Where’s the Beef? | Healthy bodies and Earth

December 17th, 2008


Photo Credit: TheBusyBrain

Its been noted in various publications over the past few years that beef consumption is contributing to global warming and is linked to various health problems.  Mc Spotlight points out that “…beef consumption plays a major role in the development of heart disease, strokes, and cancer. But the over-consumption of beef is also a major cause of human hunger and poverty, deforestation. spreading deserts, water pollution, water scarcity, global warming, species extinction, and animal suffering.

On the other hand, the Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts points out that the way mainstream beef is produced is the issue, not the beef itself.  According to this and other organizations, beef that is raised sustainably where the cows eat only grass – not grain, soy, corn, antibiotics and hormones, and not raised in a factory doesn’t contribute to ill health of the human body and earth.

Putting the controversial issue of killing animals for human consumption aside, is eating meat, (specifically beef) better for the human body and Earth when its raised in a humane and sustainable fashion?

I feel like I have to put in this disclaimer and say that I am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I do make sure what animal products I do consume (mostly poultry and fish) is sustainable and avoid factory farmed food.  I also limit grass-fed beef consumption to no more than twice a year due to personal preference.

Having read both sides of the issue does have me wondering who is right.  Is there a definite answer to this problem?  Having tried vegetarian, vegan and raw vegan diets in the past, I realized that the best diet for me is one that does consist of some animal protein, but still mostly local, organic raw and lightly cooked vegetables and fruit. Not being able to eat soy, gluten, legumes, dairy, sugar, more than a small amount of corn, and a few other foods doesn’t help, but I don’t want to be part of the problem either!

There is a very interesting article and interview on the Sierra Club website on Grass-Fed Beef: Solution or Diversion? that focuses on both sides of this issue.

What do you think?

I know this question is kind of broad, but I would like to get your open opinion on this.

21 Responses to “Where’s the Beef? | Healthy bodies and Earth”

  1. Carla,
    I do not have any specific view for or against your statement. Beef may be a major part of the meal by choice for most Westerners however in India cows are gods :) and hence cow slaughter and beef eating is banned in many states.

    However, in the coastal state where I was born and raised, 90% of the people eat beef and the reason is that due to lack of adequate agriculture (despite blessed climate and greenery) and related businesses, people survive on seafood and beef on top of rice. It’s really funny as nobody is willing to do agriculture when it comes to veg and vegetables transported from other states are expensive. But cows are transported at cheaper rates and more or less free as other states won’t kill them. How’s that?

    Ajith Edassery’s last blog post..Ten Unethical Blog Visitor Behaviors those are worse than George Bush Shoe-Throwing Episode!

  2. grechen says:

    i love that you brought this up! my fiance and i recently decided to go vegan, mostly because of our concern that the mass “production” of cows for human consumption is affecting the environment more than cars are. it’s our belief that humans eating beef is not a sustainable way to live – either personally or environmentally – so we are making an effort to cut our own consumption.

    at the same time, i don’t necessarily believe that humans were not “meant” to eat animals. we evolved to eat animal protein (in fact that’s one of the main reasons our brains grew), but we got our meat in a very different way than we do now. we hunted, we didn’t farm. i have a problem with the mass production of animals for human consumption. i don’t have a problem with someone who lives in the middle of no where hunting to sustain his family – that is closer to our nature…

    this is an incredibly controversial issue – and everyone has to decide where they fit into it…we just decided that it would be better for our bodies not to eat meat/dairy anymore, as well as better for the environment. looking forward to more discussion :-)

    grechen’s last blog post..Does Going Green mean Going Broke?

  3. greenandchic says:

    @Ajith – Sometimes I forget that so many people eat beef on a regular basis. I see it was something that’s eaten very sparingly – I hardly eat it. I think vegetables are more expensive to transport due to the fact that veggies (unless frozen) are perishable whereas beef can be frozen for months. It’s just my guess though.

    @Grechen – I have been researching whether or not humans were meant to eat meat or not and still haven’t come to a conclusion on my own yet. I have been reluctant to bring up this topic, but to me it felt like the elephant in the room if I didn’t.

