Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?
It seems like almost every week that a new person who has stumbled into our Zero Carb Facebook group Principia Carnivora asks this question. Since it comes up so often, I have decided to take some time to articulate my personal reasons for choosing raw meat over cooked meat.
When I first started a Zero Carb diet 21 months ago on January 1, 2015, I began with a wide variety of animal foods: eggs, cheese, butter, cream, bone broth, chicken, pork, and beef. All of it cooked. I really struggled with Zero Carb in the beginning because I simply did not feel that good no matter what I ate. Removing all plant foods from my diet certainly helped, but I was still experiencing a lot of negative symptoms from the animal foods I was eating. The biggest symptom with the most impact on my quality of life is chronic migraine headaches.
About 6 months into my Zero Carb journey, I finally discovered that I am histamine intolerant. Histamines are in all aged and fermented foods, as well as eggs and any foods that are slow-cooked, and this is why I have continued to struggle with chronic migraine headaches on a Zero Carb diet. One-by-one, I removed everything from my diet except for beef. And even with the beef, I have to make sure that I get it as fresh as possible and use it immediately. The longer beef – or any meat – is aged, the more histamines it will contain. The longer a steak sits on the shelf after being cut off of a main primal piece by the butcher, the more histamines it will contain.
All last winter (2015-2016), I was eating very lightly pan-fried fatty beef chuck roast steaks. And when I say lightly, I mean 30-60 seconds per side, leaving the meat blue-rare inside. This was working to some extent, but I did not feel all that good. In fact, I got a terrible cold virus last winter that came back three separate times! I literally never get viruses, so to have the same one three times in just a few months was both very worrisome and very unpleasant. The last time I had a virus prior to this was in the winter of 1999-2000, when – incidentally – I was also eating a fair amount of cooked meat (one of my earlier attempts to escape veganism, LOL!).
So, I knew I should be eating my meat raw, but the cold, wet winter and the state of my mind at the time, were really making it difficult for me to do this. Once the weather warmed up a bit, however, I decided to give fresh raw ground beef another try. After a few weeks, I got used to it and then the taste of the cooked meat wasn’t all that enticing any more. Nevertheless, I continued to have a cooked meal here and there, very rarely. But each time I did this – I noticed that 1) I did not feel as well after eating the cooked meat as I did after eating the raw meat; 2) I did not digest the cooked meat as well as I digested the raw meat; and 3) I could tolerate much more fat when I ate it raw verses cooked.
One of the things I have personally found very helpful on my Zero Carb Journey is periodic fasts. I have completed three separate 16-day fasts (each were a combination of water and dry) over the past 21 months. Each of these fasts has helped me quite significantly. Histamines build up in the body over time and fasting is the single most effective method I have discovered to allow my body to eliminate them from “storage.” When the meat I can normally eat without issue begins to give me migraine headaches, then I know my histamine “bucket” is full so-to-speak and it is time for another fast.
I just completed my most recent 16-day fast a week ago. It went really well. But coming off the fast has been both challenging and enlightening. First, I decided to experiment with Fiji water and it gave me a migraine headache and caused me to feel generally crappy. This tells me that the company adds minerals to the Fiji water, which is implied but not directly stated on the label. I am 100% certain of this because I felt exactly the same way as I always feel after taking any supplements of any kind. They all make me very very very sick just like the Fiji water did.
After I recovered from the Fiji water debacle, I decided to try cooking my meat one night. I had broken my fast 6 days earlier and – up to that point – I had eaten only raw ground beef according to my usual custom. Although I am kind of unhappy with myself for choosing to cook my meat this night, I gained an enormous amount of clarity about what my body does and does not like due to this unhappy choice. So, ultimately, the experience was an extremely valuable one because of the new knowledge it brought me.
Needless to say, my body had a very negative response to the cooked meat. I started getting a migraine headache within a few hours of eating it and, 3-days later, I am still suffering the consequences. The next morning, lymph nodes throughout my body were incredibly painful. The effects from eating the cooked meat were so bad, that I actually had to go back on a short dry fast to give my body a chance to work through it. I tried eating my normal fresh raw ground beef the next day, but that just made the migraine headache and lymphatic inflammation worse.
