Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Mar

Dear Mark: Cheap Meat?

cowsDear Mark,

I am curious what you recommend for people who either don’t have access to or can’t regularly afford grass-fed, organic, free-range meats? It [cost] is a lot of the reason we are mostly vegetarian – we could have organic meat on a regular basis, or we can have fresh fruits and veggies for us and, more importantly, our young sons, to snack on. I believe the fresh produce is more important, and our budget just won’t allow for both, so we stick to mostly vegetarian – and less expensive – sources of protein. I’d like to hear tips for how to actually apply some of this in these situations, and what you recommend then. Is it better to eat less meat and make sure what you have is organic, or keep eating the same amount of the conventional stuff (which is worse for our bodies and the environment)?

Judy, you raise a number of great points, and I know they’re common concerns. Ideally, we would all eat grass-fed/grass-finished meat all the time, but because of a variety of circumstances (budget, limited availability at home/during travel, etc.) it’s not always possible for people, myself included. For these reasons, the Primal Blueprint also looks at logical, reasonable compromises. If I can’t eat grass-fed meat, I look for the cleanest meat I can find (no hormones, no antibiotics, etc.). But I absolutely suggest that people include meat in their diets, even if they don’t have access to grass-fed.

First, let’s look at the issue of availability. Unfortunately, grass-fed and/or organic meats aren’t carried by many grocery stores. However, I think that trend is beginning to change. While Whole Foods, Wild Oats and community co-ops seem to be the most common sources for these items, more and more “regular” supermarkets are getting in the game. As always, the more people request it, the more likely stores will consider adding these options. That said, there’s a substantial mail order market for grass-fed and/or organic meats, many with competitive pricing.

Another option: small area farms that sell direct to consumers. You’ll usually get the best deal by purchasing 25 lbs. to half a cow, lamb, goat, etc. If you have a deep freezer, it’s ideal. Otherwise, find a few friends, neighbors, or family members who you can split an order with.

Also, just a note about labels… Meat that is labeled grass-fed isn’t necessarily “grass-finished.” Nearly all beef cattle eat grass at some point. Others, those usually labeled grass-fed, eat grass until the final few weeks before slaughter, when they’re switched to a grain diet. During this relatively brief window, the omega ratio reverses to pretty much that of mostly/entirely grain-fed cattle. Look for “grass-finished” or “100% grass-fed.” Though many farms that raise grass-fed cattle also follow other “clean meat” standards, not all do. USDA Organic uses the most stringent rules and certification, including the absence of any pesticides or herbicides on grazing land/feed and moderate animal treatment standards. But keep in mind, also, that USDA Organic doesn’t mean grass-fed. On top of all of this, we’re seeing a new class of “animal-welfare” labels offered by industry certification as well as animal-rights groups. (Whole Foods manages its own standards and labeling.) (I know, Judy, you’ve asked about this element as well.) Standards for these certifications vary considerably. If you buy direct from a farm, you may be able to get the most information about how the animals are raised.

While it’s true that “100% grass-fed, organic” offers the best of all worlds, it’s usually more expensive and more difficult to find. My advice for best compromises: first look for a label that says 100% grass-fed with “no hormones” and “no antibiotics.” This kind of meat encompasses important “clean” elements (in terms of an individual’s consumption) and offers the better grass-fed omega ratio. Next choice: clean, grain-fed meats. Just be sure to add more omega 3s from fish, fish oil supplements and vegetables sources to make up for the 6:3 ratio deficit.

Thanks, as always, for your questions and comments. Keep ‘em coming!

ILoveButter Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Pondering Protein

Imitation Crab: What is That Stuff?

Dr. Michael Eades: Another Reason to Eat Grass Fed Beef

Typical North American Diet is Deficient in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Good answer, Mark. To directly answer Judy’s question – it’s better to eat high quality meat less often than poor quality meat frequently.

    Also – don’t forget about eggs! Eggs are a wonderful source of healthy fats and protein (7g/egg), and they are very affordable. Locally raised eggs from pastured chickens are best, with organic eggs next.

    For me, I try to eat high quality meat 2-3 days a week, and eggs the rest of the time. I think this provides a good balance between high-quality animal protein and affordability.

    Jen wrote on March 24th, 2008
  2. This post means I have to do some checking. I’ve been eating grass-fed beef but I don’t know if the labeling certifies that it is “grass-finished.” Thanks for pointing that out. This may take a call to the corporate office. For any fellow Texans reading this, I’m getting mine at the H.E.B. Plus here in Corpus. I know they are expanding the “Plus” concept throughout the state so you might want to check it out.

