If you’re one of those individuals who, every time Monday comes around, are dreading their iPhone’s screen time weekly report, chances are you’ve heard of the ‘Liver King’. If not, don’t stress it, we’ll give you a quick run-through. The Liver King, real name Brian Johnson, is a 45-year-old influencer, supplement-brand owner, and self-titled “CEO of the ancestral lifestyle” who is best known online for his raw-organ meat diet and his, let’s say, bulging physique.
With 1.5 million followers on Instagram and 2.5 million on TikTok, it’s safe to say that, although his approach to healthy living is peculiar to say the least, the man has somehow managed to have an impact on netizens around the world. But what does the Liver King actually promote apart from eating raw meat, and what exactly does he risk salmonella infection for every single day?
To keep things short, the Liver King believes that the modern world has made men unconscionably soft and that the only way to change that is by living more like our ancestors. In order to accomplish this, the influencer recommends following his nine “ancestral tenets” (sleep, eat, move, shield, connect, cold, sun, fight, bond), undergoing the most intense workouts out there and, above all, eating more raw liver—the nutrient-dense meat favoured by, as his website puts it, “lions, great whites, and other wild alpha organisms.”
That’s exactly why the Liver King claims he eats about a pound of raw liver each day—a quantity that, according to a recent interview he conducted with GQ, he says is “way too much” for most organ novices, who should start with three ounces, two times a week. Unlike us mere humans, the content creator asserts he can manage the massive dose of folate, iron, and vitamins A and B because he understands the science behind it. As he puts it on his website: “I’m not a hospital, I’m not a doctor, this is not medical advice. I do, however, have a degree in biochemistry.” Surprising, we know.
Since joining social media in just August 2021, the Liver King has amassed an impressive number of followers, who he calls “primals.” On top of that, he’s also managed to get the attention of some of the internet’s most controversial celebrities, including YouTuber Logan Paul who had him as a guest on his podcast in April 2022.
As noted by GQ, even Succession’s Nicholas Braun reached out to the influencer for advice on buying blood in an Instagram comment posted under this post. Meanwhile, MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted in March: “Guys, Liver King is in New York City and I’m losing my mind.”
But the Liver King probably made the most headlines after he caught the eye of American podcaster Joe Rogan, who, during an April episode of his podcast, dismissed his claims about the supremacy of liver as a “gimmick,” saying “he has got an ass filled with steroids, is what that guy’s got.” The raw meat fanatic answered such accusations when speaking to GQ, saying, “I don’t touch the stuff,” instead adding that he’s “grateful to Joe Rogan for bringing me into his ecosystem” and that he’d love to go on the podcast someday.
But that’s where the plot twist comes in. Turns out, the Liver King’s unusual diet might not actually be that healthy at all. In fact, Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University (NYU), told GQ that eating a pound of raw liver each day is dangerous because of Vitamin A toxicity. And Nestle isn’t the only one frowning upon the influencer’s eating habits.
“This diet suffers from a core assumption: that we know that all of our ancestors ate the same food,” wrote molecular biologist Jonathan Jarry earlier this year in an essay. “It lumps together populations that had highly varied intake of animal meat and it is based on incomplete knowledge we have of their eating habits. Moreover, there is accumulating evidence that high consumption of red meat predisposes to cancer, and the apparent absence of fruits and vegetables from the Liver King’s diet can create deficiencies in micronutrients, phytochemicals, and fibre.”
As Futurism further discovered, individuals who had a strong enough stomach to try the raw meat diet also criticised its claimed benefits. In a video titled I Ate Like LIVER KING For an Entire Week…i don’t feel so good shared by the YouTube channel Garage Strength, the host—who clearly looks like a beefcake who would be into this type of diet—concluded in his review, “There’s an established clear deception. His business partner… they’re in cahoots with each other. Everything they’re doing is marketing towards specific groups. I truly don’t believe our ancestors were true carnivores.”
