Before switching to a ketogenic diet, red meat was something I eliminated in a bid to become healthier and lose fat. After reading the attention-grabbing newspaper headlines about how consumption of red meat causes cancer or increases the risk of heart attacks, I, like so many, was put off. However, what I failed to appreciate were the crucial differences between grass-fed animals and grain-fed animals.
Grass-fed vs grain-fed
The nutritional profile of red meat differs greatly due to the different diets of the animal1. Grass-fed meat is higher in antioxidants2, omega 3 fats3, conjugated linoleic acid4 (which reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases, body fat and the risk of cancer5) and vitamins such as B126. With health benefits such as these, grass fed beef and lamb are foods I now include in my diet.
Grass is the natural diet for cows and sheep. Due to the greed of humans, the demand for meat has soared and in response to this, farmers have resorted to manipulating their animals living conditions and diet to enable faster and unnatural growth. By supplying cheap, inflammatory grains as feed, the farmers cut their costs resulting in a more lucrative production line. Having reduced their costs, the farmers have more money to spend elsewhere, likely on additional animals. Then comes the problem of having too many animals living in too little space. Without the room to roam and forage through open pastures, the animals quickly become unhealthy, developing an excess of inflammation and fat. I find the idea of this rather disturbing and upsetting. Therefore, from an ethical point of view, I choose to only buy meat from reputable farmers who uphold the highest animal welfare and allow their livestock to live as nature intended, roaming freely on luscious grass.
Tips for buying grass-fed meat:
- Try to find a local farm.
- If you are concerned about the cost, go for mince.
Although a leg of lamb would be a welcome addition to my diet once a week, grass-fed meat is more expensive. So, I choose to eat mince on a more regular basis, saving the more expensive cuts for a special occasion.
- Make sure the meat is 100% grass-fed or “grass-finished”.
Some farmers will feed their livestock grass for the majority of their lives, only to switch to grains for a short period to fatten them up before being slaughtered. Whilst opting for a grass-fed but not grass-finished steak is a favourable alternative to a grain-fed one, it has been shown that only animals 100% grass-fed will guarantee the maximum antioxidants and nutritional benefits7.
- Buy in bulk:
Making a monthly order of grass-fed meats is a great way to save money. Plan out which cuts you will have each week, and store the rest in the freezer. This way you can ensure you have a supply of high-quality, delicious meat whenever you fancy.
Take a look at these articles further detailing the benefits of grass-fed meat:
Here are some great farms that sell 100% grass-fed meat in the UK: