You probably heard about this concept -Animal-Based before, but you need clarification on what it means. Maybe you have listened to people saying how amazing they feel on this diet, and you want the same for you! If you are wondering what an animal-based diet looks like and why people follow it, you have come to the right place. I will do my best to explain an Animal-Based (AB) diet and how to follow it.
After being vegetarian for more than half my life and a vegan for 6+ years, I’m following an Animal-Based diet today. And even if I haven’t been in this lifestyle for an extended period, all I can say is that my body hasn’t felt this fantastic in a long time! After all, I’m recovering from a long period of nutrient deficiency due to many years of veganism.
It is imperative to mention that the information I’m sharing contradicts the one you have probably heard your whole life. The idea here is to question whether or not the nutritional information you received is truthful. If our population worldwide is getting sicker and sicker (chronic and autoimmune diseases are rising rapidly), the nutritional information we receive may not be ideal. Part of my aim here is to make you question whether your eating makes you sick or thrive.
What is an Animal-Based diet?
I’m sure you have heard much about plant-based diets, as this concept became popular many years ago. Well, AB is basically the contrary! Let me explain it better. While the plant-based diet philosophy suggests that mainly eating plants creates optimal health, the animal-based diet philosophy is reversed: eating mostly animals (including their organs) while avoiding the most toxic plant-based foods is what makes optimal health.
I would say that an animal-based diet cannot be exclusively defined because there are many ways to follow it. The term was popularized by Dr. Paul Saladino, also known as the Carnivore MD, author of the best-selling Carnivore Code and host of the podcast Fundamental Health (which I recommend listening to, it’s super informative!). But, before I tell you some of the characteristics of the AB diet, let’s talk about carnivore vs. animal-based for a brief moment because it often creates confusion.
Carnivore vs. Animal Based
The carnivore diet is animal-based, but not all animal-based diet meal plans are carnivore. This means that people who follow an animal-based diet eat primary animal foods (meat, organs, dairy, and honey) but also include some less toxic plant foods, such as fruits. Paul Saladino, and many others researchers, propose viewing plant foods as unnecessary for human nutrition and as toxic and potentially irritating for the gut and immune system.
While the ratios may vary from person to person, the aim is to consume nutrient-rich, easily digestible foods with the lowest amount of toxins. Making this diet ideal for treating autoimmune diseases.
The animal-based diet allows for plant foods not because there’s a minimum necessary for survival but because they may provide additional nutrients, flavor, color, or texture. Also, by eating fruit and honey, you are providing the necessary carbohydrates to your body (something that carnivore diets do not include, making animal-based, not a keto diet). For some (like me), this makes the animal-based diet more sustainable than strict carnivores.
Benefits of an AB diet
- You’re ditching all processed, junk, and, most importantly, seed oils.
- Keeps inflammation down.
- Contains the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, with the most bioavailability.
- Avoids anti-nutrients and toxins, which promotes a high absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream (and the rest of the body).
- Promotes better digestion, higher energy, and mental clarity.
- Encourages health and corrects imbalances.
- A very simple way of eating.
Who can benefit from AB-Diet?
Honestly, everybody! Because who doesn’t want to eat as clean as possible, with the lowest grade of toxicity and immune reactions, while consuming the most nutrient-dense food on the planet? Plus, eating is delicious and extremely easy to follow, and keep it long-term!! Am I right? I mean!!! This is how we humans got to evolve.
But I also understand that people can be emotionally engaged with food, and changing how you eat can be difficult, at least initially. So the best thing you can do is try it yourself and notice how you feel. How are your digestion and energy levels? Are you sleeping good or bad? Is your mood high or low during the day? How your skin looks like after a few weeks.
Now, people who will definitely benefit from an Animal-Based diet are people with an autoimmune disease (like myself), people with feeble digestion and leaky gut, women and men who wants to conceive, pregnant women, infants, and toddlers.
How to follow an Animal-Based Diet?
