The Carnivore Diet and Your Pocket: How Costly Is It?

You’re ready to go on the Carnivore Diet but you think it may be too expensive! Dollar signs flash before your eyes and you almost toss the idea out the window. Is the carnivore diet really that expensive? Is being on a more conventional diet less costly? In this article, we will look at the cost impact of eating all meat….all the time.

  1. What exactly comprises the carnivore diet?

What precisely can you eat on the carnivore diet? The diet stresses the importance of leaning heavily on red meat, particularly on fatty cuts that will help you meet your daily calorie needs. Foods that are on the green list of the carnivore diet include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Organ meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Lard
  • Bone marrow
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water
  • Bone broth

If your plan is to adhere to the strictest version of the carnivore diet, you’ll eat only what’s on the above list; however, some people choose are more flexible and may include some foods that come from animals indirectly, like milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Others still, take coffee and tea.

  1. How much food does one consume under the Carnivore diet?

The perception is that a meat diet is exorbitantly expensive and can put one in the poor house. In reality, when compared to other diets or eating lifestyles,  it is surprisingly one of the more affordable options.

Can a Carnivore diet be more affordable than being Vegan or going, Keto?

Without a doubt! The generalization aside, look at all the extra ingredients you end up purchasing on the other diets. For example, you are buying expensive avocados, cashew and almond butter, cacao products, oils, teas, herbs, seasonings, kombucha, raw snack like cookies and brownies and occasionally, some very costly supplements.

Supplementation can really add up at the till…consider the vitamins, mushroom teas, elixirs, MCT oils, protein powders and the rest of the stuff you find in the health food store or supplement aisle. As a carnivore diet generally does not include all these additives, it ends up being quite affordable.

  1. Buy Cheaper Cuts

When you are new to the carnivore diet, you might need to take leaner and choosier cuts as your body is not yet accustomed to this diet and in order for you avoid digestion issues and minimize keto flu symptoms. As your tolerance increases, you can step down to fattier cuts and ground beef and you’ll find that these are much cheaper options.

Another way to approach this is by starting with the different ratios of fat in ground beef. For instance, start off with a 90/10 for a week, then an 85/15 and then an 80/20 and a 70/30 and so on.

Also of note is that fattier cuts make you more satiated and sometimes you just end up eating less meat-based on pounds. You will see that you will get full quickly on a 70/30 burger as compared to a 90/10.

  1. But whats on sale

Lots of grocery stores have a weekly ad. Look out for which stores have meat offers. You could find that you save greatly this way.

  1. Buy your meat online-

Online meat shopping has major benefits. You have a large variety, you can order the less prominent meat selections like organ meat and liverwurst, and you can double down on coupons or buy in bulk.

  1. Buy the whole animal

The ultimate way to go carnivore and to save money, in the long run, is to purchase a full cow or pig. The savings are tremendous and if you have a non-defrost freezer, you could potentially have meat for half to a full year, naturally depending on how much you consume.

  1. Buy sections

You could also buy sections of an animal i.e ½, ¼,1/8 and so on…

Here is a very general breakdown of a grass-fed organic certified ranch costs for a full cow.

The average hanging weight of a full cow is 500 pounds. (Hanging weight is basically all the meat minus blood, head, etc.)

A whole cow costs with butcher fees approximately $3200 to $4400. We are looking at total costs of 8.80 per pound on the high end and $6.40 per pound on the low end.

(You can get even cheaper if you purchase from an uncertified organic farm or ranch or non-grass-fed.) Non-grass fed beef is fattier but they are usually fed grain and soy which depending on who you talk is controversial from a health and environmental perspective.

When you buy the full cow you are given the choice of cuts you want and how thick you want your steaks, so there is a certain amount of customization. Depending on your cut selection you end up with around 100 to 150 pounds of ground beef too.

This is by the far the best deal because you are getting all the cuts like ribeye steaks, filets, flanks, strips, and briskets.

  1. How much freezer space do you need?

The general rule of thumb is one cubic foot of space per every 35-4o pounds of packaged meat so a quarter of a cow will fit into a standard freezer chest that has five to seven cubic feet.

Auto Defrost or Not???

Be careful what type of freezer you use to store your packaged meat. There is a huge difference between an auto-defrost freezer, most likely as the one in your kitchen, and a non-defrost freezer. The auto defrost actually has heating coils in its walls which are used to heat up, thaw the ice and then freeze again. This is not ideal because if you have meat next to the walls it’s basically doing the same thing. Your meat is thawing and defrosting over and over again which means it will not last as long and if not eaten within 3 or so months it may spoil.

If you are going big and getting that full cow and expect to keep it frozen through the year you will need to invest in a non-defrosting chest-style freezer which is very affordable. Investing in a non-defrosting freezer will pay for itself over time.

How else can you keep meet longer?

At the point of purchase, the butcher will generally give you the option of standard paper style packaging or vacuum-sealed. The vacuum-sealed will last longer but there is an increase in price due to material and the time it takes to vacuum seal everything. It will, therefore, be up to you to decide whether you can afford the extra and have your meat last longer or keep your meat for a shorter period at a cheaper cost.

Another fun way to purchase your meat is by going to a livestock auction. You will get to see the quality of the cow, pig, goat or chickens you are buying and bid up to where you are comfortable at. A lot of the auctions help support programs like 4H which in turn help ranchers and their children with education and best practices. Plus it’s a fun and exciting experience.

  1. So, is a carnivore diet affordable?

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to reduce your meat costs, even if it won’t be quite possible to cut it down to the bare minimum. For anyone attempting to lose weight on this diet, it is advisable to stock up on eggs and cheese as they are great fillers to keep you going.

What is of note however is that this lifestyle is affordable! You will find yourself eating out a lot less and you no longer need to snack, on anything at all. Think about the health care costs associated with poor health. Can you afford not to go carnivore?


  1. Mbg Food (2019): The Carnivore Diet: Here Are The Benefits & Risks Of Going Meat-Only. Retrieved from
  1. Wild Lumens (2019): How much does the carnivore diet cost? A surprising breakdown. Retrieved from
  1. CarnivoreStyle (2018): How To Do Carnivore Diet On A Budget. Retrieved from
  1. The cool Carnivore (2019): Keto diet, healthy eating, and lifestyle advice from a meat-eating carnivore. Retrieved from

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