This is one of the reasons I am such a huge advocate for both fasting and doing a bare bones version of the Zero Carb diet if you are new to this way of eating. There are so many potential variables when you eat any and all animal foods that there is really no way to tell how you are responding to them if you include them all indiscriminately. If you start with just fatty beef and water, then you have removed all of the most potentially problematic foods in one fell swoop. After you have eaten only beef and water for 30-days, you can then test other Zero Carb foods one at a time to see how you do with them.
Fasting takes this process one step further by eliminating all food for a period of time. This way when you add back a food, whether from a basic beef and water diet or from a fully fasted state, your body can give you a much clearer response to whatever food you are testing. This is what happened to me with this last fast I did. Being away from any cooked meat for a while prior to the fast, and then doing a long fast, made it considerably easier for my body to let me know that it really really really does not like cooked meat.
Prior to this, I was living in a fantasy world that I could sort of go back and forth between raw and occasional cooked – if and when I felt the desire for it – but this experience has shown me just how utterly delusional that idea was! From here on out, I am no longer seeing cooked meat as an option for myself. This was a very powerful transformative “a-ha” moment for me. I will never again choose to eat meat that has been cooked even the tiniest bit. Cooked meat is now in the same category as plant foods: it is no longer a “food” as far as I am concerned.
While some people might find this realization to be even more restrictive than what most would already perceive to be a very restrictive Zero Carb diet, I personally find it quite liberating to have finally reached a very definitive conclusion on this issue. There is no more doubt about it, and it is one less decision I need to make. It is all raw all the way for me!
Wow, I’m not sure what to say. Whether it’s congrats in finding what is poisoning your body, or commiseration on consigning yourself to eat such a repetitive and boring diet! Cold as well!! Do hope you keep to your good health in any case xx
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Because I only eat once a day, it does not feel either repetitive or boring! I look foreword to every single meal and I t always tastes good.
I eat only once a day and find it really liberating. I was wondering .. do you lose a lot of weight during your 16 day fasts?
Hi Werner – I lose and average if 1 lb per day. It takes me a month or two to regain the weight I lose.
Hi Esmee. Im a freelance writwr ( and an ALMOST zero carber and i eat most of my meat raw. I am writing an article on the benefits of eating raw meat. Can possibly quote your article…about the digestion being easier?
I havent sold the article yet but happy to let you know where it ends up…
Gold Coast Australia
Yes, of course!
Genetically we are not designed for cooked or plant foods.
Thank you for your impressive article.
Please explain. Do you have any references? I’m interested to learn more.
What exactly do you wish me to explain?
Good Luck Esmee, Can’t quite go there myself. Having pan seared wild salmon with seared asparagus spears tonight.
I was eating keto for about a year and went down under 148 pounds. Back eating some veggie carbs and some blueberries. Feel great (now 164#) so we all have to experiment and find what’s best for us.
The three main things that determines how healthy we are: Fasting blood glucose (mine was 81 ) want to be under 85. Blood pressure want to be 110/75 or so. Triglycerides under 100 (mine were 48) and HDL 75 or better (86)
On Sat, Oct 1, 2016 at 5:23 PM, Eat Meat. Drink Water. wrote:
> esmeelafleur posted: ” Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw? It seems like almost > every week that a new person who has stumbled into our Zero Carb Facebook > group Principia Carnivora asks this question. Since it comes up so often, I > have decided to take some time to articulate my” >
Good job Esmee! We must do what we have to do!
You’re a gem!
We still going strong on Med rare ground chuck here..ribeyes…some bacon and some eggs and a little cheese here and there.
All doing well…just a little over 7 mos. now.
Thanks for all the encouraging interviews you send our way!
Thank-you so much for this post. For the last few weeks, actually since my last fast too I have been eating raw meat. I would actually only eat raw meat, either minced or I cut it and eat like a regular steak, but I still have some frozen meat in the freezer.
As for Fiji water I was out on one of my fasting days and I was thirsty and knew that Fiji water was one of the purest and bought a bottle. I should have know better because within 20min of drinking some I reacted to it. I ended up giving the rest to some plants. Great post. Boy am I happy I found your web site and the Facebook page.
Thank you for sharing your own experience with Fiji water…more confirmation that I am not crazy!
Thanks for continuing to share your journey, Esmée. I had wondered about the difference between raw and cooked, and you clearly explained the difference it makes for you. Congrats on that very important realization.
