It’s been a hot topic for the last few years in the nutrition world.
Is it actually good for us?
Should we be eating or avoiding it?
What kind of meat should I be buying?
In fact, for many years my family and I avoided eating meat (both at home and in restaurants) because we just weren’t sure what to make of all the talk about it. Now, in the last couple of years, I’ve decided that buying small amounts of quality, grass-fed beef and making it at home about once a week is a good thing for my family. And my daughters love it, especially in chili!
Now let’s get into the ‘meat’ of it 🙂
First, should we even be eating beef?
We’ve been bombarded with the media telling us that meat and beef consumption is linked to heart disease, cancer and other health issues. This of course, was scary especially when I thought about feeding meat to my daughter who had a congenital heart condition.
But when I looked more closely, the opposite appeared to be true.
Here’s what the studies tell us (and why I chose a lifestyle that includes meat).
- Meat consumption is not linked to heart disease
- Meat consumption is not linked to colorectal cancer
- Meat eaters are living longer than vegans/vegetarians.
There’s a longer list of studies collected here by Chris Kresser if you want to dive in!
So yes, I choose meat. But it’s not just any ol’ meat. We choose the best beef out there. Let’s talk about what that is…
Grass-fed beef or grain-fed beef?
Well, let’s start with how a cow is supposed to be fed, raised and treated. Cattle are naturally meant to eat grass while having the room to roam free in fresh air, getting exercise. Sounds reasonable, right? On the other hand, a diet full of grains, corn and/or soy is unnatural for a cow and is really just intended to fatten them up to createmore meat to sell.
I love the image above from Feather and Bone. But let’s break it down because there are a slew of health benefits that come from treating and feeding animals properly. Let’s take a peek!
Benefits of eating grass-fed beef
A grass-fed cow’s fatty acid composition is different from a grain-fed cow. In general, grass-fed beef is more nutritious.
- Grass-fed beef usually contains less total fat than grain-fed beef. So gram for gram, grass-fed contains fewer calories.
- It also contains 5 times as much omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. And we know how important omega-3s are and that most people just don’t consume enough of them. Omega-3s are so beneficial for everything from eye health to brain health to heart health!
- While all beef contains high amounts of vitamins B12, B3 and B6. And is rich in highly bioavailable iron (which is important for a healthy appetite), selenium and zinc….grass-fed beef also contains much higher amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E.
- They are not given antibiotics and growth hormones as part of their normal diet, unlike grain-fed cows.
- Cattle live a more humane and natural life compared to grain-fed cows, that are confined to living in a very small area. Grass-fed cows can digest their food and turn it into protein without upset. Grain-fed cows, however, are not evolved to digest grain and they end up having an upset digestive system with possible heartburn and stomach ulcers.
Tips for buying better grass-fed beef
Where to buy grass-fed beef
I’ve noticed grass-fed labels being used more frequently lately. But with any labelling we have to look a little deeper. So I always get my meet from a trusted farmer or shop where I know they are doing their due diligence before bringing in any meat. Most of my meat comes from the Farmers’ Markets in the spring, summer and fall. As the winter approaches I’ll buy and freeze larger amounts of beef to keep us going through the colder months (when grass-fed roaming cows are less available).
Questions to ask before buying beef
Before taking home any beef, be sure to ask whether it’s grass-fed and grass-finished. In some cases the label will say grass-fed but the cow has been fed grains at the end to fatten up, etc. Simply look for 100% grass-fed where possible.
And what the heck, why not ask to pay a visit to the farm and see how the animals are treated yourself? I’ve got a family trip planned for us in the spring so the girls can see where their meat comes from.
How to use your grass-fed beef
I’m a fan of ground beef because it’s quick, cheaper, and versatile. Whether you choose to eat grass-fed or grain-fed beef, I recommend eating it in smaller amounts such as once a week.
Here are a few of great beef-based dishes to try with your family:
What’s your family’s favourite way to use beef?