I grew up in a small village in the countryside of the Netherlands. In my village cows were always outside in the field, so I thought this was the standard everywhere. But when I became older I learned that most of the time this is (sadly) not the case.
The majority of cows spend their entire life inside a feedlot, or are only in the field for a short period. The goal of the feedlot is to fatten the cows (or other cattle in a feedlot) up as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The cows are given growth hormones and their food consitst of corn or soybeans, the best food for weight gain.
It’s no wonder these ingredients are also causing weight gain in humans. Sadly these ingredients make up the majority of calories in processed food.
For brain health, the quality of the meat you eat really makes a difference. Grass-fed meat avoids the contaminants of bio industry meat and offers great nutritional advantages.
Antibiotics are needed to keep the cows alive, until they are ready to become meat, because the bad food they are fed leads to sickness of the cows.
These antibiotics stay in the meat, so everytime you eat a piece of meat you automatically consume antibiotics. This can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines. This disbalance of bacteria is known as dysbiosis. This condition can be the cause of some brain-related disorders, like memory loss, ADHD, depression, and anxiety (1)(2).
In the media you see advertisement for probiotic products to restore the health in your intestines. But it seems that most of the people are unaware of the negative influences of industrial farm meat. Everytime you eat antibiotic-laden meat you are disturbing the flora of your intestines as well.
If you are a meat-eater (like I am) and can not live without your piece of meat once in a while, there are some nutritional advantages compared with other foods. However, these advantages are only there when you choose meat of high quality.
Meat from grass-fed cows (or other livestock) contains more antioxidants and omega 3s. A recent study found that grass-fed meat has about twice as many omega 3s as in grain-fed meat (3). Also, grass-fed cattle walks around freely in the meadow, they are typically leaner. Wich means that almost all the grass-fed beef have less total fat than beef from corn/grain-raised cattle. However, this also depends on the breed of cattle of course. The fat of grass-fed meat has higher levels of carotenoids, wich makes the fat appear yellow, and the more carotenoids in a substance, the more nutrients it contains. Moreover, grass-fed meat contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed meat. CLA is a type of naturally occurring trans-fatty acid that improves brain function, improves weight loss, and reduces your risk of cancer.
Besides nutritional advantages, it is also better for the animals itself and our planet. Grass-fed animals live longer out of confinement, and microbial activity in the soil is being stimulated by grazing herds, helping to capture water and sequester carbon.
Luckily what’s old is new again. More and more farmers are turning back to a more traditional way of cattle raising: feeding cows on grassy meadows instead of feedlots filled with grains and corn. It’s much easier these days to buy grass-fed beef and other meats. And in taste, you really can tell the difference between grass-fed meat and corn-fed cattle. Go grass-fed, every time!
Another difference between grass-fed meat and corn-fed meat is the price, and grass-fed will usually cost more. In my opnion, grass-fed meat is so much better for you and your health than than grain/corn-fed. Grass-fed beef isn’t a luxury item, it’s real meat! Although it will cost you more, I would suggest to buy grass-fed meat once a week and eat no meat or fish for the rest of the days. This way you can affort it, it’s better for you, better for your brain, and better for the animals, and the planet! So it’s a win-win-win for everyone!