In this article I’ll be focusing on an approach I came up with a couple of years ago called the carnivore-vegan diet. I followed it for a few weeks and found it interesting. I may get back into it at some point. I should say right off that a lot of people won’t like this approach. Vegans won’t like it because it includes animal foods (some of the time). Carnivores won’t like it because of the inclusion of plant-based foods (some of the time).
Is It Really Different?
Some folks will say that it’s nothing original, it’s just an omnivorous diet, which lets you eat both plant and animal foods. And that’s true in a sense. But there’s one key difference. It’s a kind of timed eating, timing the diet in weeks instead of hours or days, and changing what macronutrients you can eat each time the diet rolls over to a new phase.
How It Works
The carnivore vegan diet can be set up around alternating days, weeks or even months. I’d suggest setting it up as days originally.
The heart of it is to spend a stretch of time eating an omnivorous diet; then a similar amount of time eating vegan; then a similar stretch eating carnivore; then fast for a short period; then starting over with an omnivorous diet again.
What to Eat on your Omnivorous Days
During your omnivorous stretches, eat whatever you want.
Eat a mixture of plant foods and animal foods, eating organic fruit and vegetables and organic grass fed animal products whenever possible.
Feel free to eat bread, pasta, meat, fruit and veggies and any other foods you want.
During this time period, don’t worry about the source of the foods or the macronutrients. The only restriction during your omnivore weeks is to limit your eating window to no more than 12 hours per day. This applies to your vegan and carnivore weeks too.
After your omnivorous stretch, you should fast for a day. Then move on to a week of vegan eating.
What to Eat on your Vegan Days
During your vegan time periods, you can eat anything you want as long as it’s plant-based. I’d recommend basing your vegan diet mainly on low protein, moderate carbohydrate foods. Keep the carbs low on the glycemic scale. You can eat some fruit, but no big high-carb fruit salads. Don’t pig out on fruit; something along the lines of an apple or two a day are enough. Feel free to eat berries, particularly blueberries and blackberries, which are relatively low in carbs. The point isn’t to go crazy eating carbohydrates, but to eat the healthiest ones you can find.
You need to avoid animal foods entirely during your vegan stretches. This means eating no butter, no cream, no meat, milk, eggs or seafood — no animal based products at all.
What to Eat on Your Carnivore Days
During your carnivore days, eat anything you want as long as it’s animal based. But go with organically grown food and keep any meat consumption from grass-fed animals whenever possible. You can eat beef, salmon, pork, eggs, chicken, oysters, sardines, red meat, white meat, and anything else you like. Try to include some carnivore super-foods such as beef liver, chicken liver, heart, and salmon roe. Eating fish and poultry will give you lots of taurine.
You can also include dairy, but be aware that milk includes carbs.
Regarding mTOR –– some people in the anti-aging community don’t eat meat because they’re trying to keep their mTOR low. But we need some mTOR, to build muscle, which tends to decline sharply when we’re aging. With that said, we don’t want huge levels of mTOR, even during our carnivore weeks.
To control your mTOR, practice a tight form of time restricted eating: keep your meals within 4-6 hours a day. This will give you 18-20 hours of fasting a day, lowering your mTOR and supporting longevity. And don’t pig out. Most people who eat carnivore find that it doesn’t take that much food to keep them happy, because the meat and fish they’re eating is full of healthy fats.
Red meat is high in methionine and low in glycine. Methionine is an essential amino acid, but can be toxic if we consume too much of it. One way to prevent methionine toxicity is to eat less meat. Another is to eat nose-to-tail, which increases the ratio of glycine to methionine. Another is to take glycine or collagen supplements. Glycine has been found to detoxify methionine, and collagen is a good source of it.
Arguments for Veganism and Carnivory
Advocates of eating a carnivorous diet point out that animal foods are rich in nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals; the nutrients are easy to assimilate, and support high mTOR levels, which increases muscular strength and endurance.
Advocates of eating a vegan diet point out that if you eat only plants, you will lower your mTOR levels. (mTOR is necessary, but studies have proven that lowering it will extend the lifespan in every organism tested).
Advocates of the carnivore diet point out that plants don’t want to be eaten, so have developed defenses against the animals that eat them, including toxins of various sorts. They can’t bite or claw us when we pick and eat them, but they can secrete chemicals that us sick.
Advocates of the vegan diet would likely point out that eating meat can create a surplus of mTOR activation, resulting in muscle growth at the price of longevity. And, vegans would point out, if plants have toxins, our bodies can handle them. Plus, many of them feel that there are moral reasons not to eat animals.
Carnivores would likely reply that most animals spend most of their time preying on and eating other animals, and would happily eat human beings if they had a chance to. And, they would maintain, plant agriculture has destroyed more animal lives than the consumption of animals does.
And, they would say, animals raised on small family farms are treated well and protected from predators. And farmers could not afford to feed and care for them if they did not eventually go to market. If we all stopped eating animals, farm animals would likely, after a generation or two, simply go extinct.
Leaving aside these questions for a moment (because we’re not going to settle them here) and focusing on nutritional ones –– should we eat animal-based foods, or foods from plant sources?
Life’s a Balance
- I suspect that the healthiest way of eating would be to do both, but not at the same time. I.e., what if we were to alternate, and have some carnivore days and some vegan days.
- On our carnivore days we would focus on feeding and nourishing the body with the rich and easily assimilable nutrients found in animal foods. We would give our bodies a break from plant toxins.
- On our vegan days, we would eat foods rich in vitamins in minerals, but (like most plants) low in protein, using the low protein to force our bodies into autophagy and apoptosis, two deeply healing processes.
- For some people, it might make sense to alternate carnivore weeks with vegan days — for others, maybe, weeks or months.
- Trying a diet along these lines could also give people a sense of how they feel physically when eating plants or animals, and help to identify food allergens and sensitivities because we’d be avoiding large groups of foods for weeks at a time.
- We would be unlikely to develop nutritional deficiencies eating this way.
Food Groups to Choose From
On carnivore days, if you were to follow a diet of this sort, you would eat primarily animal-based foods such as:
- Wild Pacific salmon (low in mercury, high in EPA and DHA)
- Wild salmon roe
- Pastured eggs
- Raw milk from grass-fed goats, sheep or cows (if it’s legal in your location, and you can find a source you’re sure is safe)
- Butter or ghee from grass-fed animals
- Red meat from grass-fed animals
- Organ meats, including liver, hearts and brains (if a safe source can be found) from grass-fed animals
- Use spices and condiments (which are plant-based by nature) if you want, or take a break from plants completely.
- On these days, your body would be building muscle and repairing DNA damage. You’d have high mTOR, but not necessarily super-high. (Eating only meat doesn’t necessarily mean eating a lot of it.) And your body would be getting a break from the toxins in plants.
On your vegan days, you might eat foods such as:
- Green salads with delicious salad dressings
- Foods high in apigenin (an NAD booster), such as parsley and celery
- Cucumbers and avocados
- Fruit and berries
- Organic green powders
- Legumes such as lentils
- Fermented soy