Animal-based vs. plant-based nutrition - What's most optimal for human health & performance?
Frank Tufano, who's been following an animal-based, zero-carb diet for over 5 years, has garnered quite the unique reputation on Youtube. Along with informative videos on the ins-and-outs of a carnivorous lifestyle, Frank doesn't shy away from scrutinizing the increasing adoption of plant-based diets.
In the never-ending search for the perfect diet, how do we separate actual science from dogma?
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Frank, thanks for coming on the H.V.M.N. podcast. Good to have you on.
What's going on? How are you guys today?
Really, really good. So folks that might not be aware of Frank, check out his YouTube channel. I would say it's one of the most interesting, and on the more abrasive side of folks talking about carnivore diets, anti-veganism. Let's dive into all of that. Welcome on the program.
No, thank you. It's funny how I started with a mission to improve people's health. I realized that in order to grow, you do have to be abrasive, you do have to be controversial, and you do have to try to approach certain groups, whether it's ketogenic carnivore. On one hand you don't really want to be abrasive, I like to be humble and not bother people. On the other hand, the vegan diet in general is the ultimate compromise to my message in improving people's health. So it's kind of an unavoidable topic.
I think it's helpful to always unpack and maybe open up the meta discussion with being a YouTube influencer and running a channel where there's a bit of a game to be controversial. But it sounds like ... and then I think just on our conversation heading into this podcast that you're self-aware of the gamesmanship of YouTube, which I think is perhaps interesting for some of the listeners who are just kind of perceiving on the outside that there's a little bit of a games initiative here.
If my goal is to improve people's health and make everyone better, you might think the best thing to do is to make that video giving away specific health information. But if that video gets 10% of the views of some clickbait popular thing that's in the news, it gets really difficult to try to figure out where to go and what direction to take the videos in, and that's good or bad for some people.
Yeah I mean I think that just enters a broader conversation commentary around social media and news in general. You would say that with social media, with different followers, people are incentivized to be polarizing. I think we're not a media discussion channel per se, so we'll probably leave that for another discussion, but I think it's something that I think we see just with politics, nutrition, all sorts of different facets of news. It ends up being these kind of gamed up little games that come up and surface upon the algorithms, which for better or for worse is the reality in terms of how we all perceive our information today.
But going back into the focus of our discussion I would say that ... and probably, I think it would be a nice segue coming into the discussion on carnivore or animal versus vegan diets. New York Times recently covered a big meta study, basically putting in doubt all the best practices over the last 40 years saying red meat is bad for people, and saying that the evidence to suggest that is very low to low and that these guidelines that we've all been taught over the last four decades is really not based on real strong science. This is finally academia kind of catching up to what we've read as the literature, as the evidence, as a data.
For me, it's so simple. As someone who spends a lot of time reading studies, I can easily identify what's wrong with the study, why it's not legitimate, and it's a simple answer. It's what you said. The studies in academia that have been illustrated over the past several dozen years in the popular media trying to push articles like, "Oh, is meat bad for you? Is meat good for you?" Eggs cause cholesterol, dah, dah, dah. There was actually a media blitz on cholesterol and eggs still being bad, I think in February of this year, that was funded by the Seventh Day Adventist church. I figured that out by looking at all right, which university is the study out of? What are the doctors affiliated with? Dah, dah. I did a little bit of detective work and figured out that there are special interest plant-based groups, whether they're animal activists, whether they have religious beliefs that do fund these studies.
Then you have the funding from businesses that just make a lot of money on plant-based products. But if you just look at the science itself, we're looking at epidemiology. We're looking at like a general effect on the population according to a disease rate. So when you look at the relative risk of the disease rate, the number they're using in this study is just in the context of the study, and that number is supposed to be used to warrant further research.
If you look at smoking and lung disease, the relative risk is like 100 or 110. If you translated that relative risk of 100 found in these smoking studies directly to a news article, smoking cigarettes gives you 10000% increased risk of cancer. We know that's not true because that means that smoking a pack of cigarettes would mean you're going to die of lung cancer in 10 years. So that's absolutely not true, but that's what they're doing with these nutritional epidemiology studies. They're taking a relative risk of 1.1, 1.2. Reality is those studies should be just thrown in the garbage, and there's too many confounding factors in the lifestyle, whether it's diet, exercise, environment, the fact that most people are on a crappy standard American diet anyway.
There are studies that have a high relative risk in the context of nutrition. I think it was called the India Railway Study where there was a railroad in India that separated I think North and South. For any Indians out there, you're familiar that. One diet is much higher in butterfat and dairy products, in yogurt, and another group of Indians consumed more seed oils, more grains, more vegetables. There are examples of studies like this where the population that conventional wisdom tells us is healthy or consuming the grains, consuming the vegetable seed oils is actually unhealthier. So there's way too many confounding factors going into these studies. Then on top of that, they can manipulate the data. So when you have a confounding factor like exercise, you can add a model to the data to alter it based on, "Oh well let's say 10% of people were smoking," and you can shift that percentage each way you want.
I have my own conclusions and theories on every single negative aspect of meat. From TMAO to mTOR, you have carcinogens, you have heme iron, you have various concerns that, especially arguments used against meat from vegans that are brought up commonly in why meat could be bad for you, and I've talked on every single one of these things. So if you understand what happens in your body when you consume meat and what is actually going on and if it can cause damage, which is yeah, much, much more complicated than looking at a BS epidemiological study, if you're able to understand these mechanisms, then you can have an answer for yourself about whether meat is good for you or not, and that's why you have people like me who have no problem eating two pounds of steak a day for a year.