  4. Missy says:

    This is a subject that has been on my mind for some time. I am not a huge fan of beef. I prefer chicken.
    As far as what we eat, it goes along with my husbands diet. Him having some health problems means that I try to buy things that are not raised on hormones or antibiotics. Since “weaning” us off those things I’ve noticed that we feel worse when we eat them. So I avoid them.
    I have been a vegan and it was not for me. I understand why someone would choose that. I do agree, if you do it right you can get most of the nutrients that you need. However, if you choose humanely raised beef without all the yucky stuff because it is necessary for health reasons or you enjoy it then you can counter-act the effect that mass farmed cows have on our world.

    Missy’s last blog post..Olive oil is not just for cooking

  5. “he way mainstream beef is produced is the issue, not the beef itself.”
    I tend to agree. We eat beef in small amounts, about once a week, and we always buy organic.

  6. Wilson Pon says:

    It has been years since I last ate beefs in my life, and I’ll stick myself to become a pure vegetarian, Carla :)

  7. Natural says:

    i’m against animal cruelty. i’m not a vegan, but i don’t enjoy meat, i can do without it. i do eat eggs, milk and other things from animals though. i will eat a hamburger too, but not too often. have to have a craving for it

    actually i read something a while back that said that our teeth were not made for eating meat, but veggies, nuts, etc. we can use them to eat meat, but in comparison to other animals, who have mostly canine teeth…it wasn’t in the books for us.

    Natural’s last blog post..You’re So Vain You Probably Think This Post Is About You

  8. Shirley says:

    I have to eat beef, according to my doctor.

    Actually, a while back I attempted to be a vegetarian. And even though I was eating foods high in iron and taking iron supplements, I couldn’t fully metabolize iron from sources other than red meat…

    So even though I’d like to stay away from it, its either beef or suffering from regular anemia-induced fainting spells. lol.

    Shirley’s last blog post..Don’t Get Hacked: 6 Ways to Secure Your WordPress Blog

  9. greenandchic says:

    Shirley – In terms of iron, I have to drink spirluna smoothies daily or I’m out too. I also get B12 injections every few months because that tends to be low for me. I think you have to do whatever works.

    Natural – I have read that too (about the teeth). We also used to have many more teeth than we do now. I don’t know what they were for though. Evolution must have skipped me because I had five wisdom teeth and I have a third set of teeth under my gums that hasn’t started coming in yet. I pray that they don’t!

    Wilson – Its only been about nine months since I had beef. I wonder if I will ever crave it again. I think the B12 injections are doing the trick.

    Vered – I try to stick to organic for most foods (if not all in most cases). Its hard when traveling though sometimes.

    Missy – I prefer chicken too. :)

  10. Davina says:

    Hi Carla. I’ve tried to go without meat many times and I end up looking emanciated. My body must not break down the protein that well from other sources; I know my digestion is weak; I’m on a gluten-free diet.

    I go through phases though. In the winter I eat more red meat and I do fine in the summer with fruits and salads and chicken or fish.

    It agree it is important to buy meat organic; how the livestock is raised and fed does make a difference.

    Davina’s last blog post..A Positively Dysfunctional Christmas

  11. Hi Carla

    I try to go for organic and free range foods. I don’t have a problem with eating meat, but I do like to know that the animals have been treated well.

    A good book to read is “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin. She is an autistic woman who is an animal behaviourist and has designed a number of the best cattle systems in the world (even thoughs for McDonalds). She is also involved in legislation.

    It makes you think about how important it is to be aware of where our food is coming from.


  12. I’m of the same mind as you. I mostly eat poultry and fish, but only 2 -3 times a week. The other meals are vegetarian. I find that my energy level is much more level and sustainable for longer periods of time.

    I don’t have anything against beef eaters. I just choose not to eat it because of environmental issues and how tired I feel after I consume it.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Now’s last blog post..Day 18 of 30 – Bonus – No Complaining

  13. Lance says:

    Hi Carla,
    I grew up on a farm, raising beef cattle. Beef…was a big part of our diet back then! Today, we eat much less beef – yet our freezer is stocked with it. What we have is purchased directly from local farms, usually from people we know. From a health standpoint, beef has really shrunk poultry/fish are a bigger part of our diet. Yet, beef still plays a prominent role. Is that bad? I think that beef is okay, especially that which has been raised humanely.

