We’ve all heard of grass-fed meat and how supposedly good it is for us. But not many of us understand why. It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon and follow the latest health craze blindly, but when it comes to your health it pays to do your homework. We’re here to explain the science behind all things grass-fed and why the grass is always greener when it comes to eating meat!
Aren’t all Cows Fed Grass?!
Ask a small child “what do cows eat?” and they’ll probably tell you “easy – grass!” but with modern farming practices, this isn’t usually the case. Back in the good old day's cattle and sheep roamed free on the land eating their natural diet of pasture. The grass, herbs and wildflowers sprouting from the landscape were more than enough to keep the animals happy and healthy.
Fast forward a few centuries and we’ve got a) more people & b) less land. This increased demand for meat paired with the ever-declining availability of land meant that farmers had to put their thinking caps on. Their solution: cramming animals into barns and feeding them grain-based feed; save on land, save on feed and save on money.
Whilst this may be what’s best for the farmer’s pocket – it certainly isn’t what’s best for the planet, the animals or the consumer.
The times are always changing but it shouldn’t force us into a corner when it comes to the food we eat. It’s 2019 – we’re more health, environment and animal welfare conscious than ever! Sure, grain-fed meat is cheaper and more accessible, but what better to invest in than your health?
When it comes to eating meat there’s a revolution underway. Refusing to compromise on taste, quality or ethics – the grass-fed revolution has begun.
Grass-Fed for your Health
We are what we eat and that goes for animals too. When animals are fed poor-quality, processed grains, the meat they produce is also of poorer quality. On the other hand, when they’re fed a natural diet that their body is designed to thrive on, the end result is tasty, tender and also incredibly nutritious.
Grass-fed meat is actually a lot better for us than its grain-fed counterpart. The diet animals are fed effects their own body composition and in turn the nutrients we gain further up the food-chain. Here’s why grass-fed is the healthier choice…
- Better Balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are the heart-healthy kinds that reduces inflammation, whilst Omega-6 are pro-inflammatory. Grass-fed meat contains 50% higher levels of Omega-3 compared with grain-fed, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent disease.
- Higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) – CLA is a fatty acid found naturally in meat and dairy products. It has been linked with many health benefits including maintaining muscle mass, promoting fat loss and even reducing the risk of cancer. Research has shown that the CLA content of grass-fed meat is anywhere from 300-500% higher than grain-fed – amazing!
- Rich Source of Glutathione – Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants you can get from food. It’s many health-boosting properties stem from its ability to eliminate toxins, protecting cells from damage.
- Higher in Vitamins and Minerals – Studies have shown that meat from grass-fed animals is higher in Vitamins A & E, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Food for Thought
As if that wasn’t enough to make you go grass-fed, there’s more good news. Not only is choosing grass-fed meat better for you, but it’s also the ethical, sustainable and delicious choice!
- Better for the Animals – Animals that can roam free in the great outdoors, eating what they like when they like, are happier and healthier. They get to see the light of day, breath in fresh air and have minimal contact with humans – just as nature intended.
- Better for the Planet – Produces drastically lower emissions and methane compared with modern farming practices. Studies have shown that grass-fed meat has a net positive effect on the environment, making it a sustainable choice for meat eaters.
- Better for your Taste Buds! – Happier and healthier animals make for tastier meat. All that chilling out in fields makes for a stress-free meat that’s more tender, tasty and flavoursome. If you’ve seen grass-fed meat you’ll know that it’s marbled throughout with healthy fats that are as good for you as they taste!
Beware Snakes in the Grass!
A final note on buying grass-fed products: make sure you’re buying the real deal. Where there’s money to be made from premium, quality products there’ll always be someone standing on the sidelines waiting to pounce with a counterfeit version!
As it stands, claiming a meat product is ‘grass-fed’ is very loosely regulated. For someone to legally claim their meat is grass-fed they (amazingly!) only have to feed that animal one blade of grass in its entire life. When it comes to making money, morals just don’t come into it for some people.
Whilst it would be unlikely that anyone would actually do that, what we do see in the industry is a lot of ‘grass-finished’ meat. Farmers can raise cattle in a stuffy barn, chowing on corn feeds their entire life only to be released onto a patch of grass for a few weeks before slaughter. Hey presto – grass-finished. You guessed it – legally allowing them to whack a grass-fed claim on the packet in the absence of any grass-fed benefits.
Pasture for Life
We recommend looking out for the Pasture for Life certification. This ensures that meat, milk and dairy have come from animals that have been fed on pasture alone for their entire life. So, you can be confident that in parting with your hard-earned cash you’re reaping all of the benefits of premium, grass-fed meat with none of the bull!
There may well be a farm closer to you that you think as the popularity of this long term, sustainable approach becomes more and more popular - we were so excited when a farm local to us called Coxtie Green Farm to become Pasture for Life certified. We've never tasted beef quite like it!
So in answer to our previous question – grass-fed meat is not just a passing trend! It’s a movement in the right direction for healthful, ethical and sustainable farming. Together with being absolutely delicious, it seems the grass is always greener!