Is a high protein ‘Carnivore Diet’ good for your body?

The ‘Carnivore Diet’ has been attributed by many to Shawn Baker, a former American orthopaedic doctor who promotes the diet as the best and only way to eat and live.

However, the original idea of the carnivore diet can be traced back to German writer, Bernard Moncriff who authored The Philosophy of the Stomach: Or, An Exclusively Animal Diet, in 1856.

With time and many individuals looking for alternative weight loss methods, people have tried the carnivore diet in an attempt to help with physical health, as well as mental health and autoimmune diseases.

carnivore diet

What is the 'Carnivore Diet'?

In its basic form, a carnivore diet is a restrictive diet that only allows the consumption of animals and animal products. This would be for example meat, fish, eggs and other dairy products like milk.

In complete contrast to veganism, it excludes all other foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, nuts and legumes.

In many cases people follow the carnivore diet to differing extremes. Some people may follow it around 70% of the time whilst others may just have a more protein based diet.

The aim with the carnivore diet is to have a zero carb diet, and is therefore seen as the next level of dieting compared to mainstream diets such as keto or paleo.

How does it affect the body over time?

The carnivore diet is marketed as being able to treat anxiety, depression, obesity, arthritis and more, but little to no research has been done on the effects of following the diet over long period of time.

In the short term, people can experience incredible weight loss results due to protein being more filling and in turn resulting in less calories being consumed.

 

A study by Lennerz and colleagues in 2021 found that those people who followed the carnivore diet experienced few negative effects and actually reported health benefits and high satisfaction.

However, many health and dietary professionals agree that the increased meat consumption can result in high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol levels in the body. And in the long term some effects may include a lacking in basic nutrients.

Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine believes in the long term it may have serious health implications including the development of a poorly functioning immune system, meaning people following the diet could catch illnesses easier.

What drives us to try these extreme diets?

In many cases people are trying to avoid the arduous task of exercising on a regular basis and trying to keep a balanced diet in order to lose weight.

Instead they give in to this ‘quick fix’ mentality that diets can sort the issue of excessive weight gain in a short space of time.

The problem with this mentality is that it is temporary and cannot be sustained over the long term. As humans our bodies naturally crave the food we restrict ourselves from, and often this can make dieting quite a miserable experience.

As well as this when we diet our bodies believe that we are going into a potentially threatening situation and instead of losing the fat, it will try to retain as much of it as possible.

 As a result, despite the initial drop in weight the body will suddenly experience a plateau and unless taken to the next ‘level’ will not display any further weight loss.

A lifestyle choice rather than a diet

Speaking from experience, it is much better to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than following a diet.

Doing even a small amount of walking a day can help with trying to shift the excess weight and help you feel better physically and mentally.

As well as this, building healthy eating habits can help create a proactive choice to remove excess sugar and saturated fats from your diet in the long-term lead to a healthy reduction in weight.

Here are 12 tips from the NHS on the best way to lose weight:

  1. Do not skip breakfast – it sets you up for the rest of the day
  2. Eat regular meals – to keep you full throughout the day
  3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg at least a minimum of 5 a day
  4. Get more active – to help you physically and mentally
  5. Drink plenty of water – so that you don’t confused thirst with hunger
  6. Eat high fibre foods – to keep you full and aid weight loss
  7. Read food labels – to understand how healthy the food is for you
  8. Use a smaller plate – to reduce portion size and avoid overeating
  9. Do not ban junk food – it only makes you crave them more
  10. Do not stock junk food – to avoid the temptation

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The meat paradox, technology and the shift to popular veganism

I’m sure we all remember a time when Veganism was a strange and unheard of concept. Now around every corner there are adverts, billboards, promotions and the increasing marketing of Veganuary.

According to The Vegan Society, the number of products with The Vegan trademark has risen to 14,262 and this includes cosmetic toiletries as well as thousands food and drink items.

But how does this fair when there is a meat paradox? What about the cognitive dissonance people feel?

What is veganism?

Veganism is described as a lifestyle choice by which an individual refuses to consume or use any products which are from an animals body, or produced by animals.

Veganism has grown exponentially over the last decade with results in 2020 indicating 41% of Brits reported completely removing or actively reducing the amount of meat in their diet.

With the rise in attraction to veganism and the growth of the Veganuary movement, many people who previously had no interest in veganism are willing to attempt the ‘Try vegan’ challenge.

What is the ‘meat paradox’?

Described by psychologists Bastian and Loughnan as being “the psychological conflict between people’s dietary preference for meat, and their moral response to animal suffering”.

To simplify, the meat paradox suggests that despite the consumption of factory farmed meat, many individuals in principal are against animal cruelty.

In behavioural science we call this cognitive dissonance. This refers to a situation involving a conflict of attitudes, beliefs or behaviours.

This process of thought causes a level of mental discomfort, and leads to an individual. altering their behaviour in order to reduce this discomfort, and subsequently restore balance.

With regards to meat consumption many individuals feel this cognitive dissonance through moral guilt. For example, enjoying a food which is produced through the discomfort of another living creature.

In turn many will make the decision to switch to veganism as a way of levelling their moral compass.

The role of technology in the meat paradox

After listening to a TED talk by Juan Enriquez about how technology changes our sense of right and wrong, the idea of moral views changing over time became quite apparent.

Juan made reference to historical events of public beheadings, and how over time this changed from being completely acceptable to no longer being appropriate.

Because of these changes in moral perception around what is right and wrong, this causes major shifts in human behaviour.

With the advancement of technology, our views can suddenly change based on the enviroments we are living in.

The influence of social media on our decisions is something that cannot be ignored, with veganism having a massive interest and following online, and especially in January.

Veganism is also one of many behaviour shifts that have caused the direction of the food and drink industry to change.

Changes in the food and drink industry

Over the last few years we have seen the emergence of major food brands including McDonalds, KFC and Burger King producing meat alternative products.

This is caused by a number of reasons that can all be related to cognitive dissonance and technology.

Group identification

The increase in cognitive dissonance has made people feel they have to make a choice or be more outwardly supportive. With the constant bombardment from social media, people feel they have to pick a side and cannot be outwardly against veganism.

Due to a need to identify with a group, celebrity, or movement which seems to have the moral high ground, individuals are more willing to try an alternative lifestyle.

As food technology advances, people are looking at vegan options as being a ‘cheaper alternative’ to regular meat’. People are  seeing a more economically sustainable choice which fits within their moral compass, without any apparent change in consumption.

Substitutes

The advancement of technology has made meat substitutes more accessible and the choice to switch to veganism much easier.

Supermarket chains are now seen dedicating entire aisles to vegan food stuffs, and providing meat substitutes which taste almost as good as the real meat.

So much so, that in many cases meat eaters cannot tell the difference. The ease of making the change is why many are opting for a vegan lifestyle which removes the mental discomfort caused by the meat paradox.

 Are you vegan? What do you think of this shift in behaviour? Leave your comments in the form below:

Check out the TED talk below:

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