The Ikigai Diet on Vegan vs Carnivore

I worked in my garden on the weekend. The weeds were growing and I needed to cut them.

A Taro potato plant appeared out of the ground.


I wrote about the battle between the vegan community and the ketogenic community, the other day,

Why Is There a Battle between the Vegan Community and Ketogenic Community?

and it is basically the battle between plant-based ways of eating and animal-based ways of eating. In that sense, there is a battle between the vegan community and carnivore community, and this is more apparent since some ketogenic diet practitioners are not necessarily animal-based.

In the last post, I talked more about how we don’t confront each other in Japan in the same way as the people in the West do, today, I would like to share with you my thought on the actual argument since the discussion itself is constructive if you can respect other views. Also, I am neither vegan nor carnivore, so I don’t feel emotional about either argument. I am not affiliated with cultured meat products or grass-fed meat products either, which helps me to be more objective.

To see the whole picture, we need to look at it from so many different angles.

The problem I think is that quite often people look at the issue from one angle such as the nutritional aspect or environmental aspect, and try to argue by bringing the data they found. The data often confront, there are data showing different results and it becomes the question of how you interpret them. And sometimes data themselves are manipulated by corporate interests.

The Nutritional Perspective

From the nutritional perspective, it seems to be better to include some animal based foods. If you stay on a vegan diet, you will have a deficiency in vitamin B12,  omega 3 fatty acids EPA, DHA, and some essential amino acids. You will have to take supplements to obtain them, and in that case, you need to pay attention to how these supplements are produced. You also need to think of food milage because by limiting the ingredients you may have to rely on imported foods to cover the basic nutrients.

However, I don’t think you need to be a carnivore either, you can just add a small amount of animal based foods and if you include fish in your diet,  you will get sufficient nutrients.

The carnivore diet, too, if you are mostly based on animal products, will have a deficiency in fiber, which is critical for your gut microbiome.

So, in that sense, either diet is nutritionally balanced and what I think the best is something like a blue zone diet, where you have mostly a plant based diet with frequent fish consumption and occasional meat consumption.

This way, you can get plenty of fiber, and enough amino acids that you can better obtain from animal based protein. By eating fish you can get plenty of omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and if you eat salmon, shrimp or octopus you can get Astaxanthin, which can activate autophagy.

By limiting the consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy, you can reduce their negative effects considered from the ethical and environmental perspectives.

The Ethical Perspective

From the ethical perspective, it is better to avoid factory-farmed meat as much as possible. The way animals are treated in factory farming, is not justifiable in any way. Even if we need to consume meat for nutritional reasons, we don’t have the right to treat animals in such a manner. Often, people bring the argument of killing other animals for survival reasons is a natural practice to support the meat eating culture, but no carnivore animals treat other animals like humans do. When lions hunt, they do only when it is necessary and they kill the prey instantly causing a short pain.  But the humans confine the livestock in extremely tight and crowded spaces, sometimes dark indoor confinements, for the duration of their lives. It is nothing to do with our survival, it is all done for the sake of efficiency.

As a society, we need to shift from this way of the food production system.

What about grass-fed meat or free-range meat?

That is mostly what carnivore diet practitioners are eating. Most carnivore people are against factory farming, too.

Some vegans argue that you are enslaving the animals regardless of the farming system.

That may be true, it depends on the farm. Some family-scale small farms treat their livestock with love and care just like their pets. The animals are usually much freer than on factory farms.

You can still say that you kill them at the end of the day, so I wouldn’t say it is okay, but it is much better than factory farming.

You have to start from somewhere and the initial step is to shift back to the traditional style of animal farming. You can’t stop the meat-eating custom completely, you need to provide some alternatives for people to shift to. The gradual step is always more realistic.

Yet, I don’t think turning to cultured meat is the solution, and some arguments for veganism are used to promote cultured meat by big corporations, therefore, you need to be careful with this issue.

Traditional animal farming had its place in a sustainable agricultural system.  Certain landscapes are more suitable for pastoral farming, too, so it also depends on the regions.

I think leaving people the option to consume traditionally farmed meat occasionally is a practical solution. Once many people have shifted to this style, the next challenge is to shift to a vegan lifestyle.

Occasional consumption is the key. In that sense, I don’t support a carnivore diet where people eat meat regularly. You might say fish is as bad. That is true, so I avoid farmed fish and eat wild-caught small fish. And fish, too, not eating them every day, just a few times a week. This is better from the longevity point of view that David Sinclair is making. Certain animal based amino acids can activate mTOR and fish contain them, too.

Sustainability and Blue Zones’ Diets

The environmental perspective is a little dodgy because there seem to be some corporate agendas involved.  Data have always been manipulated by corporate interests in the past, too. Fat is a good example from the sugar industry. Some carnivore diet advocates say that meat production isn’t causing climate change as much as it is said to be if you look at the numbers in the United States. It is mostly caused by other industries.

Well, I wonder if they are calculating the crop production in the Amazon forest to feed the animals. Again, the interpretation of data can be biased based on your views even if it has no affiliation with any corporation.

Anyway, we should do away with factory farming from the ethical aspect alone. And to make that shift, it is more practical to leave the option of traditional animal farming.

Instead of changing everything, returning to the traditional agriculture system is the first step. Local, organic, small-scale, polyculture farming that includes pastoral farming. In fact, that was what was practiced in the blue zones. So, shifting back to the blue zones’ lifestyle seems to be the key.

It was sustainable and practical. When you look at the blue zones’ diets, you can tell that. They were mostly a high-carb plant-based diet with fish and occasional meat. Of course, it changes depending on the region. Dairy products were more consumed regularly in places like Sardinia Italy and Icaria Greece.

But it makes sense from a sustainable point of view. If you have ever led a self-sufficient rural lifestyle, you would know that it is the most practical diet.

High carb because grains and potatoes are the most reliable and storable food sources. Beans are storable, too, and you can harvest different vegetables all year round. Fish is abundant in the sea, too, and it is so much easier to catch fish than hunting animals or raising animals, so it was reasonable for them to consume fish more often than meat.

Have you ever hunted and slaughtered animals?

I have, some deer. It is hard work to slaughter a deer and cut it into meat forms.  Much harder than fish. I wouldn’t want to do it every week. Maybe once a year or even if I have to do it frequently once a month.

In Japan, and I think it was the same in Okinawa, meat was eaten on Hare occasion. Hare means time for festivals and celebrations.  It wasn’t something eaten every day or every week. Partly because it was a lot of work.

You need to take this kind of sustainability into consideration. The present dietary arguments are all based on the modern society which depends on the food production system. People talk about supplementation easily, but what happens if the supply stops all of a sudden, which isn’t unlikely given the current state of the world.

You don’t need to go self-sufficient, but at least think of a way that is doable in your local community. Can you produce all those ingredients in your region?

The Psychological Perspective

The psychological aspect can’t be ignored. We are emotional beings. We can’t just shift our lives because the data say. Even if you convinced people with all irrefutable arguments, some people just don’t want to do it, or it isn’t their priority. It isn’t just because they are lazy or they don’t care, they may be conscious of other issues such as racial equality or child labor and they are doing their best in their field. They are not just ready to be a vegetarian or vegan. Does it make them less ethical than you because they don’t practice veganism? Do you practice what they are concerned about?

Some people just don’t like to be told what to do or what not to do. The more you tell them, the stronger their resistance will be.

You want to provide them with some options and freedom to choose.

In that sense, there is no correct diet. Each person can choose based on what they know and what they are capable of within the environment they are in.


The Ikigai Diet and Bio-Hacking