Carnivore diet a ‘terrible idea’

Hand of a person picking up a container of meat at a grocery store

April 5, 2024 — Some social media influencers are promoting a so-called “carnivore diet” made up almost entirely of animal products such as beef, butter, and eggs, claiming that it has cleared their skin and helped them get in shape. While the diet may help people lose weight in the short term if they cut out foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, it may have long-term health consequences, said Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Walter Willett in a March 30 CNBC article.

By skipping fruits and vegetables, people likely won’t get enough fiber in their diets, which can affect gut health. They also will miss out on carotenoids and polyphenols, substances with antioxidant properties that have been linked to lower risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Animal products also contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.

In addition to the potentially adverse health effects of the diet, Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, noted that industrial production of animal-based foods is harmful to the planet. “There’s also the issue of justice that basically the Global North—Europe [and] the United States—cause most of the problems with climate change that we have today, and this sort of perpetuates that.”

For all these reasons, he said, the carnivore diet “sounds like basically a terrible idea.”

Read the CNBC article: Fitness influencers swear by the ‘carnivore diet’—it’s ‘basically a terrible idea,’ doctor says

Photo: iStock / Hakase