The Animal-Based Diet Food List: Simple Foods for Optimal Health

Liz Smith

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You’re probably here because you came across something called the “Animal-Based Diet”. Well, you’ve come to the right place. So what exactly is the Animal-Based Diet, and what’s actually allowed on the Animal-Based Diet food list? 

Coined by Paul Saladino, MD, the Animal-Based Diet is a way of eating that prioritizes high-quality meat and organs over plant-based foods. After eating a diet consisting of ruminant meats, saturated fats and organ meats, he was able to cure his debilitating autoimmune issues. (If you want our detailed experience on the animal-based diet, check out this article.) Since then, Saladino started his own company called Heart & Soil – a desiccated organ meat supplements that have changed thousands of people’s lives and health for the better (ours included.)

So what’s the problem with veggies and other plant foods? Saladino points out that plants contain something called phytochemicals – aka, plant toxins. Most – if not all – plants don’t want to be eaten, so they release different types of chemical compounds as their own defense mechanisms. 

While we may not feel the effects of plant toxins immediately, they have the ability to cause inflammatory reactions within the body and often do serious damage to the gut. What most people don’t know its that these plant compounds actually inhibit nutrient absorption, meaning you’re probably not getting as many nutrients as you think from that spinach smoothie.

Although Saladino made the diet mainstream, it’s far from new – it’s also called an ancestral diet because it’s how our ancestors ate. And it’s also how a lot of the world’s indigenous tribes still eat. Unlike leafy greens and other plant foods, grass-fed meat is loaded with bioavailable nutrients that we need to survive. Organ meats, specifically liver, are also nature’s true superfood and considered one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. 

People turn to the Animal-Based Diet for many reasons – mostly because their currently “healthy” diets aren’t working and they’re ready to actually feel their best. 

Want to start eating an Ancestral diet? Here’s the full Animal-Based Diet food list and some resources to help you eat your way to your best health. 

Animal-Based Diet Food List

Low-Toxicity Foods for Animal-Based Diet

These foods have the lowest “plant toxins” and the most bioavailable nutrients. You can eat these freely on the Animal-Based Diet. 

Animal Foods:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Pasture-raised pork
  • Pasture-raised chicken
  • Pasture-raised lamb
  • Organ meat (or organ meat supplements)
  • Bone broth
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Organic pasture-raised eggs (corn/soy-free)
  • Raw organic honey
  • Raw or A2 dairy


  • Sweet fruit: including apples, oranges, berries, pineapple, pear, melons, banana, mango
  • Non-sweet fruit: avocado, olive, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, cucumber


  • Tallow & suet
  • Grass-fed ghee
  • Grass-Fed Butter

Medium Toxicity Foods for Animal-Based Diet

These foods should be eaten in moderation and contain some levels of plant toxins. Depending on the foods, cooking, steaming and soaking can help eliminate some (but not all) of the toxic chemical compounds found in these foods. 


  • White rice
  • Roots & tubers, including sweet potatoes, yams, carrots

Plant Foods

  • Fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut & pickles 
  • Artichoke hearts

Herbs & Spices

  • Rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, mint parsley
  • Ceylon cinnamon


  • Coconut
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil


  • Low metal fish, including wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, shellfish (Saladino recommends eating these sparingly)

High Toxicity Foods for the Animal-Based Diet

These foods are NOT recommended on the Animal-Based Diet. They have the highest concentrations of PUFA and plant toxicity out of all foods.



  • Spinach
  • Brassica: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish, radishes, watercress, bok choy
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Asparagus
  • Lettuce & salad greens, including green leaf, romaine, mixed greens, arugula
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Cassava
  • Alliums (onion, garlic, leek)
  • Nightshades (tomato, white potato, eggplant, peppers, chili peppers, goji berries)


  • Wheat, oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth
  • Brown rice

Fats & Oils

  • Seed oils: corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, peanut

Grains, Nuts & Seeds

  • Chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Coffee
  • Almond, walnut, cashew, brazil, macadamia


  • Chocolate
  • Cassia cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cumin, coriander, black/white pepper, paprika)
  • Kimchi


  • Peas, green beans, soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts
  • Coffee & coffee beans

Animal Foods

  • High heavy metal fish, including tuna, king mackerel, halibut, sea bass

Animal-based Diet Food List FAQs

Should I start the Animal-Based diet cold turkey?

That is totally up to you. You can start by trying out one meal a day, or one meal a week to see how it goes! You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Going 80/20 animal-based to regular diet is where a lot of people start, but its totally up to you. 

What about other foods not listed on the Animal-based food list?

This is where you should use your own discretion. A good rule is to *prioritize* quality meat, saturated fats and the fruit listed above. If you’re adding in other foods and not having any adverse reactions, you should be fine. 

Are other Types of meat bad?

Poultry, fish, and other wild game are still fine – but the nutrients in those meats aren’t as dense as they would be in ruminant animals. To get the best quality of any type of meat, focus on finding meat that is labeled either organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised or regenerative. 

How much fat, carbs & protein should I be consuming?

Click here to use Paul Saladino’s calculator to determine how much protein, fat and carbs you should be eating depending on your exercise routine and goal weight. 

Where to Buy Grass-Fed, Regenerative Meat

We know that finding quality meat can be extremely difficult (and expensive) depending on where you live. Here’s our go-to places for quality meat and food:


Force of Nature Meats

This Texas-based regenerative ranch sells everything from ground ancestral bison to pasture-raised chicken cuts. Our favorite: The ancestral chicken blend (trust us – its the best ground chicken you’ll ever eat.)

Perennial Pastures Ranch

This San Diego-based regenerative ranch offers a delicious ground beef, ground ancestral blends, a wide selection of premium beef cuts & more. Our favorite: the ancestral blend & flank steak. 

Butcher Box | The Hive

Butcher Box

One of our favorite subscriptions is from Butcher Box. The company offers an assortment of grass-fed beef cuts, heritage pork and sustainable fish options. Bonus – they regularly run promotions and you can even score free bacon for life

One Final Note

The one thing to remember about the Animal-Based Diet is that you can customize it to your own needs. If you can’t handle dairy, don’t consume it. If you really love some foods listed outside of the “lowest toxicity” list, have them. If you’re going out to eat for a special occasion, don’t stress over it – just be mindful and use your best judgement. These are simply guidelines that can be adjusted as needed. 

Only YOU can decide what is best for your bioindividual body and needs. Get creative with recipes, have fun, and leave a comment below if you’re diving in to the Animal-Based lifestyle!

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Editor’s Note: This article is not medical advice. We encourage you to consult with your trusted healthcare provider before making any decisions regarding your health & wellbeing. There are also some affiliate links throughout the article -The Hive uses commission from our affiliate advertisers (not from you) to fund operations of the business. 


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