By Tom Cowan, M.D.
I get asked a lot whether it is important to include meat in one’s diet. Unfortunately, this is the wrong question and will likely lead you astray. The correct question is whether it’s important to include animal products of some form in one’s diet. The unambiguous answer is “yes.”
The clearest epidemiological studies ever done on humans were done by Weston Price. His approach was simple and straightforward: He looked around the world for people with perfect teeth and perfect health. He found 14 such groups, on all continents, in all races. He carefully analyzed their diets and found that, without exception, all of these groups included liberal amounts of animal products in their diets. He even remarked that it saddened him to have found no plant-based people he could include in his list of healthiest people; they simply did not exist.
Once we realize that a vegan diet should be considered an “experimental diet” with no historical evidence of success, we can discard this as a possible foundation for a healthy diet and ask the next most important question, which is, “what type of animal products did these healthy people eat?” Again, Dr. Price’s research provides us clear guidelines. Over and over, Dr. Price found that the most important type of animal food consumed by traditional people was animal fat. This could be butter, cream, lard, suet, the fat naturally occurring in seafood, or many other types of animal fat. He did extensive research on the contents of animal fats and found that cholesterol and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 are absolutely essential to optimal human health and that they are best provided in healthy, pastured animal products.
The next most important animal product to consume on a regular basis is organ meat. All traditional peoples prioritized organ meats. We know now that they are the richest sources of these fat-soluble vitamins. Native Americans often said that the organ meats were to be eaten first, and the “meat,” or flesh, was for the animals.