Derek Nance: And You Will Know Him by the Trail of Blood...
"Not eating meat is a decision; eating meat is an instinct." - Denis Leary
Cows Taste Better than They Look... And They Look Good
I love meat - always have, always will. There will be no talking me out of this, so please don't bother trying. Meat is the centerpiece of 98% of the meals I eat and many of the snacks, as well. (There just aren't too many more satisfying experiences in life than snapping into a Slim Jim.) Furthermore, I really could not care less about the health-related statistics that people love throwing in my direction when they hear about my voracious carnivorousness; they matter about as much as that look of disgust violently contorting your face right now. PETA? I love animals too folks, but a cow's considerably limited lifespan in no way trumps my desire to eat him. He was made for my consumption. Who am I to rob him of his life's work?
At this point, I'll assume that you think I'm some kind of morbid meat-consuming monster, but I fancy myself nothing more than your average American. Whether or not this is a positive connotation is certainly debatable, but I make no apologies either way. And hey, at least I'm not this guy.
The Meat Man
Now, in fairness, I've always eaten excessive amounts of meat for selfish, gluttonous reasons, whereas the man pictured above, Derek Nance, initially began eating excessive amounts of raw meat for health reasons, although he's now grown to love it. According to a piece on vice.com written by Julian Morgans, Derek began suffering from a "mysterious illness" several years ago. After several failed diet attempts (Vegan, Mediterranean, Dairy-Free), an acquaintance who'd struggled with similar symptoms suggested that he go raw - which is exactly what he did. Five years later, Derek swears by the diet and its healthful efficacy.
What's more is that Derek thoroughly enjoys his new diet, and he claims that it didn't take long for him to become acclimated to it. According to Derek, "There’s something that happens during the adaption process. About three weeks in I noticed this real strong blood-like taste in the back of my throat and then all of a sudden I started getting strong cravings for it. The idea of cooked meat no longer appeals. It just tastes burned. And herbs and spices too, I used to season the meat, but seasonings no longer appeal either." How metal is that!?!? I'm not sure what to make of it, but it almost makes the idea seem appealing?
Derek's diet is based on the work of a dentist named Weston Price. Most famous for his work in funding the research institute of the American Dental Association, Mr. Price was one of the raw meat diet's earliest champions. Once referred to as the "Charles Darwin of Nutrition," Mr. Price believed that consumption of processed, commercialized, and overly-prepared foods in the Western Diet stripped them of their vital nutrients, which led to many common diseases of the 20th century.
To test his theories, Price set out on a massive research project, and the result was his 1939 book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. In it, he details the diets of several non-Western indigenous cultures (including Native Americans) who, after adopting a Western diet, began suffering from many of the harmful health aspects to which they had previously appeared largely impervious.
Many modern scientists view Price's work as heavily biased and feel that he may have been mistaking correlation for causation, but Derek Nance seems to be living proof that a diet free of any modern additives, GMOs, or preservatives can have positive effects on at least some humans.
A Carnivore and a Gentleman
I really enjoyed reading Julian's interview with Derek. He comes off as an intelligent, laid-back individual who just happens to slaughter animals and eat them raw. Sadly, Derek feels as though he's become kind of an exile from mainstream eaters, including those for whom he cares the most. "Most" of his friends allow him to bring his meal with him to dinner parties, but his parents won't even discuss his diet out loud. "My family thinks I’ve lost it." say Derek, "They literally think I’m off-the-deep-end insane and I don’t know why." Despite nearly six years on a raw meat diet and seemingly improved health, they're convinced that the raw meat will be the death of him. Some people are allergic to evidence.
Still, Derek can't allow those whose sense of cultural normalcy is disrupted by his diet to allow him to sacrifice his health and who he's become as a person. This way of life fits him, and he even considers it an ethical alternative to standard meat-eaters. Derek's first slaughter consisted of a pair of goats that he had owned for their milk, but now he routinely barters with farmers for what he considers a fair price for an animal (usually lamb, apparently), slaughters it, and totes it home.
Although slightly hippified, Derek has no moral or ethical pretense with this practice. "If an animal lives in accordance with its nature," says Derek, "I have no problem ethically slaughtering that animal. But if you raise that animal in a pen, and when it’s sick just shoot it up with antibiotics, I have real problems with that." Of course, the difference between Derek and someone like me is that I don't let a silly thing like ethics get between me and Double-Chee from McDonalds. (I apologize for the trite remark, but who has the time to slaughter their own meat?)
As an added bonus, Derek's diet has opened up a new career path for him. Previously an electrician, after helping some acquaintances handle his meat, he's now become a butcher's apprentice, a position that comes with all sorts of fringe benefits! According to Derek, "I’m learning the trade from the ground up, and I get lots of scraps to snack on."
I'll stick to my jerky, Derek, but I dig your style.
Morgans, Julian. "This Guy's Eaten Nothing but Raw Meat for Five Years." Vice. Food. Oct. 1 2013. Web. Oct. 8 2013.