The carnivore diet is an animal-based diet.
I nearly always use “animal-based” to describe a carnivore because there are a few versions of carnivore depending on who you ask, just like there are many versions of Paleo or Keto.
To the carnivore purists, you will hear things like, “Carnivore is meat and water.”
Some might claim eating only beef and water is the REAL carnivore diet.
Others interpret a carnivore diet for themselves to mean animals plus certain non-animal foods like coffee, tea and certain spices.
I’ll try to cover each of these in this guide so you have the information you need to figure out what version of carnivore is right for you.
So to start from the ground up, the safest definition for a pure carnivore diet most agreed upon by most is animals only. This is the purest form of carnivore and is often a place where most people start since it serves as an elimination diet.
Following are the 4 primary versions of carnivore you can try. These are my definitions, and by no means exact.
Based on my personal journey going deep into all things carnivore, these carnivore styles are my best attempt at creating easy-to-understand definitions for the various carnivore diets people are using today.
1. PURE CARNIVORE IS ANIMALS + SALT + WATER
This is the pure carnivore diet.
It’s simple to understand: If it’s an animal, you can eat it. If it isn’t, don’t.
A note here is while eating chicken all day would technically be carnivore, it’s not actually carnivore. On a carnivore diet, for it to be the truest expression of how our ancestors would have eaten, you must focus on eating a lot of your calories from red, ruminant meat as well as fatty fish since the nutrient profile of these animals is in line with our evolutionary past.
Compared to the currently domesticated livestock popular today, our ancestors focused on taking down BIG animals, which were red meat sources full of the necessary nutrients we need to support our big brains.
This is why beef has become the default carnivore staple food.
If you are just getting started with a carnivore diet, I recommend you start here since this serves as an elimination diet. By eliminating all plant foods to start, you let your body reset.
Then, if you decide to add certain plant foods back in (you may not want to and that’s fine!), you can see exactly how your body reacts to those certain foods.
The pure elimination carnivore diet gives you the perfect framework for building the perfect diet for you from the ground up.
2. THE CARNIVORE+ DIET: ALL ANIMALS + RAW DAIRY
This version of carnivore incorporates raw dairy and as a result, creates more variables to consider. Dairy is a complicated food with many variables. It affects everyone differently. Some are more sensitive than others. so you need to test the various dairy products for yourself.
That said, I do have a simple way to make dairy much easier to consider.
If you can’t get raw dairy products, don’t bother with dairy at all.
Industrial dairy products are not good, especially milk. Pasteurized milk isn’t food whereas raw milk is a superfood.
Check out the video below for a more in-depth explanation of the different considerations for understanding dairy.
3. THE SPICED CARNIVORE DIET
This version added spices, tea, and coffee to any of the versions above.
So maybe you do the carnivore+ diet or just the pure carnivore diet and then add these foods in.
The picture below shows a steak covered in a charcoal-coffee-spice rub blend. This perfectly represents the Spiced Carnivore diet. (Yes, it was delicious.)
4. THE FLEXIBLE CARNIVORE DIET
This is my current version of carnivore, and I suspect it’s where most people will end up.
There is a case to be made for having a bit of flexibility to enjoy social outings and the occasional plant foods which are delicious and can be a part of a balanced carnivore diet if done the right way.
We will look into the specific foods I recommend you experiment with later in this guide, but it basically boils down to all the foods listed above in addition to certain plant foods added in strategically.
With this style of eating, you may want to try testing certain fruits, like avocado, olives, apples, berries. You could also try adding tomatoes or cucumbers here and there if you tolerate them.
When experimenting with different plant foods, look for low toxic, low lectin plant foods to experiment with. Keep in mind, this is highly variable and some of the research still isn’t out as to whether or not certain plant substances are that damaging.
So go into this with an open mind and remember that with most things in life it comes down to the dose.
Most people will do just fine if they ate a flexible carnivore approach that includes small amounts of plants added to a mostly animal-based diet.
WHICH VERSION OF CARNIVORE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
There you have it; a simple list of the various ways to do a carnivore diet.
This will help you figure out what version of carnivore is right for you based on what you are doing now and what you are trying to accomplish.
An intelligent way to start carnivore is to begin at step one and progress slowly to the next level after 30 days while paying attention to how your body reacts as you add foods back in.
Then all you have to do is listen to your body! It knows best.