Very well written….
I am sure this does sound complicated to people who are new to the concept of Zero Carb and/or Fasting, but it is terrific that you found this out! Interesting detail, too, about the mineral water… will have to take a look into that for myself, too, so thanks again for another valuable tip!!!
I’ve woken up today feeling a lot better to since switching back to raw lamb & beef. Let’s hope it continues. Good luck Esmee!
I hope you make further progress soon.
Thank you for this! I am empowered whenever I read your posts. I have temporarily eliminated all meat and drink Lactaid milk only. I call it my modified fast. I have had luck with DAO histamine digester enzyme but do not rely on it as it is said to have a negative effect on natural digestive enzyme production if used too often.
Dear Esmee, Thank you for continuing to keep me (and your other peeps 🙂 ) up to date on your continuing health/diet experiments. Your journey is interesting, and touching. You work so hard. Wishing you well,Todd
Read & completely agree Esmee. Good luck on improving your condition.
I feel for you about the meat being cold in winter, I feel this way to about raw meat, I don’t like stone cold meat as much when everything is cold! I’m considering just heating it somehow to body temperature using water or a similar tactic.
Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe there is something severely wrong with your digestive system and your body as a whole for being so incredibly intolerant to basically everything? The human race would definitely not be here if your experience was any indication of how humans should eat. It is interesting to read about your extreme ways, but I don’t think it is sane to think that any of what you are “discovering” for yourself applies to anyone else.
Thanks for your opinion. Of course there is something wrong with my body. I have written a short summary of my history here: https://zerocarbzen.com/about-me/ if you are interested in the details. And of course I do not think that everyone needs to do what I do. I simply share my journey in case it might be of benefit to others. You would be surprised just how many others there are with this level of food sensitivity. I am a member of multiple Facebook groups that are filled with people just like me. You are truly blessed to be able to whatever you want and still feel good. I have not experienced that for over 25 years. I have been to many, many doctors without receiving any help at all. Everything I have discovered has come through my own experimentation and help from others with the same issues.
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Excellent, thank you Esmee.
Beautiful! I however don’t think there is anyting wrong with your body to refuse most foods of today, Esmée, in fact, you have a very smart body to reject it. most foods today are not foods. I think the human species thrives on predominantly raw meat ( I most certainly do too, tho I need a variety of raw fish, chicken and beef). Even escavation and research in Native American sites showed the more they moved away from raw meat towards cooked plants over time, the more they were plagued with sickness and earlier death. Raw meat is superior food for humans on all acoounts, so thank God your body has guided you so far. Bless you x
> I however don’t think there is anyting wrong with your body to refuse most foods of today, Esmée, in fact, you have a very smart body to reject it.
You could look at it both ways.
There could be something wrong with a body that accepts and tolerates anything (including artificial man-made food), takes in all plant toxins without any sign of rebellion, develops unnoticeable low-level inflammation and metabolic disease over the years and have a life span of 70 years. Which is actually the majority of the population.
Maybe the ones who are intolerant to **what we’re not supposed to ingest for optimal health, anyway**, all the ones with the auto-immune illnesses (that maybe are not illnesses at all, but just a manifestation of the innate defenses of a functional body) and who stick to the primal way of eating (I think we all agree that hunting came before farming), are the ones living to 100 and the reason the human race got here **until the industrial revolution came along**.
With the same thinking, and taking into account that the majority of the population joined the agricultural/industrial revolution bandwagon, if we continue like this and don’t revert to our “primitive ways”, it may be the reason **the human race started its slow extinction already, exactly after agriculture came along**. See what I mean? It can take thousands of years for evolution/extinction to happen, how do we know we’ve not been in a downwards spiral for thousand of years, already? The egyptians already had diabetes and tooth disease.
I bet Esmée will outlive us all.
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Hi Esmée, So what meat is safe to eat raw? can i just do it with steak? I have severe amine and salicylate foods intolerances. i can only eat green beans, eggs, bread, goat milk. if you have time, i’d love to know how to eat meat raw safely ? i believe raw fish can kill you! I have a theory on the fiji water, it is naturally high in magnesium, that seems to trigger my histamine response, its all to do with the methylation cycle i believe, my naturopath is trying to work mine out now! Thanks Vanessa!