    Dave
    DaveGetsFit

    Dave C. wrote on March 24th, 2008
    • well dave, i found a site and heb`s beef is only finished organic so its not 100% as i was hoping.hopefully that will be changing. soon.

      roberta wrote on March 26th, 2010
  3. No cow is “happy” who will be slaughtered for her flesh.

    There is absolutely no reason to eat meat. One’s health, the environment and the animals will be better off if one gives up meat.

    Please choose a compassionate, cruelty-free diet!

    —————-
    Like animals? http://www.chooseveg.com/vegetarians-save-lives.asp
    Wanna lose weight? http://www.chooseveg.com/obesity.asp
    Care about the environment? http://www.chooseveg.com/global-warming.asp

    Tracy wrote on March 24th, 2008
    • My grandparents would roll in their graves if they saw your food pyramid. Your diet is CRUEL!

      Mimi wrote on September 20th, 2011
  4. While I agree with all you said, and eat grass-fed meat where possible, this article has an interesting take on whether the Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio in beef is relevant.

    http://spartantraining.blogspot.com/2008/03/is-omega-6omega-3-ratio-of-beef.html

    Charles wrote on March 24th, 2008
  5. Tracy,

    You must be new here. We are long past that vegetarian argument. The entire premise of this site is that we evolved over 2 1/2 million years of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and meat, and that continuing to do so can and does improve health in most, if not all, people.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 24th, 2008
  6. Tracy,

    I’m just curious, do you think the Inuit should be on non-flesh diet as well? Do you think they are immoral for their dietary choices of animal flesh?

    Charles wrote on March 24th, 2008
    • Immoral? No. Fat? Yes.

      Pencils wrote on September 8th, 2013
  7. Tracy,

    Enjoy your high grain, leaky gut, arthritis, high BP and Cholesterol medicine too. I don’t mind vegans, I mind pushy vegans who don’t have a clue what they are talking about. That being said….you kill more animals with overabundance consumption of grains and agriculture than you do with consumption of meat. Not that you will ever read this, but at least become educated on what you preach: (If I can save one vegan…then I have hope for the world..)
    http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/hb/hb-interview1a.shtml

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on March 24th, 2008
  8. Charles,

    Good link. Thanks for sending it. Goes to show you that my 3,000 mg fish oil per day go a long way to re-balancing any 6:3 ratio I might have upset by selecting grain-fed beef. I’m feeling healthier already (and less inflamed). :-)

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 24th, 2008
  9. Mike OD,

    I’m sure Tracy means well. She just wandered into the wrong health site…

    Meanwhile, that beyondveg.com is one of the greatest resources for anyone wanting the full scoop on why we eat meat. A wealth of information. Thanks for linking.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 24th, 2008
  10. I meant what I said for Tracy only with loving caringness. :D As for the beyondveg site, it’s amazing what it has on all Paleo related topics. Someone needs to just make a movie about that site…as it is just way too much to read! (that and people need that kind of info)

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on March 24th, 2008
  11. Thanks for the response!

    Jen: I absolutely could not stomach eggs for years. I went through a stage where I was pretty poor, and clueless as to how to eat well on little money, and so I ate a LOT of eggs, but then I lost the taste for them completely. Now I can eat eggs again, and my husband will, but I can’t seem to get either of my sons to touch them. I think I need to just try it more often and eventually they will eat them.

    Dave: I envy your location. I’m in McAllen, TX, but wish we were in Corpus. We spend every weekend we can there! Our local HEB has started carrying some organic (but I haven’t checked for “grass finished”) beef. And it has a sushi bar – YUM!

    Tracy: I care about the ethical issues of animal welfare, but I think how the animal lives is the biggest issue. I understand vegetarianism/veganism, and have no problem with it, but personally believe an animal can be ethically raised and slaughtered. That’s also why the argument that “more animals are killed by plowing the fields” doesn’t fly with me – those animals lived good happy normal lives up to that point.

    Okay, so, some things to think about. Thanks everyone!

    Judy wrote on March 24th, 2008
  12. Mark,

    I’m sure you have seen this site as well, but also a top site for Paleo eating ways (including meat)
    http://paleodiet.com/

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on March 24th, 2008
  13. Tracy wrote: “No cow is ‘happy’ who will be slaughtered for her flesh.”

