Rib eye is a common carnivore meal.

Carnivore Diet on the Homestead

Farm-fresh eggs are a large part of the carnivore diet.

The Journey of Our Diet

Like many families seeking to live a healthy lifestyle, we have attempted over the years to make due diligence to find food that helps us to be the best and healthiest version of “us” that we can.

Our journey began with paleo and a “whole foods” approach some years ago. My youngest daughter, then 7, had aching joints and stomach pain. The pediatrician wanted her to take medicine for the stomach ache and get tested for juvenile arthritis. Instead we did research.

In the end, we took gluten out of her diet and realized she was gluten sensitive. This led us to the paleo diet as a way of eating.

We ate with the paleo way of eating for quite some time. We were seeing the benefit in fresh whole foods, and it began our journey and interest in growing our own food. We did, in fact, begin even while living in the city in the desert.

I grew butternut squash, kale, tomatoes, strawberries, and cucumbers in an area between our house and our neighbors house. It wasn’t enough to feed us much, but it was a learning experience and gave me confidence I needed to continue when we moved years later to Tennessee.

How we started. A garden between city homes.
Our 2014 desert garden.

Enter Keto Diet

Not long after we moved to Tennessee, we felt that the paleo way of eating was not as effective. We had begun to gain weight again, too. I heard Jason Fung, a Canadian nephrologist, talk about intermittent fasting and autophagy. He talked about how it was great for losing weight, but more importantly, just healthier for your body to not constantly be eating.

I continued to research and came upon the ketogenic diet. I hate saying it’s a diet, but it’s really more a way of eating. Just as the paleo diet was.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the ketogenic diet cuts out all grains and sugars. Similar to paleo, it also encourages whole food eating. While it seems extreme, after cutting them out one thing became clear to me. We are addicted to sugar. Grains and carbohydrates break down into sugar.

During this time, I began growing all the veggies we loved to eat: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, sugar snow peas, and pumpkins.

We also grew our own chicken meat and eggs. In 2020, we got dairy goats to make cheese! In 2021, we added rabbit to the menu.

My family did very well with the ketogenic diet. I did my best to find new and delicious recipes to make it easier for them to not partake in the standard American diet of pizza and fries. Overall, it was very beneficial for all five of us.

Rabbits we raise for meat.

Next Stop – Carnivore Diet

January 2022, I had been hearing about the carnivore diet. In April, I had been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee and knew it was probably in my right hip as well. My hands and wrists also were feeling similar to my other aching joints.

So, in an attempt to not be slowed down, I tried the carnivore diet. If you are not familiar with the carnivore diet, then you must know, it’s a subcategory of the ketogenic diet. Basically, it’s all animal product and only animal product. This would mean meat, raw milk, eggs, butter, and cheese.

For eight months of 2022, I ate only animal products (and coffee – my weakness) and I have to tell you – I had NO arthritic pain. This was enough to convince me to continue to turn away all food but animal product.

Now, in 2023, my husband and one of my teenaged sons have joined me on this journey. They have decided to do it for their own reasons, but that means 3/5 of our household is now eating a meat-based diet. The remaining family members have decided to continue on keto or a meat-heavy version of keto called “ketovore”.

Meat chickens on pasture.

What Does that Mean for Our Homestead?

All of that history is to explain what happens next on our homestead. A homestead grows what your family eats. Because our family has shifted the way we eat, now our homestead needs to pivot and grow what we eat. Garden planning and livestock have taken on a new dimension.

So, 2023, we will be doing things a bit differently. I will still plant tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and squashes. We decided that during growing season, even as carnivores, we will indulge in delicious home grown veggies and sell what’s left at the Farmer’s Market. But there will be different crops this year as well.

Recently, we learned about how Shawn and Beth Dougherty (authors of “The Independent Farmstead”) fed their animals. They grow about 90% of what their animals eat. That’s phenomenal! They did a lot of research into what our forefather’s fed their animals before there were big box stores or co-ops selling grain. What did they do? What they found was fascinating, especially since they are successfully maintaining their farm on home grown crops.

[If you’d like to read more about them, you can find them here: https://onecowrevolution.wordpress.com/].

This year, we will be trying to do the same. We have bought seeds for recommended fodder foods of turnips, radishes, kale, sunflowers, mangel-wurlzer beets, and tromboncino squash. These are some of the staples that animals can eat in lieu of grains. The wonderful thing is that WE can eat all these things too!

I am nervous to put this out there. What if we fail? What if we can’t grow what we need to feed our animals?

I guess nothing good can happen unless you try! So, here we go!

Can’t Wait to See

At time of writing, all these things are in the planning stages. We will document all the steps, successes, and failures as we go. Homesteading always has “problems” to be solved. This isn’t as much of a problem as more a fine tuning and redirection.

So make sure you check back in. I’ll be updating you on how we are doing.

How about you? What is your journey like? Are you a homesteading carnivore? How is it going for you?

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