It’s the dirty, dark question that everyone wants to ask but is too afraid — can you survive on a diet of nothing but crispy sausages, succulent burgers, delicate chicken and superlative steak? Mmm…steak.
According to PopSci, the biggest problem with a meat-only diet is the lack of certain nutrients, specifically that good ‘ole Vitamin C. Normally, you get your vitamin C through that super-sweet morning glass of OJ, but for a REAL MAN EAT ONLY MEAT, consuming pathetic, weak vegetables isn’t an option, and you’ll be left without vitamin C. This is a bad thing, because vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, the scourge of the Royal Navy in the 18th century and still a nasty condition that’ll give you rashes, gum disease and awful breath.
Moreover, meat doesn’t contain much fibre. Although you don’t actually digest fibre, it makes the whole mouth-stomach-pooping process go much more smoothly. Without fibre, it goes less mouth-stomach-pooping and more mouth-stomach-stomach-constipation-death. In case there was any doubt, constipation is bad, and will totally ruin your Meat Feast.
Before you lose hope of that bloody, meaty Utopia, though, research suggests it is possible. Traditionally, the Inuit and Eskimo people (indigenous people who live in the ridiculously cold/remote bits of the Arctic) eat pretty much only meat, since it’s hard to grow vegetables on ice.
The key to their success (according to the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment, and they sound quite clever so we’re going to trust them), is eating every part of the animal. Waste not, want not, as I’m sure your mother used to say as she rammed broccoli down your neck. Only in this case, it’s not broccoli you need to scoff, but skin, hooves and bone marrow. Oh, and you’ve got to eat the stomach contents of your prey as well, in order to get some greens.
So yes, it’s possible to get by on a diet of just meat. In fact, the Inuit are pretty healthy (although that probably has as much to do with having to hunt down seals and stuff like that, rather than sitting in an office all day). But, it comes at the cost of having to eat skin and hooves. I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather just force down the orange juice than someone else’s stomach contents for dinner.
So, what about meat-heavy rather than meat-only diets? The one we’ve probably all heard of is the Atkins diet. The cornerstone of the Atkins diet is decreasing carbohydrate intake, meaning you can’t eat bread and stuff like that, but you can gorge yourself on meat all you like. According to the theory, this should cause you to burn fat; make you more healthy, and cause unicorns to erupt from every orifice.
Sadly, the theory has now been largely discredited, and in Atkins Diet III: The Revenge of the Burger (published 2010, and not its real name), the authors move away from whacky Dr Atkins’s theory and onto a more traditional, boring and balanced carb/fat/protein diet. At best, then, this diet remains “highly controversial”; at worst, it’s a steaming pile of BS. No steak for you then.
So, to cut a long story short: yes, you can eat nothing but meat. But, in order to not keel over and die a rotting, constipated death, you have to eat some properly gross stuff like skin and the contents of a hungry deer’s stomach.
Image credit: Steak from Shutterstock