    The fact that you refer to beef cattle as female betrays your ignorance of animals. The vast majority of bovines slaughtered for their flesh are steers, which are castrated males. I think people who claim to speak for animals ought to at least know a little something about them; otherwise, how can you claim to know what constitutes animal happiness? Otherwise, you slip into sentimental anthropomorphizing: what might make you happy is no guarantee of happiness for a bovine.

    Judy wrote: “That’s also why the argument that ‘more animals are killed by plowing the fields doesn’t fly with me – those animals lived good happy normal lives up to that point.” I sort of see your point, but getting caught up in a combine seems to me to be a really brutal death, much more brutal than being slaughtered by a humane butcher. Plus, it seems to me that the animal caught in the combine died in vain – what a waste to kill an animal and then leave its flesh to rot! (Though I realize my second argument is weakened somewhat by the fact that surely a scavenger will come along and make use of the critter.)

    Migraineur wrote on March 24th, 2008
  14. Migraineur: As for animals dying in vain being killed by a combine, okay, maybe so, but yes, they do go back to the food chain to feed other animals, vultures, or back into the earth. I’m sure being caught in a combine is not the best way to go, but I can’t imagine a small animal caught in a combine is going to suffer for long.

    Further, the argument could be made that a lot of animals raised in the typical industrial food chain die in vain as well – “downer” cows, male chicks. And as we all saw in those videos from the slaughterhouse in California, that is not an any less brutal death than being caught in a combine!

    Which is why HOW the animal was raised and slaughtered matters to me, and why I agree that it is important to “vote with your money” and choose carefully where your meat comes from.

    Judy wrote on March 24th, 2008
  15. Migraineur,

    Crows and other birds feast on combine ‘kill’. They can hardly wait!

    I stopped the car by a recent moose kill. A semi had ‘rear ended’ a female moose with instant death as a result. The animal was still warm but the crows had pecked out its one accesible eyeball. That was pretty fast.

    As re: Whole Foods: I purchased a piece of beef for roasting 2 weeks ago. One of those rolled up jobbies. Note that the raw meat is kept in a glassed in cooler. The attendant (don’t know if he is a ‘butcher’) weighed and wrapped the meat. I took it home, opened the package and smelled…… sour. Old sour meat. I was really absolutely NOT impressed. I live 14 km from the Whole Foods and it’s all urban, red stoplights and major traffic all the way. It would have taken me a good hour and a half to get back in the car and drive the hunk of meat back to the store, give it to the ‘butcher’, and all the rest of the gemisch. I took the chance and roasted it. Result? Brown explosive liquid from the rectum. Thankfully, no major cramping.

    I find the huge selection and variety they decide to carry to be a waste. So much of their fruit and vegetables are not fresh at all. They must be dumping an awful lot of imported, long distance, organic rotten garbage into their dumpster. No wonder the prices are so high!

    I usually shop at a privately owned supermarket that carries plenty of local organic produce. Just this time I was looking for a bottle of Avocado oil and no one else seems to carry this product.

    Whole Foods? Whole Paycheque? Fuggedaboudit.

    gkadar wrote on March 24th, 2008
    • Mr. Joel Salatin addressed Whole Foods (as well as humane killing, etc.) his “rant” on Facebook today. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/Polyfacefarm?fref=ts

      You’ll have to scroll down to find it, since other stuff has been posted since. But it’s definitely worth a read!!

      Becky H wrote on May 9th, 2013
  16. Serving good meat on a budget, one of my favorite subjects.

    I saved money and lots of shopping time for meat by buying a large upright freezer and sourcing meat/poultry from a local “hobby” farm (run by a couple that raises their own food and sells some to defray overhead costs and support their rural life). I buy a lot of the cuts that my source’s other customers don’t want, so they are especially cheap (some of them would have even been thrown out).

    Check out the local county fair; lots of kids sell their 4-H animals at auction to raise funds. There might be a local state or county-licensed processing facility that picks up purchased fair animals at the fair and processes, wraps, and freezes for a reasonable fee. Some specialty butchers can do this, too.

    I think another good thing to remember is that there is more to an animal than the pricey, boneless common cuts. Years ago cooks were more creative about using the entire animal or at least more of it. Find a good classic cookbook, like a vintage edition Joy of Cooking, a UK meat cookbook (I like River Cottage Meat), any Bruce Aidell meat book, or search online for ways to use “thrift cuts” and family friendly recipes. I also really like Jo Robinson and Shannon Hayes cookbooks for economical grassfed meat and poultry ideas. Also consider offal, the organs and “odd bits”. If the meat source is “clean”, then you don’t have to worry about liver or kidneys being full of toxins, like you do with factory farmed animals.