Hi Vanessa – I am also histamine and salicylate intolerant. I eat no plant foods at all. The only food I eat is raw ground beef. I have to make sure it is as fresh as possible to reduce the amount of histamines I ingest. I do not eat any other meat, but I would consider raw lamb to be equally safe to eat raw. If you search on the name Aajonus Vonderplanitz and Raw Primal Diet, you will find a lot of info about eating meat raw. I personally have no interest in eating fish, pork, or chicken. I cannot eat eggs because they too are high in histamines. Butter also seems to be high in histamines, so I cannot eat that either. I eat only beef and the fat that comes with the meat. I prefer to buy bulk Primal cuts like New York Strip from Costco because they have a high turn over, the fat has not been trimmed off, and the meat has not been exposed to air. I hope this helps.
Thank you for writing this! I also eat meat raw, otherwise it gives me a feeling of anxiety that lasts hours after eating.. I ran a (un)scientific test on myself – I bought pounds of grass-feed beef, sliced, and froze it.. Then I took out about 4oz at a time, and lightly cooked/seared some meals, and ate others raw. i have no symptoms after raw, but the cooked meat makes me anxious and uncomfortable (like I can’t relax) within an hour. If this is histamine, then why does cooking cause more histamine? Why can I drink pasteurized milk, which has heated protein? My next test, if i have enough courage, is to eat raw fish (sashimi) which is documented to be high in histamine.
You mentioned that you’re in facebook groups – which ones? I found one group particularly useful, called ‘Trying Low Oxalates’. The organizer is a scientist, and tries to keep content factual. Oxalates are found in plants and the cause pain and inflammation (think kidney stones). oxalate may cause mast cell deregulation, and therefore overly-reactive to histamine. Many people produce oxalate endogenously (via b6 or b1 deficiency or genetic problems), so diet isn’t the only answer… but is a big improvement for nearly everyone. Once inside the body, we rely on bacteria to break it down (eat it), or we excrete it. We (humans) have no way to break it down ourselves. Sorry for rambling… thanks again for posting about your experience!
I help run the zero carb group Principia Carnivora.
I definitely have histamine and salicylate intolerance, but I am not sure about oxylates. I don’t eat any foods with oxylates now, and when I did, I really did not consistently react to high oxylate foods. I have no idea what it is about cooking the meat that I react to. It may create histamines, or it may create some other compound that is toxic to my body. But the difference in the way I react to raw versus even lightly cooked is like night and day. If you join our group, I would high recommend that you access our group files and download and read The Type A/B Weight Loss book by Dr. H. L. Newbold. It is more about food sensitivities and incompatibilities than it is about weight loss per se. It is out of print now, so I made a PDF so others, like you, would be able to read it. It is a very fascinating and important book. Blessings, Esmée
I should also mention (not necessarily for you, but maybe others) that oxalate builds up slowly, and is more inflammatory when excreted. So oxalates usually become a problem when eihter:
1) we suddently stop eating a high oxalate diet, and the body excretes is suddenly or
2) we eat a high oxalate diet and don’t have the bacteria to break it down, or
3) we develop a b1/b6 deficiency and produce oxalate endogenously.
many people on the oxalate forum have salicylate sensitivity. salicylate and oxalate may use the same sulfate transporters across cell membranes.
it’s just something to consider.
Interesting about the Fiji water. Still trying to figure out the best source, as inexpensively as possible. Afterall, it is a big part of the zero carb way of life.
While I have not really fasted since my early 20s when I was a vegetarian (now late 50s), I did do what you call 23:1 raw grassfed bison & marrow, as my first ZC trial in 2008. I was very influenced after reading Lex Rooker’s posts then. I’m interested in one day trying fasts for longer periods. I think I need to gain some stability on being ZC for a longer stretch.
While Aajonus, was not into fasting, or water drinking, and ate honey, dairy, green juices, & some fruit, he did turn me onto eating raw meat which I have been eating since 2002. He always talked, taught about how important raw animal fat is in healing, cleansing, nourishing, lubricating the body. The longest I’ve been able to do cooked meat since then is 2 weeks. Your site seems like it brings together all these pieces of wisdom. Good resource!
