Where’s the Real Beef?

Why Eat Beef?

Beef provides you with protein, iron, zinc, B Vitamins – especially Vitamin B12 – iodine, essential omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, carnitine, coenzyme-Q-10, and calcium. Red meat protects the heart and nervous system.

Plants don’t provide certain nutrients that animals do, so it’s harder for vegans and vegetarians to maintain sufficient protein intake. Their diet can also be low in fat with the risk of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and zinc deficiencies. Vegans and vegetarians need a greater reliance on supplements to achieve essential nutritional requirements.  

You may enjoy eating beef, not only because it tastes good, but because it plays a part in your cultural food experience and is therefore part of your identity: hot dogs at a baseball game, a Hot Pastrami sandwich, a beef Shawarma, a pepperoni pizza, a Philly Cheesesteak – you get the idea.

Some Environmentalists Argue Against Eating Meat because Cows Cause Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It’s true for grain-fed cattle, not for grass-fed.

Some environmentalists argue against eating meat because they say that as cows digest their food, they release methane (mainly belching, but also, flatulence) into the atmosphere increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The environmentalists are right, but only about commercially raised cows, who are stuffed with corn and soybeans when they are feedlot finished for the last three to six months before market.

Grass-fed cattle do produce 20% more methane in their lifetime than grain-fed cattle because they emit more methane when digesting grass, and they reach market weight more slowly than their grain-fed brethren, so there’s more time to release methane. But grass-fed cattle’s carbon-footprint is lighter! Grass-fed cattle ultimately release less methane into the atmosphere due to a phenomenon called “carbon sequestration.”

In this process, cattle are rotated across pasture lands. This encourages new grass growth, as the cows’ trampling works the manure and other organic matter into the soil, creating a rich humus. The plant roots also help maintain soil health by retaining water and microbes.

Healthy soil sequesters or traps carbon dioxide in the soil, keeping it from rising into the atmosphere.

As Cattleman Ridge Shinn, from his farm in Hardwick, Mass. said in TIME magazine (Lisa Abend, Jan.25, 2010), “Conventional cattle raising is like mining. It’s unsustainable because you’re just taking without putting anything back. But, when you rotate cattle on grass (Over the course of a year, his 100 cattle will rotate across 175 acres four or five times) you change the equation. You put back more than you take.”

Eat Clean Meat

Eating meat from grain-fed cattle comes with its hazards. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a 23-year-old non-profit dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the American diet through education, research, and activism, along with the cheap GMO grain they ingest, grain-fed cattle are fed bakery waste, rejects from candy factories, and waste from government-subsidized and protected ethanol plants.

Grain-fed cattle are also given growth hormones, appetite-stimulating chemicals, and sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Grain-fed beef also contains pesticide residues from the corn and soybean crops.

What is the True Cost of Grain-Fed Beef Versus Grass-Fed Beef?

Grain-fed meat is cheaper because corporations processing cattle benefit from economy of scale. Take labor, for example. On a grass-based farm, a herd of 700 cows requires the care of three cowboys. On a corporate feedlot, three employees can handle 50,000 head of cattle.

On corporate farms, profit margins can be razor thin, but the corporate owners can still reap huge dividends and are also likely eligible for gigantic tax breaks.

The Weston A. Price states that the hidden costs of cheap food from massive producers includes the huge annual erosion and loss of topsoil from the production of grain; the pollution of the air, water, and soil; and the loss of farm families, farm communities, and small towns throughout the country.

To be able to budget for clean beef, it is best to consume a wide variety of meats – lamb, chicken, pork, wild fish, bison, etc. Organ meats are inexpensive and even more nutrient rich than muscle meats. Eating ground meats is another way to fit eating clean meat into your daily diet. Meaty bones are also good for making stock and broth.

Remember, ideal portions are less than one realizes; gauge your portion of meat from comparing it to the size of your palm.

Grass-Fed Cattle Protect the Environment

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