Unfortunately, most people are not capable of understanding the information for one reason or another. I'm sure the viewer base on this podcast is, people think meat will kill them and it's accepted. So even to just get people to think that meat might be okay to eat is hard to do. You need every single trick in the book to try to convince people that meat is good for that.
Yeah, I think there's actually a lot to unpack here and I want to have a discussion on some of these threads. One thing that I think I'm a little bit more conservative than you on is, the role of epidemiological studies or observational studies. I think you're absolutely right on the confounding factors. I think within the Western context, when people do eat red meat, it's oftentimes with burgers, with fries, with soda, with alcohol, with their beer, right? It's like at a barbecue or fast food. Then if you look at ... and I think you referenced the Indian study and I think there's a lot of other East Asian cohort studies where red meat is associated with better health span, better lifespan, but I wouldn't say that it's necessarily all BS, and I'm curious how we dialogue here.
I would say that I think what you touched upon one, the relative risk, the hazard ratio is really astute. Like the relative risk ratio of cigarettes and lung cancer's way bigger than anything with red meat, but I would say that too that, it's really, I think the role of observational studies is hypothesis generation, right? I think there's some signal there. Can we run a randomized controlled experiment to actually find out the mechanisms? I think that's where mass media and I think where academia has failed a little bit because it's too expensive and too intense to run a meat study on thousands of people for 10 years to really tease out effect sizes. So I think the research role has kind of been like, "Okay, no one's going to fund this. It's kind of too expensive. Let's just make the headline of best practices," which I think they tried to do out of good intent. I think they thought that the observational studies gave them some hypotheses, but I think they just stretched it a little bit too far, where now it's like I would say speculative hypotheses are now becoming theory and then I think the monetary interests of food, like vegan and plant protein companies come and just turn this into like the dogma. That's like my little nuanced take of I think what you're talking about with observational studies, but I think overall I agree with the core premise of your thoughts there.
Yeah, makes you wonder why they don't take it a step further. I mean there is some interesting stuff that you can look at. There was a Finnish study where, and in these studies are typically done in like mental asylums or places where the meals are very controlled. They fed one group of people a diet high in plant-based linoleic acid for a period of time, and the fats and the lipids in their body literally turned into linoleic acid. So normally a person's fat composition, their lipids, their triglycerides, all the fat fats in their body are supposed to be about less than 4% linoleic acid. But if you feed them soybean oil, canola oil, whatever, seed oils in large amounts over a long period of time, it increases.
But the reason I'm bringing this up is because that had nothing to really do with the study. The study was on how it affects heart disease, but in that study, I found out a mechanism that explains a lot of things. It explains why short term risk of heart disease is lowered, but why longterm mortality risk isn't lowered. So when you look at these studies, when you actually, you can even identify some of the mechanisms in the study itself that they don't even mention or consider. A lot of times they do, but sometimes they don't.
Yeah, it'd be curious to dive into that mechanism a little bit. So I think you're probably referencing kind of plant-based fats, which are higher in Omega-6s. I'm assuming that something to do with Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio there.
So this is my hypothesis on heart disease and this was brought to me by Tucker Goodrich, I think it was a podcast. It was Tucker Goodrich and Ivor Cummins. Tucker Goodrich brought up that when you consume linoleic acid and linoleic acid is the form in certain plant fats, not to be confused with alpha-linolenic acid, which is different not to be confused with, there's also arachidonic acid, which is the animal Omega-6 I believe. But the point is this linoleic acid that occurs in mostly vegetable seed oils like canola oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil, peanut oil, a bit smaller amounts, it's high in foods that you couldn't really obtain in nature as well. Like certain seeds like flaxseed, not flaxseeds. It'd be like walnuts, almonds, certain nuts and seeds are very high in linolenic acid. But the point is, these foods that are high in linoleic acid, we couldn't really naturally consume them in large amounts and they wouldn't comprise more than about 4% of our total fat calories.
What Tucker Goodrich explained was when a certain percentage of linoleic acid is exceeded in the fat cells in your body, whether it's cholesterol or triglycerides, any lipids, they start becoming inflammatory. So here's an example. So a cholesterol particle is now composed of linoleic acid because you've been consuming plant fats for a period of time. That cholesterol particle as a normal physiological function, enters cells to deliver nutrients and cholesterol as cholesterol is a building block of all cells. But if it's composed of linoleic acid, the body no longer recognizes it and it actually attacks it. So you can imagine that cholesterol particle getting stuck when it's trying to deliver something to an endothelial cell in the arterial wall. So it gets attacked. The body's essentially trying to detox the linoleic acid. It becomes inflamed. Your body can't deal with it.
So the basic hypothesis of linoleic acid is, that it makes all the lipids, the fats in your body inflammatory and your body has an immune response to that. That can lead to things like heart disease and stroke, mitochondrial damage, cell death, and it's believes at least according to Tucker, that a lot of modern diseases can actually be attributed to the presence of these Omega-6 plant fats in various tissues in the body, whether it's the pancreas, the liver.
There was one interesting study where they fed rats alcohol and a fat. When they fed the rats alcohol and animal fat, I think it was either lard or beef tallow, the rats didn't develop fatty liver disease, but when they gave the rats alcohol and polyunsaturated linoleic acid-based fats, some type of vegetable seed oil, they did develop fatty liver disease. So there's an implication that high amounts of linoleic acid in the diet are one of the biggest issues right now for people. I mean that's both a combination of the unnatural amounts of seed oils and how cheap they are and also a lack of Omega-3 fats in our diet.
Yeah, I think again, if you want to talk from observational level, I think that's an interesting hypothesis to test. Right? I think that's what a lot of, I would say folks in the keto or carnival community are really like identifying, okay. Soybean oil consumption has literally went from like sub 1% of the standard American diet to now being upwards of 40% of calories daily. Like if you just look at the food packaging of every single consumer package goods have, you can see at the store, it's like soybean oil or canola oil is like the one or second biggest ingredient in all the foods that we consume.
