Photo: Frank Zhang, Unsplash
In the realm of bewildering food trends, there are things that sound a little unusual, but still generally safe for consumption, like deep-fried water, vegan flour-based “chicken,” and pork-flavored ice cream. Then there are people who eat raw meat that has been left to rot for months, even years, claiming that it gets them high.
Thriving among a community of adventurous meat eaters is “high meat,” which refers to basically any type of raw meat that is stored untreated for months before eating. Those brave enough to try the peculiar food have reported feelings of euphoria after consumption, but experts advise against it. For one, there isn’t a whole lot of information online about high meats, besides being discussed over the years in obscure corners of the internet like carnivorous Reddit threads and paleo diet blog posts. The controversial food received renewed attention recently when it became the subject of collective intrigue on Twitter.
This bizarre meat preparation method has people utterly bewildered.
Naras Lapsys, a Singapore-based consultant dietitian, suggested that the high could come from “a whole range” of bacteria thriving in the raw meat.“If you’re leaving this out for anything from days to months to years, who knows what kinds of [bacteria] are going to grow, and some of those bacterias might have chemical properties that are going to give you a high, or hallucination, or a feeling of euphoria,” he told VICE.According to Lapsys, consuming rotten meat is really a “lucky dip” as to whether the bacteria in the meat is going to get you high or give you serious stomach conditions like food poisoning—or worse.
“[Letting meat spoil or rot is] a completely uncontrolled process so you just don’t know what kinds of bacterias could be growing on the meat. There's all sorts of bacteria—salmonella, shigella, E. coli—all of these things that our human body might really struggle with breaking down,” he said. “If we’re eating rotten foods, the question is: will our stomach acid do a good enough job to stop them from poisoning us? And the answer is often no.”Lapsys noted that while some food poisoning may just cause you to feel “very unwell,” serious cases may involve uncontrolled bowel movements, vomiting and dehydration, and damage to your large intestines. He also warned it could lead to rare and potentially fatal health conditions like botulism, which could cause blurred vision, tiredness, and trouble speaking.Various YouTubers have vlogged about eating high meat, with some videos racking up tens of thousands of views. One video shows meat in a jar placed in a “dark cool place for over four months,” until it turns “grey and a little bit slimy” and emits a “very intense” smell. According to the video, the final product tastes like cheese but is also “sour and rotten” with a slimy consistency.Netherlands-based YouTuber KasumiKriss told VICE that out of the three times she ate “high meat,” she experienced euphoric effects twice.
“The first time, I felt elated in a matter of moments. I also experienced minor perceptual changes: colors, music, and sounds seemed somehow richer,” she said. “The second time, after having my first bite, I felt jovial.”While some describe high meat as rotten, she said that what she ate was actually fermented for five weeks. However, KasumiKriss said that she didn’t start experimenting with high meat in pursuit of the famed euphoria, but because she learned about how the Inuit would ferment their fish. She believes that high meat is a probiotic that, like other fermented foods, has “beneficial effects to your gut microbiome.” Frank Tufano, another YouTuber, claims in a video that eating high meat gives a feeling of euphoria similar to the one he gets when he goes under the sun or when eating fresh liver or fish eggs. But there’s little to no scientific research on any of these claims—only anecdotes from dauntless high meat eaters. KasumiKriss also recognizes that there is little scientific evidence to back up these claims.“My personal experiences have been unanimously positive thus far, but this does not mean that a risk does not exist, and I do not give a blanket recommendation on the consumption of high meat,” she said.“I recommend that people do their due diligence, that adults make an informed decision for themselves about consuming high meat, and that people strive to always report their experiences accurately, especially any adverse reactions.”Follow Koh Ewe on Instagram.