Okay, depending on how strict or not you want or need to be, the food you will include may vary. As I mentioned, the easiest way to do it is by following Saladino’s approved low-toxic food list (and some from his medium-toxic list if your body allows it).
Please take a look at his list below.
Here I’m sharing the same list for an easy reference:
LOW TOXIC FOOD
- Grass-fed (preferably) beef
- Pasture-raised pork
- Pasture-raised chicken
- Organ meat
- Bone broth
- Wild-caught fish
- Corn/soy-free eggs
- Raw honey
- A2 dairy
- Sweet fruit (apples, oranges, berries, pineapple, pear, melons, banana, mango)
- Non-sweet fruit (avocado, olive, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, cucumber)
- Grass-fed ghee
MEDIUM TOXIC FOOD
- White rice
- Roots/tubers (sweet potatoes, yams, carrots)
- Fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles)
- Artichoke hearts
- Herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, mint parsley)
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Low metal fish – sparingly (wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, shellfish)
- Ceylon cinnamon
HIGH TOXIC FOOD
- Brassica (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish, radishes, watercress, bok choy)
- Lettuce/salad greens (green leaf, romaine, mixed greens, arugula)
- Grains (wheat, oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth)
- Seed oils (corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, peanut)
- Seed (chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
- Spices (Cassia cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cumin, coriander, black/white pepper, paprika)
- Nuts (almond, walnut, cashew, brazil, macadamia)
- Legumes (peas, green beans, soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, peanut)
- Brown rice
- Alliums (onion, garlic, leek)
- Nightshades (tomato, white potato, eggplant, peppers, chili peppers, goji berries)
- High heavy metal fish (tuna, king mackerel, halibut, sea bass)
The majority of the foods you eat should be animal foods.
There are many macro-nutrient ratios when it comes to eating animal-based. I’ve noticed that some people eat more plant foods (say, 40%), and others eat less (say, 10%). The number of calories and macro-nutrients is entirely individual as it depends on many factors like your actual health condition, activity level, genetics, year’s season, age, and the place you are living. As a nutritionist, I prefer 100 times to create a customized plan for each individual instead of giving a general rule (actually, you can contact me if you want a personal nutrition plan).
Types of animal meat
The best protein source comes from ruminant animals such as cows, lambs, bison, elk, and venison. As they are polygastric and eat mostly grass, they accumulate less toxic polyunsaturated fat in their fat cells than in poultry, such as chicken, turkey, and pork, which consume grains primarily. This means that ruminant meat contains the lowest amount of toxic fat or PUFAS. Regarding fish, always prefer wild-caught fish as they do not eat grains in their diet as farm-raised does. Due to the content of mercury fish might have, limit the quantity to no more than twice a week. Same with shellfish.
Fruits & honey
I do not follow a carnivore diet because I believe carbohydrates are necessary for excellent health in the long run. But the problem with most carbohydrates (like grains, vegetables, roots, and legumes) is they contain tons of anti-nutrients and possible damage compounds. AB diet suggests getting carbohydrates from honey and the least toxic plant foods like fruit. When it comes to fruit, aim for organic and in-season – whenever possible. When it comes to honey, raw and unfiltered is best.
Herbs & spices
Regarding herbs and spices not listed in this graphic, you can use them at your discretion. If you can eat them without reacting to them, it’s safe to assume you can keep eating them. For example, as I have an autoimmune disease, I only use sea or mineral salt, coconut aminos, lemon juice, and rarely garlic, cinnamon, cilantro, basil, and dill.
Many of us have a mixed history with dairy, but the truth is that dairy is incredibly nutrient dense. The main problem with dairy nowadays is pasteurization, as it kills all the good bacteria. Raw dairy provides fat and water-soluble vitamins in their most bioavailable forms. It contains enzymes, bacteria, and unique peptides that improve digestion, microbial diversity, and overall health. Ghee, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, and milk are all great options to include in your diet in moderation – as long as you can tolerate them. To get raw dairy, please visit https://getrawmilk.com to find it near you or ask your local dairy farmers.
