My 30 Days As A Carnivorist
I'm now a believer in what's known as carnivory, the diet that forbids carbs and prescribes meat and only meat. It's been 30 days. I feel great.
In fact, this whole experience has been such a revelation that I'm beginning to think the conventional wisdom on the human diet has all been a giant lie. The food pyramid. Veganism. All of it. Lies at worst. Well-intentioned ignorance at best. Perhaps the biggest red pill of all is that carnivory is how we’re meant to eat.
How did I arrive at this "insane" notion?
A retweet by Mike Cernovich from Dr. Shawn Baker's Twitter account showcasing a random person's success story, where I then saw a link to his popular podcast appearance with Joe Rogan. Thus began my trip down the carnivory rabbit hole.
(As a quick aside, Mike Cernovich’s account remains the undisputed Drudge Report of Twitter.)
Before 2015, I ate a regular diet that skewed toward the lighter dishes Italian and Mexican cuisines offer, with a mix of Pan-Asian dishes thrown in there for variety. I would occassionally stray into pizza, nachos, fried chicken and more whenever I felt like it. I work out consistently, have a low-50s resting heart rate, naturally low blood pressure and am physically fit.
From March 2015 till February 28, 2018, I radically simplified my diet. I took the plunge into Soylent (before it added actual soy protein isolate to its list of ingredients in a later formulation). I also ditched Soylent for Huel. I mostly replaced two out of three meals a day with this powdered food.
Though these alternative vegan meal replacements saved me time, money and the energy of figuring out what to eat for every meal (plus cooking + cleaning), they left me wanting in other ways. Yes, I'm aware of the soy boy meme. I love the meme. It's mostly true too, though eating these meal replacements didn't turn me into a soy boy, I noticed other effects I didn't like.
My cardio stamina suffered. My muscles would tire more easily when lifting weights or doing something strength-related. The processed nature of the Soylent/Huel meals left me with this partially plastic-like feeling inside.
I've never been a full vegan. I generally viewed it as another genre of food. One I enjoyed. I certainly don't subscribe to any of the politics associated with veganism like Muh Climate Change, etc. I would always, always order meat if I was eating out at a restaurant to compensate for the lack of meat I ate at home. Veganism comes with some slick marketing that can trick you into thinking it’s light and easy on your body, when in fact it deprives your body of what it needs on many levels.
I allowed the ease of that diet to trick myself into thinking it was providing my body with what it needed. It most certainly didn't. Our high tech instant gratification culture we live in persuaded me of this too.
Dr. Shawn Baker's conversation with Joe Rogan clicked with me. This idea that we are apex predators who were built to eat meat made perfect sense. Watching Dr. Baker's livestreams on Periscope and Instagram helped educate me further as he fields all range of questions from viewers.
Over the past 30 days, I've put the old wives' tales to the test about eating too much meat. I've concluded, at least for myself, it's all wrong. What causes problems in people's diets is everything else you eat with that steak or burger patty. The sugary drinks. The sugary fruit. The fried, starch-stuffed potatoes. The creamed spinach. The bread. The bitter vegetables. And on and on.
Many people don't realize we had to engineer many of the vegetables we eat today. They were actually toxic until we intervened. Things like broccoli were not naturally occurring in the environment. We made broccoli. And it still tastes bitter/awful unless we season it in spices, fats and oils.
But what about nutrition deficiencies?
It turns out red meat is packed with nutrition, including Vitamin C, though it's not tested for Vitamin C. This is why the thousands of people like Baker have exhibited no signs of scurvy. For reasons I can’t recall, your body also needs less of things like Vitamin C; it becomes much more efficient in zero carb, all meat mode. There are too many other nutrients to list here that are found in red meat (and maybe some others) that I had never heard of. Baker’s Instagram is a great primer resource for learning more about those.
Here's a list of what I've observed in 30 days in a diet consisting of ground beef, steaks and some eggs here and there. No chicken. No fish. Red meat packs the most punch in terms of satiety.