    Learn to appreciate “the squeak to the tail”. Let other people buy the pricey tenderloins and boneless breasts, because that leaves lots of less popular, but still very useful and often more flavorful cuts at lower prices for us.

    The key is learning how to fit different cooking techniques into your life. Weekend cooking is useful for meals later in the week (deboned diced or shredded cooked meat can be made into all sort of meals, so it is *not* leftovers). Slow cookers are great, too. Bruce Aidell has a great recipe for a thrifty, super easy pot roast goes into the oven to cook during the early evening, then is taken out to cool, and makes a great next-day meal.

    I like 7 bone chuck roasts, O bone roasts, shoulder and shank cuts (especially), and other bone-in cuts, as well as boneless round roasts, and other thrift cuts that utilize slow cooking at low temps to tenderize them and melt connective tissue. Whole chickens and whole chicken legs are a better budget and flavor choice than boneless breasts, too. Bones shouldn’t be thought of as waste; they are a resource, providing deep, rich flavor and abundant minerals in an bio-available form when slow simmered with liquid. You won’t need calcium supplements if you cook with bone-in cuts frequently.

    Cooking with thrift cuts will require a new appreciation (& skill) for thinking ahead, rather than sautéing a boneless cut while trying to prepare vegetables and salads all at the same time just a few minutes before sitting down to a rushed meal. There can be a huge payoff in nutrition, flavorful sauces and meat dishes that practically make themselves, plus, a huge reduction of “what’s for dinner tonight?” or “let’s get takeout” panic. And it is hard to overcook simmered and braised cuts, so there is a lot of timing flexibility built in for busy schedules and undetermined meal schedules. The main key is thinking about dinner long before dinnertime, maybe even days before that dinner. For instance, I now have a large O-bone roast thawing, which will cook in the slow cooker tomorrow or the next day, to make a couple different meals later this week.

    Try a new “thrift cut” once a week, especially an unfamiliar one. If you think it makes to much, divide it after cooking and freeze some for another week. There are many ways of preparing cuts with regional and ethnic flavors, so if one recipe doesn’t work out, try the same cut with other ingredients (Moroccan spices and ingredients instead of Polynesian or Italian, for instance).

    I’ll give a good example of how I do this. I put together a Beef Shanks in Coconut Milk with Ginger and Cumin recipe from the Bruce Aidell Meat book recently. Super cheap cut. It needed several hours to simmer in the oven, but it was too late for our Sunday supper. So I put it in before we sat down to something else for our supper and it was finished braising mid-evening, then cooled a bit while I watched Masterpiece Theater, then put in the fridge. Two day later I took it out, and warmed it up on the stove with additional coconut milk and a bit of water. My husband thought it was perhaps the best thing I had ever made. The sauce had that rich, long simmered flavor one gets in fine dining restaurant reduction sauces, because of the long braising with marrow-rich bones. One of the shank slices was mostly bone with hardly any meat, yet I left it in for the flavor rather than discard it. Warming it up on the stove was fast and easy and left only a veg and salad to get ready on a busy evening. I probably spent about 20 minute total of actual hands-on time preparing and reheating the meat dish.

    I like to think of this as old-fashioned “hearth” style cooking. It isn’t fancy, but it can taste very special, indeed.

    Anna wrote on March 24th, 2008
    • Wow, thank you so much Anna for this comment, very good suggestions!

      Curtis wrote on June 30th, 2014
  17. Oh yeah, some of those animals caught in the harvesting machines don’t necessarily get left for the crows and vultures. Some end up pulverized or even whole in that vegetarian plant-based food. Another thing to think about when contemplating buying bagged ready-to-eat produce from big industrial farms/processing companies.

    http://www.marlerblog.com/copyvolecsi.pdf

    I know, ick. I stay away from bagged, ready to eat produce!

    Anna wrote on March 24th, 2008
  18. Hi Mark,

    Greetings from Finland, and thanks for a great blog.

    After reading Cordain’s book “Paleo Diet for Athletes”, I have been rethinking the importance of the omega-distortion problem. The book does actually think that it is a problem, but also offers good statistics about the actual changes.

    Originally, the (muscle) meat used to have something like 35% of fat as polyunsaturates. Nowadays it has 8-10%. Also, even though the ratio is “wrong”, it is still better than for example in olive oil.