So yeah, and I think it's an interesting data points for it. Yeah. Now your adipose tissue is literally heavily linolenic acid-driven, which in the past through our ancestral nutrition would have been a much more Omega-3 with from fish or from animal protein, which is ... Again, not to say that this is a smoking gun randomized controlled trial, but I will say that the associational hypotheses generated from that observation is just as valid if not more interesting to look at compared to some of the red meat data.
One thing that I want to unpack and let's ... I want to do this with nuance and care is, the vegan ... I want to see propaganda, but I think the vegan story that I think confounds and combines the moral argument, the environmental argument and then the health argument as well as I think what you're referring to, which is that if you talk or bring doubt to that mainstream story, people think you're an anti-vaxxer. People think you're insane. People think you're like a climate change denier. But I think that there's this weird sub text that if you bring doubt to the red meat animal protein story, you're kind of pushed into that bucket where you're just some conspiracy theory type person. I think that's an interesting social cultural place that we find ourselves at.
The second you question authority, that's where people start labeling you as a quack, as crazy. I was just reading an article yesterday. US government or something now admits chemtrails are geoengineering. People used to think chemtrails were just bullshit and conspiracy theories and now they admitted it's true. So whenever you do question that authority, you are labeled as a quack, as crazy because there could be truth to it, there could not be truth to it.
But one thing that I talk about on my channel fairly frequently is EMF radio frequency radiation from cell phones, from routers, from modems. I'm like, "Listen, I'm not going to sit here and try to ... " because even my brother who's a physicist doesn't believe in it. I told him, "All right, put a modem next to your head and sleep next to it for a week and tell me how you feel." He didn't want to do it. So there's definitely an element to people being skeptical about modern things, especially when they've accepted them for such a long period of time and compromising those would compromise things they do in their day-to-day life.
From the vegan perspective for health, we're led to believe that fruits, vegetables, whole grains are good for us. I don't think it's about what's good for us. I think our general nutrition is focused on what's not bad for us. I think that's what people are trying to push it as. So they're like, "Okay, what's bad? What's bad, what's bad? Don't eat that. Let's eat the fruits and the vegetables and the grains." But reality is, what defines health? I guess the building blocks of life are literally vitamins, minerals, elements, fatty acids, everything that goes on in your body requires certain nutrients to function.
When you go on a vegan diet, it's apparent that it's worse than a standard American diet because in some ways where you're now deficient in B12, you're now deficient in iron, certain other B vitamins, and that further exacerbates the negatives of a standard American diet. But if someone becomes unhealthier from a standard American diet after going vegan, I mean we know a standard American diet's unhealthy. What does that say about a vegan diet?
But if you just look at the vitamins and the minerals and the fatty acids, the form that occurs in plant foods and the form that occurs in animal foods, the body doesn't utilize the plant forms in many cases and in some cases can't utilize them at all, and in order to achieve an optimal amount of nutrients from any vitamin or mineral source in general, it has to be from an animal food. This is observed especially in like Weston Price's work who was a dentist in the early 1900s who noticed that every single indigenous tribe, every group of our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed a certain percentage of their calories, average about 55% from high quality animal foods. So yeah, you might have one group of people that ate rye bread for a large percentage of their calories. You might have one group of people that were still foraging for thousands of wild plants in the forest, but the one consistency across all groups of human beings is the presence of animal nutrition, whether it's shellfish, dairy, meat, fish, you name it. Animal nutrition was always present in human diets, and there is a definite parallel to the decline, even in documented history, the decline of brain size as we go into agriculture, as we reduce the amount of nutrients in our diet.
One thing that, if we were ruminant animals, herbivores, they have specific gut adaptations and organs that allow them to extract nutrition from plant foods, whether it's a specific organ or whether it's a type of bacteria or microbe in their gut. Because when a cow eats grass, it's literally like a human eating beef fat. That's the analogy you have to make. When a cow eats grass, it has microbes and certain enzymes in stomach that essentially puts the cow in ketosis.
Yeah, multiple stomachs, right? Like multiple stomachs and fermentation chambers essentially in their stomach lining. If you look at our gut versus the cow's gut, completely different, our guts look much more close to like a wolf's gut, which is a [inaudible 00:21:05], which is a carnivore. I mean I think just riffing off of your point there, I think, and I think this is what concerns me, which is I don't think any serious academic or researcher would say that humans evolved to be vegan, right? Like that would be like more insane than ... That would be I think an insane scientific proposition and like if you Google like PETA's claims on the origins of human evolution, they'll say that humans evolved to be vegans and it's just like that's what's insane to me. Where I feel like that seems to be a more accepted stance, which is complete propaganda, complete insanity.
I'm not a carnivore maximalist. I think you can do carnivore safely. I've done carnivore for certain blocks of time as an experiment. I enjoyed it, but I'm not going to say that, "Okay. Humans only ate meat as evolution."
If you actually type in, humans herbivores into Google, from PETA it says, "Although many humans choose to eat both plants and meat, earning us the dubious title of omnivore, we are anatomically herbivorous." That's what PETA says.
I think no serious academic would endorse that. I mean I think that is definition of fake news. I mean that's just absurd.
No, it's completely crazy and the health aspect of the vegan diet is much easier to debunk I think than the moral aspect or environmental aspect.
That's where I think it's lost in a lot of the conversation. No one talks about the like the different concerns, the different layers of concerns here. I think there's an interesting discussion around societal level health basically. I always say it was correlated or part of the argument for environmental concerns, and I think there's an interesting conversation around moral concerns. I love to hear your thoughts on those aspects.
