Just like humans were not meant to eat grains,
most animals also do better without grains.
Grain-, soy- and by-product foodstuff-fed cows, pigs, poultry and farmed fish are often sick. Antibiotics and hormones are often used to try to control diseases and accelerate their growth. They spend their life in unethical conditions, in cages, on concrete, without ever seeing grass or the sun, treated cruelly and left in their own excrements. Is that the kind of animals you want to get your meat from? And eat?
Animal protein is an important nutritional component of a REAL food-based diet, such as the Paleo diet or a low-carb high-fat diet. Choosing grass-fed, pastured and free-range meat, fowl and their eggs can make you feel good, knowing that the animal it comes from had a happy and natural life. In addition to being better for the environment and more sustainable (3), it also is a healthier choice.
Grass-fed and patured meat is not only better for your own health,
but it is also better for the health of the planet.
Here are at least 7 nutritional reasons
(without even counting the ethical and environmental reasons) to choose the best quality meat and eggs you can get your hands on:
1. More omega-3 fats and less omega-6 fats!
Some fats (i.e. omega-3 fats) are beneficial, while others (i.e. omega-6 fats) should be minimized. In short, most people are getting too little omega-3, which are mostly anti-inflammatory, and too much omega-6, which are mostly pro-inflammatory. Such an unfavorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is said to contribute to many chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, some cancers and arthritis to only name a few. An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1 or 1:1, which is closer to what our ancestor hunter-gatherers used to eat, is considered ideal for optimal health.
Choosing meat from pastured animals can help you improve the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of your REAL food-based diet.
Meat: pastured animals contains 2 to 4 times more omega-3 fats. If the animal is fed grains at some point in its life, especially toward the end, its omega-3 fats get lost. Pastured beef, bison and elk have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of less than 2:1, while their grain-fed CAFO-raised counterpart (CAFO = confined animal feeding operations) have a ratio of over 6:1. Switching to meat from pastured animals can help you balance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. (4)
Eggs: Eggs from free-range hens have anywhere from twice to 10 times the omega-3 fat content, depending on the season and type of pasture they forage on, which give them a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 to 5:1 (compared to the 12:1 ratio of cage-eggs). (1, 5)
2. More vitamin E!
Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is lacking in most people’s diet. Vitamin E has anti-aging properties and can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
Meat: Meat from pastured animals contains 4 times more vitamin Ecompared to grain-fed animals and about twice the vitamin E compared to cows fed a grain-based diet supplemented with large amounts of vitamin E. (1)
Eggs: Eggs from free-range hens have double the vitamin E. (5)
3. More CLAs!
CLA refers to conjugated linoleic acid is only produced by ruminants during their digestion process. This fat has known anti-cancer properties.
Meat from pastured animals contains 3 to 5 times more CLAs.
4. More nutrition
(beta-carotene, B-vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin A, minerals)
Animal food, such as the meat, seafood and eggs that occupy an important part of a REAL food-based diet, have the highest nutrient density compared to most other food groups, which means that they contain the most nutrients per calorie. (6) And meat from pastured animals as well as eggs from pastured hens have an even higher nutrient density!
Meat: An excellent source of iron and zinc and higher in B-vitamins, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium and selenium. Grass-fed lamb also has twice as much lutein, an eye-protective antioxidant, compared to its grain-fed counterpart. (1)
Eggs: Eggs from free-range hens have more vitamin A, vitamin D and someB-vitamins, especially folate, the natural form of folic acid, and vitamin B12. (1, 5) These eggs also contain more lutein and zeaxanthin, two important nutrients that can help your eyes stay healthy. (1)
5. Decreased contamination risk
Almost every year, recalls of large quantities of contaminated meat are made. Meat from animals raised in CAFOs is more likely to be contaminated.
Pastured-raise animals are healthier and less likely to be infected and contaminated with dangerous bacteria that can make you seriously sick, such as Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and E. Coli. (1)
Knowing the farmer where your food come from and the conditions under which the animals you eat are raised is another way to lower your risk of being ill and suffering the potentially life-threatening consequences associated with some of these infections.
Antibiotics are routinely given to animals raised in CAFOs to try to prevent diseases. This practice is now contributing to the increased antibiotic resistanceof the various bugs. If we are infected with one of these super-bug, it will be more difficult to treat it quickly and effectively. (1)
Pastured-raised animals are antibiotic-free!
Many animals raised in CAFOs are given hormones to promote accelerated growth, which increased productivity and revenues. However, some of these hormones are left in the meat and eating hormone-containing meat coulddisrupt your hormonal balance. Infertility and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are two conditions that can be worsened by the consumption of exogenous (not produced by the body) hormones.
Pastured-raised animals do not receive hormones! They grow at a slower rate and will help you maintain your own normal hormonal balance. Adopting a REAL food-based diet like the Paleo diet can help you manage your PCOS symptoms and improve your fertility.
Want to know more about the different reasons
why I chose to eat good-quality meat?
Check out this presentation I made:
References: (1) Robinson J. Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products. Eatwild.com website. 2009. (accessed January 2012) (2) The Weston A. Price Foundation. Find a Local Chapter. The Weston A. Price Foundation website. 2012. (accessed January 2012) (3) Keith L. The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability. 2009. (4) Rule DC, and al. Comparison of Muscle Fatty Acid Profiles and Cholesterol Concentrations of Bison, Beef, Cattle, Elk and Chicken. Journal of Animal Science. 2002; 80: 1202-1211. (accessed January 2012) (5) Karsten HD, et al. Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 2010; 25(1): 45-54. (6) Cordain L, et al. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81: 341-54.