I went back and forth on step one. Step one had to be powerful, meaningful, and extremely important. My first thought was, of course, cut out fast food. But upon further reflection I realized I could kill two birds with one stone.
Step One: Stop eating conventional meats, and instead seek out free range, pastured, and organic meats.
Just stop eating these meats. Chicken from the food court at the mall? No. A friends house? No. A fast food restaurant? No. If you don’t know where it came from, leave it be. On the plus side you’ll probably look at more of the vegetarian options and other foods you might not have tried had you had the option of the hamburger when you are out at dinner. However, I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it if you go to a BBQ at your friends and eat the steak, these steps are all about progress. When you are conscious and aware, you are growing.
What to look for:
USDA organic label. “All natural,” does not mean organic it is usually a misleading advertising strategy.
Grassfed. This is for beef.
Antibiotic free. This is usually for chicken.
There’s a few reasons I think step one is very important. Here’s a few:
The cleanliness of the animal factories.
Yuck. Really. Have you seen these places?
Toxic chemicals and antibiotics.
24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock each year. Animals are given antibiotics to compensate for unsanitary and crowded living conditions. Chicken usually carries at least one bacerial strain, it is increasingly likely that it could be an antibiotic resistant strain.
“You start giving [cattle] antibiotics, because as soon as you give them corn, you’ve disturbed their digestion, and they’re apt to get sick, so you then have to give them drugs, says Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. “That’s how you get in this whole cycle of drugs and meat… Once they start eating the [corn], they’re more vulnerable. They’re stressed, so they’re more vulnerable to all the different diseases cows get.”
According to a somewhat recent FDA-commissioned study, arsenical drugs like Pfizer’s roxarsone produce inorganic arsenic (iAs) in chicken meat that ends up being consumed by millions of people.
Because of their horrific living conditions, factory farm animals are often teeming with harmful pathogens, which is why their meat has to undergo chemical treatments in the first place before being packaged and served on dinner tables, it is a truly disgusting process.
According to documented reports, after the animals are slaughtered, conventional poultry is essentially hung on long conveyor lines and sprayed, bathed and injected with all sorts of chemical solutions, including chlorine bleach, before ultimately being hauled off to the supermarket. These chemical solutions are, of course, carefully designed to kill any bacteria and render the meat “safe” for human consumption, the ultimate “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the factory food industry, if you will.
Cows are meant to eat grass.
Cows are not evolved to digest corn. It creates all sorts of problems for them. The rumen is designed for grass. And corn is just too rich, too starchy. So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick.
It creates changes to the animal. So you have to essentially teach them how to eat corn. You teach their bodies to adjust. And this is done in something called the backgrounding pen at the ranch, which is kind of the prep school for the feedlot.
We feed them corn because it’s the cheapest, most convenient thing we can give them. Corn is incredibly cheap; it costs about $2.25 for a bushel of corn, which is like 50 pounds. It actually costs less to buy than it costs to grow, because of subsidy. We pay the farmer to grow the corn — see, this is a hidden cost to this supposedly cheap feed. I think it costs about $3 to grow a bushel of corn, and the feedlots only have to pay $2.25.
Feeding cattle on corn fundamentally changes the meat they produce, greatly increasing levels of unhealthy Omega-6 fatty acids and decreasing levels of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. This change greatly impacts the healthiness of meat for human consumption. Scientists estimate that our Paleolithic ancestors consumed meat with an Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio of close to 1:1, and not more than 1:5.
The very dangerous strain of E. Coli 0157:H7 was isolated in the 1980’s and arose because cattle were being fed grain and not their natural diet of grass. When we hear of the all-too-common re-calls of beef because of E. Coli contamination it is because of the animal’s diet.
Concentrate Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)
They’re forced to exist with their feces all the time. When they go to sleep, that’s what they lie down in. The beds in these feedlots, you look and you say, “Oh, there’s dirt. They’re in dirt.” And of course no grass could grow there. But you look a little closer and it is manure, as far as you can see. They only scrape them out between classes, which is every six months.
I encourage you to go to Youtube and look up some of these places. It is truly sad and depressing. I will not eat meat that I don’t know where it came from.
The Japanese believe that happy cows make better meat. Wagyu cattle traditionally receive massages in addition to their special diets and treatment. Wagyu cattle are given massages as a substitute for the muscle stimulation normally gotten through exercise. The massages relieve stress and stiffness; in this case, the belief is that relaxed, happy cows make better meat.
The meat is less nourishing, and has less nutrients.
Grass fed beef is more nutritious.
Vitamin A: Grass-fed beef contains carotenoid precursors to Vitamin A, such as beta-carotene.
Vitamin E: This is an antioxidant that sits in your cell membranes and protects them from oxidation. Grass-fed beef contains more.
Micronutrients: Grass-fed beef also contains more Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus and Sodium.
Composition of fatty acids is vastly different in conventional vs grass-fed, grass-fed really shines.
Saturated and monounsaturated: Grass-fed beef has either similar, or slightly less, saturated and monounsaturated fats.
Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Grass-fed and grain-fed beef contain very similar amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3s: This is where grass-fed really makes a major difference, containing up to 5 times as much Omega-3.
You are supporting these types of farmers more.
These are happier animals.
You can have part in the environmental impact.
You might be able to find more local sources that you might not have known about. Thus, supporting local farmers, making new friends, and saving the pollution from factory farms and the gas it takes to transport the meat to the grocery store.
Michael Pollan – In Defense Of Food