Yeah, the moral is really quick. So with any conventional agriculture, there is massive death. Just spraying herbicides and pesticides, killing trillions of insects, ruining the environment. When you actually till the soil people say, yeah, animals get ground up in harvesters, but that's not the worst part of it. When you harvest those crops, you're killing their food source. So all of the animals that were living in those fields, those millions of acres just starve to death.
After those animals die and starve to death, even if they don't, they're going to get picked off by predators like hawks because they lost their shelter as well. So there's massive animal death in any sort of conventional agriculture. Then you grow the food again, the population regrows to even higher than it was before, and then they die again. So it's a never ending cycle of death. Then vegans are just going to try to argue, "Oh well most grain consumption goes to animal feed." The grain consumption going to animals is specifically by-product and stuff that is usually not deemed adequate for human consumption. There is still a large percentage of those grains going to human consumption.
We also have to keep in mind that animals don't have to eat grains. We can put them on pasture. The reason we have this current conventional agriculture model is specifically for profit. If anyone wants to argue there's not enough land to do this, there is. I believe there's 800 million acres of pasture land in the United States right now, more than that, and we're not utilizing the land properly. I think Joel Salatin is a great reference for this. If people are using the type of grazing systems that we see in like natural ruminant animals and like bison roaming the Plains, then this ties into the environmental stuff where not only is raising animals in this natural way, harming less beings overall, but it's also going to be better for the environment.
But what vegans will never admit, and it's completely crazy and they deny it, whether you buy that piece of broccoli or whether you buy that steak, something had to die to eat it. And you're placing the value on the life of millions of insects and small animals, rodents, critters versus one cow, and this is where the line gets really blurry. I make jokes about it. I just say, "Okay, you're just a cute, cuddly animal lover because you have a problem killing a pig, but you don't have any problem stepping on a million bugs," and that's really what it is. I think the simple argument is, unless you're supporting local, sustainable agriculture and literally going to a local farm and buying things yourself or growing things yourself-
Can I be devil's advocate? Let me push you on that a little bit. Okay. Let's just say that, hey, like a pig or a cow, it's mammalian, it has a more developed brain so we consider that more valuable life form than this centipede, which we don't care about. Even if it's a million of those. Or like maybe rodents and birds.
I think the moral aspect goes into, if you're supporting conventional agriculture, you're causing unnecessary harm. These cows, these pigs, these chickens are getting tortured in horrible living conditions and these insects are getting killed by the trillions. So are these rodents, these fawns, these small animals in the fields. It's a horrible system and it needs to be changed and that has to do with the control of the food supply is in the hands of pretty much an oligarchy of a small amount of companies and they're making all of the money.
And I think that's where maybe everyone can agree, which is that, and I think vegans would agree as well. It sounds like you're also critical of the factory farming system of animals. I mean it's just brutal. I think life is rough, nature is rough and there's a lot of humans and we eat a lot of stuff. We could either have food production be more bespoke, as you're mentioning. Everything's pasture-raised. Everything a lot more natural, but then it'd be very hard to sustain a modern society of billions of people running around and living in these metal infrastructure cities. So I think that's where it's beyond like a food supply question. It's kind of a cultural question. What are we valuing? Are we valuing human convenience or are we valuing environmental impact and moral treatment of animals?
I think most carnivores I speak towards, I think they're empathetic towards us essentially enslaving millions of cows and putting them in cages and killing them. I think we all would want animals to be treated better if they're-
Both vegans and carnivores who you could tell them both of their face, "You're supporting conventional agriculture. That's part of the problem." Then we go back to the inherent human selfishness, "I don't want to spend money. This is convenient." It will always go back to that. What's convenient for the person at that point in time? What's less money? I mean, what I consider that I do personally is crazy. I mean, you don't have to spend a crazy amount of money on food, but it's substantially more than people are used to spending and they don't want to go out of their way and put effort into ... People don't like putting effort into things they don't understand. In order to spend that time and allocate ... Would you rather go out on a Friday and have fun with your family or would you rather spend three hours making phone calls to farms and doing research and trying to source food?
For probably about a year, I've always tried to make the argument that, yes no one's going to complain about deer shitting in the woods because if you have animals in a natural ecosystem, it is going to be carbon neutral. If you have ... and there's plenty of land to do this, to feed America that's available. People say there's not enough land, there's too many people. That's not true. Absolutely not true. Saying that is just discouraging people from moving towards a better food system. I think that's ridiculous.
But what I discovered in the past few weeks and what would probably put me into the loony bin is, that the idea of carbon emissions is questionable because when you look at CO2 emissions, people argue, "Oh, agriculture is 9% of CO2 emissions, beef is 3%, dah dah dah ... " But CO2 emissions are about 4% of greenhouse gases in general. You have water vapor, and the IPCC really disclosing this to the public and almost overvaluing the importance of ...
From the data I've looked at over the past two weeks, I'm led to believe that our impact on the climate is insignificant from a temperature standpoint. What I think is an issue is the pollution and the damaging of the top soil. I don't think carbon emissions are what we should be looking at. I think that we should be looking at, what the hell are we dumping into the ocean? How are we destroying soil? How are we polluting the environment?
