75. The Carnivore Diet with Paul Saladino
August 2nd 2021.
- The Carnivore Code on Amazon
- Paper introducing the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis written by Leslie Aiello and Peter Wheeler
- The Social Leap: The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What Makes Us Happy
- Wikipedia page on Peters’s elephantnose fish
- Wikipedia page on the psychology of eating meat
- Paul hanging out with the Hadza tribe
- Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects
Visit academy.saifedean.com/meat to find out more about Saifedean’s experience following the carnivore diet.
[00:03:40] Saifedean Ammous: Hello, and welcome to another Bitcoin Standard Podcast seminar. Our guest today is Dr. Paul Saladino, an MD and a carnivore who has written a book called The Carnivore Code, which explains his perspective on the carnivore diet. Paul is also active on social media, on Twitter and on Instagram, and has made quite a splash in the diet world because he used to be a vegan and he’s become a carnivore.
And he’s got some very interesting ideas, which I think a lot of our listeners are going to appreciate. Paul, thank you very much for joining us today.
Paul Saladino: Thanks for having me on Saif!
Saifedean Ammous: All right, first of all, let’s begin with a little bit about your personal journey. So you were an MD and a vegan. Both of those things are likely to make you not a carnivore, so how did you end up becoming a carnivore in spite of being an MD and a vegan?
Paul Saladino: Yeah, I was not an MD and a vegan simultaneously, but I was vegan for a bit of time. For seven months, I was a raw [00:04:40] vegan when I was actually a physician assistant. So I had this sort of long protracted health journey of my own. My father’s a physician, mother’s a nurse practitioner, was interested in going into medicine throughout college and then took quite a bit of time off to explore the world.
Was hiking the Pacific crest trail, eventually went back to physician assistant school and practicing cardiology and quickly realized that the mainstream medical establishment was not something that I wanted to be fully a participant in. That it was mostly pharmaceutical base incentive focused, and it didn’t seem like we were actually getting to the root cause of illness.
And so at that point, I went back to medical school after four years of working as a physician assistant in cardiology. And then somewhere along that path medical school at The University of Arizona residency at The University of Washington.
It was in my residency at The University of Washington that I finally got fed up with my own auto-immune illnesses, specifically eczema, [00:05:40] and I thought there’s something wrong. At that point, I was eating a paleo diet. It’s this thing of well raised meat, but also vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, mushrooms which were in vogue and continue to be quite in vogue today.
And my eczema was going out of control. I had eczema on my chest, my arms and my legs, my shoulders, my wrist, and it was just super frustrating because if anybody’s had an eczema, they know it’s quite itchy and it prevents me from doing any of the things that I wanted to do. So I thought something needs to change.
And at that point I started thinking more about whether I needed the plants in general in my diet and then eventually about which plant foods might be more or less toxic. And that was the beginning of my own carnivore journey, cutting out the plant foods and lo and behold going full carnivore for a year and a half, meat, organs, fat, eczema gets a lot better.
Psychologically felt better. And then eventually I did reincorporate some plant foods, which we can talk about what I might consider to be the less toxic plant foods, [00:06:40] simply fruit and honey. People sometimes get triggered when we talk about that because of fructose, but we can try and draw some phonation there and talk about some nuance in fructose, thinking within mainstream medicine.
But the overarching idea here is that the consideration of which foods that I was eating were triggering my immunity was massively beneficial for me in my own life. And I think that now we’re seeing that it’s massively beneficial for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands and millions of people across the globe.
And yet it’s such a fascinating concept to talk about because it flies in the face of mainstream ideological thinking, which is continuing to demonize meat for a variety of reasons and continuing to hold up vegetables and plants as these sort of saviors of the world. When in fact I think we’ve got it completely backwards.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, obviously I agree with you, but yeah, we will get to the fruits and honey in a bit. Won’t agree with you on that I guess, [00:07:40] but before we get to that, tell us a little bit about your book. What is the hypothesis that you present in your book?
Paul Saladino: So the book was interesting. The book was written and published just before covid, which seems like an eternity ago. Maybe a hundred years ago or so. Actually in February of 2020 was when the book was published and it was an interesting characterization. It was my effort to really talk about the concepts underlying.
I started off with the discussion of anthropology and evolution, which is a fascinating rabbithole to go down. I believe that thinking about how we became homo sapiens. How we become humans essentially from primates, from chimps and bonobos. And so it was quite interesting to talk about the anthropology, to look at sort of the growth of the [00:08:40] human brain 2 million years ago, and to see that the human brain really grew in size exponentially over the last 2 million years after probably 80 to 90 million years of the same size as our primate ancestors, chimps and Bonobos.
Not a whole lot of growth in the beginning of the australopithecine evolutionary timeline as humans, and then something happened. And there’s really good evidence that that something was the hunting and scavenging of meat and organs. The consumption of meat, organs and fat.
So that was a really interesting thing to lay out to people and say, hey why do we think these foods might be bad for us? Just intuitively if they in fact probably made us human by providing unique nutrients, resources of calories, there’s so many unique nutrients in animal foods that you can’t get in plant foods that have incredible nutrient value in humans. Anserine, taurine, carnitine, et cetera. The list goes on and on, choline, vitamin K2, riboflavin.
It’s a deep well of uniquely robustly represented animal based nutrients. And then the book [00:09:40] moves into discussions of plant toxins, which are something we hear very little about. And I think that’s probably the most contentious part of the book. Many people believe that plants don’t have toxins or that the toxins don’t affect humans negatively.
And I’ve pretty consistently taken a different stance that I do think that toxins are a factor for humans. And then when we look at the net benefits of most plant foods, the foods I would consider within the plant kingdom to the most toxic would be stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. Really the parts of the plant that the plant is highly trying to defend against predation lest the plants genetic lineage be interrupted.
Then I think that the risk of getting those foods outweigh the benefits and that we can get the nutrients and the benefits present in those foods plus more by just eating meat and organs, or if we choose, opting for the least toxic plant foods. And we can talk about that. I know that’s going to be a controversial topic at this group.
And then the last part of the book, or the last two parts of the book are about the [00:10:40] myths around meat. There are so many myths about meat. That it’s going to cause cancer, that is going to cause heart disease. And it was fun to really dig into those and try and debunk most of those myths especially the meat and cancer premise, and meat and atherosclerosis premise.
So these are really big sacred cows in Western medicine that all of this thinking about the supremacy of animal foods flies in the face of, really challenges. And then the last part of the book is about regenerative agriculture, and I will tell this year group, and I’ll tell this to your listeners.
When I wrote the book, I didn’t have the balls to question the overarching hypothesis about carbon dioxide. I figured that if I really went for the jugular and I really did a deep dive and a deep analysis of environmental impacts of carbon dioxide versus what we actually know from engineering and environmental literature, but people would label me a climate denier.
And so I really just took [00:11:40] the easy way out of that equation and talked about the importance of sourcing regeneratively. And if we do accept the carbon dioxide is a driver of anthropogenic climate change, which is not something that I really have found a lot of support for when I’ve gone deeper down that path of investigation.
Then regenerative agriculture is certainly a solution to that, it’s quite scalable. I think most people will understand that raising cows, grass finishing, grass feeding and rotational grazing is good for ecosystems. We can at least agree on that. And just trying to obviate many of the plant-based arguments against meat, the scalability and the ethics and the environmental impacts of it.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, obviously there’s a lot there. I wanted to just get back a little bit to the evolutionary part of the book. So what are the differences between us and chimpanzees and bonobos that lead you to conclude that we’re carnivores? What is the best case that you can make for that?
Paul Saladino: I think that, let me just clarify my position, and [00:12:40] this is something that Miki Ben Dor sort of helped me clarify, if people are not familiar with his work, he’s a pretty cool Israeli anthropologist, who’s written a number of papers on human trophic levels, and I’ve interviewed him on my podcast, which is called Fundamental Health. And in his most recent paper, which actually talks about human trophic level and how to reconstruct hominid trophic level over the last few million years. He talks about omniverous species and this interesting misconception about omnivores.
When people say humans are omnivores, which is the widely accepted perspective, they generally want to sort of have this Michael Holland perspective, like eat food, not too much, mostly plants. But if you look at our evolution as humans, I would argue the complete opposite of that or the polar opposite perspective, which is that we should eat mostly animals as an omnivore.
And if you look at zoological literature, The majority of omnivores, more than 70%, either have a plant-based leaning or an animal based leaning. They either lean toward [00:13:40] mostly animal foods or mostly plant foods. And so I think that if you look at the history of humans and where we’ve come from chimps and bonobos, this primate lineage, what you’ll find is that chimps and bonobos, primates, are sort of plant-based omnivores.
And suddenly somewhere along the evolutionary timeline, probably around 2 million years ago, with the appearance Homo erectus and Homo habilis, it was much more advantageous for our ancestors to become animal-based omnivores rather than plant-based omnivores. And that shift I think happened with the appearance of hunting and these tools and the unique nutrients that we got from hunting.
But we have this radical shift from a plant based omnivore, because we know that chimps and bonobos and many primates outside of our lineage to eat animals occasionally. They will eat other primates, they will eat small animals when they can get them, but they think the majority of their diet is plants. And so I think that there’s a pretty compelling argument to be made that for the majority of our evolution, humans have made the majority of their diet, or [00:14:40] sought to make the majority of their diet animals foods.
And that sort of puts into perspective this hierarchy of the importance of different foods in our historical past as humans. I think that it’s pretty hard to make an argument that humans have always eaten only meat and organs, but I think it’s quite easy to make an argument fairly cogently, fairly robustly as well that our ancestors and currently living groups of hunter gatherers prize meat and organs and animal foods above all other things.
And that’s really been what we have done as humans for millions of years. And that probably was a huge player in making us into the humans that we are today, allowing our brains to grow. If you look at the differences physically, there’s a fascinating set of papers by Leslie Aiello called The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis, which posits that as our brains were growing, our guts were shrinking.
There’s probably an energetic trade-off here and also a nutrient density [00:15:40] trade-off. And so we had to get much larger small intestines, which are evolved for absorption of more animal-based nutrients higher up in the digestive tract, and we get much smaller colons which means that we can get six pack abs we have much more acute angles of our ribs.
We don’t have these sort of commodious colons and bulbous intestines that many primates do because we don’t need that. We have much smaller large intestines because we’re not fermenting kilogram quantities of fiber every day into short chain fatty acids, like our primate ancestors. And with that, we have this energetic trade-off, which allows for a growing brain and probably a nutrition trade-off, which allows for the growth of neurons, myelin sheaths on neurons and unique nutrients that probably allowed our brains to grow, which we obtained from animals and which are then absorbed more efficiently in the larger small intestines of our gut.
And we know that so many of these animal based nutrients do get absorbed much higher up in our gut. And so we see all of these interesting, energetic trade-offs and we see parallels in the animal kingdom. There’s a fascinating fish, [00:16:40] Peter’s elephantnose fish, which is a carnivorous fish that has the largest brain and the smallest gut of any fish that we know of, I believe.
