Why Do You Eat Your Meat Raw?

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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.

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LEM Big Bite #12 All Stainless Steel Meat Grinder

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!

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Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman

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This is book is a must read for anyone who eats an all-meat diet and is concerned about the long term health of the environment. Nicolette Hahn Niman is a long-time vegetarian and environmental lawyer who worked closely with Bobby Kennedy, Jr. on the issue of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). She got to witness first hand just how damaging these types of meat production facilities can be. But she also visited many non-CAFO cattle ranches that raised their animals in environmentally-sustainable ways.

Lots of statistics are being thrown around – most recently in the film Cowspiracy – implicating beef production as a major cause of environmental destruction. Niman does an superb job of sorting through the data and revealing many of the inaccuracies and misconceptions. She explains that cattle production is not only innocent of most of the accusations levied at it, but why – when done properly – it is an essential component of maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

You can order a copy through Amazon by clicking the link below:

Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman

 

Book Reviews:

The Case For Sustainable Meat Takes on Many Sacred Cows – L. A. Times

Defending Beef: Nicolette Hahn Niman’s Call for a Third Way – Huffington Post

Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman – Weston A. Price Foundation

 

Interview:

Jimmy Moore did an excellent podcast with her on his Livin’ La Vida Low Carb Show which you can listen to by clicking the link below:

Defending Beef with Nicolette Hahn Niman – Episode #955

The Beef Research and Teaching Center. Five miles south of the MU campus, South Farm Research Center supports the research, outreach and teaching missions of animal science, plant science, veterinary science, biology, botany and other disciplines. The Center is the location of several research facilities including the Swine Research Center, the Beef Research and Teaching Center, the Turfgrass Research Center and the Equine Teaching Facility. The Center also supports research and demonstration projects in entomology, poultry and maize genetics. The Missouri Foundation Seed program uses South Farm to increase the sales of newly developed seed varieties to dealers. Easy access from campus allows South Farm to be used for hands-on teaching to more than 1,500 students annually and is the location for numerous graduate student research projects. The Center hosts a Showcase each fall to share its projects with the general public; it has become a popular family event, with attendance in the thousands. Photo by Kyle Spradley | © 2014 - Curators of the University of Missouri

Articles by Nicolette Hahn Niman:

Actually, Raising Beef is Good For the Planet – Wall Street Journal

The Carnivore’s Dilemma – New York Times

Support Your Local Slaughterhouse – New York Times

Defending Grass-Fed Beef, A Rancher Weighs In – The Atlantic

Eating Animals – The Atlantic

A Way to Save America’s Bees: Buy Free-Range Beef – The Atlantic

Dogs Aren’t Dinner: The Flaws in an Argument for Veganism – The Atlantic

Can Meat Eaters Also Be Environmentalists? – The Atlantic

For Animals, Grass Each Day Keeps Doctors Away – The Atlantic

How Good Meat Makes a Difference – The Atlantic

nicolette hahn niman

 

Man, The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor

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This is an interesting study which argues that our need for dietary fat is what drove our evolutionary development towards becoming the humans we are today.

From the Introduction:

It is our contention that two distinct elements combined in the Levant to propel the evolutionary process of replacing H. erectus by a new hominin lineage…One was the disappearance of the elephant (Elephas antiquus) – an ideal food-package in terms of fat and protein content throughout the year – which was until then a main calorie contributor to the diet of the H. erectus in the Levant.

The second was the continuous necessity of H. erectus to consume animal fat as part of their diet, especially when taking into account their large brains. The need to consume animal fat is the result of the physiological ceiling on the consumption of protein and plant foods. The obligatory nature of animal fat consumption turned the alleged large prey preference of H. erectus into a large prey dependence.

Daily energy expenditure (DEE) of the hominins would have increased when very large animals such as the elephant had diminished and a larger number of smaller, faster animals had to be captured to provide the same amount of calories and required fat. This fitness pressure would have been considerably more acute during the dry seasons that prevail in the Levant.

Such an eventuality, we suggest, led to the evolution of a better equipped species, in comparison with H. erectus, that also had a lighter body, a greater lower limb to weight ratio, and improved levels of knowledge, skill, and coordination allowing it to better handle the hunting of an increased number of smaller animals and most probably also develop a new supporting social organization.

 

To read the full 12-page paper, please click the link below:

Man, The Fat Hunter by Miki Ben-Dor

 

Miki Ben-Dor presenting at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium: