Derek Nance, 33, hasn’t eaten anything but raw meat for close to eight years. Maybe an occasional small salad here or there, but otherwise his meals consist solely of uncooked fat and organs, from animals he personally slaughters.
A divorced electrician from Lexington, Kentucky, Nance claims that he suffered for years from digestive issues—“My body doesn’t produce enough enzymes,” he says—and chronic fatigue syndrome. When his doctors couldn’t help, he experimented with veganism, vegetarianism, and the Mediterranean diet, but nothing worked.
During the winter of 2008, he read about “Native American tribes that lived off of guts and grease,” he says. He had a few goats in his back yard, which he raised for milk. On a whim, Nance decided to slaughter the goats and eat them both raw. He instantly felt better, he says, and hasn’t consumed any animal product that’s touched a stove since.
We called Nance at his home in Kentucky—which he shares with his vegetarian girlfriend, who is remarkably unrepulsed by him—to talk about guts, brains, blood, and other things that are apparently delicious.
Men’s Health: What animals have you eaten raw? Cows, pigs, horses? Anything and everything?
Derek Nance: I’ve tried it all, but I usually stick to sheep and mutton, primarily because they have a lot of extra belly fat, and I eat a fat-based diet.
What about poultry? Any chicken or turkey?
I’ve eaten raw chicken before, but I don’t care for it.
That freaks us out a little.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Laughs.] Why?
Even after touching raw chicken, aren’t you supposed to wash your hands like you’ve been handling radiation?
Because of the salmonella?
You don’t worry about salmonella?
I’ve gotten salmonella before. It’s like three days of diarrhea. It’s not a big deal.
There are so many dangerous things you could get from raw meat. E. coli, worms, hepatitis E. None of that concerns you?
Not really. Our primitive ancestors, even before we learned how to control fire, were basically scavengers. And they had a very powerful immune system that could deal with the parasites and the bacteria. A lot of problems today come from living in too sterile an environment.
You think we’ve been spoiled by stoves?
In a way, yeah. When everything is cooked and sterilized, you don’t develop a natural immunity. So if there’s a little bug on a piece of chicken that’s been sitting on the counter for too long, it’ll kill you. You’re weak inside. Your body can no longer deal with simple bacteria.
What about the nutritional stuff in dairy and grains? Like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and fiber?
I get everything I need from meat, because I don’t cook it. When you cook it, you destroy the essential enzymes and vitamins. I eat the entire animal. I eat all the organs, the eyes, the brain, the thyroid, the liver, the lymph nodes. I eat the stuff that gets cut out and thrown into the dog food at the factory.
What’s your least favorite organ?
I’m not particularly fond of kidneys. It has a strong taste of urine. It’s a little pissy. I’ll eat them, but it’s not my number one. Also, the stomach is kind of an acquired taste. It’s a little chewy. You can spend all day chewing on a stomach.
There’s not enough hot sauce in the world to make kidneys seem appetizing to us.
You get used to it. It helps if you throw it into a blender and make a stomach smoothie.
That is . . . wow . . . that’s literally the most disgusting thing we’ve ever heard.
It’s really good, and it’s probably really nutritious, with the collagen and the probiotics that are in stomachs.
That makes sense in theory. But then you say “Hey, who wants a stomach smoothie?” And we feel like we’re in a horror movie.
It’s about feeding your body what it needs. What better way to nourish a digestive system than with the digestive system of another animal?
Let’s talk about bowel movements. Do you have them?
I have one every day or every other day.
Are you lying to us?
I don’t have any problems with constipation or loose stools. Everything’s pretty solid and moves out fine.
On an all raw meat diet?
The idea that you need fiber to have a bowel movement is a myth. Maybe on a cooked diet, when you’re getting rid of all the enzymes and your body has to produce more stomach acid, that could cause some constipation.
Are we correct in thinking your bathroom smells like the lion cage at a zoo?
Nope. People assume that all the time. I actually don’t even have gas anymore. When I briefly tried eating only vegetables, I had tremendous gas. It was toxic. But with raw meat, I don’t think I’ve had a fart—an actual fart—in almost eight years.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the September 2016 issue of Men’s Health.)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]