And it’s the same sort of energetic trade-offs. Like when the brain gets bigger, the gut needs to get smaller because there’s sort of this caloric ceiling. Evolution isn’t going to favor a species suddenly increasing its caloric requirements by hundreds of calories or tens of percentage points. That’s going to make it much harder to survive.
But if we can trade things off, we can become a different species and adjust. So we see that, those transitions. And then I talk about all of this in the book, there’s all sorts of other transitions in humans that really point to us as primarily hunters. The shoulders that can throw a fastball a hundred miles an hour, or throw a rock at something, or throw a spear or pull back a bow.
These hips, the pelvic girdle, the way our hands are shaped, opposable thumbs, the way our feet are shaped. Eyes that are in the front of our heads. The whites of our eyes, this is a fascinating conversation that I had with William von Hippel on my podcast as well. The idea that if you look at chimps and bonobos or you look at primates in general, I did not know [00:17:40] this, the sclera of their eyes are actually dark. It’s brown. And ours are white and dogs are white.
And so there’s this hypothesis that we sort of co-evolved with canines being able to look at each other and communicate with our eyes. As opposed to primates, when they see the eyes and then they can’t really tell them quickly which direction that animal’s looking. And so we’re very keyed into the eyes of our other humans and Will suggests in his book The Social Leap, that this is suggestive of cooperative culture in humans, potentially connected with group hunting and other activities rather than competitiveness in primate cultures where they are not really working in groups to take down a big animal.
But we have all of these adaptations, which appear to really point us in the direction of humans are hunters first and foremost, always have been. Yet that’s not the that’s not so in vogue today. We’re sort of encouraged to be, I’m not sure what we’re encouraged to be.
Perhaps we’re just encouraged to be [00:18:40] sycophantic rule followers.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I find it interesting, you look at a gorilla, they’re strong and big, but they have a massive stomach and they spend their entire day eating plants and defecating basically, because plants are mostly indigestible matter.
So you’re running your digestive system all day at full load in order to try and get a small amount of nutrients and that ends up meaning that the majority of the days are spent just eating. And I think it’s very clear that the reason they don’t eat as much meat as we do is because they’re not good at hunting.
I don’t think a chimpanzee would turn down a ribeye steak if you gave it to them. There’s absolutely no chance. If you could get a hundred generations of chimpanzees to eat ribeye every day, I think you’ll see the chimpanzees get stronger and smarter. Obviously, they [00:19:40] won’t catch up with us very quickly, but I it’s clear that their energy goes toward digestive system because they can’t hunt.
Whereas because we can hunt, we have a much smaller digestive system and we eat animals that essentially outsource the digestive problem for us. A cow is just out there doing 24 hour digestion. A cow is just basically a digestive system on tiny little legs that take it around so that it can get food, keeps eating and pooping all day.
And you’re just getting the very tiny amount of nutrients that it gets from massive quantities of plants. So I definitely think that I buy that. And it’s interesting. I don’t think there’s any species that would turn down a steak. I don’t think there’s any animal that would not eat a steak, it’s full of nutrients.
They would all eat it. I think the difference is the ones that can hunt and can secure meat than the ones that can’t. And if you look at the ones that can hunt, [00:20:40] you’ll see they generally have small stomachs because they don’t need them, because they eat animals that are full of nutrients.
Paul Saladino: I think there are probably, I’m trying to think, I’d have to dig into the zoology literature, but I’m not sure how many purely herbivorous species there are. Like I said, I think there’s a lot of plant leaning omnivores, but I agree with you. I think if you gave a steak to most of them, they would eat it. And then there’s these hilarious videos, I don’t know why anyone considers this surprising, canines are clearly animal-based omnivores.
And people say, oh my dog is a vegetarian and he loves vegetables. And it was on the talk show, I think it was a British talk show. And they’re like we’ll see about that. And then bring the dog and they have a plate of meat and then a plate of vegetables and the dog just goes straight for the meat.
After these people are just waxing poetic and just singing the praises of their vegetarian dog clearly is just so virtuous, the dog just tears into the meat. And it’s just built into [00:21:40] us. And there’s this study here that I should tell your audience about that I think is one of the most fascinating ones I’ve ever come across.
And I think it basically ends all discussion of humans as herbivores or humans as plant-based or any discussion of humans is not essentially a very meat focused organisms. They put EEG, so they put electroencephalography leads on people’s heads and they took a bunch of vegetarians and a bunch of omnivores.
So they could look at the neural firing patterns in different regions of the brain. They could look at the cortex, which is more highly evolved region of the brain where there’s all the imaginations and all the folds. And then they could look at the deeper regions of the brain, the thalamus or the brainstem.
And they can look at the motivational relevance of these images that they’re showing people to the vegetarians and the omnivores, and when they show the omnivores pictures of meat, the omnivores have both a cortical conscious positive reaction and a sort of deeper positive [00:22:40] reaction, more of a limbic or more evolutionarily ancient, positive reaction to the meat.
But in the vegetarians, they have this cortical aversion. They have this sort of programming that says, ooh meat not good, it’s bad for me, or I don’t like it. The deeper regions of the brain persist with a positive reactions to the meat, which to me is just like you cannot out-evolve. Vegetarians didn’t out-evolve their programming for millions of years, the deeper regions of their brain that haven’t been brainwashed or propagandized realise that was still the most nutritious, most nutritionally dense, most deterministic food.
In a human’s life, if a human gets more meat, a human is going to thrive. By meat, I’m sort of saying that in the royal sense, and I mean meat and organs, because when you look at hunter gatherer tribes, they do eat nose to tail. And when you visit a hunter gatherer tribes like the Hadza, that’s exactly what they say, that the most important thing in their life is meat.
They [00:23:40] dream about meat. The best day of their life was when they hunt and kill the biggest animal. The selection of males by females is based on who’s the best hunter. Everything revolves around meat. It’s built into our deeper brain regions and vegetarians can try and program and propagandize out of that.
But the deeper brain regions never lie.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think it’s fascinating that all the species that have ever existed, and all the humans that have ever existed have managed to figure out what to eat except for the people who have learned modern nutrition science. The only species that was dumb enough to come up with an entire science in order to justify horrific dietary choices and then give itself all kinds of diseases is humans.
It’s not all humans, but it really takes something special because for the vast majority of all humans and animals, they just follow their instinct when it comes to food and that serves them fine. Your body knows what it wants, you to listen to your instinct.
I remember when my kids were born, it’s actually [00:24:40] astonishing to watch a two minute old child know how to feed. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life, to see how this was just programmed in them. I think being a carnivore has turned me off from reading anything about nutrition science because I just find it to be, it’s something that’s very instinctive and you know how to do it.
And you just eat as much meat as you can, and then you’ll be healthy and happy and strong. And in my mind, there are more interesting things for your mind to be doing then looking for all the new stuff on PubMed and figuring out what this study says about the interaction between this plant food and that plant or the other,
Just eat a goddamn steak is the motto that I’ve had in my life for quite a while. And it’s served me well, saved me a lot of time [00:25:40] on reading nutrition books and PubMed, and getting into internet wars about articles. At this point, there’s absolutely nothing that can be written in an academic journal article by a nutritionist that could change my mind on, maybe not absolutely nothing, but it’s going to be very hard for me to think that the conscious medical and nutrition establishment that is trying to consciously rationally figure the answer out for what we should eat.
I don’t think they can do as good a job as my instinct. And I think many people can do that. You also write about Weston Price. I’m a big fan as well, and I mention him extensively in my forthcoming book The Fiat Standard, which is now available for pre-order. What do you think of Weston Price’s work and what it tells us?
Paul Saladino: I think Weston price was sort of this fascinating nutritional detective who lived at this interesting time, this [00:26:40] intersection of Western culture and what was left at the time of indigenous cultures around the world. Unfortunately in the last 90 or 100 years since his time, we’ve seen the disappearance of many of the cultures, or at least the recession of many of those cultures to a broad degree.
But his work was striking. And there’s a clear indication of the dental health, the jaw structure, and the overall health of indigenous cultures throughout the world who are eating non-processed non- westernized foods of a variety of sorts, in comparison to the the rapidly introduced westernized foods, predominantly processed flours, processed sugars and processed seed oils, which we’re making super large inroads into civilization.
That’s just such a fascinating thing. The pictures in his books are striking and speak for themselves. And you know, [00:27:40] unfortunately there’s only a little bit of that left today. I mentioned this earlier, but I went to Tanzania in February of this year to spend time with Hadza, wanted to do my own mini Weston Price journey.
This culture has probably less than a thousand remaining true hunter gatherers left, and they do live in lake Eyasi region of Tanzania. And you can go visit them. You go with a guide organizer, but if you are connected well enough and you can tell the organizers that you want the most legitimate experience possible, and they will take you on 12 hour hunts and they will let you hang out with them for 16 hours a day.
And they’ll let you sit by the fire and let you ask them whatever you want and you really get a sense of how these true hunter-gatherers are living. And it was fascinating and it mirrored a lot of the things that I’ve read in Weston Price’s work and that I’m suspicious about based on the work of others, like Frank Marlowe, who has studied the Hadza extensively.
And this is what I was mentioning earlier, when you sit with the Hadza and I have sat next to them, there’s pictures on my social media of this, [00:28:40] and ask them, they clearly are focused on meat. Everyday, they think about it, in their free time they’re making arrows to kill animals. They’re not making tools to farm or daydreaming about iPhones or thinking about how they can help the women dig the best tuber.
They’re thinking about how to kill the biggest animal and how to get poison to put on their arrows to kill a bigger animal. And they’re a little bit worried about the encroaching other cultures like the Detoga or the Maasai who have become mostly pastoralists on their land, which are limiting their ability to hunt.
But yeah, it’s quite clear. I think this anthropology perspective is a very valuable one. And if you look at appraisals of their health, they’re quite healthy metabolically. I just don’t know how people ignore this. They find all sorts of mental gymnastics. I appreciate what you said, it does get a little tedious for me sometimes, arguing with people online about these things, and maybe I’m in the wrong line of work.
But for me as a physician, it feels important that I at least try and champion this cause and [00:29:40] talk a little bit about this health and others who just can’t understand it, but I appreciate your point. And I think that the proof is in the pudding for most people. And when they try shifting their diets for the more animal-based perspective, they generally feel much better.
And I think that the other piece of this equation that’s often left out is just plain common sense and intuition. Why would the foods that we appear strongly to have eaten, as the majority of our diets, have always sought out preferentially, be bad for us. Even if they raise LDL. There’s just so many interesting things here.
Why would a protein like LDL be killing us when it goes up with what appears to be a very ancestrally consistent diet. We never shied away from animal-based sources of saturated fat evolutionarily, so why should we now? Most of the people on nutrition Twitter would say clearly saturated fat is bad for you, it’s raising your LDL and killing you.
The list of names is long of people who are in that camp, and it’s just, I don’t [00:30:40] understand it. I think that the problem is they’ve not spent enough time in the wilderness and they’ve never spent enough time, they never spent any time with any group of humans that’s living in any way that resembles the way that humans might’ve lived.
