Grass-fed beef, what is the difference?

Grass-fed beef is the healthy alternative to grain-fed beef, but what are the benefits that set it apart? Cows eat grass. [...]

Grass-fed beef is the healthy alternative to grain-fed beef, but what are the benefits that set it apart?

Cows eat grass. Every primary school pupil knows that to be true. But is it still the case in modern agriculture? 

Once upon a time, it certainly was. Before the industrial revolution, farming was almost exclusively a small-scale, local business. Cows were raised on the land, with a natural diet of grass, flora and clover. But the advent of large-scale, industrialised farming put a stop to that. The needs of the animal, as well as the welfare of the environment, stopped being as high a priority when it was established that profit margins could be increased by raising cattle faster on a high-energy diet of imported cereals and soybeans.  These poor creatures aren’t always treated well, and are never given the time to exercise and absorb the nutrients they have ingested.

So grass-fed beef is the ethical choice, but is it the healthy one? Some sceptics will argue that there is little difference between grass and grain-fed beef in terms of health benefits, but they are wrong. Below we’ll explain a little more about the superior nutritional value of grass-fed beef, and tell you the best place in the UK to buy it.

Grain-fed and grass-fed beef, what is the difference?

Grass-fed beef is one of the most nutrient-dense protein sources you can buy, bursting with brain-boosting omega acids, and containing a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals than grain-fed alternatives. But let’s break down the exact health benefits of opting for grass-fed beef.

Lower in calories

The natural, clean diet of the cattle means that the meat they produce will contain fewer calories. Grain feed consists mostly of cereals and soy, which have very high energy levels. This helps the cattle to grow bigger faster, producing more meat, but it also means that that they absorb a lot of carbohydrates and sugar. Since grain-fed cattle typically don’t have the freedom to exercise to the extent that they should, these calories are not burned off, and thus remain in the beef you consume – i.e. fattier meat.

Free from chemicals

Cattle that are free to roam around fields and pastures from birth come into contact with fresh air, sunlight and, importantly, germs. While this might not sound like a good thing (and certainly not appetising), it is. Cows that encounter natural bacteria develop strong immune systems, and are therefore far less likely to develop serious disease. In contrast, grain-fed animals, whether cows, chickens or pigs, rarely come into contact with the natural bacteria that will help them combat sickness in later life. This makes it much more likely that these animals will develop more serious illness (especially as they are kept in such close quarters), which will require the intervention of antibiotics.

Plenty of healthy fats and disease-busting vitamins

Grass-fed beef contains up to six times more omega 3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. These acids are truly a miracle mineral, helping combat joint inflammation, depression, and heart disease. The natural, vitamin-rich diet of a slow-raised cow also means far more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the meat itself.

So, grass-fed beef, what is the difference? All the difference in the world.

Where to buy grass-fed beef?

Now we’ve whet your appetite, where is the best place to buy high-quality grass-fed beef in the UK? There are plenty of sustainable delivery options, like the Dorset Meat Company who offer 100% grass-fed beef. The Dorset Meat Company works alongside 20 small, family-run farms in Dorset and Wiltshire to deliver high-quality, ethical meat to homes across England, Wales and much of Scotland. They care about the produce they deliver, from stable to table. All their beef is grass-fed, and free to roam and graze to their heart’s content. Visit their website today to find out more.

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Laura Bartlett

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