The following blog is written by Evelyn Carriere, Campus Well-Being Coordinator.
I’d like to start by saying that none of the information in this blog post is being offered as nutritional advice, and my sources are not pulled from peer-reviewed journals. They are from documentaries, company websites, YouTube and celebrity channels. I think it’s important to recognize our sources of information and know that although it can be “fun” to do our own research – it is also not always credible. Everything can be very subjective! I love this quote from Bruce Lee that is presented at the start of “The Game Changers” documentary film:
“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” -Bruce Lee
I wanted to write this blog because I love discussing nutrition and I think it is important to be able to have a healthy conversation about why we make certain choices or lead a specific lifestyle while also respecting other’s opinions. This is not a debate about winning or losing, or proving one point as right or wrong. I’m just throwing some information together and encouraging you to read up on different angles to learn more about what you are putting into your body and why!
The “meat” of this discussion (no pun intended) is about Animal vs Plant Protein. I think it’s a great topic and I hope you can appreciate this blog.
The Game Changers
To get into it, I personally LOVED LOVED the documentary “The Game Changers” on Netflix which pitches the idea that the optimal diet for human performance and health is plant-based (vegan). If you haven’t watched it, I recommend it! They focus very specifically on high-performance athletes and how a plant-based diet sets them up for success. On the “Game Changers” home website – they state that meat, eggs and dairy decrease over-all health, increase the risk of numerous diseases, and reduces our lifespans.
The people behind the documentary are James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul. This is an influential group of people. Producer James Cameron could be considered to have ulterior motives – considering he also owns Verdient Foods which is a vegan-protein company. However, this does not discredit his passion for veganism or detract from the meaning of the film. Also… who knew that Arnold Schwarzeneggar was vegan..?! I didn’t! Pretty cool to see a guy with a TON of muscle and who is clearly not lacking in the “protein” department. Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you can’t be strong and jacked. I thought this was a great message in the film.
I also watched a YouTube review of the documentary film and Dr. Eric Berg (American chiropractor and nutritionist) does mention – however – that iron, DHA, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are highly available in animal products, but can be much more difficult to consume larger quantities in plant-products. On the flip side, according to Liz Weinandy, RD (dietitian at Ohio Statue University) – she says that plants are abundant in vitamin C and vitamin E – which are not readily available in animal products. Dr. Berg states that it is very possible to eat a healthy nutrient-rich vegan diet as long as you are supplementing correctly, but that it can be challenging for some if not done correctly.
The Carnivore Diet
So shortly after watching “The Game Changers,” I heard about the Carnivore or “lion” diet. It was cool to see another entirely different perspective on the subject. I looked into the carnivore diet and here’s some information I found:
The carnivore diet is made up of meat, salt & water. You can ingest “foods that either walked, swam or flew” (Kelly Schmidt, RD). Depending on the person, the list of acceptable foods may include: red meat (beef, pork, lamb), organ meats, poultry, fish, eggs, lard, bone marrow, butter, salt and pepper, water, bone broth. In some cases – milk, yoghurt and cheese are allowed – since these are animal by-products.
It’s an extreme elimination diet and can be considered a method to uncover food intolerances (for those suffering from an auto-immune condition) or aid in weight loss. Others do it simply to produce their optimal state of health.
In an interview conducted by Simon Lewis (Founder of McKenzie Meats and How to Carnivore), he asks a surgeon Dr. Anthony Chafee, MD, a series of questions about his experience with the Carnivore diet. Dr. Anthony Chafee has been on the Carnivore diet for three years (2018-2021).
He says that he can go between 24-30 hours between meals – and believes that his diet gives him enough energy to sustain him through long hours and shifts at the hospital, and provides enough mental focus to endure long surgeries. Typically, Dr. Anthony Chafee would eat approx. 1 kilo of steak per day while not working out (during his covid slump). When he started working out again daily, he was eating 2 kilo of steak per day. He would eat his meals closer to the end of the day rather than the beginning of the day – which he believes gives him his “hunter mentality” – and gets him to seize the day!! After eating in the late evening, he would finally give himself the time to rest and de-compress, and explains that he “sleeps like a baby.”
Dr. Anthony also mentions that although a meat-only diet is high in fat, he mentions that fibre was really only introduced in the 1980s and that people were fine before that when it came to fat digestion. Dr. Anthony mentions an interesting point in this interview – he states that “Your body can absorb fat through FOUR organs: liver, gall bladder, pancreas and small intestine.” That is a lot of energy expenditure to absorb something that some people consider “bad fat.” He believes that we were designed like this and if you were to take us back to our origins, our body was designed to be carnivore.
Other people who back the “carnivore diet” are Joe Rogan, Mikhaela Peterson, Shawn Baker, Esmee La Fleur (ZeroCarbZen), Amber O’Hearn (Mostly Fat blog). It is very controversial and yet it still has me thinking “this is an interesting take on the human body and it’s capabilities.” Because it is such a new trend, it’s difficult to know what type of sustainable effects it will have in the long term and I personally would not want to be a part of the experiment. However, all research has to start somewhere and I am curious what type of information will be released over the next ten years about the “Carnivore Diet.”
What’s Right for You?
To conclude my thoughts, I think it’s important to recognize our biases and points of understanding in our own world views. There are also educated doctors and dietitians on all ends of the spectrum – so it can be difficult to navigate through all the information out there and determine your body’s needs. I believe that nutritional advice should be given on an individual level, and that there is no magic pill or formula. Listen to your body and find a rhythm that works for you. Whatever you choose, make sure you are eating a nutrient-rich diet and always remember to stay hydrated!