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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My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Candi Leftwich

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Candi and her little friend MooMoo.

I was diagnosed with psoriasis and Crohn’s Disease in 2012 at the age of 37. Both came as a surprise, as the psoriasis popped up out of nowhere, and – although I had alternating constipation and diarrhea for several years – I’d always thought my bowel habits were fairly normal. My Primary Care Physician encouraged me to follow a whole foods diet plan (gluten-free) and to make an appointment to see a Dermatologist.

I was prescribed Clobetasol ointment for topical treatment and Methotrexate for internal treatment of the psoriasis. I took used both of these medicines for 12 weeks. The psoriasis lesions lessened to some extent, but they never went away…and then – to my horror – they actually started spreading from just my knees, elbows, and abdomen to my face, ears, hands, and feet. I knew something had to change, so I started doing some research of my own. All this research pointed in the direction of dietary changes.

I watched Joe Cross’s documentary, ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,’ and dove straight into a juicing frenzy. I had only fresh raw juice for 30 days, but I saw no results with either of my health issues. More research led me to probiotics and foods rich in these good bacteria. I made Kombucha and milk kefir, and I fermented every vegetable I could get my hands on. My kitchen looked like a science lab. While I enjoy(ed) fermenting, I didn’t see major health results.

I decided to follow a raw foods diet for 14 days. I’m not sure if that would’ve helped or not, because I fell off the wagon after 7 days. There’s only so many zucchini noodles a person can eat. Naturally all these dietary changes started adding weight to my 5’2 body. I discovered the low-carb movement, and thought it might help with weight loss. But I had no hope that low-carb would do anything positive for my health issues.

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Candi with her husband before starting Zero Carb.

I stumbled into the Facebook group Zeroing In On Health (ZIOH) through one of the many low-carb and ketogenic diet Facebook groups I already participated in. I hadn’t lost any real weight through several months of keeping to the ketogenic guidelines of very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat, so the idea of Zero Carb intrigued me.

I read all the posts on ZIOH, as well as all of Kelly Williams Hogan‘s posts on her blog My Zero Carb Life. I’d done everything else, so I figured why not try meat and water for 30 days…it wouldn’t kill me.

I transitioned to Zero Carb quite easily – as far as the physical aspects are concerned. I experienced no major negative symptoms of withdrawal or adaption. The mental transition was a totally different ball game, however. I experienced both grief and anger. I mean, who were these people that said it was a good idea to give up my flavored coffee creamer and my delicious vegetables?!

Plus, I occasionally volunteer at a local organic farm, and receive free fresh vegetables – what’s so wrong with that? And I enjoyed playing with my $300 masticating juicer that I had purchased to follow Joe Cross’s popular juicing program. It was hard to turn off my desire to craft up some kitchen witchery with food experiments. But I persevered. “It’s is only 30 days,” I told myself.

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Candi after 30 days on Zero Carb with MooMoo.

Now, after only one month of eating this way, the magic of meat and water is becoming more apparent to me everyday…

My stomach no longer feels bloated and crampy.

My bowels have calmed down considerably. I have gone from 4-6 loose bowel movements per day to only 1-2  per day. And when I do feel the need for a bathroom, it is no longer an urgent emergency.

My skin is clear and my acne is gone.

My hair and eyelashes have grown noticeably longer.

My mood and energy have both improved. I feel less stressed out and more optimistic about life in general.

My libido has increased.

My weight has decreased from 132.8 lbs to 126.0 lbs.

And -most importantly – my psoriasis has greatly diminished (see pics below).

All this in just 30 days!

Left Elbow – Before Zero Carb

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Left Elbow – Before Zero Carb

Left Elbow – After Zero Carb

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Left Elbow – After Zero Carb

Abdomen – Before Zero Carb

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Abdomen – Before Zero Carb

Abdomen – After Zero Carb

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Abdomen – After Zero Carb

Left Knee – Before Zero Carb

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Left Knee – Before Zero Carb

Left Knee – After Zero Carb

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Left Knee – After Zero Carb

(Please note: All of the above “before” photos were taken after the topical ointment and 30 days of fresh raw juice had failed to make much of a difference, followed by 12 weeks of Methotrexate tried as a last resort due to its toxic nature…only to have the lesions get worse and continue to spread. All of the “after” photos were taken on the 30th day of eating a Zero Carb diet free of all plant foods.)

I was not prepared to release my love of coffee when I began Zero Carb, so I have continued to have two cups a day with some heavy whipping cream. I have been eating mostly beef, pork, and chicken. I also eat eggs, drink homemade bone broth, and have a bit of cheddar cheese from time-to-time.

I still like to include fermented foods in my diet, so I make and enjoy kefir butter, kefir sour cream, kefir cheese, and Kombucha flavored with a variety of herbs. I usually eat two meals per day, but sometimes only one. It just depends on how hungry I am.

I no longer see plants in the same light as I once did. They do not make my mouth water. I never felt as good consuming any kind of plant foods as I do right this very minute…finishing off my steak. I’m so pleased that I gave Zero Carb a fair chance for 30 days full days.

My results are proof that the body can show measurable signs of healing within a brief period of time. Thank you ZIOH veterans for showing me the path. I hope this inspires other people to take the 30 day meat and water challenge.

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Candi visiting with some deer friends.

 

On June 7, 2015 Candi posted this picture of herself to share that the psoriasis that plagued her for so long is almost completely gone after just 3 months of following a Zero Carb diet.

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Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora for support.