And of course the Hadza are not a perfect indication of that. I sort of flippantly refer to them as like a Delore and they’re like a pseudo time machine that goes back 50,000 years or a hundred thousand years. They’re not perfect. They have been influenced by humans, but they’re pretty darn good.
They’re like the best proxy that we have. And so that’s exactly the kind of stuff Weston Price was doing.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I agree with you. I think there’s an element of, a majority of people I think formulate their view of the world by reference to what other people think. In other words, you look around at people who look like they know what they’re doing and who have positions of authority, people who are socially prominent, and you just hear what they’re saying and you think this is the safe thing to do.
And generally, I think a lot of a lot of our history is just human beings going along with, you know, because there’s safety in [00:31:40] numbers at the end of the day, you don’t want to rock the boat too much. And it works as a shortcut. Why think about things when you can just follow the leaders and do what everybody’s doing? For the vast majority of the things that works really well, don’t jump off a cliff.
You don’t need to try it out and think about it too much. If people tell you don’t jump off the cliff, it turns out well, but of course, people take it too far. And I think modern sciences, modern nutrition in particular has just gone way too far in that direction of having set up these thought substitutes I like to call them, that are just accepted as dogmas that you just have to stick to them.
And they’re repeated so often that the vast majority of people just take them at face value and never question them. So LDL is one of these. A balanced diet being good thing is another one, these are completely nonsensical.
If you wanted to actually trace the story of LDL and think about it critically, [00:32:40] you’ll be able to dismantle it with somebody who’s thinking about it honestly in 20, 30 minutes. And I think the same is true about the concept of balanced diet. What’s balanced? How much heroin should you smoke on your balanced diet in order for it to be balanced?
Why should you include highly addictive things that are very hard to quit? Why should they have heroin or Pringles or all of these very addictive things? And then if something is actually good for you, why should you limit it? Why should you be sticking to a specific amount of, these things just, it’s frustrating how they just survive and it’s actually quite sad how many people’s lives are ruined because they’ve been eating this stuff and they stick to it.
It’s like the fear of fat for instance, is one of the things that’s just most amazing for me. I’ve traveled a lot around the world and it doesn’t matter how educated you are, how well read you are, how much you follow the science, everybody’s afraid of fat. Meanwhile they’re guzzling litres of Cola and eating all kinds [00:33:40] of junk, which you think, oh it’s just a snack, it’s fine.
And they don’t see anything wrong with that, but they do see a lot wrong with fat, which I think absolutely amazing as an idea. And nobody mentioned the problems of plants. So tell us about some of the biggest, greatest hits of plants, before I get to that, the point I wanted to make is that you know being a carnivore is one of the things that requires you to break out of that kind of thing.
People are always saying LDL is bad and balanced diet and this and that, but you need to sit back and think through it from first principles and you’ll arrive at different conclusions. Then it requires a lot of mental independence to be able. The open-mindedness on the one hand and then the independence to be able to stand up to an endless array of idiots who are just constantly pointing at you and laughing and saying, hahaha you don’t know what I learned in my fancy university degree, which makes me know much better than you, [00:34:40] and constantly just being willing to take all that.
And that is my complicated way of saying that that explains why Paul is also a Bitcoiner. So after becoming a carnivore, he’s also taken the orange pill recently and he had me on his podcast to talk about Bitcoin. So do you have any thoughts on,
Paul Saladino: A lot of parallels there, and I’ve seen it. It’s funny, I was talking to one of my friends about this, actually, the friend that orange pilled me and I was saying to him that there’s so many parallels. And of course I’m a neophyte in the world’s cryptocurrencies and especially with Bitcoin, but I listen to a lot of your podcasts and others.
I just feel like, wow maybe this is the way that people feel when they’re trying to navigate nutritional science. There’s just all these different voices, most of which appear to be generally well-informed and fairly coherent at the surface. But when I was talking to my friend and [00:35:40] listening to your stuff and others, the more I thought about it, just like I agree, I like this first principles approach.
Just doesn’t make sense to be printing a bunch of money, to not have hard money, to have a corrupt central banking system, and to have all of these issues with your central financial structure. It just makes absolutely no sense, and it allows for massive amounts of corruption and disparity that could easily be remedied.
There’s so much force that Bitcoin can do for good in the world. And I see so many parallels with nutritional ideology and it’s totally true. There’s people just hurling the most ridiculous vitriol at Bitcoin, saying we told you so when it goes down 5% and then they’re silent when it goes up 14% in a week.
And then in a year, when it’s probably more than a hundred thousand, who knows, they’ll be very silent and they’ll continue to criticize it when it has another drop. And there’s so many parallels and I agree. You have to be willing to think outside the box. And if you’re just always going to follow the school of fish, then you’ll end up off a cliff at some point with the [00:36:40] rest of the lemmings.
And you’re just a sheeple person, which is where many people are comfortable, but it’s fun to be at the edges of that, or at least trying to challenge that and the nutritional space. Then it’s fun to learn about the other side of the cryptocurrencies in the financial world, otherwise. Yeah, there’s a lot of parallels there.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. All right, so tell us some of the greatest hits that plants have done on us, how have plants been harming human beings over the past. Executive summary of the last 10,000 years of human agriculture.
Paul Saladino: Oh my gosh. I mean, we have to go back a little bit further and probably 400 million years further back.
So thinking about the fact that plants and animals have co-evolved for a very long time, and that there’s been constant chemical warfare between science and animals through the entirety of that evolution. I don’t know why people imagined that all plants are edible and all plants are benign.
It’s the sort of pantheistic philosophy like plants are wonderful and plants are sacred. And I don’t know where it comes from and [00:37:40] anything from the Earth is good for you, and it can’t possibly hurt you until you step on a scorpion or get bitten by a snake, or try and eat a plant or a mushroom that’s going to kill you dead in five minutes.
You realize that’s just a fairytale ideology. I’ve often thought about this, like the scene from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, where they walked into the candy room and everything is made of sugar, and there’s like lollipop trees and the chocolate river.
That was the way the plants were. If you could really just walk outside and everything was nutritious and I could just take a handful of this plant and a handful of that plant, then they would really not be many plants left. There would be no ecosystems, and this co-evolution of different kingdoms of life would never have proceeded as delicately and as in balanced fashion as it did.
And you know, it’s not Willy Wonka’s chocolate candy room. Everything isn’t just edible and sweet and without any overt poison. Obviously there’s a lot of philosophical problems with that analogy. When you think about the problems with fructose [00:38:40] and candy in Willy Wonka’s room, but you get what I’m saying here.
And so plants, by necessity had to develop defense chemicals of all sorts, all shapes and sizes. Some of them are digestive enzyme inhibitors. Some of them are frank poisons for animals. Some of them are hormonal analogs that are going to affect us negatively. Some of them affect the absorption of certain nutrients, but generally they’re all aimed at dissuading animals from over consuming them.
And like you said, we as higher-level predators, we as apex predators, get the benefits from herbivores doing most of the detoxification for us and doing most of the very careful selection of different plans for us. And there’s some fascinating literature, mostly by Fred Provenza and some others, about animals, wild animals or domesticated herd animals, ruminants like cows or Buffalo that are limited in their paddocks at times, causing them to over consume certain plants, leading to mass, die-offs or [00:39:40] massive sickening of these animals.
Even animals that are herbivorous like a ruminant, like a cow or a sheep or goat or a Buffalo or bison understand that they’re not just going to eat one plant all day, every day.
They’re going to eat a little bit of one plant and a little bit of another, and mostly cows eat grass. But you look at sheep, they’re grazing in the fields and reading a little bit of this plant. You look carefully at what’s in a field, it’s not just pure grass, it’s grass and other plants. If you’ve ever been to an actual farm where they do grass feeding animals.
And so they’re already understanding that these plants have alkaloids and other toxins, and they’re being very careful to select them and not consume certain degrees of needs. And then, if you look at the specifics, the big ones that I see and that I’d outlined in the book are things like the isothiocyanates, which is a whole series of compounds.
Along with other goitrogenic compounds found in the brassica family, there’s things like lectins, which are carbohydrate binding proteins, [00:40:40] there’s things like (???) acid, which is a large chelate molecule that creates negative mineral absorption and negative mineral flux. Things like oxalates, which are di-carboxylic acids, which appear to be problematic for humans.
Some things are problematic for humans even beyond that, like potentially salicylates in some people. I think salicylates are not quite as problematic in many people, but the list goes on, there’s just so many of these and many of these are polyphenolic. Things like alkaloids or turpines or flavonoids, they can have a variety of different effects in the human body.
Probably the most well-known example would be something like resveratrol, which is a polyphenolic compound present in the skin of peanuts and grapes and a few other foods. And the compound resveratrol is produced in response to a fungus, the vitritis fungus. So it’s sort of a plant saying, hey get off of me, this is a defense chemical.
And it got popularized by Davidson and a few others when they realized that it activated a set of genes [00:41:40] called sirtuins which maybe were connected with longevity in mouse models, or maybe could normalize mice on like really crappy diets, but in most of the human trials that have been done, it doesn’t do much of anything good for humans.
And they’re using doses that are much much higher than anything you’d ever get by eating normal foods. And in fact, it has some apparent negative effects like decreasing androgen precursors, specifically dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, DHES, a few others in studies. In one study, it actually worsens metabolic conditions.
And doesn’t seem to really have any effect on preventing prostate cancer. And yet it’s probably still a multi billion dollar industry for resveratrol. It’s a plant compound that probably we would have been exposed to small amounts of in our diet, but nothing that our body couldn’t detoxify with the phase one and phase two systems in our liver.
But when we do massive amounts of it, just because we’re trying to crowbar open the doors for sirtuins and longevity, which I think is a [00:42:40] fool’s errand, we end up with some apparent negative consequences. And then the isothiocyanates I mentioned are like Rhonda Patrick’s beloved sulforaphane, and I have called her out before and I’ll just respectfully say that I appreciate her work and I wish she would show up for a debate at some point in our lifetimes.
But I think that she will never do that. But sulforaphane is a compound that’s produced when glucoraphanin, which is a precursor in broccoli and other brassicas combines with myrosinase and these are locked in two different compartments of the cell in a plant. And so these are only combined like a booby trap, like super glue when the plants are chewed. So it’s very clearly a booby trap.
It’s very clearly like a hey gotcha, you’re going to eat my plants. You’re going to eat my stems or my leaves or my roots, I’m going to make a toxin that doesn’t exist normally. And that’s going to be problematic for you. In the case of sulforaphane, it’s a pretty strong pro-oxidant and it also is well known to be part of this series of compounds known widely as goitrogens [00:43:40] and isothiocyanates that have varying activities at the level of the thyroid and the absorption of iodine. Isothiocyanates like sulforaphane are perhaps not the strongest.
There’s another one called goitrin which occurs in things like brussel sprouts, which is much stronger and actually proven to have some pretty significant effects of the level of the thyroid and anything to do with iodine. The intention of plants is pretty clear here. They’re not trying to to help you. They’re trying to get you to not eat their leaves because they want their leaves to be there so that they can photosynthesize and make roots and then make seeds with which they will spread the next generation.