Wouldn't it be safer to be conservative here and say that, "Okay, we're for sure releasing a lot of stored up CO2 from fossil fuels," and all of that stuff. Should we not just be safe here and think of some policies to perhaps reduce some of that emission? I'm not an expert in this area so I don't want to speak out of turn here, but I would say like, is the conventional wisdom of saying, "Hey, even if it is a sub fraction, if we believe that this is an escape runway that we can't really reverse, should we not just have this conversation should be thoughtful about it?@
The impact that going vegan or changing your diet has on the environment is so insignificant in comparison to not driving your car, in comparison to not taking a flight to go on vacation-
... and that pales in comparison to having a child, which pales in comparison to the amount of CO2 ... What really drives me crazy is I'm sure the amount of CO2 emissions produced by large corporations and manufacturing plants far eclipses anything us ... My point is what a person does in their day-to-day life, they should not be worrying about CO2 emissions. But I think a big part of it is them wanting to control us and enact more like globalist government things such as controlling the meat, controlling the food, controlling everything. It's pretty easy to see what the general message is that's going on, but what they're telling us to do in order to achieve that message isn't conducive to achieving it.
I would agree with you there. I think if you look at the math in terms of the impact of going vegan, I mean it's like 2% where if you just ... Yeah, I think the best thing you could do is like just literally don't take planes, don't import cheap stuff from China, do everything locally. You make your own clothes and go off the grid basically is the best thing you could possibly do. But no one's saying, "We're going to slow economic growth." No one's saying, "Hey Africa, Asia don't industrialize and build up your economy." Everyone's ... and I think the argument is yes, like go be vegan, and it's like that's not really solving the problem.
It's difficult because people are going to argue, "Oh, every little thing makes a difference." Okay, you have a vegan family with seven kids? What the hell are you doing? The solution to me, I don't think it is conducive to what's truly good for the planet, what's truly good for the environment. So I mean if I want to sit down and try to understand the mechanisms and explain that to people, I feel like I'm just wasting my time. I'm just kind of at the point where I'm going to sit back and see how things pan out because I'm genuinely curious.
Look, I think I'm sympathetic to your world view here. I think it's just hard to trust institutions. I think you just see the chips in these bastions of authority. You see that with news, with fake news and real news. You see it in politics, you see that with the nutrition space and then you start seeing these chinks in the armor within all the institutional infrastructure. Then you start questioning what information sources can you really trust?
So I sympathize with that. I think that's the problem of our generation. It's just hard to know what to trust. I think that people that would argue, "No, just trust authority sources," I think it's like, "Which one?" right? Like, "Which one?"
For me personally, what I've noticed is I'm very well versed in nutrition and health, so when I watch someone do a video on nutrition, I'll say straight away, is that bullshit? Is that not bullshit? Sometimes there's more complicated stuff that I have to look into, but regardless of how complicated a nutrition video is or a theory is, or someone's publication, I can always figure it out within several minutes of whether it's bullshit or not. That's because I've done a lot of research in nutrition and I have an understanding of it.
When I listen to someone else talk about something else, not everyone can be educated in every single topic in the world. If I'm listening to someone talking about politics or maybe some other aspect of science, I have no clue what they're talking about. So unless you're educated to the point where you can debunk them, then you're lost. And that's how I think most people feel when they're trying to analyze anything. They just feel lost and they don't know who to trust, and that's the reality of what it is.
I think one of the things that I found interesting, I would love to hear your thoughts about is, this notion of raw meat, raw carnivore versus cooked meat. Then we touched upon this a little bit; grass-fed benefits versus grain-fed or more traditional agriculture techniques.
All right. So what I want people to understand is before worrying about raw versus cooked, the premise is quality. It doesn't matter if you're getting it raw, doesn't matter if you're eating it cooked. If the initial food is not of high quality, and if it's not a wild-caught fish, if it wasn't raised in a proper manner, it's not going to have a high nutrient content. The vitamins, minerals elements and fatty acids and the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios are going to be off as well. So once we can establish that the food quality is consistent across the board, then we can argue raw versus cooked.
So if you had two identical steaks that were both grass-fed, when you cook a steak, depending on the temperature, you lose water-soluble vitamins, particularly B and C. so I would say between 20 and 30% of the B vitamins are lost depending on how you cook the steak. The fat-soluble vitamins, probably between 5 and 15%. So you're not really losing that much nutrition. Plus you could just have a couple more bites of steak and the nutrition is made up in the raw versus cooked argument from a nutrient standpoint. You might lose most of the Vitamin C, but that's not too much of a concern as Vitamin C is partially dependent on carbohydrate consumption.
The main things we're talking about in raw versus cooked are digestibility and the ease on the stomach and how much nutrition you actually extract from it, especially when eating fat or like whether it's butter or cream cheese, animal fat, the lighter temperatures people usually notice, digest more efficiently, digest better. When you have a heavily rendered fat, the cell structures are broken down and it hits the stomach like a bomb and your body can't really produce enough bile, enough enzymes, enough lipase to digest the rendered fats quickly. So from a digestion perspective, you want to consider that raw is definitely easier on the stomach and that from a waste perspective you probably would eat less raw food and feel more satiated and you would also excrete less waste.
Yeah, let's unpack that because I think a lot of the conventional teaching would say that, okay fire was one of the biggest innovations that allowed us to cook meats, cook vegetables and render these foods much more bioavailable, and that accelerated brain development across. So what you're saying is counter to that story?
Yeah, so if you actually look at what indigenous people ate, the presence of raw, cooked and fermented foods was in every single indigenous diet. So I don't think a completely raw diet is really practical unless you have access to certain foods like dairy, because the caloric load of dairy is unusual. Like drinking heavy cream or milk or certain dairy products creates an artificial level of caloric intake.
But even then, we see raw foods in indigenous groups mainly because, certain foods have a nutrient content that is better preserved raw or the foods simply taste better raw. Certain foods were cooked because not every part of the animal can be consumed in a raw state. Some of the cuts are very tough. Yes, cooking a food does make it more available from a caloric perspective. So in order to survive in certain temperature gradients in certain parts of the world, you needed to cook your food.
