Rising electricity and gas prices may make you reconsider cooking a roast or stew on the stove. Why would you cook that meat? After all, you may provide stylish beef carpaccio, flavorful wild boar’s liver, coppa, or pancetta on your menu. If you developed a taste for raw meat, you might become a paleo-keto-carnivorous pilgrim with dreams of growing a ripped torso.
Humans are omnivores, which means we can consume raw meat and survive. Like others who live in cold climates, the Inuit consume uncooked meat from seals, caribou, elk, or whale. From Europe to Japan, uncooked horse, chicken, and goat cuts are served as a little delicacy. Some bodybuilders advocate offal diets (carefully selected) and raw meat.
Raw meat has also previously been used as medicine. French doctors offered it as a tuberculosis cure in the late 19th century. At times, it appeared to be successful. However, the researchers outlined two issues.
First, it was challenging to find clean raw meat. Second, the daily serving of half a pound of raw meat was unpopular with their patients. Treatments were modified to use meat juice in its place. They claimed that their “zomotherapy” was more popular and less prone to transmit tapeworm illnesses.
George Minot and William Murphy looked into raw liver therapy for pernicious anemia. For this groundbreaking study that cleared the road for isolating vitamin B12, they were awarded the Nobel prize in 1934. A herbivore’s liver stores B12, which is harmed by cooking. All this early research demonstrated the potential risks of infection and infestation while eating raw meat.
We live on the same planet as the creatures we eat. A surprising variety of uncountable microorganisms, some of which may be shared at mealtimes, exist all around us. A careful inspection is needed before eating a delicious piece of raw meat. Is it contaminated with prions, viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites?
Many of these creatures are innocuous, but some can be highly deadly if not handled. Some are incurable, such as prion-linked brain disorders. And some will even treat us like their own food. If that steak is venison from your most recent hunt, it will have different infections than a steer raised on a farm.
For instance, when Escherichia coli was first discovered in 1885, it was believed to be a harmless bacteria. E. coli 0157 may be present in up to 50% of healthy cattle. Shiga toxins from them, resistant to our stomach acid, can result in kidney failure, shock, and even death.
Joseph Lister, the inventor of surgical sterilization, is honored with the name of Listeria. It is a skilled soil creature that can grow on a steak in your refrigerator, enter your bloodstream and brain, cross a placenta, cause miscarriage, and kill the fetus.
Toxoplasmosis gondii, a protozoal parasite from cats that thrives in cattle and people, can infect beef. The embryonic brain can be harmed by toxoplasmosis because it frequently enters the brain, retina, and heart muscle or crosses the placenta. After that lunch of raw meat, you most likely wouldn’t feel anything because some of these impacts may take years to manifest.
Although eating raw meat has not been demonstrated to have any benefits, there are significant microbiological risks. (Feeding raw meat to your pets carries similar risks.) Along with Salmonella and Campylobacter, parasites, including roundworms and tapeworms, can also cause infection.
The enthusiasm in some quarters to resume eating raw meat should be compared to the realities of “one health,” which means considering the interconnected health of people, animals, and our habitats. We’re not on our own. Many bacteria would dearly love for us to adopt a wolverine lifestyle, which is generally checked by safe food management and cooking.
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