Should We Eat Raw Meat?

eat raw meat

There are some diets, like a total raw food diet, that advocate eating raw meat for the health benefits it brings, but is it healthy to eat raw meat? Fish is commonly eaten raw, especially as sashimi or in sushi, as long as it is handled properly so you do not get a bacterial infection. 

Chicken and turkey can have salmonella bacteria. When it comes to some meats, like pork, rarely will someone eat it raw because of the worms it can have, which can cause an illness called trichinosis. For health reasons around the globe, most people will well-cook pork due to this reason.

Eat raw meat – beef?

My own parents will eat a steak less than well done in the United States, but when they tried to buy beef off of a slab that hung outside in the open air at the local market in Cuba (where they were missionaries before I was born). They took the beef home to cook it up and said that a worm started crawling out of the meat right in the skillet! The worm was trying to get away from the heat at the bottom of the cut of beef.

Although the worm would have died and the meat could have been eaten if they would have cooked it thoroughly, they chose to throw it away. If they had consumed it raw they could have gotten intestinal parasites, gotten ill, and may have had to go to the doctor or even abandon their missionary work. To eat raw meat in these kinds of circumstances may not be wise.

When it comes to beef in the United States, it is relatively safe to eat raw meat.  There is steak tartare, and rare-cooked steak (which is hardly cooked at all except seared on the outside), and I have even known people who like to eat hamburger raw (despite that bacteria can inhabit it and make you sick). The irradiation process now kills a lot of the surface bacteria, but also allows more dead bacteria to pass through ‘safely’ in the hands of our meat markets.

However, should humans be eating raw meat, even if it is “clean”? Should we not cook our food?

Eat raw meat or cook it?

According to Richard Wrangham, who wrote Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, there is evidence that goes against the thoughts behind raw food diets, in that humans have been using fire to cook food and meats and other foods for many, many tens of thousands of years… well over a million years even.

Raw-foodists will regularly eat 70-100% of their diet raw, which can include raw vegetables and fruits, raw nuts, soaked and dried grains/beans and seeds, and even raw or dried meats. The understanding is that you get necessary enzymes that are necessary for health, but you remain at risk for food-borne disease, parasites, and bacteria. However, drying food has a certain benefit as microbes and bacteria generally cannot live in it, yet it is still considered raw. You can dry meat and you will still eat raw meat, just in dried-raw form. Smoke contains carcinogens, so smoked meat is not as healthy plus it is technically cooked.

Drying also kills things like the small amounts of agaratine in raw mushrooms that should never be consumed because they are toxins that are carcinogenic. Drying destroys them, but allows the rest of the constituents to come through for their health benefits to the human body.

But if we should eat raw meat is the question. According to Wrangham in the book mentioned above said (p. 19) that  in a study done on women who were raw-foodists the weight loss was significant, and their health got better, but long-term consequences were a different story.

This included that 50% of the women stopped menstruating altogether, and an additional 10% “suffered irregular menstrual cycles that left them unlikely to conceive.” Even the majority (82%) of those who eat raw food (and may eat raw meat) actually do eat cooked food, including cooked meats.

Amino acids, which are necessary for health, are also available through meats like beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, and even eggs, whether you eat raw meat or cooked meat.

There are definitely health benefits to a raw food diet, but perhaps, like anything else in life, it is good to temper and balance your diet to include a wide variety rather than limit yourself completely to one direction. So far, at least in much of the world, it is more dangerous to eat raw meat than it is safe.


The author of this story is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at and Vancouver Health News at  National Nutraceuticals, Inc. also owns and operates a third health news portal focusing on medicinal mushrooms at, plus our newest portal at

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