Again, just intuitively I’m not sure how people get so confused about this. It’s not to say that you can’t find some benefits to these compounds if you study them in isolation, with sort of a myopic perspective or a very tightly framed experiment like looking at DNA damage. Because as a pro-oxidant, compounds like sulforaphane will trigger our indogenous impass and system, which is driven mostly by [00:44:40] NRF2 and KEAP1.
And so we’ll make more glutathione. But we can do that normally. And this is the problem, is that if you look at people contextually, who lead a good life and are in the Sun and doing maybe a moderate amount of exercise, nothing crazy, and have enough nutrients, predominantly nutrients from animal foods to make glutathione in their own body, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate and the essential amino acids necessary to do that, then it’s pretty hard for researchers to actually show that sulfurophane does anything positive.
So this gets to be fairly nuanced and I’m sure your audience kind of understands this because they’re sort of in this carnivore space and they may have heard me or someone else talk about it.
So I apologize if this is redundant or overly involved, but the argument that I make with this plant compound is generally that I ask people to really show me a net benefit in humans who are already eating a healthy diet. Because there’s all of this contextual nuance. Like it’s one thing to show that a compound can do something beneficial in an isolated study, in a population that’s unhealthy.
But do we really know that it does anything good net in a population that’s eating a [00:45:40] healthy diet, that already has the nutrients they need, and where are the people who are looking to weigh the risks versus the benefits? And there’s very little literature looking at the negative side effects of these plant compounds.
So it gets a little confusing in literature because everybody wants to point out saying, hey this plant compound does this and this plant does that. But if you dig into the other side of the literature, most of these compounds have a big dark side. You can say, oh resveratrol is going to activate sirtuins which appear to have a reasonably beneficial effect in the human body.
But then it has all these other negative side effects. Maybe it worsens glycemic control, maybe it actually worsens metabolic health a little bit, and it decreases energy precursors, sulfurophane the same way. Like maybe you could get a little bit more of an antioxidant effect, at the level of NRF2 and KEAP1.
But when you actually dig into the net benefit, is it anything? I mean you’re inhibiting the absorption of iodine in the thyroid. Do we need any of these compounds? We’re often ignoring the collaterally damaging side effects. The list goes on and on, but there are many of these compounds and I didn’t even talk about lectins, which are [00:46:40] really problematic for humans.
Mostly occurring in seeds, nuts, grains and legumes, the plant seeds, and those appear to have some pretty darn disruptive effects at the level of the gut, which is as many people may understand that was widely hypothesized to be a ground zero for most autoimmune disease and most chronic illness. So if there’s anything there you’d like me to elaborate on, I can do more or we can move on to talking about something else. There’s a broad swathe of the plant compounds.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I’ll be perfectly honest with you, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just all plants. And I just stay away from it all. Yeah, we spend a lot of time studying this, and I think it’s great that people like you have all of the arguments to confront the others with, but I’d be lying if I said that I could follow.
Because I’m a very practical person and so I take the lazy way out. And so I just don’t eat all plants. And that allows me to to not have to memorize all of the horrors that [00:47:40] they,
Paul Saladino: And then let’s go back briefly to the anthropology. And this is a little tricky because I haven’t spent years with the Hadza like Frank Marlowe did for his PhD thesis, I choose to do some other things with my time sometimes, but it’s pretty clear that these hunter gatherer groups do have a hierarchy in their foods.
And we said they favor meat, organs, they favor hunting of animals. And they will eat honey when they can get it. And they will tend to gather fruit when it’s available and seasonal, but they don’t really go out celebrating that they can get pumpkin leaves or tubers. They’ll eat them, but they’re not really excited about them.
And they don’t eat the seeds of the baobab fruit very often, unless they’re really not doing well in the hunting. And so this is another sort of nuance things that just adds to the discussion that many people would point to these hunter gatherers and say, look at all the plants they eat. And you say, well actually, if you ask them which do they prefer, they always prefer meat.
And I suspect that a lot of times, and this is fairly well corroborated by the research, they’re [00:48:40] only eating the plants because they’re not able to hunt the animals. So they’re doing what omnivores do. They’re doing what humans have probably done for millions of years, which has be very adaptable so that we can survive periods of scarcity.
And I think that these small groups of remaining hunter-gatherers are looking at more and more scarcity and smaller gain because they’re being squeezed out. And if they do eat pumpkin leaves, I’ve got to think that there’s a reasonable argument to be made that that’s just like a survival food, as opposed to like a really preferential food for them.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And I think this is where we go from the kind of mentality where let’s ape everything that traditional hunter-gatherers do versus a more practical way of thinking about it which is, it’s not about aping everything that they do, it’s about seeing how they’re able to thrive on a predominantly meat diet. And then understanding that they’re humans after all, they’re no different from all of us.
And so they will eat whatever is necessary, they get hungry, they don’t always [00:49:40] have a ready game on tap to tap into. They sometimes have to make do with terrible things. But I think that the number that the 20th century has done on us is that it has convinced us that the things that we have historically used as a substitute for food to tide us over, which our body can digest, but it’s not ideal for us.
It has turned things around entirely and convinced most people that what is essential for our health, which is meat, is actually bad for you. And what is completely inessential and likely quite harmful is what you need to be going after. And this is the tragedy of modern people, because a lot of people think that eating healthy is expensive.
Actually eating healthy is really cheap. You can do it and I’ve written an essay on my website on academy.saifedean.com/meat on what I’ve learned in five [00:50:40] years as a carnivore, I wrote it last year. And you know, it’s quite practical, it contains all kinds of cooking advice and what to eat.
And I explained that you can do the carnivore diet on practically $0 a day. If you go to your butcher, make a friendship with your butcher give you some bones and you know, you can buy them for very cheap, close to nothing, and you can boil the bones and you can eat them, and they’re actually extremely nourishing and even delicious. A little bit of salt and they taste great after a lot of boiling and they’ll be quite mushy and they’re extremely nutritious.
Butchers throw away the most nutritious food. Like they’ll throw away a lot of the fat and a lot of the bones, they’ll throw it away, or sometimes it’s actually used in farming. So they sell it to farmers who will make essentially plant feed from it and put it in the soil because it’s got a lot of nutrients.
But [00:51:40] it’s amazing, you go to the supermarket and you think about how much nutrients the butcher shop in the supermarket throws away versus how much nutrients exist on all the rest of the shelves of the processed food. The supermarket might be throwing away more nutrients than it sells every day outside of the butcher shop.
Like all of the plants would, or at least all the processed foods definitely, all of the stuff that comes in a shiny plastic wrappers definitely has fewer nutrients than all of the stuff that the butcher in the same supermarket throws away.
Paul Saladino: And if you look at the cost analysis, I agree with you completely.
How much nutrition is there in a pound of meat and how much nutrition is there in a pound of chocolate, pound of wheat or a pound of kale. It’s not even a question, a pound of meat, even if you get grass-fed and grass-finished meat, $6, $8 a pound, good luck getting anywhere near that amount of nutrition in $8 of wheat. You just won’t do [00:52:40] it.
You can eat wheat until the cows come home and you won’t achieve the same amount of nutrition. And,
Saifedean Ammous: When the cows come home, you can just eat the cows and then you’ll be all right.
Paul Saladino: Yes, exactly. To your point, the organs are also a super cheap way for people to get very unique nutrition.
You go to a butcher they’ll often sell you liver for $5 a pound or less. And you only need, a half an ounce of liver per day will radically change someone’s life nutritionally, even if they’re not eating meat. One of the things that my company Heart & Soil does, is we make these desiccated organ supplements for people who don’t want to eat fresh organs.
And I think the thing that makes me the happiest is when I get a message from a vegetarian or vegan saying, I don’t eat meat, but I want to try your supplements as like a stepping stone. And I think that’s really cool because I really believe that by them investing a dollar a day or less in liver or [00:53:40] heart or spleen or kidney or pancreas, or organs the very few people are going to eat, but that are very cheap and are easily obtained throughout the world, they’re going to feel differently and that may help with their mindset change.
And I think that’s such a huge thing. You’re right, like if you go to your butcher, you can get free meat, I assume you can get free fat, you can probably get nearly free bones, you could probably get nearly free liver. And then if you buy the cheapest type of meat, which is ground beef, gosh there’s a lot of nutrition there and you’re going to do really good for, I’ve got to say $10 a day or less.
And I think most of the people listening to this could spend $10 a day on their food and if they can’t, then we have a broader discussion of like what the priorities are in their life and their finances.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. One common complaint is that well, don’t you get bored eating ground beef every day? And the answer is no. Like if you just know how to get your ground beef mixed in the right quantities of fat and meat that [00:54:40] you like, and you know how to grill it or fry it or whatever it is, it’s actually astonishing how little you get bored of it.
Like, in my mind, honestly you get bored of eating plant food and then the need for variety in food is because plant foods are boring. You can’t eat the same plant food three days in a row.
It gets really tedious and boring for you. And that’s why people who eat plants have this idea that food has to be interesting and innovative. It’s like meeting a new person every day, and it isn’t, food is nutrition, it’s like building a house. In my mind, when you’re building house, you’re not looking for variety and you’re not looking for entertainment.
You’re looking to build the house, which will then allow you to experience variety entertainment in all kinds of other things that you do inside the house. But first you got to get serious about making the roof and making sure that the roof doesn’t leak and that the foundations are strong. And then the amount of fun that you can have in [00:55:40] a house that’s well built is orders of magnitude larger than the fun that you can have if you treated the building of the house as the fun activity. If you treated the building of a house as a party, you’re going to have a dysfunctional house in which you won’t be able to have fun.
And I think the same goes for the body. If you treat your body, if you treat your digestive system as an entertainment organ, as a way for your body to experience pleasure, that’s an enormous waste. Because this is essential for your survival, you’re not going to be healthy and you’re not going to be able to experience other kinds of entertainment and fun.
You can have so much more fun when you’re healthy, then you can if you’re not eating healthy and that applies across all aspects of life. Whether you like to do exercise, whether you like to do outdoor activities, whether you’re sexually active, all of these things become very different when you’re healthy.
If you get bored from ground beef, the reason is [00:56:40] you need more entertainment in your life than food. You need to find better ways of, you need better nutrition and better entertainment in your life. You need to separate the two, is how I put it.
Paul Saladino: I couldn’t agree more. I think that if we choose to use food as entertainment, that’s any individual’s right as a sovereign human, but you’re then sacrificing anything you could build with a more intentional diet.
And so I think people want both. And I think honestly, eating a lot of animal foods gives you both. It’s quite enjoyable and it will create health, but I like your analogy of building a house, but I agree with you that if you treat eating food as entertainment, you will not obtain optimal health.
And that’s just a conscious trade off that every human needs to choose, but people want to believe it’s possible to just always eat the food that gives them the most dopamine in their brain. Also that being processed food or food cooked in restaurants, often in seed oils. And that’s just not going to work for many people, or [00:57:40] for anyone for that matter.
