how this can be true, right? Well, it is. Not only are there
many health benefits to grass fed or pasture raised
beef, there are also many environmental
benefits too. Some of the environmental
benefits have a lasting impact on a global scale,
and some of the benefits improve the local conditions. Some
of these advantages are obvious, but most are not.
How Grass Fed Meat Will Save the Planet
Top 5 Environmental Advantages to American Grass Fed Beef
Grazing cows can help to maintain the landscape.
Grass fed cattle promote a more sustainable agriculture.
Pasture raising cattle result in healthier (and
more) animals (not just including cattle).
environmental benefit to grass fed beef,
is that with the help of the rancher, the cattle actually
help maintain and enhance the prairie grass and
farm landscape. If the cattle are rotated properly
between pasture fields, they can actually help the grass
to grow faster and to spread.
cattle can take a barren (but grassy) field and
turn it into a fertile area. How? Nearly everything about
their grazing is beneficial. Even just by eating the grass
they are helping it to grow.
this can't be true, right?
A grazing cow eats
the grass. --> The grass goes into the first chamber of
its stomach and eventually gets regurgitated. The grass
seeds get separated from the blades of grass. --> The seeds
get blown away or directly implanted into the ground (the
hoofs of the cow also help the grass to implant by pressing
it into the ground).
It's that simple. Grazing cows can help
the grass grow just by eating it. But let's not forget that
if the cattle are grazed properly, they can also help the
grass to grow with their natural fertilizer!
What's great about their manure is that it doesn't
contain any chemicals from hormones, so it's great for the
I don't want to
bore you with the facts, but 60% of all the corn, and 50%
of all total grains grown in the United States goes to feed
livestock. So the next time you are driving down the interstate
somewhere in the Midwest, think about how much of the grains
we actually consume versus what is planted.
Imagine what the
same boring Midwest drive would look like if we didn't have
to plant all of these crops to feed livestock. Instead of
seeing corn in the summer and nothing but dirt in the winter,
we would see grass.
Grass Fed & Pasture Raised Livestock
Corn Fed Livestock
Crops in the spring and summer, bare fields the
rest of the year.
Fertile from natural manure.
Fertile, but only because of the synthetic fertilizers
used to make the crops grow faster.
This option is definitely sustainable, because it
provides a natural fertilizer and ground cover to
protect the land.
This option is not sustainable. It uses a lot of
pesticide, insecticides and synthetic fertilizers
to encourage crop growth. Most importantly, it wastes
valuable natural resources to grow crops that won't
even be used for human consumption.
Don't get me wrong.
We do need crops, but should we sacrifice our environment
to plant them for animals, when there is a better alternative?
+ Cattle = More Animals = Healthier Environment
animals equal a healthier environment. Why?
Because doing what
is natural for grass fed cattle meat is going to make healthier
animals. If we could restore natural grasslands for cattle
to graze on, we would be helping out other animals to live
a healthier life.
Try to answer the
following questions about the American grasslands:
Can you name five animals that live in the American
grasslands? Did you name the coyote, red fox,
badger, monarch butterfly, eagle, deer or prairie dog,
or did you choose one of the hundreds of other animals?
Can you name one animal that lives on the American
grasslands that is endangered species? Answer: bison,
black footed ferret or prairie chicken are three of
the many endangered species.
Can you name one animal that lives in a grain field?
You can probably think of two: rats and mice, but there
are a few others.
The point of this
quiz is to show how many animals depend on grasslands to
live. The size of the American grassland is decreasing for
many reasons that really can't be controlled. However, the
growing of grains so that they can be conveniently fed to
livestock is a controllable reason, and it is an irresponsible
How can you help? Well, if you only want to do one thing
it's this: switch to fresh and tasty grass-fed beef. One
person won't make a difference, but if more and more consumers
make the switch, the beef industry worldwide will be forced
to explore organic grass fed beef.
Grass Fed Cattle = Cleaner Water
There are many
pollutants that are filtered out of your water before you
drink it. Some of these pollutants can't be controlled,
but most of them are the result of everyone trying to make
the most profit right now. Let's look at some of the water
pollution that is caused by having thousands of cattle in
The water cycle
is a circle. If it rains, the water that goes into the ground
goes with it, and eventually ends up in a river or lake.