Eating animal organs is essential to our evolution as human beings. Only in the last couple of hundred years did we stop consuming them as part of our diet. Unfortunately, today, most humans feel an awful sensation when thinking about eating organs. But the truth is that we cannot judge what we don’t know. Just because you didn’t grow up eating liver, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t start eating it today.
Organs are the most nutritious food, full of essential micronutrients and coenzymes, whereas the liver is the superfood king.
So please don’t skip them over! The aim is to eat 6-8 oz of beef liver weekly. You can divide it any way you want. I eat it in different forms, mostly in pancakes, pate, raw or raw bites, about three or four days a week.
If you’re repulsed by the liver, one thing it helped me like it more was changing my intention around eating it. I started thinking about the liver as the most nutritious food on the planet, so why wouldn’t I take it? Just because of the taste? No way! The final aim is being nourished and healthy; the liver will definitely help!. Also, your taste buds will get used to the strong flavor with time. At least, this has happened to my husband and me.
But if you’re someone who absolutely refuses to eat beef liver or other organs, desiccated organ supplements might be for you.
Hydration & electrolytes
Sodium, in salt, is vital to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. Increasing salt almost all of the time will be very beneficial for you. Low salt diets are associated with insomnia, poor sleep quality, low stomach acid, poor digestion, sugar cravings, addiction, hormonal imbalances, mental health disorders, muscle spasms, dizziness, poor exercise performance, etc. Without enough salt, our adrenal glands can actually atrophy and burn out. So please do not limit your salt consumption and liberally salt your food. Also, you might want to salt your water too. If you don’t do it, I recommend taking electrolytes. Drinking plain water is going to make you lose tons of minerals.
How to eat Animal-Based?
When to eat
If you’re hungry, eat. Let your body decide when to eat. Many people end up eating two meals per day. Others, like me, eat more frequently (around 4 or 5). Since you will be eliminating all the crap and eating whole foods, your hunger signals may change. You may feel cravings, hunger, light-headedness, lack of mental clarity, and a growling stomach. Your fecal deposits will also vary; expect some constipation or diarrhea for some days.
But with time, your body will get used to it, and you’ll find balance. Your hunger cues will become more stable and predictable. Your digestion will significantly improve. The longer you do this, the more metabolically healthy and flexible you will become, and the more you’ll learn your body’s signals. For example, in the beginning, I used to eat 2 to 3 pounds of meat. I was so hungry, and my body couldn’t get enough beef (I needed to heal a lot). After six months, I now eat around 1 pound of meat daily and feel great. Again, please let me know if I can help you with a personalized animal-based nutrition plan.
How to cook
As you ditch all nasty vegetable oils, switch to tallow, ghee, butter, and lard for cooking. Coconut oil is primarily saturated fat, and it’s okay for cooking. However, still, it is on the medium toxic list, so it must be consumed in moderation or not at all.
One crucial thing to do is read the labels of any packaged food you eat, as most contain vegetable oils such as canola, soy, corn, sunflower, etc.
Also, change all plastic and non-stick materials for wood, cast iron, or stainless steel.
How I follow an Animal-Based Diet
Here’s how I like to define animal-based (or this is the way I follow this type of eating). I eat primarily from Paul’s low-toxic foods list (and maybe some from his medium-toxic list), meaning:
- 90% of my food comes from ruminant meat (lots of beef, lamb, venison, and bison), pasture-raised eggs, raw dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, mature cheeses like parmesan or romano), raw honey, lots of fruits (sweet and savory), and liver.
- 8% are on his medium and high toxic foods list. Some examples of these foods are coconut milk, coconut oil, rice, and carrots.
- 2% I eat from his toxic list, things like coffee or eating in restaurants.
Also, please find an example of one day of meals for me. As I mentioned before, the rations of macronutrients depend on every person.
Okay, now you have a basic idea of an animal-based diet. If you are planning o give it a try, I can help you with it! Just send me an email at email@example.com.
Wishing you a life full of love, laughter, and health.