If you’ve never heard of "high meat", count yourself lucky. A ridiculous diet trend that is being pushed by (you guessed it) some internet users, high meat is defined as any meat that has been left to decompose. Most people would then proceed to throw the rotting meat away, but some believe that this is the perfect point to chow down. That’s right, some people are eating full-on rotten meat.
As far back as 300,000-400,000 years ago, remains of burnt bones and hearth fires have been discovered, alluding to the fact that early humans would cook up the remains of a hunt before dinner. Many years later, this practice has continued because it wipes out any nasty bacteria, makes the meat more easily digestible, and generally just tastes better – this could just be long-term conditioning, but some scientists believe microbes make "off" food smell terrible for their own selfish gain.
However, some people believe that cooking is overrated, instead preferring to snack on some hearty raw – sometimes rotten – meat. When we say rotten, it isn’t "left out overnight and gone bad" rotten; we are talking months or even years of decomposition, bacteria on the surface, completely different color rotten.
This video shows a YouTuber eating meat that he claims is an entire year old.
The reason this has been called "high meat" is due to a reported feeling of euphoria that comes along with eating the decomposed meat – it's hard to tell whether that is from an unknown mechanism, or just dehydration and delirium after all the stomach upsets. Some even claim to prefer the taste, which is often described as cheesy and more acidic than your average steak, while others just report feeling good as a result of the diet.
But is it dangerous? Well, it purely depends on how the meat is left. Eating uncooked meat is not a new, nor necessarily harmful trend – steak tartare involves raw beef and has been enjoyed for centuries, while meat is regularly left to dry out into various treats, such as jerky and cured meats. Iceland even has a delicacy of Greenland shark, called Hákarl, that is fermented for months on end, sometimes involving simply being left in the ground. There is a huge difference, however, between rotten and fermented: fermentation is a controlled process using specific environmental conditions to grow beneficial microorganisms with the meat; rotting is where the meat has spoiled and is contaminated with harmful microbial life.
While some high meat is simply fermented, others eat completely rotten food. This exposes them to a host of harmful and even deadly bacteria that would love to make a home inside your gut, including Staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and more. Unsurprisingly, consumers of high meat report some serious upset stomachs, described as being "explosively incontinent", and that is lucky considering the potential dangers. Acute food poisoning can leave some people hospitalized and others with days' worth of pain, nausea, and vomiting.
One Twitter user shared their experience of eating some completely rotten beef, complete with flourishing bacterial colonies and all the trimmings.
While animals, such as dogs and cats, are capable of eating pretty much whatever looks like meat, humans are not. Our stomach acids are unable to remove particularly nasty bacteria lurking in foods like meat and eggs – and although some will be fine after eating rotten meat, others may fare much worse. So, if you must forgo the classic oven and snack on meat that is months old, at least learn the correct fermentation process to save some serious issues down the line.