To your other point, I think the plant foods also get boring because of the alkaloids. And this is something I experienced when I was a vegan. I was convinced that wheat grass and this makes me nauseous even tell the story, but I’ll do it because I appreciate you guys.
I was convinced that wheatgrass was amazing. And so I grew wheatgrass in my house, and I had a wheatgrass juicer. And every day after I got home from my run, I would juice wheatgrass, make a wheatgrass shot. And I don’t think it took more than two weeks before I came home.
And literally as a vegan, somebody whose cortical response to this was positive, my limbic more primal brain was like, put that shit down. That is not good for you. And I had clearly accumulated way too many alcaloids from the wheatgrass juice. And to this day I shutter, I would never drink another shot of wheatgrass in my life. And so I think the plant foods also get boring because we start to, we’re like the cows. We have this mechanism and we [00:58:40] start to accumulate too many alcaloids, too many plant toxins in our bodies.
You better eat a different plant food, or you’re going to get way too much of this, and you’re just going to start getting nauseous. And so this is the problem is that we try and make these plant foods disguised, and people want to make these green smoothies where they combine super bitter, horrible tasting leafy greens that are not food for humans, with fruit, which is sweeter.
And we can talk about the fruit and it makes it a little more palatable. People are getting way too many leafy greens and other things that are creating all sorts of problems for them. And so I think that I love what you said there. Many people are coming from an omnivorous perspective of getting bored with plants quite quickly, because plant foods are quite boring and they can’t wrap their head around the fact that you could eat meat every single meal as I have for, man it’s gotta be definitely more than three plus, four or five years now.
And never get bored of it. It never say, oh man, another ribeye for dinner tonight, I can’t do it, or more burgers. And there’s a great company here in Costa [00:59:40] Rica that makes grass fed grass finished beef. And I’ve got a really nice grill here and I love those burgers. I would eat those burgers every single day.
I’m fortunate to be able to alternate with the ribeye or a skirt steak or whatever I want, but you don’t get bored of animal foods. And the last thing I’ll mention is my own personal experience. When I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail many moons ago in the year 2000, I was a young man and I didn’t really understand the way that all of this sort of connected with each other.
And I was trying to bring a lot of vegetarian foods on the trail. So I made a gruel in the morning of oats and buckwheat and flaxseeds and millet, thinking that this will be my breakfast every morning. And then I had lots of other plant foods on the trip, whether it was like dates that I brought or peanut butter.
You know, as a 20 year old, which is how old I was when I was hiking the crest trail, or a 22 year old, who in [01:00:40] their early twenties doesn’t think peanut butter is like the best thing in the world. That’s like a pornographic fantasy just to get to eat peanut butter every single day, as much as you want.
But lo and behold, after probably a month on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was absolutely sick of that morning oat gruel. I threw it out to the rest of the trail. I didn’t ever want eat another spoonful of peanut butter in my whole life, but I could not wait to eat my beef jerky and the cheese and the animal products never, ever got boring on the Pacific Crest Trail.
But the plant foods got ridiculously boring and I just threw out so much of what I’d made. I dehydrated a bunch of apples, a bunch of things, and they just got to be so bland and boring for me that I didn’t even really want to eat them, but I always wanted the animal foods and I don’t do cheese now.
I think dairy does bother me, but it illustrates the fact that like this meat and this cheese as the animal foods never, ever got boring, after days days on the Pacific Crest Trail. This is just my own personal experience, unfortunately [01:01:40] and not intelligently, I shifted toward eating more processed food at the end of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I’m not a saintly human and at the end of the trail and I was eating literally like eight ounces of cream cheese at a time on bread and poptarts, that was my food. Because I just needed something that was palatable. And if I could just go back and talk to my 20 year old self, I would just say, just eat more meat, man.
You’ll always like the beef Turkey on the Pacific Crest Trail, you just need to make a shitload of it.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. You know, since we’re telling embarrassing food stories, I’ll confess that when I was 20 year old, I used to drink something like two liters of Coca-Cola a day, every day. And that was just me having normal, healthy, balanced diet at that time.
And you can get away with it when you’re 20. But then, when I moved to the west and my I was 24 when I moved there, but by 27 in the west, that’s when I started not being able to get away with it. I think it’s particularly because the U. S. food, [01:02:40] it’s a lot of high fructose corn syrup and all of this highly processed stuff.
And that’s when I started waking up and eventually ended up going full carnivore. But I will say I’ve always loved organ meat. And so you get a lot of flack from people because you talk about organ meat. I’m a huge fan of organ meat, and I urge everybody listening wherever you are in the world, there’s probably a Lebanese butcher within driving distance of you.
The Lebanese butchers are all over the world. The Lebanese are all over the world, and there’re butchers all over the world. And they, I think have the best culture for preparing the organ meats and raw meats. It’s absolutely amazing what they do with them.
They prepare the meat really well. And so if you go to your local Lebanese butcher and ask them for sawda nayye which is the raw liver, they cut it up really nice and they clean it up and then they eat it raw with little tiny chunks of fat. Even [01:03:40] before I was a carnivore, this was for a very long time, this was my favorite dish in the world.
It’s really, really delicious, but you have to clean up the liver quite properly, and I still eat it all the time. And I like to eat brains, I like all organ meats. Probably haven’t had them all yet, but I’m pretty close. I’m wondering, do you think organ meats are essential? Because I enjoy them.
I eat them because I have to, but I know a lot of people don’t enjoy them and it seems that quite a few carnivores seem to be thriving without having to eat organ meats. What do you think?
Paul Saladino: I’ll start the answer to that question with again, a throw back to the anthropology. There’s no tribes that I’ve ever read about or heard of or visited that only eat the meat and throw out the organs. So I’ll tell you what we killed animals, and I hunted a baboon with the Hadza and we killed a goat.
And in both of those [01:04:40] situations, the liver was the first thing eaten and it was treated like a Bitcoin, to be honest, as it came out of the organ animal, it was held with two hands and gently placed on a rock and guarded. It was in the most secure wallet you could ever find.
And everybody got a little piece of it. And it was like, wow. And the same thing with the heart and the kidneys and the spleen and the organs where the first thing eaten. They never threw out or wasted the organs. They did give the small and large intestines to the dogs, but they ate the stomach. So the dogs are sort of the companions of the Hadza on their hunts.
And I suppose they have to some something, so they’ll give the intestines to the dogs, but every other organ gets eaten up from the testicles to the ears, the tongue to the eyeballs to the brain. I ate baboon brain with the Hadza one morning, and look at me, I don’t even seem to have any symptoms of prion poisoning yet.
Talk to me in six months to see if I’m drooling, but it was great and they clearly treasure it. [01:05:40] That to me is a good indication of the importance of organs in the diet. And then if you actually look at the brass tax nutritional content of organs, they’re often quite unique relative to muscle meat. Muscle meat is a miracle of nature and is incredibly nutritious, and there’s not a whole lot of folate in muscle meat.
There’s probably not enough riboflavin for most people in muscle meat. There’s not a ton of biotin in muscle meat. There’s not much copper in muscle meat. But when you start to eat muscle meat with a few of the organs whether it’s heart or liver, both of those have much higher amounts of riboflavin, and much higher amounts of some of these other fat-soluble and water-soluble minerals that really complete the picture.
And the interesting thing about organs is you don’t have to eat a lot, but a little bit goes a long way. Like I said, even half an ounce of liver or the equivalent in a designated organ supplement is going to be really pretty much the sweet spot [01:06:40] for most people. And it makes sense because when you have a liver of an animal just divided among 15 or 20 hunters is not going to get a ton, but they might just get a little bit, but then you get into these unique peptides, which are less than 50 amino acid signaling molecules.
And they’re very unique in different organs as well. So the muscle has some, but one of the ones that’s in vogue now that’s injected exogenous to the BPC-157 and that’s present in the stomach. So for instance, if you’re eating tripe or an extract of tripe, you’re going to get naturally occurring BPC-157.
And then you can look at many other peptides. There’s peptides present in the liver, there’s peptides present in the hearts, peptides present in the testicles, all over the place, which I think are probably uniquely beneficial for us nutritionally. I find organs to be quite uniquely beneficial. And if people don’t want to eat the fresh organs, that’s why we do things like desiccated organs at Heart & Soil.
Obviously, if you’re getting fresh organs, you’re great. But that was why I built a company, just to make it more accessible for people and to help them get as much nutrition as they can [01:07:40] in just the freeze dried organs. But I think that if it was the Hadza or any other tribe, you’l quickly realize that their organs are prized and they would never reach them and they would gladly take your share of livers if you’ll share it with them.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I’ll gladly take the liver. I think it’s great, brains as well are absolutely delicious. Probably the most delicious organ to have is maybe the brain, liver probably. It’s tough to decide, but I’m still not a hundred percent sure on it being essential because I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of carnivores on the carnivore groups and on the carnivore blogs, they swear by, years and decades even, of just ribeyes or just burgers.
A lot of them have been eating this and they seem to be thriving. I think here, we can think about individual nutrients and think [01:08:40] about the individual nutrient requirement. But in my mind, perhaps that is influenced too much by looking at the average standard American diet victim.
And maybe their requirements for some of these nutrients are much higher than what carnivores need because standard American diets eaters are eating a lot of toxic stuff. They might require more nutrients because their absorption of the nutrients might be less. So that’s why organ meats are very beneficial for them, but perhaps, if you quit eating the plants, and you’re just getting the muscle meat, I think as far as I can see, if the person is thriving, then maybe that’s more important than what we see in the labs and in the metrics for how much of this or that nutrient they should get.
[01:09:40] Paul Saladino: Yeah. I think definitely if somebody is thriving, it’s hard to argue with that. I always wonder, could they feel better? If they add a little bit of organs, is there another gear that they don’t even know that they have yet? We hear about that sometimes. This is sometimes like a vegan argument too.,
Look at Rich Roll, he’s clearly thriving on a vegan diet. That’s a joke. But I’m pretty sure that whatever gear Rich Roll has right now is going to have five more if he added meat to his diet. And I can’t help but think that many of these meat-based carnivores would do better with organs. And to me, I just don’t quite understand it.
It does seem evolutionarily consistent, and almost seems to be this like dogmatic battleground that I don’t engage in within the carnivore community which I think is already too dogmatic and close-minded, where people are like, no, you don’t need it. And I’m just like, why would you not even try it? I think it’s going to feel better.
And then to be honest with you, I’ve worked with a lot [01:10:40] of clients personally and seen their blood work. Again, this often does correlate with their symptomatology and how they feel overall subjectively. But I do see their blood work going in a negative direction when they don’t eat liver or at least some source of foline and riboflavin.
And I see homocysteine go up, I see folate go down. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around rising levels of homocysteine. There’s some pretty decent evidence that’s not a good predictor. And it just corrects immediately when you add even half an ounce of liver with folate and riboflavin, especially people with MTHFR polymorphisms, which are quite common in many ethnic groups, the methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme.
