The carnivore diet is animal-based.
I nearly always use "animal-based" to describe a carnivore because there are a few versions 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 as animals and certain non-animal foods like coffee, tea, and spices.
I'll cover each of these in this guide so you have the information you need to figure out what version of a carnivore is correct 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 where most people start since it serves as an elimination diet.
Following are the four primary versions of a carnivore you can try. These are my definitions, and by no means exact.
Based on my 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.
- 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 a carnivore; it's not a carnivore. On a carnivore diet, for it to be the most authentic expression of how our ancestors would have eaten, you must focus on eating a lot of your calories from red, ruminant meat and 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 to support our big brains.
This is why beef has become the default carnivore staple food.
If you are starting with a carnivore diet, I recommend starting here since this serves as an elimination diet. By eliminating all plant foods to start, you let your body reset.
Then, if you add certain plant foods (you may not want to, and that's fine!), you can see exactly how your body reacts to those specific foods.
The pure elimination carnivore diet gives you the perfect framework for building the ideal diet for you from the ground up.
- 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.
I have a simple way to make dairy much easier to consider.
Only bother with dairy if you can get raw dairy products.
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.
- THE SPICED CARNIVORE DIET
This version added spices, tea, and coffee to any of the versions above.
You could do the carnivore+ diet or just the pure carnivore diet and then add these foods.
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.)
- THE FLEXIBLE CARNIVORE DIET
This is my current version of a carnivore, and I suspect it's where most people will end up.
There is a case to be made for having the 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 correctly.
We will look into the foods I recommend you experiment with later in this guide. Still, it boils down to all the fares listed above and specific plant foods added in strategically.
With this eating style, you should try testing certain fruits, like avocados, olives, apples, and berries. 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 research still needs to be out as to whether or not certain plant substances are that damaging.
So go into this with an open mind and remember that it comes down to the dose with most things in life.
Most people would do fine if they ate a flexible carnivore approach with small plants added to a primarily 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 a 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.
Then all you have to do is listen to your body! It knows best.