But not just water can flow into a lake.
of manure in one place leak into the ground soil and contaminate
the water supply. Wait, you said that manure (in
proper amounts) was good for the soil. Don't worry, it is.
But if you don't use it properly, or if you don't dispose
of it properly, it will cause serious problems.
Manure is naturally nutrient rich.
If it gets into
lakes or rivers, it will cause huge amounts of algae
to grow. These algae can kill the fish, because they
eat away the fish's food source.
The ammonia from the manure can combine with other
chemicals – the result is acid rain. Acid rain also
kills the fish in rivers and lakes (and ruins your paint
job on your car).
Chemicals, such as antibiotics and hormones, which
are injected in
grain fed cattle, have been found in
lakes and rivers. These are the same hormones that are
banned from meat in the European Union because they
have been shown to cause cancer. Do you want these in
How Can Switching to Organic Grass-fed Beef Help this Problem?
organic beef meat ranchers use a more natural
approach. The beef animals have to eat something,
so they are given enough land to graze.
If grazed properly, the soil can absorb their manure as
a nutrient, not as waste.
beef doesn't use growth hormones on their cattle
to accelerate growth. So the water (and the meat) will not
be harmed by these dangerous chemicals!
a burden on the water supply in general, but pasture raised
beef animals don't overload the water cycle with waste and
of meat accounts for nearly 20 percent of the planet's
carbon emissions. In the book “Meat: A Benign
Extravagance", that will be released in February 2011,
author Simon Fairlie argues that a moderate consumption
of meat can be healthier than a vegan diet. His argument
stems from the fact livestock best feeds on hard-to-use
biomass in most agricultural systems. Animals from small
farms are adept at fighting off predators and pests that
help to enrich the soil.
contributed the following statement to Time magazine:
"... [O]f course, it is not what we eat individually --
it is what we eat as a whole society that has Meathe
impact on the environment. Some vegans may continue
their vegan ways. I'm arguing for meat in moderation,
not to eradicate meat entirely, nor to overconsume it."
Fairlie's arguments is how meat eating is the target of
misinformation spread by vegetarians and vegans, who use
the popular argument that a meat-free diet is easier and
friendlier on the environment and that industrial animal
farming is one of the worst crimes committed against the
planet. However, less than 5 percent of US livestock
facilities produce 40 percent of farm animals. Hundreds
of animals cramped in a small area leaves tons of waste,
which causes an unnatural form of raising animals and
leaves a negative environmental impact. However, Simon
Fairlie argues animals raised according to natural laws
have a positive effect on the planet-
The Pros of Eating Meat from an Environmental Point
Time magazine (providing a bigger picture in his book,
Meat: A Benign Extravagance) that many of the statistics
used by vegetarians and vegans to make meat eating look
bad does not tell the whole story. One such statistic is
the UN's popular statistic stating that meat accounts
for 18 percent of the world's carbon emissions.
According to plan, this statistic makes cattle account
for all deforestation, rather than development and
logging. Another widespread fact is that the ratio
between plant foods used to make meat is around 5 to 1.
Fairlie makes the argument that this only takes into
account providing animals with foods for human
consumption, which is popular in the United States.
Feeding livestock (cattle as on example) their true
diets (grass, which is not consumed by humans) the more
accurate ratio is 1.4 to 1. Small farming also spurs
fertilizing soil and getting ride of predators and
pests. Plus, animals thriving on food waste and whey
(e.g. pigs and cows) are producers for the environment.
One caveat is
that Fairlie's assumptions advocate organic farming to
fully sustain the argument that meat eating is good for
the planet. Cutting our meat consumption by 50% would
also help. Many considerations (such as industrial
farming practices) must be in place before confirming
that meat eating is good for the planet.
Factory Farming is Bad for the Environment
Most of the
meat raised in industrial farms in the United States is
not healthy for you, the animals, or the environment.
The waste generated by animals in smaller farms is used
as fertilizer, which is healthy for the environment. On
the contrary, the waste that an industrial farm
generates is so large that it cannot be used as
fertilizer. As a result, the excess of waste is held in
big lagoons or spread onto nearby crops. The waste can
frequently get to groundwater or land in rivers, lakes,
and other big bodies of water where there is a thriving
eco-system. Farm Sanctuary, an organization that helps
protect farm animals, explains how this phenomenon is
affecting the environment:
of waste produced by farm animals in the U.S. is more
than 130 times greater than that produced by humans.
Agricultural runoff has killed millions of fish, and is
the main reason why 60% of America's rivers and streams
In states with
concentrated animal agriculture, the waterways have
become rife with pfiesteria bacteria. In addition to
killing fish, pfiesteria causes open sores, nausea,
memory loss, fatigue and disorientation in humans."
Other alarms raised are the fact animals raised in
unsanitary environments and fed a poor diet are given
antibiotics to prevent illness. Seventy percent of the
antibiotics used in the United States are used for
agricultural purposes, so it accounts for a high
percentage of human antibiotic consumption.
When animals are treated with antibiotics their weight
increases four to five percent. This weight augmentation
is translated into a price rise of the meat that the
consumer buys. The use of antibiotics also favors an
antibiotic resistance, making it necessary to increase
the doses given to the animal and consequently, the
price that the end consumer has to pay. Needless to say
that these operations are responsible for catastrophic
food recalls such as the recall of a half billion eggs
(due to a Salmonella outbreak in August 2010) and the
2008 recall of a million pounds of beef. Here's another
reason to take a
complete probiotic supplement on a daily basis.
Is Meat for Everyone?
We can assert
that the farming strategies used in the United States
are harming our health and the environment.
When referring to meat consumption, please note that
am only advocating organically farmed, properly raised
livestock that has space to roam, availability to
natural foods free from antibiotics and other enhancers
used in conventional farming. My point is that everyone
can benefit from animal protein, from a clinical point
of view. This benefit could be small or big (some
cultures consume less meat). Meat is not necessary as
part of a carb heavy diet, but other animal proteins
like eggs and raw organic dairy could be used (in lieu
of big slabs of meat!)
bodies require the same ratio of omega 3 to omega 6
fatty acids, in fact, many people's engines rev
faster with lots of vegetables and little animal
proteins. However, many would fall ill under this diet.
In addition to fat/carb/protein ratio, the quality of
meat and its cook state (well done, rare, medium rare,
etc) also has an effect on health benefits.
Turn Your Back
on Factory Farms
Most people in
the United States get their meat from factory farms that
use unsustainable industry practices, a condition which
must be revolutionized in order for meat to become
environmentally friendly. As long as you recognize what
the caveats for health meat eating are (rules that
protect the animals and the planet as well as your
health), the ill effects of factory-farmed meat will
become more apparent. Another reason, grass-fed
meats are best.
consumption takes into account the following:
be grass-fed and organic
be bought from local farmers (the farmer's market in
your area is an excellent source) who can vouch for
antibiotic and pesticide-free farm practices.
should be in their natural environment, living in a
natural setting and eating natural foods.
should understand how best animals, plants, soil,
water, and habitat work together to produce a
self-sustaining, health ecosystem.
organic food accounting for less than 2 percent of
food production (with local food under 1 percent),
we have a long way to go towards health farm
practices. Supporting health farm practices by
taking the above items into considerations will have
long lasting effects on your health and the
environment while advocating for the safety of farm
Organic Beef = Better Soil + More of It
Soil erosion is
a major problem for farmers. Why is it a problem? What causes
this problem? The problem is that the top layer (and most
fertile layer) of soil will blow away if there is no ground
cover on it.
we prevent soil erosion from happening? Of course
one way is to plant grass that can be grazed on by animals
such as Texas grass fed beef animals. If
grazed, grass fed beef can decrease the
amount of soil eroded. Because more pasture raised
beef equals less grain that needs to be produced, you have
even less erosion.
So pasture raising
helps save the valuable top layer of soil, but it also helps
to make the soil more fertile in two ways. First, it
fertilizes the soil with manure. Second, it allows the fields
that would normally be planted to rest and regain their
It's really time
to start shopping for healthy grass-fed-meats!
Don't you agree? American Grass Fed Beef
is what our parents were raised on - let's get back to