Column #218

Vilhjalmur Stefansson may be the most famous meat eater in the carnivore world. He actually lived with the Inuit in 1906–07 and learned to eat and actually enjoy their native wild foods. He described how he had to get used to eating nearly the same thing day in and day out. He said he eventually looked forward to his meals and snacks of raw fish, boiled fish, rank fish, and meat from wild game. Other than seasonal berries plant-based foods were virtually nonexistent. Of course that was before the Inuit was exposed to our modern foods. Later in life he and a fellow explorer were “guinea pigs” in an experiment where they lived on nothing but meat and water for a year. Everyone with an interest in health and nutrition should spend a little time and become more familiar with this multifaceted, educated man.1 2 3

Interestingly, while Stefansson was living with the Inuit the American public was starting to go gaga over cereal. The cereal industry was born in 1894 when W.K. Kellogg was trying to improve the vegetarian diet of hospital patients. He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (soften). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. In the years that followed cereal production and the varieties mushroomed. Even Wall Street got into the act and there was a stock market mania for cereal companies all during the 1920s! By the time 1950 rolled around “breakfast” cereals were the mainstays of the American breakfast routine.3

For hundreds if not thousands of years there have been people who believed that eating meat was not good for one’s health. Instead they believed humans should be vegetarians or at least eat a balanced diet favoring plant-based foods. From his experiences Stefansson couldn’t agree with that thinking. His time spent with the Inuit convinced him that a fatty meat diet was perfect for humans. To prove his point, in 1927-28 Stefansson and a companion Arctic explorer (Karsen Anderson) ate nothing but meat and water for a year under strict medical supervision. Ironically that’s when Wall Street’s cereal mania was really hot. One glamor stock was Postum Cereal Co. (the makers of Post cereals) which changed its name to General Foods 1929. In 1985 General Foods was acquired by Philip Morris Companies (now Altria Group, Inc.) and then combined with Kraft.4

The research report documenting the experimental meat and water diet is titled “Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis.” It concluded that both participants did well. “Both men were in good physical condition at the end of the observation. There were no subjective or objective evidences of any loss of physical or mental vigor. The teeth showed no deterioration and gingivitis had disappeared. There was, however, an increase in the deposit of tartar on teeth of Stefansson. Bowel elimination was undisturbed--Stefansson required no extra catharsis and Anderson was regular throughout. The stools were smaller than usual, well formed, and had an inoffensive, slightly pungent odor. No flatus was noted.”5

Stefansson was a scholarly fellow. His first book was “My life with the Eskimo” (1913). In 1935 he wrote “Adventures in Diet,” a lengthy article in Harper’s Magazine. Books about his nutritional theories include “Not By Bread Alone” (1946), “The Fat of the Land” (1956), and “Cancer: Disease of Civilization?” (1960).7 8 9 10 11

In 1955 Stefansson adopted a “stone-age” diet that was high-fat, low-carbohydrate, consisting mostly of meat. He was obviously a leader in today’s Keto diet movement. He died in 1962 about the time scientists started understand the importance of the balance between Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Omega-3 EFAs. The Inuits had remarkable heart health and their Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios were about 1:1 compared to the average American ratio of about 15:1. Ongoing EFA research has determined that incidences of chronic disease increase as the EFA ratio increases above 4:1. Cancer growth is subdued when the EFA ratio is less than 2.5:1.12 13

It’s been more than 100 years since Vilhjalmur Stefansson realized the all-meat diet had tremendous health advantages. Ironically, most of our modern, sophisticated, connected citizens are clueless. Instead they clamor for highly processed, plant-based artificial meat while shunning fat. Amazing! Truly amazing.14

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

1. Vilhjalmur Stefansson from Wikipedia

2. Vilhjalmur Stefansson the Arctic Explorer (1957) Video

3. Vilhjalmur Stefansson from Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography

4. Big Nutritional Changes in Recent History by Ted Slanker

5. General Foods from Wikipedia

6. Prolonged Meat Diets with a Study of Kidney Function and Ketosis by Walter S. McClellan and Eugene F. Du Bois

7. My Life with the Eskimo by Vilhjalmur Stefansson 1913 a Free Download

8. Adventures in Diet by Arctic Explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson from Harper's Monthly Magazine, November 1935

9. Not by Bread Alone by Vilhjalmur Stefansson 1946 a Free Online Book View

10. The Fat of the Land by Vilhjalmur Stefansson 1956 a Free Download

11. Cancer: Disease of Civilization? by Vilhjalmur Stefansson 1960 a Free Download

12. The Inuit Paradox by Patricia Gadsby

13. The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases by Artemis P. Simopoulos

14. Is it a Fad? By Ted Slanker

Science or Belief? by Ted Slanker

Meet the Carnivores by Ted Slanker

Inuit from Wikipedia