If people are thriving, I’m happy for them. And I think that a lot of them could do even better. And in my experience working with people, just even a little bit of a few organs makes a big difference in terms of laboratory analysis for physiology.
Saifedean Ammous: Cool. [01:11:40] I think the drawback perhaps here is that a lot of people get squeamish and get turned off when you mention organ meats and then I think some people see that it might be more productive to just tell them to focus on getting the meats that they like.
Because there’s an enormous improvement that can be had if you just switched to your favorite steak. And if you can just afford to have your favorite steak every day, you will benefits enormously. Whereas perhaps if you try and convince them to have organ meat, they’ll be less likely to move on to it.
But yeah, I still got to take you to a Lebanese butcher one day and have some raw liver, raw lamb liver specifically. And actually it has to be in the middle east in the Levant in particular, because that’s where we have what I think is probably the tastiest local lamb. It’s fat tail Awasee lamb.
And it comes with a tail of like three, four pounds of fat. And [01:12:40] that’s really delicious fat. And that’s the fat that they cut up and they put served with the liver. It’s quite different from raw liver anywhere else. So I’ve got to have you over in the middle east, in the Levant somewhere and give you some of that.
All right. So now fruits and honey, what’s the deal with that?
Paul Saladino: I appreciate that we can have some conversation and share slightly different opinions on this. So I’ll start with my own experience with which may just be my kind of one. And that was that, after a year and a half of carnivore diet, meat, organs and fat exclusively, and salt.
And to be honest, in the middle of writing my books, you can imagine the no small amounts of cognitive dissonance I was experiencing, I started to feel cold all the time and my sleep was pretty disrupted at that point. And I just thought, you know what, why don’t I just add back some honey?
[01:13:40] It’s made by bees, I’m sure potentially an animal you could potentially, if you really want to get into these sort of ideological, philosophical arguments, I don’t think honey has defense chemicals. I don’t think bees are trying to potentially put defense chemicals in their honey. Why don’t I just try a little bit of honey in my diet?
And I immediately felt better, and I wore a continuous glucose monitor from NutriSense. And I continued to check my labs very closely and what I saw in myself and what I’ve seen in many other people was that my fasting insulin actually dropped and my overall area under the curve, my CGM actually dropped for daily glucose.
And so what you get is my fasting blood sugar dropped from probably the high nineties to mid seventies when I introduced some honey. I would get short, quick spikes with very low area under the curve when I would eat honey. And then it would quickly return to baseline and stay flat, very [01:14:40] low glycemic variability throughout the day between meals.
Again, my fasting insulin, which was probably 5.1 or 4.6, then became 3.2 on numerous occasions connected with the C-peptide, that was like 0.46. So the HSCRP didn’t move, and the only thing I felt was better. And so of course in my mind, I’m thinking, all right, but I’ve read all of this literature about how damaging fructose is.
Aren’t I harming my liver? And it is good because I think all of these experiments then send us all down research radicals, and I found a whole set of literature on the benefits of honey, whether it was on oral health or oral mucositis or oral candida, or any of these things. And then you find, I found a series of articles looking at nitrate precursors in honey and showing that when people were consuming raw sort of organic dark honey, they had increased nitrates in the urine suggesting there’s increased nitric oxide production.
[01:15:40] And there’s a really interesting study done in mice, which is again, a mouse study so it’s not perfect, where they can give things like glucose and sucrose and see indicators of liver inflammation, and then sort of negative effects in the liver. But those are abrogated when they give the mice honey. Yeah, maybe there is something to this whole food.
Maybe there’s something to these nitric oxide precursors, maybe something in the honey is mitigating the negative effects of fructose. And so I’m quite fascinated now by this juxtaposition in nutrition and I try to speak more and I’m actually going to be speaking about this more in the future about nutritional reductionism.
I think that this gets levied against us as carnivores and animal based eaters, as much as it gets levied against me when I’m talking about fructose or anyone, but people will want to conflate studies done with fructose and glucose or sucrose in isolation with studies done in terms of a whole food matrix or a whole fruit or a whole honey.
And they do tend to look quite differently. There’s pretty good studies that are done with some [01:16:40] fruit extracts. And this is something that would have been very challenging for me to wrap my head around when I was writing the book. And it’s not something that I put in the book. So I really feel like I have to continually evolve and you know, maybe write a part two or a second version.
But it’s just this idea that like, you can give people diets with more fruit and see metabolic indicators get better. And you’re like, okay how does that happen? And you can give people fruit and see lipid peroxides go down. But if you give people diets that are high in fructose, you can see that the peroxides go up.
Okay how do I make sense of this? And I know from my own experience that I feel better with carbohydrates in my diet. And I also feel better when I don’t eat grains. When I don’t get those carbohydrates from parts of plants that appear to be more highly defended. Either seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, or plant leaves or plant roots don’t really work well for me.
But it’s just this idea, again going back to hunter-gatherers, that they [01:17:40] do eat fruit and honey when it’s available. And when I was with the Hadza, when we were hunting the baboons, they came across a hive with honey and they went ham on it. Like they just ate the shit out of that hive of honey and all the larva in the honey.
And there’s a video of me on my Instagram eating a honeycomb from the Hadza and it has larva in it and they were just eating it with me. And if you look at the Hadza, they’re pretty metabolically healthy. They don’t get diabetes, they don’t seem to have issues. And so I thought, okay maybe there’s something to this.
Now again, it goes back to what we were saying about meat and organs. If you or anyone else is thriving on a certain diet, who am I to say no, you should include these foods in your diet. But I think that this is the sort of overarching ethos which I’ve tried to discuss all of these concepts, whether it’s carnivore or animal based or anything, it’s like I want this message to be out there for people who are still struggling, who might do a carnivore diet and end up with electrolyte abnormalities like I did.
Massive [01:18:40] cramping in the legs or sleep abnormalities or probably a little bit of hypothyroidism clinically. And yet they feel like okay, I went carnivore and my auto-immune condition got better. We hear this all the time. My joints got much better. My acne got better. My realization got better.
My eczema got better. And I experienced this myself. I can’t include fruits, but I’m having massive electrolyte problems. There were times, this is just my end of one, but I’ve heard it multiple people now, there were many times that I would wake up in the middle of the night with arrhythmias and I thought that I was going to die from this.
I was probably having runs of super ventricular tachycardia or something due to electrolyte abnormalities. So I do think that for many people, a purely animal-based, a purely animal food centric diet is going to be great, but I want people to also know that it’s possible to move beyond that or move laterally to a space where there are some, what I was consider to be less toxic [01:19:40] plant foods, that might solve some of those problems.
And it’s just been really encouraging for me to see a lot of people email us at Heart & Soil or email and say, Hey I’m loving carnivore, it’s been a game changer, and I wake up in the middle of the night and my calves are cramping so bad that it wakes me up or I’m having palpitations or I’m not sleeping well, or I just feel cold all the time. What should I do?
My answer is add carbohydrates and more often than not, they’re like that’s great, I feel fantastic now, thank you. It’s kind of like this sweet spot. So it’s why I’ve been talking about carnivore and then this lateral cousin called animal based, which is still a diet that’s almost entirely meat and organs, but just with some of these plant foods, if you choose to include them, knowing that a lot of people tolerate them, not everybody’s tolerating them, not everybody’s gonna tolerate all fruits.
For instance, squash, which is technically a fruit tends to give me eczema again, but I can eat bananas here in Costa Rica and I can eat honey, and it don’t seem to get any [01:20:40] negatives. And a lot of the things that I was experiencing with long-term ketogenic diets seem to be much improved.
So there’s that kind of like interesting middle ground and believe me if you thought I took flak for talking about a carnivore diet, look what happens from the guy that writes a book about the carnivore diet now says maybe some carbs are okay. Now all of my detractors, everybody comes out is all like, carnivores hate you and everybody that hated you in the first place says, gotcha, see I told you so.
I just think that there’s an interesting nuance here, and people can understand that there’s a spectrum. We’re all trying to understand how to help humans get to better health. And I think, what you’re doing is laudable. You’re trying to help everyone get to really solid financial freedom.
And we’re just trying to help people improve the quality of their lives. Though I’ve always found this saying, like there’s no one right answer for everyone a little bit passe and a little bit too general, because I do think there are some overarching [01:21:40] principles that will be quite guiding.
And I don’t think that there are some humans who have this radical genetic mutation which allows them to do well on a vegan diet. I think that there is some freedom for lateral movement in people. And when I dug into the literature on fructose, at least in whole food form, it’s been quite fascinating to ferret it out and to really say, what’s the nuance here.
And it is fructose in a raw organic dark honey, the same as fructose and sucrose, right? Or sugar cane or any of these things, or fruit, like, is this really bad for us? Or is there something else in there that’s changing the way our body reacts to this, which is the fascinating whole food matrix I’ve talked about.
Does that answer your question?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I find this fascinating. You know, I’m not much for burning heretics, so I’m happy to discuss this, but I’ll tell you my personal experiences. If I have that a little bit of fruit, I feel a little bit bloated. It’s not that I feel [01:22:40] bloated.
It’s more that when I’m 100% clean meat only, I feel like a formula one racing car, just perfectly optimized, everything is perfect. It’s optimized to make the most out of the fuel and it gets the perfect fuel and it produces the best performance. And then I’ve not had any single plant food that I’ve thrown in and not felt a little bit, my laptime goes down.
You spike the fuel for the formula one car. I’m not at my peak level of performance. I can feel it in my digestive system. It much smoother when things were well, when I was 100% meat only, but also I think the other thing is that it gives me cravings.
This is the other thing with sugar. I think for everybody in our generation, we grew up eating [01:23:40] tons of sugar. Effectively, we’re all like recovering alcoholics for sugar. Those of us who go into low carbohydrate diets, we’re effectively like recovering alcoholics.
Maybe this is the case for, if I hadn’t grown up eating vegetable oil and tons of sugar and candy up until my late twenties and I lived my entire life eating meat and fruit maybe this would be optimal, but I think there might be a case in my case where maybe the metabolic damage that’s been taking place has gone too far.
So I’m curious, what is it do you think that the fructose is adding to your diet? Like why does it take away the cramps and how sustainable is it given that it is addictive and that its always going to make you want more?
Paul Saladino: A couple of thoughts about that. I will mention this, like physiologic insulin resistance is [01:24:40] real.
Long-term ketosis is a very finely tuned evolutionary state for humans. And if we avoid carbohydrates or we are in ketosis long term, the body gets very good at partitioning glucose to testicles, the red blood cells, the kidneys, the adrenals, the brain, and spares glucose on the level of the muscles. So this is really well-documented and this is what is called physiologic insulin resistance.
And this is the reason that I don’t like using the term insulin resistance to describe metabolic dysfunction, which is what some people might consider to be pathological insulin resistance. There gets to be a little nuance here, but the many people in the health and nutrition space have correctly pointed out that a ketogenic diet does make your muscles insulin resistant.
