If you are on a plant-free diet — whether for weight loss or medical reasons — it can be difficult to come up with a variety of dishes to keep your interest. For some, steak every night is enough, but for the rest of us a bit of variety is called for.
Here are ten ideas we came up with when we took part in January’s #worldcarnivoremonth
Depending on what you are trying to achieve you may want to go meat only, but in this post, we will interpret plant-free in the broadest sense: eating with zero (or minimal) plant-derived foods in the diet. We tried to stick to salt only as seasoning, but freshly ground black pepper snuck in, and then a few spices crept into the salami (tip 10)!
Steaks are one of the favourite foods for people on the carnivore diet. Proponents such as Shawn Baker and Mikhaila Peterson eat almost exclusively beef, salt and water, so steak is their most frequent meal.
One of the great things about this diet is eating beef steak regularly. Ribeye is a favourite but rump, sirloin and other cuts are entirely wonderful too. For variety, mix it up and try some other meats: Pork steaks work well for breakfast and roast leg of lamb is always a big hit.
2. Roast Joints
Roasting a large joint of beef, mutton, lamb or pork can ensure you have a feast with plenty of left-overs for later in the week. Here is Forerib of beef that I bargained down from the meat counter at my local supermarket…
There is such a wide variety of meat available today. Going carnivore can give you an opportunity to try cuts and varieties you might not otherwise get around to, and currently we are in game season, so getting into the game couldn’t be simpler.
These chunks of pheasant and partridge breast were stir-fried in goose fat, with a splash of homemade bone-broth added for moistness. The prawns were fried briefly in ghee. We popped some of the left-over chunks in the fridge and they made perfect snacks we could pick at when we got peckish.
I really like duck: it has a rich flavour that is missing from chicken. I always roast poultry with the skin on; the skin contains more fat and collagen than the muscle meat, so it shouldn’t be removed. There is something very satisfying about gnawing meat off the bone, and these chunky legs make a very satisfying meal.
After meat, eggs are your next best friend. They are so versatile: fried, soft or hard boiled, scrambled, omelettes….
6. Ready-to-Eat Smoked Fish
Many supermarkets sell smoked herring, mackerel or salmon. They can be kept in the fridge for days as a go-to snack, but also help pep up a meal and add variety. Check the ingredients to avoid plant-based additives.
Omelettes can be made in so many ways. Here I have served a sheep’s cheese omelette with smoked, peppered herring. It provides a great variety of flavours on one plate. Smoked mackerel is a good alternative. Packs of these ready-to-eat fish can be kept in the fridge and be used as snacks, part of a main meal and are very easy lunch box fare.
Fish, particularly oily fish, are superb sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well as trace elements like selenium and iodine which may be missing in an all meat diet.
There are plenty of different varieties of fish to choose from. On its own fish can seem less filling than red-meat, but served with eggs, cheese or as here, with halloumi ‘chips’ it can make a much more interesting meal.
What’s a meatza? Or should I spell it ‘mizza’? It’s a pizza with a base made of minced-beef! Press the minced beef into the base of a pyrex dish and bake at 160C for 20 minutes. (Note: the meat will shrink by at least 10%). Remove, drain the juices that will have come out and transfer the meat base to a clean dish. Top with cheese and your favourite toppings (ham, sliced salami, sardines etc), then return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes until it looks done. Here we have a sheep cheese, anchovy and king prawn meatza, which was a total hit at a recent birthday dinner. (I made a meatza with veg for guests who were not partaking of #worldcarnivoremonth, but who nonetheless are low carbers and grain free. That post will follow)
As long as you can tolerate dairy products, cheeses can make the plant-free diet much more interesting. Cheese is a great source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K2) and is one of the least allergenic forms of dairy foods, especially if goat’s and sheep’s cheeses are selected, and aren’t we fortunate today to have a plethora of really high quality sheep and goat cheeses available in all decent supermarkets and delicatessens? There is even a cheese shop on the concourse of Victoria Station where I can nip in prior to my journey home, and buy a piece of superb sheep’s cheese to assuage hunger on the journey after a long day plackard waving in Whitehall (!).
Eaten in the evening, cheese can provide a pool of amino acids which can help muscle growth while you sleep and the K2 content helps steer calcium to the correct tissues, such as teeth and bone, rather than being deposited in arteries.
10. Cured meats
Salami and other cured meats can provide welcome variety: great eaten as a desert with some fine cheeses. The trouble is many of them contain added spices, garlic and other plant-based ingredients, but these are used in very small amounts so the products can be 99% plant-free. If you have a super reactive condition, like Mikhaela Peterson does, of course these miniscule amounts of plants will not be tolerable.
- See our review of rustic cold smoked salami here
The best quality Italian salami often has only pork and salt. The Italians recognise the gastronomic delights of pork-fat, and even enjoy cuts of ‘meat’ that are almost 100% fat, such as in this photo below!