The Liver King’s story is quite a sad one, if you really think about it. He is so worried about looking emasculated that he would rather go as far as to live off a diet that is anything but healthy. And we won’t even mention salmonella, because we’ve already had our fair share of gross mental images for one day…
The latest lark in culinary cuisine is artificial meat substitutes. However, the newest addition to the line of lab-grown foods might take you by surprise—because it’s ‘lion meat’. Yes, you read that right folks. It seems that the predators have caught the attention of the fine dining industry. If the concept of tiger tacos interests you, then keep reading, because they could soon be available at your favourite restaurants in the UK.
From a list including lions, tigers and bears (oh my, indeed), at least two of these animals could very well end up taking over menus in restaurants. If the pitched products manage to pass regulatory checks, that is. A menagerie of select choices of meat for dishes we all know and love—think succulent tiger steaks and exotic zebra sushi rolls—will also accompany the possible sale of lab-grown lion meat in the UK. Though there’s one thing we feel the need to clarify: the meats in question do not come from the animals themselves, instead they’re from the cosy confines of laboratories that create them artificially.
The idea is the brainchild of tech startup Primeval Foods. The meat itself is “cultivated” from the self-declared “future of food” company, and though it is climate-friendly, it raises a few eyebrows—along with truckloads of other questions—as to where our meat comes from and whether we should even be eating it at all.
The Independent detailed that Primeval Foods’ goal is to get its meats into “Michelin-starred restaurants in London,” with even bigger plans to “expand on a larger scale, even to local supermarkets.” So mock meats could end up on our shelves, huh? Let’s find out more about them before our local supermarkets start stockpiling these artificial creations.
What is this so-called “cultivated meat” everyone is speaking of? Well, it is a production method that allows companies to make food from any species—you know, minus all the animal slaughter. How, you ask? The answer lies in animal cells, which are directly harvested and allow these companies to replicate “the sensory and nutritional profiles of conventional meat,” according to the Independent. Instead of the bloodshed, cultivated meat producers grow the necessary animal cells directly, which gives them the chance to replicate all the nutritional profiles and the ever so sought-after sensory experiences of eating the real deal.
This concept helps us all dodge the unnecessary process, which is considered barbaric by many, of raising animals for their eventual slaughter. Considered as a more sustainable practice of meat making, these lab-grown creations also aid the effort to conserve our world’s resources by maintaining land and water, “preserving habitat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and preventing manure pollution and antibiotic overuse,” as the Independent further noted.
However, there are some caveats to this new creation. For one, we don’t know much about the scalability of this fake meat business. As the Independent pointed out, “cultivated meat is not yet produced on an industrial scale.” Along with the “relative uncertainty” that it could actually benefit the planet preservation-wise, in February 2022, the Financial Times reported a “slump” in plant-based sales when company Beyond Meat’s stock plummeted by 11 per cent. The Independent also outlined that, within the last three months of 2021, the company’s losses have amounted to around $80.4 million—more than three times that of the previous year.
On the flip side, scientists do seem to agree that the overall environmental impacts of cultured meat production would be considerably marginal compared to the conventionally-produced ones that is today’s standard. A study, published by ACS Publications in 2011, observed the impacts of cultivated meat and went on to state that its production uses approximately anywhere from seven to 45 per cent less energy than what is used in the production of European meat. The study also concluded that greenhouse gas emissions were 78 to 96 per cent lower, and land usage also managed to get cut down by 99 per cent. Heck, even water usage went down by 82 to 96 per cent. Lab-grown: 1, homegrown: 0.
Primeval Foods and its advocates certainly agree. “People are constantly seeking to discover new foods, new restaurants, new culinary experiences, but the traditional species have reached their limitation on meeting this demand,” said Yilmaz Bora, managing partner for Ace Ventures—which is the London-based venture studio that created Primeval Foods. “It has to go beyond the current beef, chicken, and pork dishes, and it has to come without the expense of nature,” he added.
Furthermore, the company has big plans to host taste testings in the coming months “to give the world a taste of what the next chapter of food would look like,” Bora enthusiastically claimed.
The company thinks its meat could rise above the hit that the food industry has taken in recent years—believing that now is the time to “double down on innovative ideas,” the Independent reported. Not only are the meats in question climate friendly, but Primeval Foods hopes these ‘exotic’ alternatives will also prompt people to explore novel culinary experiences.
So why not be a little adventurous and try a lion burger on your next meal out?