    Among the old tribes the muscle meat (that is used to measure the values, and we primarily eat) was not a preferred meat. Whole carcass was consumed. And taking into account all edible parts, about 4-6% of energy came from polyunsaturates. Even though the fat-percent of the animal changed a lot during the year, the amount of polys still stayed within that range. The additional fat came from monos and saturated, which existed in about 1:1 ratio.

    And the same things seem to happen here, when fat-% goes up, percentage of polys go down. And this actually outplays the problem with the distorted ratio. Some domestic meats actually have LESS omega-6 than their wild counterparts.

    So, now I am wondering whether the omega-distortion is a real problem at all? Taken into account that we are not eating bone marrow and brains anymore, it might even be more feasible solution to achieve the original balance by eating meat with less polys and then balance with extra omega-3. Just eating the muscle meat having a lot of polys might make us eat too much polys.

    My educated guess would be that the original recommendation might be based on the fear of the saturated fat, even though well disguised.

    Hormones and antibiotes are a real problem, though.

    Jaana wrote on March 25th, 2008
  19. If there’s a Trader Joe’s in your area, check them out, they carry some cuts of New Zealand grass fed beef at very reasonable prices.

    Marc wrote on March 25th, 2008
  20. Judy: Ain’t it funny how this works? I’m sitting here in Corpus wishing I had the selection available in San Antonio or Houston! :-)

    Anna: Wow! What a great post. I’ve made progress from where the time I spent in the kitchen was equal to the time it took to pour milk in my cereal, to actually enjoying doing some real prepration. I’ve saved your post in a document file–it’s definitely something I want to investigate.

    Jaana: Just want to point out that there are some fairly knowledgeable people who take Cordain to task on his analysis of paleo meat. That may not directly affect your point, but it highlights how in some cases we have to pick from different “expert” views.

    Dave C. wrote on March 25th, 2008
  21. Judy, I do see your point, and honestly I don’t think we disagree that much. We both agree that it’s ok to eat animals, and that animals should live good lives appropriate to their species. The people I disagree with are the vegans who think we should never exploit animals for food, or for that matter, that it’s even possible to avoid doing so. I’m simply wondering if there is a sort of urban/suburban ignorance of farming behind that mentality. People who don’t know that beef mostly comes from steers clearly don’t know much about farming. I’m just trying to point out that making a decision about what to eat based on ignorance may have some unintended consequences. People who buy vegan sugar (filtered through charcoal that is not made of animal bones) would surely be shocked to know that growing soybeans takes its share of lives, too.

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
  22. “The people I disagree with are the vegans who think we should never exploit animals for food, or for that matter, that it’s even possible to avoid doing so.” No, it’s not impossible to avoid harming all animals (or humans) – however, we can survive without the slaughter of 10 billion land animals a year. Half the world survives on a plant based diet – that number is increasing steadily here in the US, Europe, etc.

    “People who don’t know that beef mostly comes from steers clearly don’t know much about farming” – the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers…. It’s the fast food burgers (aka: gimpy dairy cows) that constitutes “beef” consumption.

    Yes, I agree too…. it’s “okay for you to eat animals” – but not to kill them. May I suggest trolling the interstate for alternative flesh sources?

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  23. Old dairy cows are slaughtered, it is true, but I question whether the majority of beef consumed in the US comes from them.

    http://www.bennett.com/blog/index.php/archives/2003/12/26/a-very-mad-dairy-cow/

    A quote from the above: “Worn-out dairy cows don’t get slaughtered for the steaks you’re going to buy at a restaurant, you can’t buy their meat at Safeway, and you can’t buy hamburgers at McDonald’s or Burgerville made out of them. Their meat goes into processed foods like bologna, sausages, and dog food.”

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
  24. P.S. Provoked, why is it OK to kill critters so you can eat soybeans, but it is not OK to kill critters so I can eat meat? I’m not sure I understand your argument.

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
  25. Anna,

    Thank you for the detailed information in your comment. This would make an excellent “guest post” on the main site. I think it’s the kind of real-world information all our readers crave.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 25th, 2008
  26. Jaana,

    Good analysis and worthy of further investigation regarding ratios and sat fat.

    You said, “My educated guess would be that the original recommendation might be based on the fear of the saturated fat, even though well disguised.” I think Cordain still has a problem with sat fat. In my opinion, sat fat is far less an issue.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 25th, 2008
  27. P.S. Provoked, why is it OK to kill critters so you can eat soybeans, but it is not OK to kill critters so I can eat meat? I’m not sure I understand your argument.