- Digestion: No bloat. Yes, there was some weird adjusting in the beginning. Feeling of being full that lasts longer than a few hours. My system feels lighter now, which runs against the myth of heavy meat meals weighing you down. One pound of beef at breakfast carries me to being hungry again around 5pm. No need for lunch; nowhere near hungry for it. Two meals a day. Think about how much more productive your lunchtime could be without the need to eat.
- Sleep: I'm waking up earlier and going to bed earlier. It seems I'm eating on the more natural rhythm that our ancestors were on before the advent of artificial light and alarm clocks. Quality of sleep has improved.
- Weight: My weight has remained constant at about 140 lbs. I'm 5'7". Like I said, I didn't need to do this for weight loss or gain, as I'm already in my sweet spot. You'd think eating a lot more fat would pack on the weight, but it hasn't. Your mileage may vary. I did this for nutrition first. Weight is an afterthought. My physique is more defined after 30 days.
- Cravings: In the first two weeks, I had a strong craving for hot chocolate with whole milk. So, I had three of those during the month. That craving is gone. No sweet tooth. No craving for anything sweet, though to be fair, Soylent + Huel eliminated the sweet tooth, but they used fake sugars. I'm only eating salted + peppered meat here. A dash of BBQ sauce in the first few weeks too, but my use of that has waned considerably, as I don't crave it. There were a handful of times where I got really thirsty, presumably from the increased salt, so I remedied this with lots of water. Not complicated.
- Libido: No change either way. Never had a problem there. I'm in my 30s. I'm male. I'm straight. I'm fit. I rarely drink alcohol anymore and don't smoke. In fact, alcohol makes me recoil now.
- Working out: More energy during my various cardio acitivities (running, jump rope, indoor cycling). I feel like I have new muscles with extra oomph when I lift. Beef is rich in more than protein. These embedded nutrients make my muscles feel brand new and strong. Like someone flipped a switch that had been collecting dust my whole life. The weight lifting improvement is that dramatic. I'm a former varsity/NCAA Div. III lacrosse alumnus who never felt this good.
- Cost: Pretty much equal to what I was spending before because I'm not ordering nearly as much takeout, not buying all this other random stuff for my kitchen. It's beef, some eggs and spices like salt + pepper. Minimalist. Simple.
- Palette fatigue: None yet, but we'll see. After 30 days, I haven't gotten tired of red meat nor wanted to stray (outside of the three hot chocolates I listed above). Don’t think I could ever tire of sinking into the Tomahawk cut pictured above.
The end result of this experiment is that I will now stick with it. Carnivory meets my needs. It's simple to shop and cook for this diet. I don't suffer from decision fatigue about what to eat; I always know the answer AND, crucially, look forward to it. The grocery store is a pleasant trip now, instead of being weighed down by a long of list of random stuff that didn't make me feel like this, always wondering if I was buying the right things.
Now, I just eat like an apex predator. Being a carnivore makes me feel more connected to what it means to be human. Meat is messy and savage, like us. We are not these sanitized beings meant to eat cartoonishly clean food that looks like art. The more dependent we become on technology, the more I like digging into a steak. It reminds me of where we came from and who we are. Our deepest roots.
I don't weigh my servings, outside of a very rough idea that I should probably eat 2-2.5 pounds of beef per day because that's done the trick for me. I don't count calories. I eat when I'm hungry, then wait until I'm hungry again. I listen to my body.
Ditto for beverages, which is mostly water, black coffee and tea. No added cream or sugars. When I'm thirsty, I drink. No overthinking it. No analysis of how much water I need. I just down a glass if I'm thirsty.
I hope all of you found this helpful. I don't care what you eat, but the vegans out there trying to interfere with my food will have a problem with me and many others if they don’t leave us alone. If what you're eating works for you, great! If not, perhaps give carnivory a shot. More testimonials from people like me can be found at: meatheals.com