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Why Grass-Fed Meat Is Better for Your Health and the Environment

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Greass fed cow

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our CAFO's vs. Free Range page.

For centuries, cows and chickens were raised outdoors on pasture, enjoying sunshine, clean air and their natural diet of grass and insects. These animals were healthy, enjoying the outdoors. Humans who ate their meat benefited from a nutrient-dense food high in healthy fats, proteins and vitamins.

With industrialization and factory farms, this has changed. Animals are confined in small quarters, never seeing the light of day and fed harmful waste and byproducts, along with growth hormones and antibiotics. Meat from conventionally raised animals lack the many nutrients found in grass-fed or "pastured" meats.

"Happy" cows and chickens

Pastured meat comes from chicken and cows allowed to live outdoors, enjoying sunshine and their natural diet of grass, plants and insects. Because pastured animals are given their natural diets, they remain healthy and only infrequently require antibiotics to treat infections. Chickens are often protected from predators by living outside during the day in large, movable pens, allowing them to graze freely on grass.

This is a stark contrast to conventionally raised animals, confined to crowded, unethical living conditions. These animals are often fed chicken feces, sawdust, cheap candy and genetically modified grains. Growth hormones and antibiotics are given routinely.

Health benefits of grass fed meats

The fat profiles from 100% grass-fed animals are similar to that of salmon. Pastured meats have the following health benefits:

Higher in beta-carotene 
Higher vitamin E levels 
Improved ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 ratio 
Higher in total omega 3 
Higher in B vitamins thiamin (B1) and riboflavin (B2) 
Increased amounts of minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium 
Higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid 
Increased levels of vaccenic acid

A California State University study found that pasture-fed steers contained seven times the amount of beta-carotene compared to grain-fed animals. Beta-carotenes are precursors of vitamin A, an essential fat-soluble vitamin important for bone growth, reproduction, vision and immune function.

Vitamin E levels are four times higher in grass-fed cows than in conventionally raised cattle. Vitamin E is linked to lower risks of heart disease and cancer.

 

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