Grass- Fed meat vs Grain-Fed and Why I Stopped Eating Vegan



The two main reasons why I decided to stop eating meat and dairy was because I believed that all animal products were harmful to human health and I did not want to feel guilty of taking the life of another living creature for my own pleasure. If you are curious about how my vegan experience went, I will say in short that I did really good. I did not feel lethargic, I loved everything I was eating, I stopped taking my Iron pills I was prescribed for being low, my daily headaches went away, I never craved meat and cheese, it opened me up to new foods and new flavors, I began to be more aware of how my body feels and how foods give me energy, I learned a lot about nutrition, my skin cleared up tremendously, my hair got a strong shine to it, I woke up feeling great, and I did not find it a challenge to eat vegan and feel good. I love fresh food and I’m a big foodie, so I had no problems trying out new foods and getting creative with my meals. I seem to have adapted well to veganism and raw vegan.

Towards my last phase of eating high raw and meatless, I slowly became exposed to an ancestral way of eating that included plenty of animal products, especially animal fats, and how people were regaining their health back or getting healthier with this way of eating. Before this, I was never exposed to “grass-fed” beef and raw (unpasturized) organic dairy. Sure, I knew about pasture-raised chicken and free-range chicken, but I still held to the belief that animal products are not meant for human consumption. When I learned about Paleo, Primal Blue-Print diet, Weston A. Price, the ancestral way of eating,and many in depth studies of historic cultures who led healthy lives with an animal-based diet, I began to realize that our ancient food that helped us stay alive, perform, fight, and develop our brain was indeed red meat and good animal fats from animals that have spent their whole lives living a natural lifestyle out in the open field under a lot of sunshine. The problem with meat, really, is how the animals were being treated before slaughter, what the animals were fed, the environment of the animals, how the flesh is cooked (high heat), the type of oils the meat is cooked with, and the chemicals and preservatives added to raw packaged meat. Animal foods are healthy if prepared and consumed in its traditional way. You eat bad quality meat, you will get sick.
When I refer to “grass-fed” meat, I am writing about “grass-finished” meat. All cattle are raised on grass, but towards the end of their living phase, the farmer either keeps feeding the cattle pasture, or it finishes off the cattle with corn/grain and a supplementation diet. It comes down to the bulk diet of the cattle, if it was mainly corn/grain fed or mainly grass fed. 100% grass-Fed animals are animals that have been fed their natural diet of pasture. Grain-Fed animals are animals that have been fed their unnatural diet of corn, soy, and other starchy foods to fatten them up quick, spend less money on animal feed, and make the meat taste better.
Ever since adding back in plenty of animal protein and fats, my energy and moods have remained good just like how I was doing with raw veganism, but, I’ve been able to put on muscle faster and loose the belly fat (or water retention?) that high fruitarianism (calories mainly from high sugar fruits and little fat) gave me. My skin cleared up a lot with raw fruitarian and had a glow to it, but also, ever since adding in raw grass-fed milk and other dairy, my skin has remained the same, if not better. So far, with eating plenty of animals fats and proteins, I have experienced no mucus, no dandruff, no acne, no headaches, no constipation, and no fatigue. The meats I buy are grass-fed and most of the time local, I eat raw dairy, pasture-raised eggs, and raw grass-fed cheese.
More and more people are becoming aware of the dangers associated with foods being cooked at high temperatures. I have also experienced this myself. Whenever I eat something that’s been fried, or cooked heavily (such as well-done dried out meat, overcooked root vegetables) I feel dehydrated and sluggish right after I’m done eating. Charred meat is not even meat anymore. The invention of the pasteurization of foods has also brought a decline on the health of our population. Pasturization was introduced in order to kill bacteria and to make the product have a longer shelf life. With animals being crammed in together in a dirty industrialized feedlot and suffering health problems, no wonder there is harmful bacteria in the meat and dairy. Therefore, pasteurization was introduced in order to kill the bacteria. However, pasteurization (high heat “cooking”) also damages the structure of the food and reduces the nutrient content. High heat cooking results in the formation of HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines, a known carcinogen) and PAHS (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, another known carcinogen that is a byproduct of fuel burning and high temperature cooking of meat). Cooking with high heat also exposes us to AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) that cause advanced aging in humans and inflammation. The best dairy you can consume will be from a small local dairy farm, or you might be able to find it at the Farmers Market. Thankfully in Santa Cruz, I can find raw milk at the health grocery store that comes from Central California. The brand is Organic Pastures. Not really local, but close enough for me.
High heat cooking, pasteurization of food, sick animals, is what makes animal food products harmful for human consumption such as raising our bad cholesterol levels (LDL), raising our triglycerides, irritating our digestive system, and causing inflammation.   