Hi Esmee, thanks again for all your insights and documentation. I tried to ask this question before but maybe you are inundated with Q’s or the form failed. How do you break a long fast like that on raw meat? Do you choose leaner rather than fattier, and very small portions to ease the tummy, or do you go straight to your normal ratios and portions? Does it cause any upset?
It depends on how long the fast was. If the fast was less than 3 days, then inwould just eat a normal meal. The longer the fast, the more cautious I am in breaking it. I always use whatever food I normally eat, which for me is fatty raw ground beef, but I eat less than normal. I always have a rough transition back to food after a long fast no matter what I eat, but that is not true for everyone.
hey esmee im thinking of becoming a zero carber. I already eat a bunch of meat and rarely any veggies and 0 fruits. and im also currently working so I only eat at the most twice a day. do you think the diet is the best choice for me? if you will please email me. email@example.com
The only way to find out is for you to try it. Please join us in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora for hands-on help.
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Just getting into this lifestyle choice and have two questions:
1. Does anyone eat mushrooms? I love the taste especially lightly cooked in butter. Ramifications for eating them?
2. Do you also eat your organ meats raw? Liver, brain, heart, etc.
Thank you for being such a wealth of information! I am devouring it as fast as I can assimilate it!
Technically, mushrooms are not part of a zero carb diet.
This is a question that has come up frequently in our Facebook group Principia Carnivora. If you join us there, then you can search the group for previoys discussions.
I don’t eat mushrooms because they are high on the FODMAPS list (containing indigestible and fermentable sugars) and they are high in salicylates, histamines, and glutamate… all of which bother me. That being said, our ancestors certainly ate them.
It really depends on your own health situation and food tolerances.
I do not personally eat organ meats because 1) I don’t like them; and 2) they are high in histamines. But yes, they too can be eaten raw. We have few members of our Facebook group who eat raw liver. And Lex Rooker adds raw organ meats to his raw beef.
Thank you so much! I am now a part of the FB group as well.
Fiji water is very high in deuterium, ZC is the most deuterium depleted diet.
Fiji water makes me feel horrible. I do much better with New Zealand 1907 and Icelandic Glacial. I’ve researched the deuterium thing and I’m not convinced. Many have done quite well only only meat and water for years. Regular fasting is also beneficial.
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Fiji water releases stored aluminum. Look into Dr. Exleys work. You could have felt crappy as a result of unintentionally detoxing. Fiji water gives me a headache too, that’s why I’m going to keep drinking it. 🙂 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22976072/
Interesting, thank you. My reaction was fairly immediate though.
Dr Saladino claims nose to tail eating of the animal required for optimal health.
Do you agree local organic no histamine raw fruit is good for this diet?
Beef is usually hung three weeks before butchering , but I assume lamb is not. Does freezing help?
I do not agree that nose to tail eating is necessary. The Andersen Family have eating only fatty ribeye for 20 years and are thriving.
I do recommend eating fruit at all. It is all hybridized and contains a lot fructose which is bad for the liver.
Not all beef is dry hung three weeks. Most commercial beef is cryovac’d 48 hours after slaughter. Then it is wet aged until it reaches the store and customers, usually 3 -4 weeks. The histamine are created when the bacteria on the surface of the meat come in contact with oxygen. Wet aging prevents and slows the formation of histamines considerably because it deprives the bacteria of oxygen.
How a lamb is processed will depend on the source. Lamb that is cryovac’d in New Zealand or Australia can be 4 months old before it reaches the store or customers and can, therefore, be quite high in histamines even though it is wet aged. I would seek out lamb from a local source who can process it according to your specifications.
Yes, freezing helps immensely by preventing and slowing the formation of histamines.
I hope this helps.
For a few months now I have been buying now and then a ribeye or chuck steak and eating it raw. I have discovered that I like this way to eat beef.
But as a regular basis I eat almost only 20/80 beef patties (much cheaper). Andrew Graf’s interview by Gary Cohen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClcWgxghGTQ) that I watched recently made me want to try to eat them raw too. I started to do so a few days ago. I just add butter to increase my fat intake. It’s delicious and even easier to prepare than cooking them in a cast iron skillet. Like you Esmée I digest raw meat better than cooked meat and it seems that I now can increase my fat intake without any trouble compared to what I could absorb when eating cooked meat.
If I continue to be so satisfied with this way of eating I will definitely stick to it.