Watch: Woman eats diet of mainly raw meat and offal
India Castley, from Southport in Merseyside, stopped eating fruit and vegetables entirely in mid 2022 and has been eating a heavily carnivorous diet ever since.
The 19-year-old says she has gone from 15st to 10st during this time, and has even eased her depression and stomach problems. While she used to eat normally, including getting her 'five-a-day', she claims this made her feel "terrible".
Castley's meal plan is unsurprisingly controversial, with research showing it lacks fibre and antioxidants and is high in fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart problems. Nevertheless, she believes fruit and veg have 'anti-nutrients' (substances that reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients) and irritants, and is set on steering clear.
Castley does allow herself to eat eggs, bone marrow and raw dairy to try and boost her supply of vitamins and nutrients. "What I eat in a day varies from day to day and people think that it's quite boring and restrictive but once you get into it, you will never want to stop," she says.
"For breakfast I tend to have raw steak with a bit of raw liver and my raw dairy [unpasterised]. For a snack I have beef liver crisps or heart crisps. But this is rare I try not to snack unless I am very hungry."
Whether she's having liver or kidney, she also enjoys boiled or raw eggs, and cheese and milk. "Homemade bone broth too!" she adds. "It's a good source of electrolytes. I do not touch vegetables due to the anti-nutrients and irritants."
It's worth bearing in mind that, based on Harvard research: "Though certain foods may contain residual amounts of anti-nutrients after processing and cooking, the health benefits of eating these foods outweigh any potential negative nutritional effects."
Castley's weekly food shop comes to as much as £150 a week, a steep cost for most. However, she maintains that it's worth it for her.
"People would assume carnivore [what she calls her diet style] is pricey but absolutely not. I’d say people spend more on take outs and fast food than carnivore food," she says.
Read more: The dangers of eating raw meat - The Conversation, 3-min read
Aside from losing weight and clearing up her acne, she says the biggest benefit from her newfound diet is her boost in mood. "My friends and family say they don’t even recognise me anymore, in the best way possible that is," she explains.
"I have motivation for everything. Before carnivore I could barely get out of bed. I was always anxiety riddled. I was a very angry, short-tempered person but this was due to my bad diet causing me to have a leaky gut.
"Your gut is essentially your first brain. If you are damaging it you won’t be feeling very good as much as you should be."
While the gut-brain connection is being discussed more and more, fruit and veg are still considered an essential part of a healthy diet, and it's worth remembering foods affect everyone differently.
"I don’t get tired randomly. I don’t have mood swings. I feel good. I look good. Life is good," Castley adds. Though despite her positive outlook, she has had to endure online hate from people who say her lifestyle is unhealthy.
"People do judge me for my diet," Castley admits. "I’ve even had death threats due to it, which is not fair at all as I'm promoting it to help people heal.
"When I first heard about carnivore I was skeptical, but then of course I tried it and I was in fact in shock at how much it impacted my life.
"Carnivore changed my life for the better. From losing weight, increased energy, reduced inflammation."
Read more: This is where most people now source their nutrition advice from – but is it safe? - Women's Health, 4-min read
As a side-benefit, she says she no longer needs to deliberate over what to cook for dinner as it's always the same (though this may be considered monotonous for others). "Too many people are on antidepressants, overweight or have autoimmune diseases due to their bad diet and toxins," she adds.
"People think tablets are the answers to all our problems but I do strongly disagree. I will do carnivore forever as I feel like it's the only way to go after finding out what’s in all the other foods compared to my diet."
While Castley sings her diet's praises, she hasn't consulted any professionals about it, content that the results speak for themselves. "Why would I consult a doctor when I am getting happier?," she says.
"You wouldn’t consult a doctor when you go out and drink yourself to the gutter, or order from a dodgy take away."
Seek expert advice ahead of dramatically changing your diet
While people may experience short-term benefits for incorporating things like raw meat into their diet, there are long-term health consequences to consider, or certain people who should avoid it altogether.
Previously speaking on the similar 'lion diet', involving eating mainly salt, water and red meat, Claudia Le Feuvre, a nutritional therapist of Goldster told Yahoo Life UK, "I understand that people are doing it because it provides temporary relief from some of their symptoms, but there are far more superior ways of identifying and addressing underlying food intolerances and what the triggers are".
Read more: Nutritionist warns against TikTok’s viral ‘lion diet': 'I would highly recommend people skip this trend' - Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read
She said this type of raw meat-heavy diet could could result in halitosis (bad breath), piles, high cholesterol, constipation, haemorrhoids and very low energy because you're missing a lot of the fibre and good nutrients from carbohydrates.
To avoid this, a better way of determining triggers could be through the elimination diet, when you cut our certain food groups temporarily and record the results, under the supervision of a medical professional.
What is a healthy diet?
The Eatwell Guide guide says to have a healthy, balanced diet, you should:
eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day)
Generally, the NHS advises against cutting out food groups, unless you do discover a medical reason to.
Additional reporting by SWNS.