Why A Carnivore Diet Is Peak Vegan

16 min read

What you’re getting yourself into

Why a grass-fed carnivore diet fulfils that goals of veganism better than a vegan diet ever could.

Imagine being told as a vegan that the camp that sits on the polar opposite extreme is doing a far better job of fulfilling your core values?

That would be enough to send you into an existential crisis. If you’re not there already from chronic nutrient deprivation.

The main focus of veganism is the protection of animal rights and the limiting of animal suffering. This is how the Vegan Society spells out the core tenants of the diet:

“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

As implausible as it may sound, if you followed those principles to their logical end, you’d end up practising a grass-fed carnivore diet.

Carnivore is the champion of veganism, and I’m about to explain why.

So You’re Vegan For The Animals?

vegan for the animals

It’s a cold hard fact that there isn’t a diet out there that doesn’t necessitate the killing of animals. It’s called the circle of life, and it’s through a mixture of hubris and a deficiency of critical thinking that vegans believe they’re exempt from this.

For instance, many vegans are blissfully unaware of the function of pesticides, and the mass collateral damage caused by industrial farming equipment like combine harvesters.

Others will accept the existence of crop deaths, but wave them off as unfortunate casualties that shouldn’t count since they weren’t intentional.

This is not the best counterargument, since pesticides are literally designed to kill animals, and intent can’t be waved aside when there are blindingly obvious consequences to razing and pillaging the countryside.

Cutting down a vast swathe of rainforest to make way for soy is going to leave a colossal amount of wildlife either dead, or homeless and on the cusp of dying.

Replacing pastures with monocrops is going to replace a teeming biodiverse ecosystem with a species of one.

Running a combine harvester through a patch of corn is going to chew up and destroy everything in its path.

Syphoning off water from the local aquifers is going to salinise the surrounding area and turn it into an apocalyptic wasteland.

Allowing artificial fertilisers and pesticides to leach into the local environment will exact destruction against aquatic, terrestrial, and avian species. 2.7 million birds are killed by pesticides every year in Canada.

Transporting those crops to their ultimate destination in a supermarket often involves the crossing of continents, leaving a huge carbon footprint that outpaces whatever a herd of cattle can belch out.

This is the destruction wreaked by diets that rely on monoculture crops like soybean, wheat, rice and rapeseed.

When comparing wheat against grass-fed beef, the former causes the death of 25 times more sentient deaths per kilogram of protein.

That’s a whole lot of collateral damage to accept for the reward of crops that are nutritionally bereft compared to their animal-based alternatives.

The number of field deaths in agriculture in the USA alone could number in the billions every year, and that’s without considering insects, which pushes it into the trillions.

Take the European honey bee for instance, which is considered livestock by the US Department of Agriculture thanks to the creature’s vital role in food production through pollination, enabling the likes of apples, melons, cherries, almonds and blueberries.

50 billion of these honey bees were wiped out in the US during the winter of 2018/19. A staggering cycle that repeats itself every year thanks to the intensive use of honey bee penal colonies.

There are plenty of vegans that plug their ears and walk past the carnage, because those honeybees, mice and lizards simply aren’t cute enough to warrant their compassion. But regardless of their arbitrary morals, these animals are dying painful deaths en masse, as a direct consequence of the raising and harvesting of plant foods.

But Don’t Most Crops Go To Animals?

animals aren't stealing crops

The classic rebuttal offered by vegans would be to point out that 36% of global cereal production goes to feeding livestock, and thereby many of these crop deaths should be placed at the doorstop of meat and milk production.

But this hot-take skirts around any nuance. The fact is, animals mostly eat the byproducts of crops grown for human consumption. 86% of livestock feed is inedible for humans. Only 13% comes from edible grains, with the majority of their grains coming in the form of residue and silage.

Even soybean cakes, which is used to incriminate livestock feed as the perpetrator of the deforestation that carved huge swathes through the Amazon, only contributes 4% of global livestock feed.

And soybeans are not grown to make soybean cakes. They’re grown to harvest soybean oil. For humans.

And this calculation of 86% by the FAO is made from all livestock feed. British cattle naturally would use even less crops, with 70% of their diet coming from grass alone. Not that we need to puzzle over the crop argument if we simply roll with grass-finished beef, since that naturally excludes crop deaths.

The Scarcity Of Truly Vegan Foods

why almonds aren't vegan

The vegan premise isn’t to avoid any animal casualties. That’s an impossible fantasy, even for the most zealous of advocates. The goal is simply to limit animal suffering “as far as is possible, or practical”.

