Owsley "The Bear" Stanley

Owsley Stanley, AKA “The Bear,” best known for the sound system he created for The Grateful Dead and manufacturing a very high quality LSD, was a carnivore for 50 years.

From at least the mid-1960s until his death in 2011, The Bear practiced and advocated an all-meat diet, believing that humans are naturally carnivorous He argued that rare red meat was a complete food and that a diet of such is optimal for human health and longevity. 

He argued that the body could not store protein or fat as adipose tissue, but would instead be simply excreted if consumed in excess, and that only consumption of carbohydrates and sugars could make someone obese. 

He also theorized that diabetes was not technically a disease but actually the term for the damage wrought by insulin, and that adopting a zero carb diet would treat this so-called disease.

He was WAY ahead of his time!

Here are some of his pearls of wisdom collected from Active Low-Carber Forums.

I have been eating the natural human dietary regime for over 47 years now. I do not eat anything whatsoever from vegetable sources. The only things veggie I use are spices. My diet is usually 60% fat and 40% protein by calories. I used to eat 80/20 when younger and about twice as much quantity of meat also, but that seems too much energy at my age, which is 71- even though I am very active. I think the body actually becomes more efficient with energy as you age, but I have no way of proving it true. Otherwise, my body today is very like it was at the age of 30. I figure most of what we call ‘aging’ is due to insulin damage to the collagen and other body structures. No carbs = no insulin. I don’t heal quite as fast when injured as I did as a youngster, however. But I have few wrinkles, and my skin is still strong and elastic.

At this point I would like to point out that a zero carb diet does NOT cause ketosis. The body rapidly adapts within a few weeks and begins consuming the ketones from fat metabolism. A fully keto-adapted body excretes no ketones in the urine. A metabolic by product, ‘ketone bodies’ are actually a special kind of carb, and they substitute for glucose at the structures which use it. They have the added advantage of making you feel good- and well fed.

The body cannot store dietary fat, there is no mechanism for transport across the adipose cell’s wall, nor can it ‘burn’ carbs, which actually are toxic in more than the tiny amount required by the brain and a few other structures. The body converts dietary carbs (all convert to glucose as they are absorbed) into body fat. The conversion mechanism requires insulin which is very tissue damaging. It is correct to say that dietary carbs are the base cause of both heart blockage and diabetes, (not a disease). 

I must warn all of you that it is very unlikely that very many will be able to eat as I do over the long term, or in fact, to follow any diet for long which is much different from the one you were trained to as a baby/child. This is because diet is learned much the same way language, dress and behaviour is, and is buried deep and inaccessible, a part of your acculturation/socialisation. The very thing which makes us human is that deep and almost instinctive complex of behaviour. It requires a powerful will and a determination to change, in order to succeed in adopting the ‘extreme’ diet which this website is based on. Even those who are morbidly obese, as powerful a motivation as any I can imagine will have ‘cravings’ for what I call ‘non-food’ (all vegetation and carbs) which will eventually prove irresistible. A few may manage to stay on the diet for years, but unless you are prepared to stick with it for maybe ten or more years, you will drift back into eating what I consider poison. For some reason my mum was not interested in forcing me to eat the veggies I hated so, and i was able to eat only what I liked- mostly meat, especially hamburger and the fat those at our table would cut from their steaks. Still I had massive struggles abandoning the ‘civilised diet’. 

I suggest that no non-food be taken home, none allowed in your fridge or pantry (out of sight is hopefully out of mind). Make a request when seated in a restaurant that the bread bin be removed (but please leave the butter), and when ordering, request that the vegetables be removed from the plate in the kitchen (just say you don’t like to see ‘good food go to waste’).

In the absence of dietary carbs, the body does not need to produce insulin and the diabetes essentially ‘disappears’. You will never be told this by a doctor because then you would be free of the need for medical intervention and your daily ration of drugs. All the assorted ills diabetics suffer are actually caused by insulin, cataracts, heart attacks, bad joints, etc. These are the kind of damages done to the tissues by insulin, and the injected kind is a far more powerful damaging agent than the endogenous hormone. Blood monitoring on a zerocarb regime will quickly confirm the stability of blood glucose.

I have eaten nothing but sirloin steaks for months on end, but I do like eggs cheese, many cuts of meat, even organs like liver tongue kidneys and brains (although the Inuit never eat any of them- and most likely neither did the true paleo hunters). Fish and chicken are nice too, in fact I have never ‘met’ an animal I would not eat. The one meat that needs to e eaten sparingly is liver, which contains a lot of starch (glycogen) and vit. A which is toxic in excess. Excess may be as little as one ounce of the liver of an animal feeding on fish.

I had all sorts of people tell me things like: you can’t grow muscles after 40” (a doctor said this!). Don’t push yourself too hard, you’re not a kid anymore. Then there were the guys who for some indecipherable reason were convinced that you couldn’t possibly grow any muscles if you didn’t eat a lot of carbs (they were fat, of course – well muscled, but fat). When I started to grow more muscles than I had ever in my life had, and pretty quickly at that, the voices were silent. I cannot understand why a muscle, which is almost purely protein, should need carbohydrates to grow, and in fact it doesn’t. It does, however need fats, so if there isn’t enough of them you are in trouble. Straight protein (no carbs, no fat) is not good for you, and in fact can prove quite toxic. I recommend no more than 5 grams a day of carbs, more than that seems to defeat the fat-burning stimulation of the diet.”

You can read all The Bear’s posts here: https://justmeat.co/archives/active-low-carber-forum-posts/

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1 comment

Thank you , an interesting article. He seemed so knowledgeable.


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