The choice to eat meat is a personal one. Although I’m not necessarily encouraging anyone to eat meat, for those who to choose to include it in their diets, there is a better way: go grass-fed. It’s kinder to the animals, the earth, those who work the land and ultimately, your body. Here are 5 reasons why meat-eaters should go with grass-fed meats:
1. Grass-Fed Animals Eat Their Greens.
To earn the moniker “grass-fed,” animals such as cattle, bison, goats and sheep must eat well all their lives, living on nothing but their mother’s milk, fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth to harvest. Grass-fed animals eat what they were designed to eat – grasses and shrubs, instead of the hard-to-digest GM grains that make feedlot animals sick, necessitating constant antibiotic treatments. When you choose grass-fed beef, lamb or bison, you’re eating meats that are more nutritious and antibiotic- free, just as nature intended. Keep in mind though, if it doesn’t say grass-fed on the label, you should assume it’s grain-fed.
2. Grass-fed Isn’t Gross.
Today, most commercially available meats come from factory-farmed, mass-produced, feedlot animals because it’s cheap, fast and convenient for producers and consumers. Unfortunately, with mass production, comes countless downsides including sick, confined, stressed-out animals propped up with antibiotics, plumped up with hormones and injected with suspected carcinogens. If that weren’t enough, consider a few of the stomach-turning ingredients found in the typical feedlot animal diet: restaurant waste, animal byproducts, municipal garbage, bubble gum and poultry manure. When you eat factory-farmed products, you are taking in lots more crap (literally) than you bargained for and little actual nutrition to boot. No wonder the stuff is cheap, eh?
3. Grass-Fed is More Nutritious.
As is the case with organic foods, grass-fed animal products pack a bigger nutritional punch than the standard issue factory-farmed, antibiotic-laced stuff. Grass-fed products are higher in beta carotene (Vitamin A), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and Omega-3 fatty acids, which all help keep cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure in check. Grass-fed products are also significantly lower in fat, cholesterol and calories. Better yet, grass-fed is virtually free from the threat of E. coli outbreaks – another major plus for meat-eaters.
4. Grass-Fed Products Are Virtually Artisanal.
While grass-fed products are better for your body and I recommend meat-eaters to switch to it, the minor downside is that animals raised entirely on grass mature more slowly. Consequently, production time is longer and this slower, natural growth process increases the cost of the finished product. However, from a nutritional, ethical and environmental standpoint, I believe that grass-feds’ almost artisanal approach to raising animals is well worth the additional outlay.
5. Grass-Fed is Much Safer.
A report released recently by the Environmental Working Group found that because of the misuse of antibiotics on factory-farmed animals, an alarming amount of the meat sold in U.S. supermarkets and restaurants contained high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), which can spread antibiotic-resistance. This threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating seriously ill people could become ineffective. Superbugs cause infections that are harder to treat and more likely to cause complications — or death.
So Where’s the (Grass-Fed) Beef?
The best way to ensure that the product is truly grass-fed is to talk with the rancher or farmer who raised the animal. If that’s not possible, look to The American Grass-fed Association, an organization that’s working to establish a legal definition of exactly what constitutes grass-fed, labeling with the grass-fed logo only those products that meet its strict criteria. Check out the American Grass-fed Association to find grass-fed producers in your area.
*Image of “cows” via Shutterstock