(The photo above comes from looking out my bedroom window. These are happy cows that graze all day long on the green grass in Loudon County VA. I have on more than one occasion been known to have a conversation or two with these ladies as I head out for a work out. Despite the odd look from one or two of them, I think I am starting to grow on them.)
Animal Protein isn’t for everyone BUT If you are a meat lover and a succulent steak or juicy burger is what you crave-don’t you want the best tasting beef you can find? Truth is, if you do love beef, your beef should taste grassy and flavorful and if you don’t already demand grass fed beef you will once you try it! There are many reasons to choose Grass-fed beef over their commercially raised counterparts not the least of which is that the flavor and quality is about 1000 times better. Grass-fed beef is naturally higher in Omega 3’s, which are great for reducing systemic inflammation throughout the body, not to mention naturally lower in fat. Meat is muscle, muscle is intended to be lean. The marbleizing effect most restaurants pride themselves on is excess fat resulting from an over-weight, improperly fed, unhappy cow. Your steak should have a grassy rich flavor. Cows are ruminants which means they were designed to eat a grass based diet; they have multiple stomachs designed to digest and absorb the nutrients which subsequently get passed on to you.
Perhaps you have heard of CAFO (Commercial Agriculture Feeding Operation). CAFO’s are the largest producers of beef as well as methane gas thanks to the massive amount of waste produced by the cattle. This same methane gas is also the largest growing contributor to the damage to our ozone layer and to environmental problems. Cattle raised in large commercial feeding operations are usually fed a diet of corn, animal by-products (i.e. dogs, cats, fish, chicken, pork and other cows!) and antibiotics. Why antibiotics you ask? Corn (which is like crack to a cow) makes them sick, not to mention that living in their own waste along with thousands of other cows is bound to cause a need for antibiotics. Although the grass fed movement isn’t highly regulated yet, do look for the grass fed symbol noted below. Grass fed cows are required to be pastured for at least the first 6 months of their life if not longer and to be fed a diet of grass and hay. In most instances cattle is fed a partially grain based diet in the last 6 months of their life before rendering. The corn allows the cattle to gain weight quickly subsequently adding to the marbling effect society holds so dear. When shopping at your local farmers market ask whether their beef is both grass-fed and grass-finished.
A side note on Dairy. The milk industry would have us all believe that milk and dairy is absolutely necessary in order to get the calcium we need to grow big and strong. In fact, the USDA even made dairy its own food group. The reality is we don’t NEED dairy unless of course you are a baby cow and need to put on a quick few hundred pounds. Dark leafy greens will in fact offer up even more calcium without the fat! Just imagine a bowl full of glorious kale. I love ice cream and cheese just as much as the next person, despite being lactose intolerant. If you absolutely can’t live without milk, consider the organic option or consider milk sourced from your local farmer. The big stink over milk comes from our fears surrounding antibiotics and rBGH (growth hormone) residue in the milk. Many will argue this residue is destroyed during the homogenization process, and this decision is yours to make. What I will tell you is that milk comes from lactating cows. Cows don’t lactate continuously throughout their life; as with humans, they only lactate after giving birth. Milk cows are usually bread every 12-13 months. Commercially raised dairy cattle are impregnated more frequently and are often given hormones to increase reproduction and milk production. For human moms, breastfeeding can help with the loss of baby weight and is super healthy for baby, but could you imagine being forced to do it for years on end on penalty of death? The cows are then milked by the hundreds via electronic milking devises with all the milk combined and stored together in large vats. So basically you are drinking milk from several hundred cows, not all of whom were particularly healthy or happy. Not quite the same milk Laura Ingalls came to love in that little house on the prairie.
If the information above isn’t enough to sway you, consider looking at it from a different perspective- all living beings are made up of various forms of energy and per the laws of physics energy is neither created nor destroyed. So when you consume food you are basically consuming the energy of the food your food ate.