1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
Since September, 2017.
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
I stumbled into this way of eating during a severe bout of depression. It began in the middle of that month. At age 34, I had been living with major depressive disorder for at least two decades. Then my cat, who had been suffering with tumors, died at age 13.
To me, pets are family. So it was existentially painful to see him in that condition, let alone lose him. He was the first animal I took in myself, and he was a kitten. In a non-supernatural way, he was my familiar. He was and is a part of me.
My depression had been relatively manageable for some time at this point. I wasn’t down on myself, and never really had been. The depression I experienced was more like an Eeyore cloud over my heart, casting its shadow over every thought, every mood, and even every joy.
That period is a blur, but I remember about a week of barely eating. In retrospect, this was accidental fasting, which may have triggered ketosis. Within a couple of weeks, my appetite really started kicking in again. But instead of the usual desire for carbs, I craved fatty foods ― especially meat and cheese. Nothing else was appealing, and I had to eat something to prevent starvation. So I gave in.
At the beginning, I wasn’t following any kind of diet. For maybe another couple of weeks, I ate a lot of processed, but mostly animal-based foods: pepperoni, pasteurized cheddar, beef jerky. At some point, I started to feel a little better. That prompted me to search Google for the answer to something along the lines of, “Will eating fatty foods kill me?”
The first site I remember reading is Zero Carb Zen. Skimming through the information and interviews, I began my journey down this rabbit hole. Suddenly, my natural cravings pointed toward the potential for improved health! This was unexpected, but welcome news, and sparked the motivation that blossomed into my new life as a healthy carnivore.
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
Again, my adaptation period occurred during one of the most distressing periods of my life, so I can’t remember how long it took to transition. But I do know that by Halloween, just two months later, I was looking considerably slimmer and feeling great. By that time, I was on track as a fledgling carnivore.
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
Esmée La Fleur got me started with the concise information and interviews on Zero Carb Zen. This continues to be a valuable resource, especially for comparing experiences with other carnivores. This site helped me to establish a solid foundation of dietary habits.
Then I listened to the audiobook of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz. It blew my mind! Learning about the industry-obfuscated science and scandalous history of nutritional propaganda, I felt everything from excitement to outrage. It awakened my head and heart to the reality of diet and health in today’s dietary climate.
My next book was Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, by Gary Taubes. This fatter, more academic tome augmented my newfound commitment, saturating my brain with enough data to drown out any nagging doubts about my new lifestyle.
Those were the books that inspired my conversion. The two people who influenced me most were L. Amber O’Hearn and Dr. Shawn Baker. They are both highly pragmatic, and have distilled complex information that goes over my head into simple, straightforward messages. Amber has a way of clarifying the scientific nuances, while Dr. Baker reminds me to “Just eat a damn steak!”
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
For the first year and a half, I usually included eggs and dairy. I quickly slowed down with eggs when they began to upset my stomach. Even duck eggs make me nauseous after a couple.
I also enjoyed a lot of heavy cream near the beginning. Pasteurized dairy was less problematic for me as a carnivore, but still made me feel suboptimal.
I now eat grass-fed and raw dairy ― specifically, grass-fed butter and raw-milk cheese. Raw cheese was a revelation, as I’d always assumed I was sensitive to dairy. Turns out I was “allergic” to the unnatural results of pasteurization! Reintroducing cheese in its raw form has been wonderful on every level.
6. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?
My diet is 75% to 90% beef. The rest is mostly seafood, and sometimes other meats like lamb. I rarely eat poultry.
I used to eat a lot of pork. But bacon was another migraine trigger, along with pork rinds. When I cut those out, I stopped eating pork altogether and felt even better.
I think that commercial pork and poultry can be risky, depending on the quality. Ruminant meats are much better for health, in my opinion. Even grain-finished!
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
This has changed a few times over the past couple of years, and depends greatly on the cooking method.
Deep frying was my favorite until Dr. Paul Saladino’s work convinced me to limit the advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formed when meat burns.
Now I seem to be gravitating toward slow-cooking, which has been a past favorite. The “wellness” is less defined in that case, but I try to keep the temperature and duration as low as possible.
At a good restaurant, I’ll order steaks rare.
When I eat grass-fed beef liver, it’s raw!
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
I’ve been adding grass-fed butter. When I was avoiding dairy, I used tallow.
It has become increasingly important to me to choose the highest-quality fats possible, especially when I can’t afford grass-finished meat.