Here are some notes on how grass-fed meat compares with grain-fed meat.

 Corn-Feed Makes Big $ at the Expense of Health: Digestion plays a huge role in ones health. When cows are fed corn, wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, and soy, they suffer from acidosis and other internal problems which is why they need to be pumped with anti-biotics and other preventative substances to counteract the side effects of a grain based diet. The stomach of a cow stays at a neutral pH naturally, but when fed corn, this turns the cow’s stomach into a harsh acidic environment that gives the cow bloating, ulcers, digestion issues, and weakens their immune system. (Side Note: this is also common to find in people who eat a heavy grain/corn diet.) So rather than fixing the root cause of this problem, farmers will give these sick cows anti-biotics in order to combat the health problems. Because of the over use of antibiotics, the animals build an intolerance making the antibiotics less effective. Antibiotics are also being used as growth promoters.

“…antibiotic growth promoters are used to ‘help growing animals digest  their food more efficiently, get maximum benefit from it and allow them  to develop into strong and healthy individuals’. Although the mechanism  underpinning their action is unclear, it is believed that the  antibiotics suppress sensitive populations of bacteria in the  intestines.” (info here)

European Nations have already banned the use of antibiotics for livestock after realizing the harm antibiotics are doing. Another thing is, people who eat meat from cows with antibiotics, they are consuming antibiotics themselves from eating the meat, making them also build an intolerance to anti-biotics. Anti-biotic use is also known for harming our healthy gut flora (killing our good bacteria) and having a negative impact on our immune system. (You can find more information about anti-biotics harmful effects online like this article or click on this study)

