There is a lot of debate out there regarding whether it really makes a difference if you regularly consume grain-fed animal products or grass-fed animal products. It’s obvious that grass-fed, free-range products are much more expensive than grain-fed, conventionally raised products. So is the extra expense worth it? I say yes.
I won’t get into the details of the environmental and ethical perspectives of eating grass-fed animal products here. But I will say that the environmental impact of conventional animal farming and production is atrocious, with little regulation, a lot of pollution and waste, and horrendous conditions endured by those poor beings. But moving this aside, I would like to discuss the differences of the two on our health and wellness.
One of the major reasons to eat grass-fed meat is the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are important for our health and wellness. They are critical components in the function of many of our body’s systems, including brain functions, immune system development, respiratory function, and regulation of blood pressure. Eating foods with a good ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids is therefore very important for our well being. However, a problem begins to occur when the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids becomes too high.
In our society, there has been a major shift in the types of foods we eat. Our diets are comprised of huge amounts of processed and packaged food, and this has taken the focus away from eating whole organic foods. One of the major concerns about eating processed and packaged foods is the large amount of Omega 6’s in these foods, that come from the poisonous vegetable oils used in their production. This increases the overall ratio of Omega 3 to 6 to up to 15 times what it should be, which is about a 1:2 ratio. This is where things become tricky, because eating a diet so high in Omega 6’s will negate the health benefits and begin to cause harm within our bodies. The meat and animal products that come from conventional farming methods (grain-fed, cubicle style raised cattle), results in this exact issue. Grass-fed butter, for example has a ratio of Omega 3 to 6 that closely resembles the ratio in fish. However, conventionally raised livestock produces a much more harmful ratio and therefore contributes to the overall decline in the health of the average North American.
Conventionally raised livestock also results in a much larger consumption of meats than our bodies are meant to handle, mainly because its cheap. The average woman only needs about 50g-75g of protein per day, which is approximately 8oz of meat or 2 servings about the size of your palm. Protein is also obtained from many other sources, such as cheese, so overeating protein is very easy to do. Men may need a little more protein per day than women, but should also be mindful of how much they consume, as men tend to produce more iron levels then women. Iron levels that are too high will begin to produce negative health consequences.
Grain fed animals are not meant to eat grains. They are meant to roam freely and eat grass. Changing their diets to the complete opposite of what they are supposed to eat makes them sick and unhealthy. It is no different from a human being. Eating a diet high in processed foods makes us sick and unhealthy, and produces a slew of issues that can only be rectified by reverting back to healthy eating. There is virtually no difference when it comes to animals. The issue is that we are consuming these unhealthy beings, adsorbing all the toxins and poison running through their bodies, as a result of their unhealthy diets. Not to mention, the antibiotics and hormones they are pumped with, that goes directly to our bodies when we eat an animal raised in these settings. Even more so, the torture they endure causes adrenaline to surge through their bodies, before their slaughter, and this hormone is again consumed by us when we eat meat raised in this type of environment.
When we consume animal products raised by conventional practices, not only are we consuming meat pumped with hormones and antibiotics and too many omega 6s, we are consuming too much of it, because its cheap. So yes, grass-fed animal products are more expensive, but that’s not a bad thing. It will stop us from consuming way too much of something that we simply do not need so much of. Our ancestors did not consume such copious amounts of meat, simply because it wasn’t available. And this should still hold true today, by opting to purchase grass-fed animal products, but consuming a little less. The need to consume such enormous quantities of food in our society is damaging on so many levels. It’s time for us to understand that quality is more important than quantity.