Is the all-meat diet legit?
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Is the all-meat diet legit?

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Unlike its dietary predecessors, “carnivorism,” as it has come to be known, has a new, strangely political twist. Conservatives are utilizing an all-meat diet as a tactic to antagonize the left. But for other strict carnivores, the diet seems to perform miracles. Could an all-meat diet actually be beneficial to one’s health, or is it just a troll? What do you think?

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What was once a well-intended, albeit questionable, attempt to at alternative medicine has grown into an alt-right movement: fans of psychologist and noted controversial conservative, Jordan Peterson, are embracing carnivorism not for its potential health benefits (to clarify, few are scientifically proven), but in order to annoy liberals. 

Peterson touted the benefits of an all-meat diet on Joe Rogan's podcast. Peterson only eats beef, salt and water, and claims the diet cured his depression, gastro reflux disorder, psoriasis, gum disease and more, although he reiterates that he is not a dietary expert and that his insight is purely anecdotal.   

Peterson cites his daughter's harrowing experience with autoimmune disorders, mainly arthritis, as the impetus for his own carnivorism. His daughter, Mikhaila, began to experiment with an elimination strategy in her diet to determine if certain foods played a role in causing her symptoms. She kept eliminating foods, until she got down to something basic: red meat. 

In addition to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Mikhaila suffered from "extreme fatigue, depression and anxiety, brain fog, and sleep problems." But once she took to a diet of only red meat, salt, and water, she tells The Atlantic

'all my symptoms went into remission.'

But for all the benefits that meat brings to the body, vegetables, nuts and fruits are largely considered essential as well. According to Jack Gilbert, the faculty director at the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center and a professor of surgery, an all-meat diet is a "terribly, terribly bad idea." He tells The Atlantic:

''Your body would start to have severe dysregulation, within six months, of the majority of the processes that deal with metabolism; you would have no short-chain fatty acids in your cells; most of the by-products of gastrointestinal polysaccharide fermentation would shut down, so you wouldn’t be able to regulate your hormone levels; you’d enter into cardiac issues due to alterations in cell receptors; your microbiota would just be devastated.'

The Atlantic's James Hamblin also points out that such extreme elimination may be a sign of an underlying eating disorder. Hamblin ultimately concludes: 

While there is debate in the scientific community over just how much meat belongs in a human diet, it is impossible for all or even most humans to eat primarily meat.

After Peterson's appearance on Rogan's podcast, conservative followers extrapolated the diet's potential health benefits for some into a culture war for all. The Daily Beast's Kelly Weill writes: 

Meat is poised to be the next proxy battleground in a left-right culture war...Vegetarians skew left. Meat production, particularly beef, creates more greenhouse gases and requires more energy than vegetable farming, leading environmentalists (statistically a left-leaning set) to call for meat reduction.

As Weill points out, conservatives have gone from brandishing riffles to flaunting plastic straws, and now to eating extreme amounts of meat. The mindset is: we can, so we will.

For Mikhaila and her dad, the benefits of carnivorism have been life-changing, and the decision to adhere to such a strict diet is in no way tied to a desire to antagonize left-leaning vegetarians. Despite the lack of scientific research on carnivorism, it's hard to ignore testimonials found on Mikhaila's blog, Don't Eat That. One carnivorism proponent writes: 

After many years of ongoing Sciatica, crippling digestive problems, paralyzing lumber spine stiffness and a terrifying, rapidly escalating back pain that I was told by a doctor 'I will most likely die with,' I have finally managed to bring ALL of my auto-immune symptoms...under control.
I’ve eaten nothing but salmon, shrimp, chicken and beef (mainly beef) for the last 30 days...I now move around pain-free in the mornings. A month ago I thought I would be crawling out of bed at 6 am in tears, sweating profusely for the rest of my life! 

At the end of the day, a diet comprised entirely of meat and water will lead to a calorie deficit, which will make anyone lose weight. But long-term, carnivorism leaves a lot to be desired, like vitamins and fiber. According to Popular Science's Sarah Chodosh: 

Folate, along with vitamins C and E, pretty much only come from veggies, mostly green leafy ones and citrus...Plus, if you don’t get enough vitamin E your body can’t use vitamin K as well, so even though you’re getting enough from fish, liver, and beef you won’t actually be able to make use of it.

Perhaps the new group of all-meat dieters, as inspired by Peterson's conversation with Rogan, will provide a wider audience to research and prove carnivorism's benefits and detriments for all to see. 

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