I’m sure most of us have seen meat at our grocery stores being labeled as grain-fed or grass-fed, but what does it really mean and does it matter which one we eat? We all know how important organic and hormone free meat is to our health, but why does it matter what the animal is fed?
The way animals are fed have a huge impact on the composition of the meat. Today animals are mostly fed grains, but originally animals were grazers, they roamed free and ate grass.
Lifestyle differences between grain-fed and grass-fed cows
Conventionally raised cows live on “feedlots” which are usually very poor and unsanitary conditions. The cows are fattened up at a very rapid pace using grain based food made of soy and corn. Plus they are given drugs and hormones to make them grow quicker, along with antibiotics so they don’t catch disease from the unsanitary conditions. The cows are there for a few months then sent to a slaughterhouse.
Grass-fed cows are usually born and raised on the same grassland where they stay for the remainder of their lives and will feed on the grass in their pasture. They are free of hormones and antibiotics, the animals are usually happy and healthy, they use sustainable farming practices and supports local farming.
So what’s the difference in meat quality between the two?
The food they eat has a major effect on the nutrient composition of the meat. Here is why grass-fed is a better option than grain-fed meat-
- contains less fat which means less calories
- has 7 times the amount of beta-carotene than grain-fed
- has 5 times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed
- has 3 times more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is a cancer fighter
- has 4 times more vitamin E
Grass-fed beef can be more expensive so if that isn’t an option for you, grain-fed meat is still a good choice as long as you stick with antibiotic and hormone free options. Red meat is incredibly nutritious. It’s loaded with B vitamins, minerals and tons of protein which is great for our muscles and brains. It’s a great addition to your diet, just rotate your meats and don’t eat it too often since it still is high in saturated fats and can be harder to digest for some people.