The Benefits of Grassfed Beef

What are the benefits of eating meat from an animal raised and fattened on grass? There are many; and they aren't just health benefits, there are also environmental, social and economic benefits. Plus, you know where your meat is coming from, and that the animals have been well cared for and treated with respect.

Benefit Highlights:

  • High in omega 3, the healthy fat
  • 400% more Vitamin A than feedlot beef
  • 78% more beta carotene then feedlot beef
  • Cattle raised and finished on grass produce less carbon than cattle raised and finished in a feedlot

Health benefits

Dr. Tilak Dhiman of Utah State University is one of North America's leading researchers on the relationship between CLA (conjugated lineoleic acid) in meat and milk and how it relates to human health. When he spoke at a conference at the University of Nebraska, he said that he was convinced that grass-fed food products were not only preventative but regenerative. The potential health benefits of grass-fed meat are: grass-fed meat is lower in fat and calories than grain-fed meat, it is also rich in the good fat; omega 3 fatty acids, which are linked to blood pressure reduction, healthy brain function, and the slowed growth of many types of cancer.

Grass-fed meats are also a good source of conjugated lineoleic acids (CLA's), another 'good fat'. The potential benefits of higher CLA in grassfed meat suggest that it is anti-carcinogenic, reduces body fat, anti-diabetic and anti-artherosclerosis (coronary artery disease). Dhiman said that 100 percent grass-fed meats and milk were up to 500 percent higher in CLA than meat and milk that were fed conventional high-grain diets. The key is 100% grass-fed.

Grass-fed foods also have 400% more Vitamin A and have 78% more beta carotene than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed meat is also less likely to carry the virulent strains of E. coli; there is reason to believe that the E. coli found in grass-fed meat is much less likely to survive the acid our in stomachs, whereas the E.coli found in feedlot beef has acclimatized itself to the acid environment in their stomachs as a result of their high grain diet, therefore being able to survive the acid of the human stomach.

Environmental Benefits

When animals are raised on pasture this encourages biodiversity, improves soil fertility and eliminates waste management issues that arise from the confinement of animals. Feeding animals on grass reduces greenhouse gases in the air due to a process called carbon sequestration, where the grasses and legumes found in well managed pastures are able to draw excess carbon dioxide from the air and return it to the soil as carbon. Also, buying from your local farmer will help keep him in business and keep his farm viable so that his land won't be turned into housing subdivisions and shopping malls.

Social benefits

Purchasing grass-fed meat has an impact on the animal as well as human welfare. Animals raised on lush green pastures experience far less stress over the course of their lives as compared to a factory, feedlot raised animal. They aren't raised in overcrowded pens, they are able to get exercise, get plenty of fresh water and sunshine. The animals that are raised on grass are very likely to be moved regularly to new pastures so they are less likely to become sick and need antibiotics, as compared to their feed lot counterparts who have antibiotics added to their daily ration.

Economic Benefits

Farmers who raise grass-fed animals are able to market and receive a fair price for their goods when they sell to informed, socially responsible consumers who are willing to pay for the true cost of the product, rather than a product that has been subsidized to produce the conventional feedlot product. Small scale family run farms often hire local workers to help produce their product, buy local products and participate in other local activities.

Choosing to purchase grass-fed products is an important decision. The production of grass-fed products helps heal our environment. It ensures the welfare of the livestock and it helps the farmer realize better working conditions as well as a fair income. Plus, grass-fed meats are healthier and taste better!

Click here to read a great article on the benefits of grassfed beef for health and environment.

(written with the help of Allan Nations book "Farm Fresh" and Shannon Hayes cookbook "The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook")