Benefits Of Steamed Meat
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I am approaching several nutritional milestones or anniversaries. These include nearly twenty years experimenting with ancestral eating in various forms, three years of ketogenic eating within this larger experiment, one and a half years following a largely plant-free carnivorous or zero-carb regime, and one year of living almost exclusively on meat, fish, water, and salt (often called a pure carnivore diet).
My recent HumanaNatura post, Living On Meat & Water, outlines this last phase of my exploration of ancestrally-informed eating, and offers perspective on the approach from six vantage points: nutrition, enjoyment, ecology, ethics, practice, and economics. It’s a brief but good introduction to the key issues surrounding this apparently beneficial, but still controversial, way of eating.
Taking the idea of living on meat and water to its logical end, and in a practice still rare within the carnivore community, during my past year of pure carnivore eating, I also have cooked my meats almost solely with water alone – briefly steaming meat and fish in a covered pan – and have avoided other methods of cooking. I chose this approach to increase the nutritional and practical advantages of pure or minimalistic carnivore eating, and notably as an alternative to both the traditional cooking of meat and eating meat raw (as some carnivore practitioners do). Since the practice of steaming meat is generally overlooked and its benefits underappreciated, among omnivores and carnivores alike, I wanted to focus on this topic today.
The Benefits of Steamed Meat infographic above summarizes the basic procedure for steaming meat, again including fish, and then provides a listing of the key reasons why steamed meat may be superior overall to either traditionally-cooked meat or raw meat eating.
As you can see, the graphic’s main chart compares twelve nutritional and practical factors across the categories of raw, steamed, and traditionally-cooked meat (the latter a broad category, but with many recurring characteristics). Overall, the chart summarizes the important advantages that steamed meat can have over these other modes of meat eating. For omnivores and non-carnivores, I would add that these benefits track with similar advantages to steaming plant foods, again both in comparison to traditional cooking methods and eating many plant foods raw (especially plants high in lectins and other anti-nutrients that degrade when heated).
My infographic is fairly straightforward, so I won’t go through it point-by-point. But let me highlight three areas: 1) the low nutrient degradation and significant meat tenderization from low-heat, short duration steam cooking, 2) the meat surface disinfection and reduction in potential pathogens that occurs when raw meat is steamed, and 3) the great simplicity of steaming meats – allowing us to downsize our kitchens, and both prepare meals and clean up after them in minutes, as with raw meat eating.
Lastly, I want to touch on two additional topics not covered in the graphic. First is the taste or palatability of steamed meat. I often get this question or objection, and after a year, my responses now are almost always the same. Typically, I will say: “it tastes like meat, time after time,” “give it a try, it’s an easy experiment,” and “I haven’t grown tired of this way of eating in the least.”
The second topic is my personal health and fitness. As I said, living almost exclusively on steamed meat and fish is uncommon, and the approach is largely unstudied. In addition, optimal personal health measures are in flux and debatable in a number of cases today. For these reasons, I don’t want to make broad generalizations about my physiological health, other than to say that it appears quite good. In particular, and even though I am in my sixties, I have no health complaints, live an active and athletically robust life, and take no medications.
On the other hand, my personal fitness is something I can measure reliably, and know directly and immediately each day. After a full year of living on meat and water, I can say that I am unexpectedly and even remarkably fit and well, muscularly lean and physically untiring, and noticeably far calmer and more clear-headed than ever before. I also have found that I need significantly less exercise to achieve high fitness levels than when using other dietary approaches (I have tried all the major modern dietary regimens, and for at least a year each).
Based on my experience living on meat and water overall, and primarily steaming my meat and fish in particular, the benefits appear substantial, and I would encourage you to consider and explore the approach.
As always, I am happy to respond to your comments and questions.
Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.
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Additional Reading: Cooking & Nutrient Loss, Cooking Meats, Meat Digestibility, Maillard Reaction