This is how we survive as humans. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, that’s physiologic. Now, pathological insulin resistance is when your body actually wants the muscles to receive insulin, but because the fat cells are broken, [01:25:40] and this is a fascinating topic that I’ve done in my podcast a bunch, they’re sort of spewing out not-esterified fatty acids and those not-esterified fatty acids signal the muscle to become insulin resistant improperly.
So that’s pathological insulin resistance. The best verbiage for that is metabolic dysfunction. So when you are in a state of physiologic insulin resistance, and you introduce sugar into your diet, your body is going to have this time when it like pulls into the pit on the Nascar, and all the tires come off and everybody’s like, what kind of tires are we on?
Because we suddenly have a totally different racetrack. And this may not be the case for you, but it’s possible. There is probably about a 48 to 72 hour window where your body is changing and all of this nutrient ascription happens and you have to suddenly make glucose transporters for the membranes and all of your muscles suddenly have to switch to become insulin sensitive.
And so if you were wearing a continuous glucose monitor which is like one of these things that goes in your arm and you’re in ketosis, you’ll see this phenomenon where your blood [01:26:40] sugar is I don’t know, 80 or 90. And then it’s all day long, it’s like a flat line. Some people are at a hundred, it’s a flat line all day.
This is what carnivores CGMs look like. And then if you suddenly introduce carbohydrates, like say you were to have two tablespoons of honey, which I’m sure sounds like a crazy thing, but just hear me out on some of the thought experiment, your blood sugar is going to have quite significant response the first day.
But over time, and in the course of three days, I think you will see your body change in terms of actual gene transcription and actual physiology. So the point where your body says, oh we have been in a land with no carbohydrates for a long time. And suddenly we have stumbled into a land where there are lots of berries on the bushes.
And your body says, oh okay I know how to do this, I remember how to do this, but it takes some time to adjust. So I think that the point of this is just to say that for some people, the transition from long-term ketosis, to including carbohydrates might feel a little rocky because there is some physiologic transformation that has to come out.
Your little [01:27:40] race car gets new tires in the pit. And then when it’s good, it goes out and it’s like, oh okay, things are pretty good here. An answer to your question, which is what do the carbohydrates add? They add a lot in terms of like you suggested, electrolyte maintenance. And so there’s some complex physiology here at the level of the kidney, but insulin signaling, though it gets vilified is actually very beneficial for humans.
Now, insulin excess, hyperinsulinemia, persistent hyperinsulinemia, when you have pathological insulin resistance and the muscles are persistently resistant to insulin is a bad thing. You can get too much insulin. There’s a sweet spot, right? It’s a U shaped curve, like so many things, but targeted bumps of insulin are pretty beneficial for humans.
They are involved in electrolyte maintenance, they affect glutathione signaling. Insulin actually increases glutathione in the human body. Insulin will also increase a lot of gene pathways that kind of say, hey you are in an abundance state right now. Do you want to have sex and make babies? [01:28:40] Okay, great, we have abundance. It can change hormones.
So for instance, my testosterone went up maybe 300 points. This is again, total. Testosterone goes up, sexual hormone binding globulin comes down and electrolytes get much much better because of the signaling of insulin at the level of the kidney. So I think it’s really important to be nuanced and not black and white.
And I’m not saying you’re doing this, but I do think it happens in the ketogenic space sometimes. With regard to insulin signaling, the goal in my opinion is not to have zero insulin signaling it’s to have insulin signaling and tissues which are very responsive to insulin and do what they’re supposed to do.
And then insulin goes off. So insulin goes on, insulin goes off. And that was very beneficial for humans. Like I said, at the level of the kidney, at the level of electrolytes, at the level of hormones and a lot of different levels, like a level of biochemistry, oxidative reductive balance, and physiology.
It’s not to have a constant trip all day, but it’s to have these specific kind of points at which you introduce [01:29:40] these things and insulin signals, that’s okay. That’s normal human physiology. And I think that everyone may have a subjective experience that is different and I’m not sure what your experiences have been with different foods that have sugar.
And I think it’s important that we don’t lump them all together. Again, I don’t think that things like, processed sugar are going to have the same physiologic response. And we know this genetically biochemically, physically as things that are more evolutionarily consistent like fruit. But I personally don’t find them addictive and don’t find that my clients and people I work with find them addictive.
Now Coca-Cola, completely different story. Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, completely different story. Pancakes at IHop, completely different story. Waffle House, completely different story. But a banana, I think that that, like I said, it certainly may cause some bumps in the road, if you’re a long-term keto and then you suddenly eat a banana, especially a [01:30:40] ripe banana, but generally I think within 48 to 72 hours, your body’s going to adjust and you’re going to become, the muscles are going to turn back on in terms of insulin sensitivity.
The last thing I’ll say is this, and we see this a lot in women who are pregnant and if they are low carb, which can be really helpful for some people when they are recovering from a lifetime of abuse. This is nutritional abuse, metabolic dysfunction. Because what we know is that when the fat cells are broken and they’re sending out all of these non-esterified fatty acids to the muscle cells, if you put it in carbohydrates, you’re not going to do well because your body is just all over the place with insulin.
This is not to say that elimination of carbohydrates can’t be beneficial in certain situations, but I don’t think that it’s the excess carbohydrates that cause the diabetes in the first place. There’s lots of experiences, mine, indigenous cultures, where they eat lots of carbohydrates, they don’t get diabetes. I think that, again, this is another rabbit hole.
The main problem with metabolic dysfunction has to do with the mitochondrial and cellular membranes, especially the fat cells and [01:31:40] interrupted signaling. They’re probably due to evolutionarily some levels of linoleic acid from things like seed oils. That’s probably the main driver in my opinion. And then you add carbohydrates on top of that, but it didn’t cause the fire. So you can put wood in the fire or stoke the fire, but it wasn’t the spark.
And in the setting of a blazen fire, you don’t want to put a bunch of wood on it. You might want to remove the carbs, temporarily or long-term. Women who are pregnant sometimes go low carb and they will fail their oral glucose tolerance, because they are physiologically insulin resistant when you’re low carb.
And you can even take a man who’s not pregnant, and usually men don’t get OGTT, it’s women who usually get OGTTs in their pregnancy. So you can do an oral glucose tolerance test on a man who is long-term keto, like myself after a year and a half carnivores, I would have failed it. Which means would’ve had an excessive insulin response and excessive glucose response.
But if you then fed me honey or fruit or any carbohydrates for that matter for three days, I can go back and that OGTT would be completely normal, meaning that I would have [01:32:40] suddenly, the equipment in my body would be in place to handle all that glucose. So this is physiologic insulin resistance.
If somebody is actually metabolically broken and you do that, they’re never going to get better in those three days because they are broken at a much deeper level having to do with cellular membranes and mitochondria in the fat cells. So I guess again, I apologize for the long winded explanation, but this is all to say that people who are long-term keto and introduce foods with sugars, be it glucose fructose, or some combination of those two, may have an excessive response to the physiologic insulin resistance, which will correct shortly.
And I think that there are some benefits to a lot of people to having some appropriate intentional insulin signaling and the complete abrogation of insulin signaling is problematic for many people at the level of electrolytes and hormones and things like that for many individuals. Does that make sense?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, that’s really interesting. So would you say like the actionable advice here is [01:33:40] go carnivore for a few months until you fix your metabolism? Make sure you never get any seed oils and highly processed food and hard carbohydrates, but then after you’re fixed, have some fruits every day, some honey every day or once a week, or what do you think?
Paul Saladino: See how you feel. If people are out there thriving, don’t change anything, stay carnivore if that’s what you want to do. But if you’re getting muscle cramping or heart palpitations, arrhythmias, or you’re seeing hormones drop or your sleep is interrupted, or any of those things where you’re feeling a little bit cold, then yeah, try introducing a little bit of carbohydrates, give it maybe three to five days and just see as an experiment, then kind of go from there.
And if you want to do more sort of close analysis, you can wear a continuous glucose monitor, or you can work with a physician who will check things like your lipids, your fasting insulin and all those other things. And I think what you’ll see is that your fasting insulin won’t go up, they’ll actually go down, [01:34:40] as well as your fasting glucose in any other metrics.
But ultimately the goal is just to get somebody to the highest quality of life. And if they’re already in good quality of life, there’s no need to change anything. Again, it’s just this lateral move that gives them a little more freedom if they’re not totally dialed in.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. It’s really fascinating for me, but I’m not sure I’m a psychologically ready to start experimenting with plants again.
I think I want to stick to my ribeyes.
Paul Saladino: You’re thriving, man. Don’t worry about it.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. All right, Kiki, who is also an ex vegan and a regular here has a couple of questions for you.
Kiki: Paul, thank you so much for joining us today and thank you for going in depth in a lot of things that I haven’t heard.
And yes, I am a Bitcoin carnivore like yourself, thanks to Saifedean’s influence. So are you looking at this kind of global pro plan and high meat movement and do you have [01:35:40] solutions for how we can preserve our access to meat in the near and far future? And also have discussions or what the point of view would be sharing with others why cows are not destroying the planet.
Paul Saladino: Yeah. This is such an important conversation. I think I’ll take a page out of Saifedean’s book and say that Bitcoin fixes this. You know, if you can pay your farmer with Bitcoin, then good luck to the U. S. government or anyone else limiting that or regulating that.
You can imagine all sorts of problems downstream if they want to do central bank digital currencies or anything else they’re going to track and be like, you can’t pay for meat or we’re going to tax that, or you have to report that in taxes. I don’t know how this will ever happen.
This will lead to a wide revolt and a lot of more people would move to Costa Rica. But I think it’s a lot like Bitcoin in the sense that I do not think that the U. S. government will ever regulate it to that extreme. Very [01:36:40] fascinatingly, and I posted this on my Instagram, when T.H. Chan from Harvard, their school of public health posted that EAT-Lancet thing, but they had to disable the comments because so many people, and this is just on T.H. Chan Harvard’s like Instagram, not even like my instagram, people just went off and then they were like, this is absurd, this is ridiculous.
So I think it’s happening. And I think that hopefully this is why I do the work that I do. And I think there’s a lot of people who support this work and who understand it. Who have a bigger platform than I, you know, Joe Rogan, others who hopefully will continue to like champion this at a broader level.
And I’ll just keep doing the work that I do. And I think if a critical mass of people start to realize like, oh we’re being fed slop, we’re being fed industrial process slob. Then they’ll speak out and this will never happen. And that’s my hope. And I think that’s why the work is so critical to just educate people to the point that they’re awake and they see [01:37:40] that this is just absolute propaganda and it’s wrong.
And to your point about the environmental stuff, this is perhaps the most fascinating conversation at this point. And I know Saifedean had Patrick Moore on the podcast and Alex Epstein. I recently had both of them on my podcast and I’ve been talking to them a lot about this stuff too.
So I think these environmental conversations are so relevant and it’s fascinating to me that many of the things I care about, animal agriculture, humans eating animals, cryptocurrencies, sovereign individuals are being regulated under the guise of climate. China moving all the Bitcoin mining, it’s bad for climate.