    And, all that said, I really focus on fruits and vegetables in my diet during the week, especially for lunches. Weekends become more of a time for some of our bigger beef meals.

    And, with all that, Carla – I do really find this whole discussion very insightful – especially for me, coming from a viewpoint of having beef around most of the time… Thank you for bringing this subject up.

    Lance’s last blog post..Bounce!

  14. greenandchic says:

    @Davina – I’m also on a gluten-free diet as well. When I don’t eat meat, I have fill up on a lot of superfoods just so I won’t feel ravenousness and weak – and that doesn’t always help.

    @Juliet – Thanks for the book recommendation! I’m going to have to check it out http://www.amazon.com/Animals-Translation-Mysteries-Autism-Behavior/dp/0743247698

    @Karl – Come to think of it, beef leaves me tired too, even when I eat a small amount. I wonder why that is.

    @Lance – I find this discussion very interesting as well and its nice to get a variety of responses (hope to get more).

  15. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Carla – This is a tough one. I’m not a vegetarian but I try not to eat red meat too often.

    Even when cows are grass fed – the whole process is extremely unnatural. I guess the thing I don’t like is that we have bred cows to be the way they are – we’d never have found cows like you see today roaming around naturally.

    The whole process is pretty yukky really. I don’t like the way they hire bulls out to inseminate a herd of cows. Then the mail calves are fed for a while, so they can be turned into beef. Worse still – some young calves are slaughtered pretty quickly, to make veal. And as for cows – the milking process is extremely unnatural.

    I have to wonder how much harm we’ll wind up doing ourselves by using all these unnatural processes to create meat.

  16. I haven’t eaten meat for 9 years. I was vegan for the first two but couldn’t maintain that when I was pregnant with my daughter. I primarily gave it up because of the way the animals are treated – and other animals aren’t treated any better than cows. It’s a deplorable, cruel system. But it wasn’t hard for me to give up – I never really cared for meat and didn’t eat much to begin with.

    I don’t have a problem with people eating animals that have been raised or treated humanely – it’s a more natural system. The system that is being used now is not good for the environment. A lot of people could be fed with the land used for the animals. Have you ever taken a look at the energy used to create one hamburger?


    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..5 Unpopular (Anti) Social Articles

  17. I learned in school that one way to save mother nature is to decrease consumption of meat. Water will be saved. And also grass and other food materials that are consumed by the cows, carabaos, goats, etc.

    Bryan Karl dot Com Earning, Blogging, Tips and More’s last blog post..If You Have Nothing Good To Post, Don’t Post Anything

  18. greenandchic says:

    @Cath – I never really thought of the entire process in breeding the cows. It does sound pretty icky!

    @Kim – Thanks for the link. I agree that it does take way too much energy to create a small amount of sustainable food.

    @Bryan – I agree if we get rid of the factory farmed meats, it will free up a huge amount of land.

  19. OrFor...? says:

    Everyone has to eat properly for their body type and lifestyle.

    Since June of 2008, I have lost 40 pounds; the first 20 came off while eating primarily fast food hamburgers and coffee daily.

    This is not my usual way of eating and I discontinued this “menu” after a busy semester of school ended.

    I am 36 years old and am continuing to lose weight while eating rather more healthily and exercising minimally.

    I suggest that people should do what works best for them.

  20. Dillion says:

    I’ve never given this a try, but I think it’s about time I do.

  21. Anna says:

    I actually am flabbergasted at how many people choose vitamin injections over real food or take supplements. Were we supposed to eat beef? Yes alongside all animals and most veg. You can knock out grains and wheat and processed, refined food and ensure all animals are free range and grass fed and not stuffed with hormones. Support local organic farmers and replace your shop bought-hormone filled milk with raw pastured non pasturized. Check out primal and paleo diets.

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