One of my latest experiments has been to pair lean conventional meats with grass-fed fats.
9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?
I usually eat until satisfied. Fasting was a helpful practice for the first year. Now, I eat a few times a day, with two full-size meals on most days.
10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?
Every day, I eat up to about 4 ounces of raw, 100% grass-fed liver. In the past, this has been on and off. Now, it’s an essential part of my day.
I also enjoy beef heart, which I try to incorporate every so often.
I’m frequently on the hunt for other organ meats, and enjoy trying new ones. I recently tried tripe, which was good. Back when I was eating eggs, I enjoyed an occasional scramble with pork brains.
My increasing focus on nutrient density keeps me researching, shopping, and cooking my way from nose to tail. I prefer to eat grass-finished beef organs.
And while it’s not an organ, I have to mention salmon roe. If I could find it cheap, I’d eat it by the shovelful!
I think organ meats are essential for optimal health, and that most people who feel fine without them would feel even better with at least some daily liver.
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
I’ve never been a big soup guy, so I sneak bone broth into my meals through slow cooking. The meat is swimming in it! The result is more like a stew, and I get a bit of broth even if I just eat the meat.
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I usually eat two meals per day. For a long time, it was basically lunch and dinner. More recently, I’ve been experimenting with breakfast. I may continue that and skip lunch instead.
I work overnight, so these meal names are relative!
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
I don’t measure my meals anymore, but probably average 2 to 2 ½ pounds of meat per day. That includes any organ meats and seafood. I rarely eat less, and sometimes eat much more!
I recently quit caffeine, and found that my hitherto suppressed appetite has been readjusting. That’s probably why breakfast is back in the picture!
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
Most of my meat is grain-finished. It fits my budget, and I enjoy the taste. However, I would prefer to support regenerative farming practices. For now, I am thriving on standard meats from supermarkets and butchers.
I have tried one full week of meat and dairy exclusively from grass-fed, pastured beef. I found it fulfilling, but also found my wallet emptying!
Both grass-finished and conventional meats feel healthy to me. However, I consistently include grass-fed fats to support and benefit from healthier farming as much as possible.
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I only drink water: tap, purified, sparkling, and spring.
Coffee tended to upset my stomach. I used to take a caffeine supplement instead, but decided to remove that final plant toxin from my diet altogether.
I also enjoyed tea, especially oolong. However, it gave me congestion that began as a sniffle and eventually made it difficult to breathe. As a carnivore, it was relatively easy to single out this otherwise unsuspicious element.
I experienced a similar problem years ago and figured it was an environmental allergy. Thanks to experts like Sally Norton and Drs. Georgia Ede and Paul Saladino, I understand that it was probably due to the oxalates and other phytochemicals accumulating in my body.
Within about a day of quitting caffeine entirely, my mind and emotions were already calmer. My energy was almost the same. By day three, I wondered why I ever “needed” it! Caffeine is a plant-based, neurotoxic pesticide, and I’m glad to be done with it.
16. Do you use salt?
I use and enjoy plenty of sea salt, but avoid table salt.
17. Do you use spices?
For over a year, I did use spices in my carnivorous diet. The last to go were curry and cayenne pepper. Eliminating them was part of a slow recognition of the potential dangers of ingesting any plant material, including spices.
18. Do you take any supplements?
I don’t supplement with anything, but seek out sources of micronutrients in meat, seafood, and spring water. The natural balance of bioavailable vitamins and minerals in actual food is far superior, in my opinion. I would only supplement in a medically-diagnosed emergency, and that has not been necessary!
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
I think I spend about $200 per month on food. It varies, but I find carnivory much more affordable than omnivory!
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
I think it’s already affordable to be a carnivore. People spend way more than they realize on fruits and veggies that spoil, all kinds of snacks, and even coffee! Anyone interested in carnivory can probably afford something healthier than the food they’re buying today. Even if it is more expensive, you’re choosing to pay with either your wallet or your health.
With that said, I do have a few practical tips:
1. Eat the meat that brings you pleasure and health without breaking the bank. If necessary, seek out sales. A great resource is https://www.mygrocerydeals.com/.
2. Organ meats can be an acquired taste, but are often more affordable and nutrient-dense. Eat some liver, save some money, and feel even healthier! Even grass-finished organs are priced lower than the muscle meat, so that’s a good way to sneak in some small-farm goodness on the cheap.