Crop deaths are unavoidable, but measures can be taken to minimise them, such as reducing the reliance on industrial monocropping techniques that nuke any diversity in the farmland.

So it does beg the question as to whether pollinators are acceptable under vegan doctrine. The California almond industry, responsible for 80% of global production, doesn’t function without honey bees being farmed alongside them, and dying in their billions every year.

About one third of all crops globally use pollinators. This only leaves a few vegan-vetted foods including tomatoes, peaches, grains such as corn, rice, wheat, beans, and nuts such as peanuts and pecans.

I’m not going to step out and say that farming pollinators is an immoral practice. My point is that the vegan ideology, as fits a fantasy, works by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand in a misguided attempt to imprint human morals into nature.

A vole dying a drawn-out, painful death from poison is fine, but a cow being oblivious to its death after leading a pampered life in lush meadows, that’s equivalent to murder. Because voles are simply less sentient, and don’t need our empathy.

When looking at the impact it has on the animals, the environment that inhabit, and the planet itself, the vegan solution is objectively a turn for the worse.

  • More animals have to die in the spirit of crop protection.
  • Less agricultural land can be used, because most of it is too rocky, too hilly, or too infertile to be used for anything but grazing.
  • More habitats have to be destroyed to make way for those crops.
  • More soil has to be eroded due to the extensive use of tilling, artificial fertilisers, and the lack of cows to refill it.
  • More pollution is created through the pesticide and fertiliser runoff, the transport of foods across continents, and the use of synthetic textiles that comprise one third of the microplastics in the ocean.

How About A Vegan Diet For Health?

vegan for health

Finally, vegans do their best to dodge the obvious inadequacies of plant nutrition by stating that they’re doing it “for the animals”. But considering that we’ve dealt with the animal question, and that veganism has specific dietary requirements, it’s worth reiterating just how bad a vegan diet is.

A vegan diet forfeits a host of critical nutrients that are only available in meaningful quantities in animal products.

1. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
2. DHA (Omega 3)
3. Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol)
4. Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone)
5. Heme Iron
6. Choline
7. Taurine
8. Creatine
9. Carnosine
10. Carnitine
11. Anserine
12. 4-Hydroxyproline
13. Cholesterol

While also lacking bioavailability for many more nutrients, especially protein. Technically, all plants have the full quota of 20 amino acids, they just tend to come in pitiful amounts.

Getting the protein up naturally forces you to scale up carbs in a big way, since they tend to come hand in hand. That can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, and blunt lipolysis.

Alongside the carbs, you get fibre, which can be a disaster for your digestive system considering it has the nutrition profile of sawdust, and drives bloating and constipation.

Then there’s the small matter of plant toxins that block nutrient absorption, tear gaps in the intestinal lining, and lead to kidney stones.

The fat content of a vegan diet is often inadequate, and the few sources that are available are generally loaded with inflammatory and obesogenic Omega 6. Especially if you opt for the most toxic food in the global system, seed oils.

To summarise, a vegan diet, even one that is delicately tailored, is nutritionally bereft and saddled with various compounds that can cause inflammation to skyrocket. This is why 84% of vegans quit. As a diet that is in direct opposition to human evolution, it’s simply not sustainable. Our biology has been fitted to find, digest, and absorb meat. If our ancestors had been as committed to veganism, we wouldn’t be here.

Why Carnivore Is Peak Vegan

carnitine benefits

Now, compare that to the consequences of eating grass-fed, grass-finished red meat.

First, the planet. These creatures are raised on pastures that haven’t been purged of wildlife. The soil is enriched with a vast community of microorganisms thanks to the nutrition in cow dung. Insects like bees, butterflies and beetles thrive thanks to the soil and the sweat of those cows.

Those insects in turn attract birds, and the grass provides shelter and food for small mammals like rabbits and voles. There is a thriving ecosystem wherever ruminants are properly raised and maintained. By eating those cows, you’re supporting that ecosystem, rather than contributing to specicide.

We can’t overstate the impact that well managed ruminants can have on the environment. The rapidly declining topsoil is an imminent threat of cataclysmic proportions. We grow 95% of our food on that topsoil, and it’s projected to vanish within 60 years. This is a greater crisis than climate change.

But that’s where ruminants can step in to save the day, with their miraculous ability to enrich the topsoil by dropping manure on the ground and stamping it down with their hooves. The soil becomes thicker, darker, and deeper.

