giving allergies.
Why would nature ask us to eat something that ultimately kills us?
After all, what food do you think humans are most unlikely to be allergic to?
Books in ten volumes have been written on the negative effects of sugar on the human body and the topic is so large that we are not doing it any favor by putting it in one section only.
Therefore, I’ll be brief.
The body uses two types of energy sources: carbs (sugar, glucose, fructose…are all carbohydrate, simple or complex, and have the exact same impact on your body) and fat.
It can also use protein, but transforming protein into energy is expensive and inefficient.
When you eat carbs, your stomach is going to break down these carbs in glucose.
This glucose is going to go to your bloodstream and your liver will start creating insulin to tell your cells to absorb this glucose.
The cells will subsequently use this glucose as energy.
If there is too much energy (you ingested more carbs than needed), some cells will transform the glucose into glycogen to use when you’re not eating: glycogen is a short-term energy source.
The rest of the glucose is transformed into triglyceride, which is in plain English, fat, and a long-term energy source.
That’s it, it’s not more complicated than that.
So, does it mean that if you don’t eat sugar, you don’t get energy?
No, it doesn’t.
The body can run on a second source of energy: fat.
Fat is created whether by transforming the glucose as we have seen, or by eating…fat directly.
This is why it is highly recommended for carnivore people to eat a lot of fat, otherwise, they may run out of energy.
But so, how does the body use fat for energy?
When your body runs out of glycogen, it will start using its long-term fat stored in tissues. Your liver will transform that fat into ketones. Ketones have been shown to be a much higher quality energy source for the brain.
Your body enters a state of ketosis when it starts creating ketones.
The best way to enter ketosis is to fast.
This isn’t surprising that so many religions prescribe fasting to purify the soul.
Ketones have been shown to immensely help with mental clarity and other mental issues.
He who does not eat sugar benefits from this clarity almost all the time.
He who fasts benefits from it even more.
This explains why the Buddha was at the beginning, a huge fan of fasting to increase his mental capabilities.
Today, fasting is used to treat different eating and mental disorders, and greatly benefits your body.
To summarize, sugar is a lower-quality energy source for both the body and the brain.
When one eats too much sugar, one gets fat, which subsequently creates more blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, insulin is triggered too frequently and cells become insulin-resistant which leads to type 2 diabetes: there is so much sugar in the blood that cells can’t take it anymore.
Furthermore, sugar plays a role in concentration, depression, anxiety, the fact that cancer cells joyfully feast on sugar to develop (cancer patients are now fed a ketogenic diet, yet still considered “dangerous” by many MD), sugar decreases the strength of the immune system, decreases vitamin absorption (the cells that move vitamins around also move sugar around, and they take care of sugar first), attacks your teeth, causes gum disease, increases stress, increases inflammation, and much, much, much…much more.
There is no positive effect of sugar on your body, besides giving low-quality energy.
“But what about complex carbs”, you may think.
No difference, as you can see!
Complex carbs are similar to simple carbs, except that they take more time to be digested and hence don’t spike insulin as much.
As a result, if you want to improve your health, we can reasonably conclude that you should cut on carbs as much as possible.
And which foods do you think contain zero carbs?
Is it vegetables? Is it bread? Milk?
It is meat, fish, eggs, and water.
And nothing else.
#7: Human Teeth
Have you ever seen an animal with braces?
That’s because animals eat a diet nature shaped them for.
Since we switched our natural meaty diet for a plant diet about 15 000 years ago (the shift was slow to spread, as explained by Chris Ryan), our whole physique has been impacted. We grew smaller, became weaker, our brain size decreased, and finally, our teeth went all crooked.
The need for braces is not recent. While modern orthodontics was invented by a French scientist in 1728, we have found traces of braces going as far back as…Ancient Egypt!
It’s not surprising.
About ten years ago, there was a shift in how scientists interpreted the evolution of the human skull.
It has now been confirmed that the reason why so many humans suffer from having teeth crooked and need their wisdom teeth withdrawn is because of a change of diet.
Meat is much more difficult to chew than vegetables. I eat twice a day, but it takes me one hour at least to eat my 750 grams of meat at each meal. This is because chewing meat is a long and arduous task.
While I am lucky to use a knife and a fork, cavemen did not have this chance. As such, I believe that their mouth must have been enormous in order to be able to eat the meat they were hunting.
I briefly went through a period of my life when I ate with my hands only. I quickly gave up because cutting the steak with my teeth hurt so much that I had to use a knife again.
The pressure we used to apply to chew meat made the jaw big. As we moved away from meat to focus on plants, we didn’t nearly need as much strength to chew. As a result, the size of the mouth decreased…but the number of teeth stayed.
Today, most people have too many teeth compared to the size of their mouth. This is why they need braces or have their teeth removed.
One team of orthodontists though, started to think differently: the Mew.
The Mew is a family of British orthodontists. When they started to put braces on their patient, they noticed that over the years, the teeth almost always ended up crooked anyway.
They figured out that braces were just fixing the cause of a problem whose origin remained unknown. So they set out to find out why most humans had their teeth naturally crooked.
They quickly understood that bad postures and a vegan diet were responsible for this unfitted development of the jaw. They created a therapy that consists of tongue exercises, a change of diet, and a better posture.
And this is how they managed to fix their patients’ jaws without the need to apply braces.
A big jaw makes you look more attractive than a long face, cavemen had big jaws and were mostly eating meat, and a change of diet from meat to vegetables has decreased the size of our jaws, making surgery and braces almost obligatory.
Where does that lead us?
Back to meat, and away from dumb vegetables.