Did you know that grass-fed beef can help lower your risk for certain cancers and other diseases? Grass-fed beef is a nutrient powerhouse. Keep reading to discover all the amazing benefits of grass-fed beef.
I’ve been purchasing grass-fed beef for my family ever since I discovered all of its amazing health benefits.
For years, I purchased conventionally raised beef from the grocery store without thinking twice about it. I honestly never even thought about whether the cows were grass-fed or grain-fed.
To be completely honest with you, I didn’t even realize there was a difference.
But once I discovered there was a difference and that grass-fed beef is superior in many ways compared to grain-fed beef, I switched to grass-fed.
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Grass-fed beef isn’t just healthier for you, but it’s also better for the planet. And pasture-raised, grass-fed cows are happier and healthier as well.
Cows were meant to eat grass, and when they do, everyone benefits!
Well, maybe not everyone.
Beef companies that are simply out to make a profit don’t benefit. But those same beef companies are a big reason that so many cows are grain-fed rather than grass-fed in the first place.
Cows have eaten grass for their entire existence up until factory farming came along.
Factory farming has made grain-fed beef the norm but there is really nothing normal about it.
The Problem With Grain-Fed Beef
Many people consume grain-fed beef because it’s cheaper than grass-fed, and they like the taste. But there are a lot of problems with grain-fed.
Before I share those problems, I need to preface this by saying that not all grain-fed beef is created equal.
Many different factors determine the overall quality of grain-fed beef as well as grass-fed beef.
The biggest issue I have with grain-fed beef is when it comes from cows that are raised in factory farms/feed lots.
These cows typically have a terrible quality of life, which causes them a lot of stress.
The extreme stress makes them more susceptible to disease, so the cows are usually pumped full of antibiotics.
They are also typically given growth hormones because the main goal is to fatten the cow up as quickly as possible to make the most profit possible.
As I mentioned earlier, cows are meant to eat grass. They are not meant to consume corn. Eating corn can damage their digestive system, making the cow sick, which means the cow is usually given more drugs and medications to keep it well.
The grain feed the cows are fed usually contains GMO corn and soy.
At the end of the day, you are not just what you eat; as the saying goes, you are also what you eat eats.
And that can be pretty disturbing to contemplate, considering all the hormones, antibiotics, and GMO’s grain-fed cows typically consume.
With all of that being said, not all grain-fed cows are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, but many of them are.
And grass-fed cows typically have a much better quality of life than grain-fed cows, which significantly impacts the quality of the beef.
Grass-fed cows are able to graze freely in the sunshine the way God intended them to live.
But just like how not all grain-fed beef is equal, not all grass-fed beef is equal. Understanding the lingo associated with beef is important to ensure you are getting the best quality beef because even grass-fed cows can be given antibiotics, hormones, etc.
Learn The Lingo
There is a lot of different terminology used when it comes to beef. So, I will try my best to break it all down. Below are terms that are often used when labeling beef products.
Grass-Fed: The USDA’s standard for a ‘grass-fed’ beef animal is that it be 50% grass-fed. So, just because the label says grass-fed, that doesn’t necessarily mean the cow was fed grass only.
Grass-finished: Grass-finished means the cow ate grass for its entire life.
100% Grass Fed: This means the cow was fed grass and grass only 100% of the time.
Grass Fed, Grain Finished: This means the cow most likely ate grass for the majority of its life, but towards the end, it was fed grain.
Grass Fed, Grass and Grain Finished: This means the cow most likely ate grass for the majority of its life but towards the end it was fed grain and grass.
Organic: Organic means the cattle were fed a pesticide and GMO-free feed. It can be applied to both grass-fed and grain-fed beef.
Many grain-fed cows are fed GMO grains, but it is important not to assume all grass-fed beef is organic.
Sometimes, the grass the grass-fed cows graze from has been sprayed with herbicide, so that is something that you will want to find out before purchasing if that concerns you.
Also, many grass-fed beef companies are technically organic, even though they may not be certified organic. This is because the certification process can be extremely expensive.