Cows get a lot of blame for spearheading climate change, taking up valuable land, draining water supplies, and stealing our grains. These criticisms aren’t just factually wrong, they distract people from the fact that these marvellous creatures are the key to our survival on this planet.

Why Cows Aren’t Bringing The Apocalypse

Next, we have the animals that are killed directly to service you with meat. I’ll use myself as an example. I eat three pounds of steak a day. Taken over a year, that’s 1095 pounds a year. The carcass of a single cow can yield around 500 pounds. So that gives me a grand total of just over two cows a year.

If I ate a diet exclusively of chicken, then that would put me at 219 chickens a year. But there’s little chance of me attempting that, because chicken is vegetable-grade meat that lacks any real flavour and has far fewer nutrients.

Here’s a full rundown of animal deaths you’d be incurring at three pounds of meat a day stretched across a year.

  • Beef – 2
  • Pork – 73
  • Salmon – 121
  • Chicken – 219

Grass-finished beef is also going to be locally raised and in season. If you’re in the UK, you won’t be hard pressed to find a source within a half hour drive. This is a damn sight better than buying avocados that have been flown in from Mexico, and peaches from Argentina.

The carbon footprint is negligible when you add that to the fact that cows simply can’t put carbon in the atmosphere that isn’t already part of the cycle. Meaning they’re not adding to global warming, because the methane they’re belching into the atmosphere is going to break down into the soil after a few years, then back into the grass, and onto the next cow’s rumen.

Cows also add much more than just muscle meat. They have highly nutrient dense organs, milk, the tallow can be repurposed as an amazing skincare product, and the hide gets turned into leather that can go towards shoes, jackets, and furniture.

Carnivore For Health

sama hoole carnivore transformation

In the simplest way I could describe it, carnivore has everything you need in a diet, and nothing you don’t. Beef contains all the essential amino acids, fat, minerals, and vitamins. Meanwhile it’s absent of sugar, plant toxins, pesticides, and low in Omega 6.

This is what you get when you let an animal that’s actually designed to follow a vegan diet, do all the hard work for you. Ruminants eat grass and foliage, the rumen breaks down the toxins and converts the nutrients into their bioavailable form, then we dine on the meat.

Whereas by eating plants instead, we’re not just cutting out the middleman, we’re attempting to eat foods with a digestive tract that has little of the sophistication needed to absorb those foods.

A carnivore diet is our species appropriate diet. That doesn’t mean we can’t follow a healthy diet while eating plant foods, but you might feel curious to see what your body is truly capable of.

Meanwhile, veganism is our species inappropriate diet, and results will reflect that, even if you tough it out for longer than expected.

The Carnivore Solution

carnivore is the best vegan diet

The ambitions of veganism should be commended. We should all play our part in limiting animal suffering and exploitation. We should do our best to provide ourselves and the next generation with the nutrition that allows us to thrive. And finally, we might as well make sure there’s still a planet for the next generation to inhabit.

Unfortunately, a vegan diet categorically fails at each of these goals. It spearheads malnutrition, inflammation and chronic disease. It weaponises the diet with sugar, seed oils, plant toxins, and pesticides, while being sorely lacking in bioavailable nutrition.

Meanwhile, vegans also have to bury their heads in the sand so they can sidestep the magnitude of field deaths that come at the cost of putting plants on their plates. Arguing that those deaths aren’t intentional doesn’t make any logical sense, because when erasing a habitat and spraying it with poison causes mass casualties, that’s very much a consequence that anyone should see coming.

As for the environment, one only has to take a look at Almeria, where most of Europe’s fruits and vegetables are produced, to see the consequences of a vegan diet. The greenhouses are still an eyesore when viewed by satellite, is dredging the water table, and polluting the local area with plastic.

A vegan diet necessitates industrial monocultures, and these have a dreadful impact on the planet. This diet would also leave vast swathes of grassland unutilised, because those pastures will not have the soil quality or terrain needed to farm crops.

Following a carnivore diet based on grass-fed beef, on the other hand, provides the body with a surplus of diverse bioavailable nutrition, purges any sources of inflammation, comes at the cost of 1-2 animal deaths a year, while supporting a lynchpin of the ecosystem and helping reverse the topsoil apocalypse.

This is as close as we’re going to get to the vegan utopia. And given the amount of ex vegans coming over to the carnivore side, it appears that people are becoming aware of this truth.

If you follow the principles of veganism to their logical conclusions, you end up with a carnivore diet.

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Graeme M
Graeme M
4 months ago

While we will disagree about the value of a carnivore diet as a long term strategy for health and longevity, I am much more open to the argument that a carnivore dieter *might* be living consistently with the tenets of veganism, at least insofar as diet goes.

Without getting into the detail, I regard veganism as the idea we include other animals within our moral concern. As such, our ultimate goal is to treat other animals with fairness and justice. A form of rights-theory probably is one very good approach. On those grounds, buying any commercially raised meat violates the animals basic rights, so straight up it’s difficult to make a case that is “vegan”.

However, there is a very large quantum of harm arising from growing crops.When regarded from the point of view of an individual’s choices, I would argue that it is best not to buy animal products and to buy plant foods on the basis of a least harm ethic. Nonetheless, one could certainly mount a case that a carnivore dieter is doing well who consciously chooses meat from ethical producers that minimise the violations of rights for their animals.

My own stance is that in the end, we get to make our own choices about what’s best. A carnivore dieter making the best choices they can whilst being guided by veganism seems to me to be making a defensible choice even within the meaning of a vegan ethical framework.

4 months ago
Reply to  Graeme M

I commend you for such a measured and insightful response. I definitely agree the factory farming is deeply problematic, and that ultimately animal rights are going to be “violated” regardless of how we obtain food. I just happen to think that pastured raised beef ticks the least harm principle.

At the very least, I think it’s good to add this to the conversation, since the last decade or so has been dominated by vegan documentaries. Which are understandably biased and are mainly relegated to factory farming.

Kevin M
Kevin M
4 months ago

Excellent article. Regenerative farming integrating livestock herds is the key to sustainable agriculture. There needs to be a major shift in our approach to food consumption and production. Humans survived primarily on red meat for thousands of years- it has been the major source of our continued existence. The introduction of mass agriculture through mono cropping gmo plants has taken its toll on the environment, soil quality, and our mental/physical health. I believe that the vast majority of chronic illness and mental strife is a direct result of consuming low quality foods that don’t offer the appropriate bioavailability of nutrients. Most plant food today has been modified to the point that they don’t provide nutrients in a evolutionarily balanced way. Fruits have been modified to contain vast amounts more fructose and many vegetables contain more starches and far fewer nutrients than they previously provided.

4 months ago
Reply to  Kevin M

Appreciate you for reading, and that’s a phenomenal summary of what’s wrong with our “health foods”. We’ve wound up in a situation where we have an abundance of calories and a scarcity of nutrition. The perfect blend for obesity and chronic disease.

Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones
4 months ago

You say a vegan diet “forfeits” critical nutrients and provide a list, you are factually incorrect as follows:
Vitamin B12. This is available in a vegan diet. It can be found in some varieties of wild mushrooms and is found in abundance in shiitake. It’s just not reliable due to how source our foods. B12 comes from a bacteria, a micro organism, in the ground. It is barely found naturally in any foods though due to modern farming methods. Animal produce are a source of B12 because their feed is supplemented with it, or with cobalt which it uses to convert to B12. B12 isn’t always well absorbed from animal products unlike a B12 supplement. So everyone has to supplement B12, whether directly or indirectly via animal feed.
DHA (one of 3 Omega 3 fatty acids) is used extensively in vegan diets through algal oils. You are incorrect to say vegans forfeit DHA. Omega 3 ALA is found extensively in plant foods. But that doesn’t mean that those following plant-based diets are deficient in these longer chain omega-3s. In fact, women following vegan diets actually had significantly more long-chain omega-3 fats in their blood, compared with fish-eaters, meat-eaters, and ovo-lacto vegetarians, according to findings from the14,000 person European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study. Despite zero intake of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA) and lower intake of the plant-derived ALA, vegan participants converted robust amounts of shorter-chain fatty acids into these long-chain fatty acids, compared to fish eaters. This is because the body naturally converts ALA into longer chain omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—which is important for brain health—and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). 
Vitamin D3 is a cholecalciferol. Vitamin D2 which is available in mushrooms is ergocalciferol. There is ongoing debate whether one source has an advantage over the other, but they both ultimately do the same thing. But the thing is, most people would be Vitamin D deficient from their diet alone because it is very difficult to get from any diet. The sun is by far the most efficient source for vitamin D, which is why vitamin D supplementation is recommended by health boards to EVERYONE who live in countries without year-long sunshine.
Vitamin K2 is available in a host of vegan foods, the popular fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha etc.
Heme iron is not an essential nutrient, with many plant foods containing high levels of non heme iron. There is a body evidence that recommends a reduction in heme iron as high intakes of heme iron have been shown to be associated with cancer and cardiovascular disease (British Medical Journal Mortality from different causes associated with meat, heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study: population based cohort study). This is likely because heme iron can not be regulated by the body as is the case with non-heme iron. High iron stores causes cells to die. Heme iron is very oxidising.
Choline is available in an abundance of plant source foods including tofu, soymilk, cruciferous vegetables, cooked dried beans, quinoa, mushrooms, peanut butter, etc. etc.
Taurine is not an essential amino acid. The body can make it. And it is available in vegan foods if necessary due to illness, such as in seaweed, green tea, dark chocolate etc.
Creatine is not an essential nutrient. It is an amino acid derivative, naturally produced in the human body. The body produces creatine using the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine which are widely available in plant sourced foods.
Carnosine is a non essential amino acid made efficiently by the body. Your body can form it from the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine.
Carnatine is found in certain plant sourced foods such as whole wheat bread, asparagus and the popular avocado. Lower levels of carnitine are not evidenced, in respect of scientific consensus, to be detrimental to human health. Carnitine can be converted into a compound called TMAO in the gut, which is correlated with atherosclerosis (i.e. heart disease).
I could go on. In the interests of balance, you also forgot to mention that red meat is a group 2a carcinogenic as prescribed by the independent and highly reputable International Agency for Research on Cancer who described red meat as positively associated with colorectal cancer and evidence of links with pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer after carefully reviewing an analysing 800 different studies on the subject. The body of scientific study linking animal foods with chronic health conditions is overwhelming and just simply doesn’t exist with plant sourced foods.
If you studied the nutritional values of foods on a calorie for calorie basis you would see that a large range of plant sources have protein content at similar levels to animal products; for example, a 100 calories of each food type would give you: spinach 14 grams, tofu 12 grams, broccoli 8.3 grams, button mushrooms 14 grams; chicken breast 19 grams, lean steak 17.5 grams, eggs 6 grams, milk 2 grams. I would not call this pitiful. If you study the micronutrient contents, you will see that the plant sources are in a different stratosphere nutritionally to typical animal sources. The only real nutritional dense animal sources are the offal or internal organs, which the majority of people don’t eat. This is why there has been a huge shift in the last decade to elite athletes moving plant based – you get a lot more bang for your buck.
To down talk fibre is just plain nonsense and highly unethical in respect of giving advice. “Random-effect meta-analysis shows that higher consumption of total dietary fiber, significantly decreased the risk of all-cause mortality, CVD-related mortality, and cancer-related mortality by 23, 26 and 22%” from one of the biggest studies carried out on the subject with a data size of over 3.5m. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561423003631#:~:text=Additionally%2C%20dietary%20fiber%20from%20whole,CI%20(0.38%2C0.77)).
And your subject of plant toxins is firmly in the drawer of junk science in the non-partisan medical world and is instead only found in the whacky world of youtuber doctors who will sell you books and supplements to treat an issue that has never been evidenced to be, err, an issue. It is just absolute nonsense.
I’ve been to Loma Linda in the US, It’s in between Palm Springs and LA. It’s crazy. It’s full of people in their 90’s and 100’s. The Adventist population of around 10,000 there live to an average age of 89 for men and 91 for women (10 years above the national average in the US) and are 10 times more likely to reach 100. They have far less chronic diseases. And they are either vegan, vegetarian or mostly plant based. The vegans out live the other groups. They’re doing this in plain sight of everyone and thriving on pant based diets.
So they don’t seem to “forfeit” much nutrition. Does Novak Djokovic “forfeit” any nutrition on his career long vegan diet? He’s doing pretty well whilst knocking on 37. Or what about the other world leaders who embraced plant based diets like Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Tom Brady during his unbelievable playing days, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne etc. etc. It’s a massive list.
Keep it real please my friend.
I’m not gong to mention the other topics you discussed, because if you are so far removed from the facts on nutrition, what chance have you got on the environment and animal ethics. 

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson
2 months ago
Reply to  Bobby Jones

Djokovic and Brady eat meat and fish, you do understand why nobody has replied, don’t you?

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson
2 months ago
Reply to  Sama

People really have drunk the Koolaid, haven’t they!