Choosing Healthy Sources of Protein
While organic versus non-organic vegetables gets a lot of press, the source of your protein are just as important! Unfortunately, most of the protein we get in the supermarket comes from what’s called factory farms, or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) If you love animals you would be appalled if you saw the way these creatures lived a full life. However, it is not easy to even be able to “see” what really happens inside these farms. Factory farms are very secretive about their practices.
The Quality of Protein from Animal Farms
Generally, cows are kept in tiny, confined spaces and fed a diet of grain. This is a problem. Cows don’t digest grain very well at all. The stomach of a cow is not at all suited to digest grains of any kind. Grains are highly acidic and very inflammatory and the meat of factory-farmed beef is very high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Beyond the terrible grain-based diet, the crowded conditions in which they live ensures that most of them won’t be very healthy. Therefore, factory farms load their animals full of antibiotics, which winds up in the packaged meat and then in your body. Factory-farmed animals are also routinely fed hormones (like bovine growth hormone) and steroids to fatten them up and quicken their growth cycle. With a poor grain diet laden with pesticides/chemicals, antibiotics and hormones … we end up with a meat “product” that is, indeed, anything but healthy. Chickens and pigs exist in even more horrendous conditions. If you want a full review of them, I suggest the movie Food Inc., which is an eye-opening documentary on this industry.
Protein from Pasture Raised Animals
Let’s look at cows raised in a pasture and eating a natural diet of organic grass. When cows are grass-fed, their meat is higher in the amazingly healthy omega-3 fats (the same fat found in cold-water fish like salmon). The fat of grass-fed cows also contains a cancer- and obesity-fighting fat called CLA that is absent in the fat of factory-farmed beef. Though there are some minor distinctions I will get into in a moment, grass-fed cows are almost always raised organically.
Many of the studies that show poor health effects from consuming meat in the diet look at populations that enjoy large amounts of processed meats — this includes deli meats, which, in addition to all the problems stated above, also contain nitrates and high levels of sodium.
Meat in general has gotten a bad name, and I do feel we could all be moderate/low with our intake but to each his/her own! It is important to keep in mind that all meat is not created equal. Real, pasture-raised protein, with no antibiotics, steroids or hormones, is a very different food from factory-farmed protein.
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