Welcome to Anxious Carnivores, a mini-series about the changing culture around meat consumption. Despite growing pressures to quit meat, many Americans can’t quite do so—but they’re getting weirder and weirder about how they eat it.
Is it me or are meat diets sort of…in a particularly deranged era right now? A content creator went viral for eating only meat for a month. Miss Thing is fully chomping into butter for some reason. The Liver King is, you know, eating a lot of liver. The hashtag #carnivorediet has over 650 million views on TikTok, where all-meat recipes like “carnivore bread,” or ground meat bound with eggs and baked into a loaf, and “carnivore crack,” or bacon in solidified brown butter, have gone viral—fueled by both disgust and genuine curiosity. Diet choices have become, in a word, extreme.
Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets aren’t new—Atkins, paleo, and keto have been popular (albeit controversial) for years as ways to lose weight. But these diets have now reached a new intensity: all-meat diets. These meal plans mix what we eat with who we are—they somehow blend health anxieties with identity and politics. Paul Saladino, creator of the animal-based diet, promises on his website to help you “live a life of optimal health.” The inventor of the lion diet is Mikhaila Fuller (née Peterson), the daughter of right-wing pop psychologist Jordan Peterson; her YouTube account discusses meat and men and boasts nearly a million subscribers. Meat-pilled food-lebrity Shawn Baker, nicknamed the Carnivore King after inventing and popularizing the no-carb, all-meat carnivore diet, has more than a quarter of a million Instagram followers and claims waves of success stories. Joe Rogan tried the carnivore diet for a month, only to find it gave him diarrhea, and James Blunt apparently got scurvy from attempting it. (It shouldn’t be surprising to know that these diets go against commonly accepted health advice.)
Many all-meat success stories—anecdotal, of course—make sure to mention that doctors had mismanaged a patient’s health and that the only thing that helped was an all-meat diet. Still, the…