3. Walk around! Meet your local butcher, check the other shops, and talk to people. You may find unlisted bargains, discover new stores, and unlock secret menus. Regardless, you’re getting exercise! You can’t lose.
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
Since I dislike gyms and find long exercise sessions boring, I just try to stay active in daily life. I walk briskly through New York City, taking the sunny side of the street when possible. Almost every day, I walk for at least two hours. At work, I take the stairs most of the time, avoiding the elevators. On my days off, one of my favorite activities is yet more walking! According to my smartwatch, I average well over 10,000 steps per day.
Other than that, I’ll take an occasional spin on my little rowing machine, play with weights or resistance bands, or experiment with other exercises.
I’m interested in heavy weights, and plan to start lifting heavier at home when I can find and afford the right setup. But my current physique suits my needs perfectly. The rest is for experimentation and optimization.
22. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition, exercise performance, hormonal, mental or psychological, etc.)
This could be its own interview! For the sake of brevity, I’ll list as many conditions I’ve overcome as I can remember:
Major Depressive Disorder
While I can’t prove that carnivory cured all of the above, I have either reversed or kept these conditions from returning by eating meat and avoiding plant foods.
I started this lifestyle at over 230 pounds and a waist over 40 inches wide. My height is about five feet and ten inches. My appearance didn’t bother me much, but I was very heavy and had a huge gut. Now I average just under 160 pounds, and the waist under my unprecedented six-pack is 10 inches smaller! All with nearly no loose skin.
My weight loss was accompanied by an elevated mood and many other improvements that I now attribute to decreased inflammation. From clinical depression to the common cold, I am now free of inflammatory maladies that aren’t usually recognized as such. Along with others that are, such as the knee pain I experienced from my mid-twenties until I healed at 34. Going on 36, I feel younger than I did as a teenager!
Since going carnivore, I haven’t caught a single cold! That’s one of the most surprising benefits for me. It could probably still happen, but hasn’t yet! In the past, I had them all the time, and they tended to last a week or more. What a difference! Now I don’t even worry when someone sneezes nearby.
Carnivory has been very good to me!
23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
My favorite aspect of Zero Carb is its roots in ancestral living.
As I continue to learn more, I am increasingly convinced that this diet is healthy precisely because we evolved to eat animals, with the flexibility to resort to plants as backup foods or medicine.
Humans are animals, too, and this lifestyle brings me closer to that truth on every level. Other animals seem to know who they are. It’s time for humans to catch up. I feel the carnivore movement can help to get us there again. Even if we just serve as an example.
24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
Enjoy yourself! It can be hard to believe that some of our favorite “naughty” foods are actually healthy. It can be even harder to admit that plant-based foods and beverages, ubiquitous and upheld as the saviors of mankind, may be inherently toxic! But if you really give this a proper try, chances are something good will happen. One symptom will probably clear before you know it. Then another. And another, until you see improvements where you didn’t even know you had a problem! This happens every day to all types of new human carnivores with many different conditions.
My one caveat is that an adaptation phase may be necessary. I was too severely depressed to notice any transitional symptoms, but you might not feel great right away. I have learned that this may be due to oxalate dumping and other processes by which the body eliminates stored plant toxins. If you eat a lot of plant foods, or even drink a lot of tea, you might need to decrease your intake gradually. Otherwise, you might feel terrible at first! Sally Norton explains this best.
25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
Friends, family, and co-workers have been very supportive for the most part. At first, their concerns ping-ponged between my rapid weight loss and all that red meat. But I’ve kept the weight off and continued to look and feel healthier. Now the naysayers are silent while others ask me for advice!
Luckily, I haven’t experienced any extreme reactions to my lifestyle. When disagreements arise, I don’t argue or debate. This stuff didn’t make sense to me at first, either!
Everyone has to learn the truth about nutrition at their own pace. Especially in a world that tells us to eat those deceptively toxic veggies for good health, but also to “live a little” with processed junk that provides fleeting entertainment while slowly killing us.
26. Is there anything you would like to share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
I could go on forever, so I’ll stop here. But I will say that sharing our stories is the most important thing we can do as carnivory establishes itself amid this “Beyond Meat” madness.
Zero Carb Zen was central to my transformation and continues to aid my personal research. It feels good to share my story here, and I encourage others to continue doing the same wherever the opportunity arises. One story at a time, we are changing each other’s lives!
You can follow Michaelanthony’s Zero Carb journey via his YouTube channel. In this video, he shares how the diet has profoundly affected his mind for the better: