Paleo Guide to Eating Meat
Anthropologists can tell from human dentition that humans are omnivorous, that is, we eat both plants and animals. Early humans had a tough life, if they didn’t eat for a period, they became too weak to hunt or gather and perished.
Plant-based food options were not what they are now, our bountiful fruit and vegetables are largely a product of successful plant breeding and improvement by modern mankind.
The greater part of nutrition in Paleolithic times was supplied from meat sources. A human can thrive far longer on a pound of meat than they can on a pound of berries, especially as the berries then weren’t of the quality they are today.
Obviously a diet described as a ‘hunter-gatherer’ diet is going to involve eating meat. The Paleo diet is heavily focused on protein derived from eating meat. This meat should not be processed in any way, just cooked and eaten. Garnishing and enhancing with herbs and spices is alright.
A strict Paleo diet would exclude bacon and hams as these cuts are not as they have been taken from the animal; they have undergone a process that includes additives to the meat.
Meat Sourced from Ruminants
A basic tenet of the paleo diet is that grazing animals should serve as the foundation of the diet. The ideal type of animals are grass-fed ruminants. Ruminants obtain their nutrients from plant-based foods through the process of fermenting.
Ruminants possess a specialized stomach which enables them to ferment plant-based foods with the help of several bacterial actions as a primary step in digestion. This process enables the animal to break down low quality vegetable matter which would be otherwise almost indigestible.
Apex predators including humans need the nutrients that these plants contain, but don’t have the digestive system to achieve this. We rely on lower-order animals to convert these nutrients into nourishing protein that we can utilize.
Ruminants such as lamb, cattle, goat and deer are very good sources of red meat.
When you have a choice, choose grass-fed animals instead of feedlot raised animals. Feedlot animals get much of their nutrition from grain. This is moving away from the Paleo ideal. Although location and budget may be a limiting factor, where possible source your meat from as close to the farm as possible. Meat from free-ranging, naturally grazing animals is always a better option.
It may sound corny, but it is a fact that animals raised in a more natural ‘happier’ environment, that are slaughtered humanely, will be more tender, tasty and nutritious. Anyone who has raised and killed their own meat can tell you that the meat from an animal killed in a stressful environment will be less tender. This is due to the release of adrenalin which adversely affects the muscles and toughens the meat.
Red meat forms the major part of a Paleo diet, as it did in Paleolithic times. All types of fowl, fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein, just as they would have been long ago. If these can be obtained from a free-range environment, so much the better.
State of Mind
Protein is a vital part of the human diet. Meat is the most natural way to consume this protein. Meat should be eaten not with a sense of guilt, but a feeling of gratitude.