Therefore, many grass-fed beef companies choose to forgo the certification even though the beef is 100% organic.
Hormone-Free: Hormone-free means the cow was not given hormones (grain-fed and grass-fed cows can be given hormones).
Antibiotic-Free: Antibiotic-free means the cow was not given antibiotics (grain-fed and grass-fed cows can be given antibiotics).
Pasture-raised: Pasture-raised means the cattle get a significant portion of their diet from freely grazing on a pasture. Unless it states that the beef is 100% pasture-raised, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee they get to graze freely all day or aren’t fed anything else.
Sometimes, cows are fed a 100% grass diet while still being confined. So, if you want to ensure the company you are purchasing from does not confine their cattle, make sure it is 100% pasture-raised.
Whenever I purchase beef, I make sure it is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic, 100% grass-fed, and 100% pasture-raised.
This information can be challenging to find, especially if you purchase beef from the grocery store.
I prefer to purchase my beef from a local farmer because I can get all my questions answered directly from the farmer.
If you don’t have access to local beef, I recommend contacting the companies selling beef in your local grocery store to get your questions answered.
The Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef
So now that we have gotten all that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. Below, you will discover all the amazing benefits of grass-fed beef and why it is superior to grain-fed beef.
Grass-fed Beef Contains an Abundance of Vitamins & Minerals
Grass-fed beef contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Significantly more than grain-fed. It is an incredibly nutrient-dense protein.
Grass-fed beef contains significantly higher amounts of vitamin E, vitamin D, B vitamins, and retinol than grain-fed.
Below is the nutrient profile of one lean grass-fed strip steak:
- 250 calories
- 49.4 grams protein
- 5.8 grams fat
- 14.3 milligrams niacin (72 percent DV)
- 1.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (70 percent DV)
- 45.1 micrograms selenium (64 percent DV)
- 7.7 milligrams zinc (52 percent DV)
- 454 milligrams phosphorus (45 percent DV)
- 2.7 micrograms vitamin B12 (45 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams iron (22 percent DV)
- 732 milligrams potassium (21 percent DV)
- 1.5 milligrams pantothenic acid (15 percent DV)
- 49.2 milligrams magnesium (12 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamin (7 percent DV)
- 27.8 micrograms folate (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (7 percent DV)
Grass-fed Beef Has a Superior Fat Profile
Not only does grass-fed beef have a beautiful nutrient profile, but it also has an amazing fat profile.
Grass-fed beef is much higher in healthy fats. It has four times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.
Grass-fed Beef Contains Fewer Calories
Grass-fed beef is much lower in total fat when compared to grain-fed beef. This means it is also lower in calories because fat has more calories than carbs and protein.
According to this article, switching to lean grass-fed beef can save you 17,733 calories a year!
Grass-fed Beef Can Help Fight Diseases
As I already mentioned, grass-fed beef contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Due to its superior nutrient profile, grass-fed beef has the potential to fight diseases as well as cancer.
Grass-fed beef is much higher in CLA compared to grain-fed beef. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) contains cancer-fighting properties.
This study showed that women who consume high amounts of CLA had a lower risk of colorectal cancer and possibly breast cancer as well.
You can click here to learn more about CLA.
Grass-fed Beef Contains Less Bacteria
All meat can potentially contain harmful bacteria, but studies prove that grass-fed beef contains far less harmful bacteria than grain-fed beef.
For example, this study found that 18% of 300 packages of grain-fed beef tested contained bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics. Only 6% of the grass-fed beef tested contained the harmful bacteria.
Grass-fed Beef is Better for the Environment
Whether or not grass-fed beef is better for the environment is a highly debated issue. Some say there is no difference between the environmental impact of grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef.
While some say that grass-fed beef is worse for the environment because the cows take longer to get to the optimal size for butchering.
Therefore, due to their longer lifespans, they produce more methane, which increases greenhouse gas emissions.