This is crazy, like I’ve realized that in my own work, it’s going to be important to really challenge this climate zeitgeist. It’s at least as entrenched as veganism, if not more. So it’s going to be a pretty big juggernaut. I’m gonna try. Does that answer your question?
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think I’m quite optimistic about the climate thing. I’m going to attack it head on [01:38:40] in my next book, in The Fiat Standard. I’m just going to really come out and everybody’s usually trying to, basically seeding the fundamentals of the argument, which is we are destroying the planet, but here’s how we can stop destroying it, or here’s how my idea is not so terrible.
So please don’t cancel it. Don’t cancel my food. Please it’s not so bad for destroying the Earth, but I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer that we’re not destroying the Earth with carbon dioxide. Maybe there is an impact. Honestly, I’m a little bit skeptical of even people like Patrick Moore. I challenged him on this.
I’m a little bit skeptical that we know what the impact of our emissions really is. It’s probably true that, it’s almost certainly true that it leads to more greening, but the idea that we’re changing the temperature of Earth in my mind seems quite outlandish because the Earth is a really big thing and the tiny little carbon [01:39:40] dioxide particulates in the atmosphere, really doesn’t make sense.
I think variations in the Sun, in just the stuff that’s between us and the Sun, that’s likely to have a much more meaningful impact on temperature. And I think more and more people are waking up to the fact that you can’t just substitute emotional manipulation for scientific evidence.
You’re asking the planet to stop eating beef and to stop using the energy sources that allow us to survive winter. You’re asking us to go live in an absolutely absurd, impossible preindustrial vegan dystopia, where we’re somehow not going to be using all the energy sources that we’ve discovered over the last 500 years that make our life possible.
You need to present some pretty compelling arguments for that. The boy who cries wolf, he’s not just saying, there’s a wolf, hide in your home, he’s saying let’s burn down the entire [01:40:40] town and stop there being a town here, so that the wolf find us.
You need a far more convincing story if you’re asking people to basically destroy 500 years of civilization out of fear. And I think more and more people are waking up for it. MD Shallenberger, longtime environmental activist wrote a great book Apocalypse Never on this, and Patrick Moore as well. And also Steve Koonin, who was Obama’s scientific advisor, wrote a book called Unsettled. He’s a prime scientist and he went into the details on this and he says the idea that this is settled science and you can’t argue with this, it’s absurd. Obviously, whenever you hear that, you know that you’re being tricked.
Yeah, so I’m quite optimistic about, then again, I’m usually optimistic about a lot of things and I can be quite delusional in my optimism. [01:41:40] Take that warning with it.
All right, Stefano you have a question.
Stefano: Yes, thank you Saif. This is the first seminar I’m attending and it’s great to be part of your membership network. And thank you Dr. Saladino, very interesting! My question is the following, every other week, or very often there is a new study coming out that criticizes meat and saturated fat, it happens periodically, every month there is a new one and then it gets broadcast in health professional networks, by mainstream media and so on. So what do you think are the main flaws of these studies?
Paul Saladino: A great question. They’re all observational. This is a really important point to understand that is never discussed by the media.
They sort of, they always subtly insert the word associated with, or is correlated with or may cause. And [01:42:40] there are no interventional studies being done with meat that are published. Now, there are some people like Stephan van Vliet is doing some studies with Fred Provenza, looking at the influence of red meat in the setting of a whole food diet that is otherwise healthy, aspects of diet that will have vegetables and fruit in it.
But I think that will be a step in the right direction. But the problem is that all of these studies are just, they’re all observational. The general public unfortunately, is never educated to be really vigilant for that word associate or correlate because it just means nothing. It’s the Western narrative that’s been in play for 70 plus years.
And it’s the same thing. I was out surfing in the ocean yesterday with a friend of mine. And he was talking about his friends who are Argentinians here in Costa Rica. And he said, I was talking to them about the work that you do Paul, and they [01:43:40] said, oh yeah, of course we love meat, but we know it’s bad for us.
It’s like they think of meat as smoking. There are people who just choose, most of the people in the world who choose to eat meat are going to do other things because they love meat so much, this lizard brain, this evolutionary brain is so powerful for them, and they say all of your research be damned. I’m going to eat meat because I love it.
The problem is that these people are also the people who are more likely to do cocaine or drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, because they’re like, I just want things that make me feel good. And of course the fallacy here is that this is not mutually exclusive.
People can eat meat and they can see meat as a health food, perhaps the health food. But yet the people that eat meat in the Western world are the people who are having more unhealthy behaviors like these Argentinians. And so when we look at epidemiology, it’s no surprise that over and over meat looks bad.
And when we look at interventional studies with meat, [01:44:40] it doesn’t look bad at all. And there’s only been a few done, but it’s very clear that you can add eight ounces of meat to somebody’s diet at the exclusion of grain-based carbohydrates and all of the metrics get better. So it’s this complete fallacy and it’s super frustrating.
And when I have debates with vegans, they’ll say this well, you have to look at the majority of the evidence, not when the majority of the evidence is garbage observational studies. And it’s so funny because Joel Fermin, who’s a prominent sarcopenic vegan was on my podcast and he used the same language that people use when they’re talking about climate, like the majority of scientists all agree, well 97% of scientists degree in a climate change is real and is caused by humans.
And it’s like, it’s the same thing. 97% of scientists in the nutrition world agree that meat is bad for humans and plants are clearly good. Who cares, right? I’ve got 2 million years of evidence that the humans have been eating meat made us human. And if you look at hunter gatherer tribes, people are [01:45:40] happy to look at epidemiology, but they just want to ignore the anthropology.
How do you explain the Hadza? How do you explain ǃKung who will often eat four and a half pounds of meat per day when they have a kill and they don’t have heart disease. So there’s just this discordance and this to me is one of the greatest hoaxes, swindles that’s been done upon the mainstream consciousness in our generation is that nobody understands what observational research is and how misleading it is .
Stefano: And why do you think there are so few interventional studies being done with respect to meat?
Paul Saladino: Funding. Who benefits? I don’t see many regenerative farmers driving ferrari’s. Who funds it? Does the meat lobby fund it? Because then the plant-based advocates will say, oh it’s funded by the meat lobby.
In the future, I’m building a nonprofit animal based [01:46:40] research foundation nonprofit, and we want to fund more of these studies, that’s the goal. But I know it’ll be interesting to talk to Stephan van Vliet about where he gets his funding from. Because I just think that people don’t want to do this research.
It’s not in vogue. And again, I’m not a PhD bench researcher thank heavens, but I think that if you want to do this type of research, you’re not super popular. Everybody knows that meat is bad for you. Get in line, give us another study that shows that vegetables are good, please.
And don’t you dare question the mainstream narrative around climate either. That’ll get you canceled in the academic world too. So I hope it’s not overly simplistic answer, but I think it’s probably the correct one as much as I can tell.
Stefano: Okay, thank you
Saifedean Ammous: The discussion of epidemiology studies leads us very nicely to a question that Peter has for you on another calamity of the pseudoscience that is epidemiology, and that is [01:47:40] the COVID hysteria.
So Peter, go ahead.
Peter Young: Yeah, thank you Paul. So yeah, I haven’t read your book, I noticed that you dwelled quite a lot on that distinction between interventional studies and epidemiological studies, and you were quite critical of the general epidemiological methods for drawing cause and effect conclusions.
And so my question was going to be about what your views are regarding the very prominent role that epidemiologists now play in all of our lives in determining where we can and can’t go, when we can and can’t cross borders and how we can behave. Do you think that, are you worried about the kind of prestige that is being given to this discipline?
Given the limitations you point out in your book, are you concerned about the trends that have taken place over the past 18 or so months?
Paul Saladino: Yes, definitely. The trick is that it’s very [01:48:40] difficult to study the things that people need to make decisions about with COVID without roping in epidemiologists. Population studies, that is epidemiology.
So it’s very difficult to do that. I think that if we look at the track record of people over the last 16 to 18 months, it’s been pretty bad. You know, a lot of the models, we know all about climate models and how wrong those are. Most of the COVID models were completely wrong, and yet nobody apologizes.
They just wait for people to forget. There were predicted for 10 to 100 X, the amount of deaths that we’ve had. And not that any loss of life due to COVID is okay, or should be minimized, but the models that were put in place were generally very wrong. And I do think it’s a problem.
I’m not sure how to solve it because ultimately the population dynamics are an epidemiologic question. I just think we have to be very careful about what we do with that. I did see something that came out the other day saying, again, it was [01:49:40] epidemiology, it said vegans are 73% less likely to have severe COVID.
You know, all the plant-basers published in the plant-based news. And of course it’s the same old bullshit story, right? People who are vegans or vegetarians are much more likely to have healthy behaviors, much less likely to smoke, drink, be obese and have probably a bunch of processed food in their lives.
And just because meat gets associated with those things, because it’s traditionally been seen as a rebellious food, then it looks bad for us meat eaters in terms of COVID outcomes. But I think that if they were more careful and there’s plenty of epidemiology out there that goes to the next step and actually contrast vegetarians with omnivores who do healthy behaviors.
There’s a study called the UK Shoppers Study and a few others that show this very clearly, that when you adjust for omnivores with quote healthy behaviors, all of the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet go away and they look about the same as an omnivore in terms of everything except their muscle [01:50:40] mass, which will obviously be much less and their overall health. But in terms of their life expectancy or the longevity, any benefits to a vegan or vegetarian diet go away when you include this normalizer for omnivores who have healthy behaviors.
So that’s the point that’s always left out of these studies, but I guess to your question Peter, it’s just tricky to sort out like how we go about things without the epidemiologists. I’m not sure I have an answer for that, but I would just say that it seems like on a daily basis right now that the hysteria and the stupidity can’t get much worse.
I don’t know what we’re doing right now.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, to your credit Paul, you were one of the very few people who made the point that perhaps instead of worrying about putting diapers on other peoples face and locking them at home, perhaps you might want to consider your own metabolic health.
[01:51:40] And this is just one of these awful hate facts that nobody wants to think about.
Paul Saladino: For which I was reported to the medical board in California by a vegan position on Twitter.
Saifedean Ammous: Wow.
Paul Saladino: And he then encouraged his followers to also report me to the medical board. Nothing ever came of it, and I sort of invited the medical board to have a conversation with me about nutrition, but I thought that was particularly ironic when in the beginning of COVID I said, maybe it’s time to think about just letting people live their lives and maybe we should focus them on some other things.
And he said you should report this guy to the medical board. It’s pretty funny.
Saifedean Ammous: Well thank you very much Paul, for joining us. This is been an absolutely fascinating conversation. You know, just so that we’re clear, I did not endorse the consumption of plants and honey and fruits. I will happily entertain and discuss those things, but if you have some bananas [01:52:40] and then bad things happen to you, don’t blame it on me.
Paul Saladino: Blame it on me. It’s okay. You can blame it on me.
Saifedean Ammous: Excellent! All right, thank you very much. And I look forward to chatting more and more with you, either on my podcast or yours.
Paul Saladino: Yeah, I can’t wait. Thanks Saif, I appreciate it.
Saifedean Ammous: Cheers, take care!