What's just as important is the fermented food. When you ferment a food, it changes the composition. It makes it digests differently, increases certain bacteria types, increases certain nutrients like Vitamin K-2. So the presence of raw, cooked and fermented foods was in every single indigenous group of people.
I'm a big believer in going by instinct. If I'm going to consume a dairy product, I'll have it raw. If I'm going to consume my steak, I'll eat it however I like it, usually rare to medium rare. Whatever food, I usually go with my appetite, the palatability, what my body is telling me to do. It's nice to understand, okay, what are the pros and cons of raw? What are the pros and cons of cooked? What are the pros and cons of fermented food? That's great but acknowledge that all of those foods are present in every single healthy human diet, and that they are all likely necessary in order for you to be an optimal version of yourself.
So if you're going to try and make an argument that, "Oh, you should only eat raw," or, "You should only cooked," "Fermented foods aren't that important. You can do this," each of these foods serves a purpose in the human diet and it's definitely necessary to be balanced in all of them. I think that's something a lot of people miss with the food quality.
So I think there's an interesting discussion around nutrient density and availability from raw and cooked but isn't safety and bacteria and rotting one of the big concerns around cooking versus raw?
Absolutely. It's why even I personally, I will sear the outside of my meat because almost all foodborne issues are specifically from cross-contamination. So if you have an animal from a local farm that you oversaw the slaughtering and butchering process and the meat went directly to your table, I would probably eat that raw myself, no problem, even if it's ground beef. But I have never eaten something from the supermarket raw, especially not ground beef, which has an increased surface area. I always sear the outside with a high temperature to kill any surface bacteria of the product. So there is always a risk of cross-contamination with modern bacteria. Certain strains of E coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, one of the worst ones that's not even in the food specifically, H pylori, could be in your water supply. There's some very dangerous foodborne illnesses that are results of I mean modern antibiotic resistance, how we're raising our animals. So if you're going to consume something raw, listen, if you just burn the outside, it's still 99% raw. Don't get too fussy about having a little bit of seared crust on the outside. Especially from a health and safety perspective, you're far better off searing the outside. That's is what I do, unless the food is directly from a local farm.
Then if I trust the local farm, I possibly won't sear the outside, but almost all the time I do raw eggs, I think raw eggs are much more approachable for people in general. But there is, yeah, the cross-contamination concern on the outside of the shell. Raw dairy products, you have to be really careful with sourcing them from local farms. You don't know what these guys are doing if they're in some ghetto workshop, just throwing shit everywhere. Who knows what they're doing? So the solution to the raw dairy is, there are very famous cheeses that you can get in your local supermarket, Parmesan or Oregano even that are made from raw cheeses. So I think raw cheeses that are aged are a great safe first bet for raw food consumption. Usually fish is completely full of worms regardless of where it's from, but people eat more raw fish than raw meat. Kind of ironic on that one, but I'm not saying be worried about consuming sushi. I'm just saying be more open minded.
I did a video on this raw meat safety. There are definitely a lot of elements to understand, but always keep in the back of your mind what that meat ... They kill the animal, they cut the primal out, that steak was shipped to a supermarket, they break the primal out of the package. The guy handles it, cuts it up, the butcher in the supermarket, then he gives it to the retail associate. The more hands on the product, the higher the risk of cross-contamination is. So when you buy something in a supermarket, it could have touched four or five or six people. Whereas the local farm is just the farmer to you essentially, like removing people out of that supply chain, reduces the risk of cross contamination, which reduces the chance that you're going to get sick yourself. So an inherently high quality animal food that is minimally prepared is usually safer to eat.
If you're consuming a balance of raw foods, cooked foods, and fermented foods, and they're all high quality animal foods, then ideally you would be healthy. But raw and fermented animal foods don't sit well with people. Some very approachable ones like oysters and cheese, those are two examples, but no one's going to let some meat rot in a jar. No one's going to eat steak tartar. I mean, steak tartar is approachable, but the foods that these indigenous people actually ate, it's like they would take some ... I forgot the name of it, but the Inuits, the First Nation Alaskans, would take like a hundred birds that they call with these nets and they'd stuff them in a seal skin and they would bury it for a year. And they'd dig it up and eat the whole birds that were completely rotten and putrid. Another group of people, they would bury salmon under twigs and a year later they'd come back and eat the rotten salmon.
Yeah, the fermented fish in Norway, right?
Yeah, there's some more popular stuff. I think muktuk is the fermented whale fat. Surströmming or something is what you're referring to. There's like a fermented ... There's a bunch of traditional fermented foods that people are familiar with, but a lot of these indigenous fermented foods are completely gross and putrid and rotten. Hey, there are people that, like myself, that when I get like a really funky rotten cheese, I really enjoy it. But there's definitely an element of humans, and this is what I want to be really specific about, it's not just fermented foods. It's fermented animal foods. So if you want to bring up like sauerkraut or kimchi or certain fermented plant foods, yeah, there were fermented plant foods in some indigenous diets, but not every indigenous diet had fermented plant foods, but they did have fermented animal foods.
One thing to take away from that is the knowledge and physical ability of these people was something that is hard to understand. They were able to see things in space that we require telescopes to see. They were able to smell things that we can't smell now. So not only were they functioning on a higher level physically because they had adequate nutrients for development, they also had knowledge of things that we've lost now, whether it's knowledge of certain foods ... Like we're too ... I'm talking about how fermenting an animal food would increases the Vitamin K-2 content that's important for health. But they might not have known what K Vitamin K-2 is, but they knew they needed to eat those foods in order to be healthy. They observed what they needed to do in order to be healthy.