But there is so much more to the argument than simply the cow’s lifespan.
Feedlot cows contribute nothing positive to the ecosystem, while pasture-raised cows and other grazing ruminants are critical to a healthy ecosystem.
When cows are pasture-raised, their manure returns nutrients to the soil.
According to the Savory Institute, there are many benefits to raising cows on a pasture rather than in a feedlot. Below are just a few.
- restores soil microbial diversity
- makes the land more resilient to flooding and drought
- boosts the nutrient content and flavor of livestock and plants
- grass traps atmospheric carbon dioxide, which can also help fight climate change
You can click here to learn more about the benefits of regenerative agriculture.
Is Grass-fed Beef More Expensive?
Grass-fed beef does tend to be more expensive than conventionally raised grain-fed beef. But it really depends on where you buy it from.
When I started purchasing beef from a local farmer, it was significantly cheaper than the beef sold at my local grocery store.
Keep in mind that I purchase in bulk, typically a half cow each time.
But that was back in early 2020. Unfortunately, the price has significantly increased since then and is now slightly more expensive than the beef in my local grocery store.
Disadvantages of Grass-fed Beef
There are so many amazing things about grass-fed beef, but unfortunately, not everything about grass-fed beef is amazing.
One of the main disadvantages of grass-fed beef is the price. As I mentioned above, it can be significantly more expensive than grain-fed.
Another disadvantage is that it can be challenging to find high-quality grass-fed beef at your local grocery store.
My hope is that the more the demand for grass-fed beef grows, the more the supply will increase, which will make it easier to access high-quality grass-fed beef and drive the price down.
Does Grass-fed Beef Taste Different?
When I first started eating grass-fed beef, I definitely noticed a slight difference in flavor.
But I’ve been eating it for so long now that I’m used to it. I think it’s delicious.
Some people think the flavor of grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed, and there are people who prefer the flavor of grain-fed.
It just comes down to personal preference.
The HuffPost conducted a blind taste test to see if people could tell the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. All but one preferred the flavor of the grass-fed beef.
The folks over at Wolf Oak Farm had a quote that I really liked regarding the flavor of grass-fed beef. They said:
“Eating grain-fed beef is like drinking boxed wine, while grass-fed beef is like drinking a perfectly balanced nuanced bottle of quality wine.”https://www.wolfoakfarm.com/blog/does-grass-fed-beef-taste-and-smell-different-from-grain-fed-beef
I think that is a great way to put it!
Where to Buy Grass-Fed Beef
As I mentioned earlier, I purchase grass-fed beef from a local farmer. I personally think that is the best place to buy grass-fed beef.
It’s typically more affordable, and I think it is really important to support local farmers.
That said, I know not everyone has access to local grass-fed beef. In that case, I highly recommend US Wellness Meats.
I have purchased from them several times, and I highly recommend them.
Their farms use no pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, GMOs, or added growth hormones. Also, their cows are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished.
You can click here to learn more about US Wellness Meats.
You can also go to EatWild.com to search for grass-fed beef in your area or, better yet, join your local Facebook group and ask if anyone knows of local farmers in your area.
I hope this inspires you to make the switch from grass-fed to grain-fed. I know it can be a little more expensive, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.
And if you can find a local farmer, it might not actually be more expensive.
There is so much fear-mongering when it comes to eating meat. We are told it’s bad for our health, and we are told it’s bad for the environment.
But there is a big difference between grass-fed beef and grain-fed and the impact they have on your health as well as the environment.
Our world is becoming much more divided on many different issues, and eating meat, in general, is one of those issues.
But in my opinion, nothing is black and white, and it is really important to seek to understand and learn while holding nuance.
Could factory-farmed, grain-fed beef be causing health and environmental issues? Sure. But that doesn’t mean all meat is bad. It is not that simple.
Cows are amazing animals, and they can contribute positively to our environment and health when they are allowed to live a happy, healthy life eating grass.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this article about the benefits of grass-fed beef. If you have any questions, please ask them below!