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Surprising Science

What is the ‘pure carnivore diet’?

It’s all the rage right now after the Paleo and keto diet sensations took the world by storm. But is it healthy?
Key Takeaways
  • The meat-only diet is being promoted a lot by people with right-wing political biases.
  • Until the science is studied and proven, caution is the best approach.
  • Balance, balance, balance. Have I mentioned balance?

New on the diet “scene” is one called the ‘pure protein diet,’ the carnivore diet, and the zero-carb diet. It’s basically meat protein only — ignore the vegetables, fruits, and anything else that is not meat.

One ribeye steak, plain, coming right up.


 “Would you like a little spite with your steak, sir?”

It’s popular, especially among — interestingly enough — conspiracy theorists, Bitcoin fans, and those seeking to anger liberals.

You read that right.

Because industrial meat production is very much anti-environmental in nature, some conservatives who wish to dine on a ribeye steak only are choosing to do so precisely because politically progressive folks might not like that. It’s also kind of an extreme response, such as purchasing extra guns and joining gun clubs en masse when gun control measures are being discussed, or taking photographs of straws after they’re banned in restaurants.

In effect, it’s “Eff you, libs!” on steroids. (And speaking of steroids … there’s a claim by some fans of the diet that it boosts libido and testosterone levels. Take that, wimpy libs! However, heavy meat consumption is also associated with reduced sperm count… womp womp.)

For that matter, one of the creators of the Paleo diet, and author of The Paleo Manifesto, John Durant, refers to it as an alternative to the “left-wing plant-based movement.”

And as for the other fans, including conspiracy theorists and Bitcoin fans… read on.

An actual Bitcoin coin

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t messing with you.

“Bitcoin is a revolt against fiat [a.k.a. government-backed] money, and an all-meat diet is a revolt against fiat food,” said Michael Goldstein, a self-described “Bitcoin and meat maximalist” in Austin, Texas. “Once someone has grown capable of seeing beyond the lies and myths that experts peddle in one domain, it becomes easier to see beyond them in other domains as well.”

Just gonna leave that right there …



So… given, this is a little odd at first glance, what about its benefits? Harms? 

Those who are promoting the idea claim a reduction in arthritis and depression symptoms. Shawn Baker, formerly an orthopedic surgeon who had his license to practice medicine revoked, claims that lifelong diseases can be reversed with this diet. It’s important to note, however, that none of these claims have been proven or even studied scientifically.

Indeed, Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, is not convinced this is the right track at all. “Are these T-rex? African lions? Or humans? Assuming [it’s for] humans, this sounds disastrous on multiple levels,” he told The Guardian. “I think a ‘carnivore diet’ is inappropriate for human health, bad for the health of our planet, abusive of the human labor force that handles the preparation of meat, abusive of animal rights and welfare.”

Easy there, Meat-itarian!

There are a host of nutrients that cannot be absorbed by only eating meat, and likewise, a host of diseases that one can come down with if missing key nutrients and vitamins — scurvy is just one example — and there’s still a well-known connection between animal fats and heart disease.

All this said, being careful would be the best idea here.


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