There was a documentary on grounding with [inaudible 00:44:11], being in touch with the earth. Now that's a whole different discussion with electrons and antioxidants, but the guy told the story about a native American woman who said to him, "Take your shoes off. They'll make you sick." So I think the knowledge of these people is really interesting and it's something that's lost. I think it's something that if we were able to rediscover and understand that, we can apply modern science and logic to what they were doing and try to figure out why it's conducive to our health.
Yeah, first blush might be like, okay, these are some like pseudoscience people, but I think you could have made that similar argument towards meditation 10 years ago, 20 years ago. Like, "Oh, there's some weird Buddhists doing some ... " or, "Monks are praying and they're getting some performance benefit." Now there's actually real data from neuroscience suggesting and showing what the brain sites are with a different meditative state. So again, I think all these things that you're describing are interesting hypotheses. I think as good scientists, we should try to explain these with mechanisms of science.
I'm sure people are curious about the grain-fed versus grass-fed nutrient differences. If you're talking about steak, yes, you could just, I mean you could just eat some fish to rebalance the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios that are going to be poor in grain-fed beef. If you're worried about nutrients in grain-fed beef being lackluster in comparison to grass-fed, then yes, you can just have some liver. The nutrient and omega fatty acid profile of grain-fed beef can certainly be accounted for, but we're looking at the negative agrochemicals, the pesticides, the herbicides, the estrogenic atrazine that can occur in conventional grain-fed meat. So it's not a matter of which is better, it's, "Okay, well grain-fed might actually be bad for you from a toxin or a poisonous perspective."
Same thing with certain farm-raised fish people don't want to touch because of the levels of toxins in the meat. So with our current food system and with how people don't care what they sell you, they just want to make money, I am inclined to believe, and this has been proven in many cases that, if you're buying conventional chicken, conventional pork, conventional beef from the supermarket, the nutrient content of that product is probably the last thing you should be worried about. You should be more worried about what the hell did that farmer spray on his crops? What was sprayed on that corn and soy that was fed to that animal? What else was fed to that animal? Was it sick? It's crazy. Our food system right now is so crazy and it's really hard to imagine these people moving towards a better one.
There was a hashtag, I think it was a hashtag of fair cattle trade, but basically all of these conventional farmers that are raising feed lot beef in the United States are getting taken advantage of by the big beef processors. And these are the farmers that are receiving subsidies to grow cheap beef and they're not making a lot of money for their cattle. They're selling a 2000 pound steer for like three or $400 and then that steer is being sold for two grand at auction and then that meat is being sold for 3000. So the meat Packers and the meat processors are making more money off of this, and it's just become this whole operation of how can we input as low as possible and make as much money as possible. There's no integrity, there's no care about making a truly high quality product or giving people something that's healthy and nutritious.
Yeah, maybe this is more on the sanguine side, but I would say that a lot of these systems that you're describing probably solved like the core problem of last century, which was famine and starvation. We just needed to scale up production of food to a level that could sustain billions of humans and that might've been optimal at a societal level, right? We can sustain these mega cities with millions, tens of millions of people that aren't farming. Farmers used to be 50 plus percent of our population's livelihoods and now what? Farmers are less than 5% of a country's labor force. What you're describing I think might be really the crows coming to roost where we took all these shortcuts to scale up food production where it made it really, really efficient and now some of these side effects are suddenly starting to come [inaudible 00:48:27] us. And I think it's like, "Okay, can we help those foods systems evolve?" I don't think farmers are just there explicitly trying to screw people over. I think they're just solving problems of scale. Now that we have scale, can we improve the health benefit for the individual? And maybe that's more of a benevolent way to look at the world.
We know the reason that the conventional agriculture started was essentially a money and labor and time thing. We know that the input required to raise animal foods properly is much more substantial and requires more effort on all fronts. We know that's the reason that conventional agriculture came to be. The problem now is, no one wants to give. Basically, the conventional farmers don't want to give, the companies controlling production don't want to give, no one wants to give, but what really changes that is the demand for product.
So when they see the demand for grass-fed beef go up, they will try to ... Well, what's happening isn't what should be happening. Ideally they'd say, "Oh, grass-fed beef goes up and we can make more money on it. So, Hey, maybe we put some cows on pasture and sell grass-fed beef." What they're actually doing is trying to make money on it. So they're feeding cows cornstalks instead of ... They're blurring the rules and lines of marketing and-
Right,. The grass-finished beef versus-
They're trying to repackage their shitty conventional beef as grass-fed beef. That's what they're trying to do, and it's working. It's unfortunate because they're in a position right now where they can't just magically switch all their ... I'm sure if they could, they would rather have the millions and millions of cows on grass right now being grass-fed than conventional feedlot, but from a logistics and operations perspective, that's never going to happen because these people don't know how to do that, and they haven't been doing that for years and years and years. So they're pigeonholed into doing what they've been doing for years, unfortunately, in a way.
So what's then the next step, right? It's almost like, okay, well we're not going to be able to overnight change the food infrastructure of the globe. So what can we do as individuals to make steps and bring education? I think conversations like this at least helps people orient themselves with the questions to even ask and the things to research. Like I think across conversation, I think we opened up a lot of different cans of worms here, and I would say like, "Hey, don't just trust Frank or myself just telling you. Double check our sources."
I think credit to you, as you're describing some of the claims, you cited some of the reference points and-
Yeah, I try to, yeah.
... and so I think that should be respected, like do your own research. I think that's kind of how we began on this journey. Again, just like we started reading the base literature and then understanding and having enough of a platform to question some of the best practices or the dogma or the propaganda that currently exists. What would you say are the best takeaway points when ... Okay, we might've scared some people being like, "Oh shit. What do I do now? I can't eat anything. I got to eat some crazy fermented stuff." What are the easiest steps to get started here?