Cows thrive on grass and herbaceous plants. This is what makes cows healthy, and what makes their flesh nutritious for humans.
Treatment of Cows: One of the major concerns with animal consumption is how the animal you are about to eat was treated by farmers during its life-time. Was the animal raised properly in open fields free to roam on plentiful grass and get enough sunshine? Or was the animal “surviving” in a factory crammed in with thousands of other animals in a closed shed with little to no sunlight, no ventilation, beaten up, mutilated such as cutting off the beaks of the chickens so they fit into the farm factory environment and don’t pick at each other, are electrocuted through their anus, are defeathered, cows are dragged on pavement to be moved by big trucks, and the place reeks of cow poo and blood. True! Research this online.
Grass Fed organic cows spend most of their lives out on pasture lands roaming around, chowing down grass, and getting their tan (Vitamin-D) on.
What is even better are cows that come from small local family farms. Go to your farmers market and get to know your farmer who sells local meat. They even show pictures of their farmland and their animals being raised there.
Grass or Corn for the Future of Our Environment? The people and articles stating that meat production harms our environment is because they are only focused on animals that are being fed corn, soy, and other grains. They are not looking at the grass-fed side of farming. The harvesting of corn and transporting it has a great negative impact on the environment. About 248 gallons of oil is needed to produce enough corn for the cows to eat. A cow eats about 2,800 pounds of corn. For the intensive production of corn there is a need for a high use of fertilizers and pesticides. Corn feed uses up a lot of fossil fuel, whereas grass is more low maintenance and is solar-powered.
Transporting corn for livestock feed takes up a lot of energy whereas the grass feed is just right there, on land.
About 40% of corn goes to feed livestock. Corn has become the most energy intensive production. The downfall of corn is that it requires a lot of nitrogen, and nitrogen fertilizer has negative impacts for our environment.
Factory farms pollute our waters. (link)
Now time for everyone’s favorite part….
Nutrition: Which is Healthier?
  • Fats: Too much Omega 6 in ones diet causes inflammation. We need a good balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3. A good ratio to go by is a 2:1 or 4:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3. The amount of Omega 6 is the same in grain fed cows and grass fed cows. However, eating meat from mostly grain fed cows you will be getting a small amount of Omega 3 as there is only small amounts of Omega 3 found in grain fed cows. With grass fed meat, you will be consuming a higher delicious dose of Omega 3 fats, because of the fat found in grass which the cows are eating. The fat in grass is 60% of a type of Omega 3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic or LNA. Omega 3 fats are essential fatty acids, meaning we need to get them from outside sources because our bodies don’t produce it. They are good for our cardiovascular health, our moods, to reduce internal inflammation, helps with our ability to concentrate, regulates our hormones, plus many more benefits that helps our body keep functioning and building. The best sources for Omega 3 are from fatty fish and a good quality fish oil supplement. EPA and DHA are the important sources of Omega 3. You can get Omega 3 from Flax seeds, but Flax only contains ALA, which is partially converted to EPA and DHA in the body. Another great sources besides fatty fish and fish oils are Algeas.
  • CLA A newly discovered healthy fatty acid that may have anti-cancer properties and may help burn body fat: We are aware that to benefit the most to protect ourselves from cancer is too eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. What makes CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) very unique is that it is an anticarcinogen present in animal foods. Researchers are discovering that CLA supports a healthy heart (link)may protect against breast cancer (link), prostate cancer, and colon cancer (link) Cows that have been grass fed have three to five times more CLA than cows that have been grain fed. CLA is a health promoting natural occurring trans-fatty acid. Kate Clancy, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the Minnesota  Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, has stated that early research in rats has linked higher CLA levels with easier weight loss. A great source for CLA intake is from grass fed dairy (grass-fed butter, milk, cheese)
  • All variaties of beef that are grass-fed will have lower amounts of total fat content compared to conventional fed animal. A grass-fed steak has about 1/3 less fat than a grain-fed steak of equal portions of steak. The fat from grain-fed animals harm our health, cholesterol level, and is inflammatory.
  • Grass-fed beef has higher concentrations of Vitamin E, antioxidants, B-Vitamins, Vitamin A, calcium, selenium, and magnesium.
  •  Research shows that grass-fed beef has 10 times more beta-carotene (anti-oxidant), 3 times more Vitamin E, and 3 times more Omega 3 fatty acids.

“Historically, mad cow has never been reported      in cattle which are totally grass fed.  The outbreak in Britain and      Europe which occurred 15 years ago has been linked to the practice of      using animal by-products in feeding.”  (link)

  •  Gut problems affect health: Cattle that are fed grain (food not designed for their stomach to handle) have a high chance of getting E. Coli in their gut and spreading it.
  • The main saturated fat in meat is called Stearic Acid, and has been proven to have a neutral  effect on cholesterol levels, or even reduce cholesterol. Good quality fats are essential for the body, and are not linked to Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Fat from grain-fed cattle is inflammatory because it gives us a higher ratio of Omega 6 fatty acids

Reason for being more expensive:
To harvest grain/corn fed cattle it takes about 14 months, whereas for grass fed cattle it can take up to 24-28 months. Corn is cheap and is a good source to fatten up cattle, quickly.It takes more time to raise grass-fed cattle than grain/corn fed cattle.

Retailers are aware that some people are willing to pay more money for grass-fed and are responding to this. A long time ago it used to be that the consumer would buy grass-fed meat directly from the producer and make an arrangement to buy a big portion of the grass fed animal. Grass-fed meat has become big business now.

I prefer to go to the Farmers Market and buy my beef from the Grass-Fed Ranch. Eventhough it is not much cheaper from the grocery store, sometimes the farmer gives me a good deal on the meat that I bought from them. Also, I buy from them because it is local meat, I get to know about their practice in raising the cattle, and the quality of their meat.

Grass-fed meat is healthier for us to consume, but the question still lies on whether a grass-based system for cattle is really sustainable and possible to feed an entire nation. With the growing of our population, we have to find balance between health and sustainability.

grassfed (AGEs)