Jordan Peterson might be the most famous carnivore in the country. That sounds like a joke, maybe one at the expense of Peterson’s appeals to traditional, steak-eating masculinity, but it’s literal, too. Dr. Jordan Peterson, cultural critic and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, eats nothing but beef. To be totally upfront, he also drinks club soda, which is allegedly different somehow, nutritionally, from water.
This all came out on what must have been a groundbreaking July episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Peterson opened up about his latest dietary developments on episode #1139 of the podcast. In an appearance on an episode that aired in February, Peterson discussed how his daughter’s devastating chronic health problems were eventually cured when she started severely restricting her diet, and his own experiences with cutting out carbohydrates.
In the July episode, though, Peterson admitted that he’d gone all-in on his daughter’s apparently perfect diet: 100 percent beef, no vitamins, no vegetables, nada. Just meat. In the first episode of Rogan’s podcast, Peterson explains that his original improved diet (chicken and greens) cured his snoring. In the episode that came out in July, he claimed that the cow meat exclusive diet he adopted in June had now also cured his gingivitis, psoriasis, and mood disorders.
What I find so funny about Peterson’s claim about his diet is the total sincerity he has in the belief that eating nothing but beef, contrary to almost all known medical knowledge, is some kind of panacea. It’s a crazy idea, and Peterson knows it, but he and his daughter both insist that their anecdotes are valid evidence.
Which is the other funny layer to it: Peterson is mainly famous for his remarks on controversial topics such as the wage gap and the patriarchy, neither of which Peterson believes exist. He often couches his arguments in appeals to statistics and a brand of scientism that counters “postmodernism,” which Peterson associates with a totally subjective attitude to the truth.
In other words, Jordan Peterson thinks that his ideological opponents, the “Marxists” and “postmodernists” he frequently mischaracterizes, need to stop talking about lived experiences and start engaging with the hard facts. At the same time, he flies in the face of almost all medical knowledge to treat 100 percent cow meat as the best and safest diet for a human being.
Another strand of Peterson, one he might be more comfortable identifying with, is as a self-help guru. This is also, arguably, where his real credentials lie — he is a clinical psychologist, after all. In his books, Peterson stresses that discipline and rules should govern one’s life and will reduce personal chaos. He characterizes the act of cleaning one’s room as the proper starting point for living a life by taking responsibility — and, maybe counterintuitively, treats his diet like a clickbait article advertising “One Weird Trick!” for fixing all his physical ailments.
But maybe I should slow down. After all, Peterson doesn’t actually advocate that anyone else adopt this diet. His daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, does sell one-on-one counseling for those also considering the all-beef-all-day diet, at a rate of $75 bucks a pop. (She has no medical credentials.)
Neither Mikhaila nor Jordan Peterson act as though they are medical professionals, so good on them for at least being that responsible. And yet, I think there’s still something concerning about these conservative Canadians’ cow consumption. Peterson doesn’t only rail against political correctness and subjectivism, but also tribalism: His most common accusation against the left (broadly defined) is that they behave like a tribe and believe what they believe based on what’s popular.
But what does it say for Peterson, the enemy of tribalism, when he willingly embraces a miracle cure because of the anecdotal evidence of his daughter? Believing members of your own tribe above all others despite overwhelming contradicting evidence coming from the outside represents the worst possible outcome of tribalism, yet here Peterson exhibits it in a very literal sense.
In his July appearance on Rogan’s podcast, Peterson acknowledged that the new diet involves some strange side effects. He related a specific instance in which, after going “cold turkey” on all meals except hot cow, he ingested some apple cider and was consequently bedridden with persistent thoughts of doom for an entire month.
He also claims that he didn’t sleep a wink for 25 days, which should be very worrying, either intellectually (the longest time anyone has ever spent awake that has been recorded was less than half that time) or medically (extreme symptoms of sleep deprivation begin after only 36 hours). So, if you find yourself tempted to accept Jordan Peterson’s philosophical claims or his beef-eating habits, consider taking it with a grain of salt.