Alyse Parker is a social media vegan influencer, or rather she was. She has announced to her 208,000 Instagram followers and her YouTube following that she was doing the 30-day Carnivore Diet challenge and that her “vegan identity crumbled immediately”. Cue: instant fascination in the mainstream media and total shock from her fans.
She has over 730,000 YouTube subscribers and her videos have had more than 90 million views.
The subject of a repentant vegan realising the follies of his or her ways and going home to meat is joyfully embraced by the mainstream media. Two articles on Fox News and Ladbible alone were shared over 24,000 times in less than 24 hours, and the story has been covered virally in the global mainstream press from the USA where Parker is from, to the UK and to Australia and New Zealand.
She has eaten only animal products for 30 days and apparently feels great – “more lean and comfortable in my body”. She wanted, she said, to be able to relate to others after having been a vegan for some four and a half years. “I know what it’s like to lose myself in the identity of a diet culture,” she said, “and to lose true open-mindedness”.
She reported relief from all sorts of medical conditions. Hence her pride in uploading a photograph of herself posing with her dog in front of a lump of raw meat.
Parker, as she states in her Instagram post on the matter, loves “trying new things, running little experiments, and diving into challenges of all sorts”. She list some of her previous experiments as including thirty days without shampoo, one year without deodorant and three years of not shaving her armpits, wearing make-up or using heat on her hair. She has also gone a whole thirty days without social media – some might say it was not long enough.
“Some may call me crazy,” she said.
Carnivore Diet having “amazing health transformations”
The Carnivore Diet first came into her awareness “when a close friend shared with me all of the benefits that he was experiencing by eating this way”. Whilst this sounded ridiculous to her, she “started to hear story after story from my fellow vegan friends jumping ship, testing out the carnivore diet and experiencing amazing health transformations”.
She admits to having felt confused but she had had her “own fair share of health struggles and eventually reached a breaking point where I was willing to try anything to function properly again”.
Therein lies the rub.
Her confusion was understandable, having as she does an online community of some 800,000 people, many of whom were devouring her vegan-related content.
In the best interests for her health, she bit the bullet and gave the challenge a go, and “woke up the next morning feeling more mentally clear, focused, wholesome, and healthy than I had felt in years”.
“This past year of my life has been a journey of remembering who I am separate from what I eat,” says Parker. It is a sign of the times of YouTube fame, and who we give our attention to, that the dietary choices of Alyse Parker have such a fascination for our culture.
Parker was once a proponent of raw food, calling herself Raw Alignment. In her current incarnation advocating the carnivore diet she is telling us that its adherents claim that “meat contains all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to not only survive but to thrive’.
The journey from raw food to all meat is quite an intellectual quagmire.
There is no confusion, however, about the fact that her video is sponsored by a company “focused on making sustainable, grass-fed meat available to more people around the world’. Naturally, she provides a link for that recommendation and will no doubt make a significant income from the recommendation.
Discernment required in a world with many narcissistic social media dietary gurus
This is a wonderful advertisement for the dangers of extreme dieting. If there are any dietary lessons to be learnt from all of this, it is submitted that some objective blood tests and nutritional analysis would be far more helpful than subjective feelings arising after extreme dietary practices.
One explanation for why such an extreme diet could make this social media star so much better is that perhaps she may have been suffering from some form of nutritional malnourishment. Who knows?
No matter what your views are on veganism, going on a diet of only eating animal products for thirty days is extreme. There may or may not be sensible reasons for embarking on an extreme Carnivore Diet from a nutritional perspective – particularly for somebody who may not have been eating a balanced diet for some time. Most experts, however, would agree that the Carnivore Diet is not a long term balanced diet any more than a thirty-day juice fast is.
We have seen this story before, albeit with different names and symptoms.
There is, after all, something rather narcissistic about many social media dietary gurus.
Many of her fans have quite naturally expressed their disappointment and in some cases disgust. They point out that her commitment to animals is non-existent and that her motivations are only health-related. It does, of course, beg the question of why society takes health advice from people like Alyse Parker.
We do need to be discerning about whom we put our trust in for nutritional information and inspiration.