From a cost and budget perspective, hey, going to a local farm once a month, or buying that grass-fed steak at the farmer's market once a month, going to usingrealmilk.com to find raw dairy, buying those pasture-raised eggs, seeing what's affordable. If you even can afford supporting something like that once a month, once a week on a special occasion, then try to work towards putting yourself in a better position where you're more financially able to support good decisions.
What I'm doing personally is I did start a meat company where we are trying to source that quality product and provide it for people at an affordable price. I'm looking at getting my own farm myself in a year or two. And I think more people that understand this and are open to this, you'll have more people supporting this type of food production and you'll have more people getting involved in this type of food production.
But from an actual nutrition and health perspective, yeah, I mean, you can check out it's like my videos, How to Get Started on the Carnivore Diet. You can get all of your nutrients and be healthy with just a handful of supplements and a handful of very specifically curated foods. I feel like the overarching thing is your budget can't afford it. Wild-caught fish, like mackerel herring, very affordable but most people don't want to choke down a pound of mackerel a day. They'd rather have a steak. So just in any way possible either either supporting that higher quality food production or putting yourself in a position where you can financially afford it sometime in the near future as a priority. That's really the next step. It's not a matter of being perfect from day one. It's not a matter of having a fridge full of $700 worth of food every week.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position where you can make a drastic change immediately, then that's where it does require a lot more grunt work and understanding of what you're actually doing. Keep in mind that there's a glamor, there's an appeal, there is a positive message associated with these high-quality food products. Unfortunately, people tend to take advantage of that high quality message and use it as a way to jack up the price and make things unaffordable for people.
By no means, I should probably do a whole discussion on that and how to negotiate with people. But that has to do with just ... That's even just food in general. Unfortunately, a lot of people take things at face value and it's hard to understand why you should actually be paying and doing these things. That's why it's more of a journey that I think people should take. If you try something and it doesn't work, there's probably something wrong with it. Just because someone sells you a certain product or this or that, always experiment and always try new things and mess around with things yourself to try to see personally and subjectively, anecdotally how it's working for you.
Yeah, I wouldn't disagree with anything you've just said there. I think focus on getting nutrient density. I think obviously, don't get too caught up on the labels of vegan versus that or this and say, "Okay, you can be vegan eating just Oreos." Is that really more sensible than focus on things that are of just higher nutritional density perspective. And if you can go and afford the higher quality, more locally raised products, then that's something that you should potentially look and explore. But I mean, I think you brought up an interesting point, which is that, when there is the market demand, there's going to be some players that try to exploit it.
More often than not, it's being exploited. That's partially due to the lack of production right now.
Yeah, which is rough because that's not good news for the ... for our listeners out there who isn't going to spend 50 hours interviewing the farmer that they're going to buy their lamb from tomorrow. So that's just going to be a hard problem that we all should just be aware of in terms of where we want to invest with our dollars.
Yeah, I'm hoping by this time next year that my company's up and running in a capacity that that we are able to provide quality food at an affordable price. I mean I've lost money trying to do this because it's really something I care about and our pricing compared to everyone else is so low.
This is the problem. All of these products are spaced out on local farms. The amount of grunt work that's going into buying this product is far too much. So my goal is to try to do the grunt work myself, cut down on it, source the food, and then consolidate it into something affordable. Right now there are people doing the same stuff I am, except their prices are twice as much because when you actually factor in business labor costs, all these things, that's where it becomes expensive. That's why people are paying so much for meat, and it's unfortunate.
I mean, yeah, just, it's just not easy to run a business as you probably know. So yeah. So we're looking forward to when you launch that project. What else do you have going on? You got the YouTube channel. What are your shout outs?
Frankie's Free Range Meat is fully up and running. We're running out of a smaller facility right now, so if you guys want to check out what products we do have, I mean pretty much any beef, any Oregons you can get your hands on, we have. Actually have grass-fed Wagyu on sale right now. I do own Frankie's Naturals, which is like a hygiene product company like deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizing cream, lip balm, just products that are devoid of any natural pollutants.
One thing I'm really excited about is I'm going to be hopefully doing a steakhouse pilot soon. So in New York city we're going to go down and do a little this, and this is something I saved up a lot of money for. I'm going to pay a production team. We're going to do just like something in food and cooking. That's something I've always liked to do. So that's something I've really been looking forward to.
I spent a lot of time working on my YouTube channel for three years and only really in the past few months I've actually done business ventures. As you said before the podcast, people are using a different means to monetize their YouTube channel. I just started doing that, so exploring what I want to do, what I'm good at, but yeah, off the top of my head, meat company's up and running. We have the naturals products. Looking forward to that steakhouse pilot and possibly a book and in a couple of months, not sure what I want to title it, not really sure what I want to talk about because I'm all over the place, but hopefully this time next year in a way different position than I am now.
Awesome. This is a super fun conversation. We covered a lot of ground here. Yeah, keep asking the questions and keep doing the research. I think we need more voices like yourself just pushing buttons and questioning because I think that's what ... I mean, ultimately that's what science and hypotheses generation is all about. If no one's asking the hard questions and kind of challenging dogma, no progress can be made. So keep doing what you're doing, Frank.
Thanks so much, Geoff. I'm looking forward to see if your viewers lose their mind as much as I do exploring this.
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© 2019 HVMN Inc. All Rights Reserved. H.V.M.N.®, Health Via Modern Nutrition™, Nootrobox®, Rise™, Sprint®, Yawn®, Kado™, and GO Cubes® are registered trademarks of HVMN Inc. ΔG® is a trademark of TΔS® and used under exclusive license by HVMN Inc.