    I’m not growing the critters (most in horrible conditions) to kill – whatever kritters you refer to aren’t deliberately created for consumption. It is an unavoidable occurance – not 10 billion grown deliberately. It is intent that justifies morality. It’s sad if I accidentally run over a squirrel while driving my car – Much different than breeding squirrels to specifically aim my vehicle at. It’s the intent that defines the morality. To do the least harm…. humanity 101.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  28. So, Provoked – what if I don’t raise the critters? What if I hunt them?

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
  29. You are welcome, Mark. I tend to get a bit wordy, I know, so I hope you don’t mind that. But I find that when people are really interested in making changes, but don’t understand the mechanisms of how to make it happen (such as sourcing outside the supermarket system), sometimes they need a good example from “someone in the trenches” offering what works for them. I have a similar post up currently on my puny little blog, too (www.againstthegrainblog.com).

    Other than the change in shopping & cooking techniques, a typical stumbling block is resistance from family members who fear change. Going slowly is very a good idea (and not saying much, either). Not every change will win cheers and some will spark jeers.

    My son, like I was at his age, wants all the fat and anything “yucky” off his meat. So he has become very adept at using a knife & fork to trim his meat on the plate (better than some adults I know!). It didn’t happen overnight, but it also meant *me* moving away from often preparing things especially for him (I still do on occasion, such as when I prepare liver). Once he has seen something at the table a few times, and he sees my husband and I really enjoying it, he eventually asks for a taste. It’s been a great lesson in patience on my part.

    Anna wrote on March 25th, 2008
  30. P.S. – I did say that the dairy cows go to make burgers – not steaks…. McDonald’s only recently changed their suppliers – countless other dairy cows are processed for human food via grocery stores, other burger joints, the USDA school lunch programs, the military, the Indian Reservations, etc. Dog/cat food? All the by-products – not the “meat”….

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  31. Angus beef burgers are not from ex-dairy cows.

    And for those who are willing, it is possible to purchase meat from outside the factory farm system, which I agree is to be avoided for many reasons, included the inhumane living conditions of the animals.

    Anna wrote on March 25th, 2008
  32. So, Provoked – what if I don’t raise the critters? What if I hunt them?

    I’ve never heard of “accidental/non-deliberate” hunting trip….. They’re planned events aren’t they?

    Hunting while sleepwalking – that would be out of your control and unavoidable.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  33. Oh, I see. I was confused because you said “deliberately created for consumption,” which hunted animals are not.

    I still don’t understand why my deliberate killing of animals makes me bad, but your deliberate plowing of land for soybeans (and killing animals in the process) does not. The intent argument can be used to rationalize away anything that’s uncomfortable. Someone who eats factory farmed animals can just as easily say that he does not intend for the animals to be held in confinement pens; someone who eats dairy or eggs but not meat can say he doesn’t intend for the dairy cow to get eaten; how is that any different from your saying that you don’t intend for voles to be sliced up in the fields?

    The fact that some of the beef consumed in the US comes from dairy cows – a fact I don’t dispute -does not prove that MOST of the beef consumed in the US comes from cows, which is what Tracy seemed to think and what I took you to mean when you said, “the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers.” (It looks like there’s a typo in that statement, so I’m not totally sure what you meant.) I still maintain that most of it comes from steers. In fact, there’s no way dairy cows by themselves could meet all current demand for beef.

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. What you are trying to persuade me of is that it is bad for me to kill an animal for the purpose of feeding myself. That’s a fundamental difference between our belief systems.

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
    • It’s ok; within a few years we will have in-vitro cloning of meat which will eliminate this issue and point of contention between meat-eaters and vegetarians completely.

      George wrote on February 26th, 2010
  34. Nice post. I appreciate that you teach/remind people about the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished meat, and that you brainstorm options for getting access to good meats.

    Another reason to prioritize good quality meat is to limit the levels of industrial contaminants you ingest. I recently wrote something up about dioxin levels in meat and animal fat, which has been worrying me. This is another situation where good quality matters, although, due to dioxin in soil, water and air, even great quality meats and animal fats can contain concentrated contaminants. I bring this up here because I think it matters more for people following Paleo-like diets, which are high in animal fat. Or for those of us who really like butter.

    Food Is Love

    Huckleberry wrote on March 25th, 2008
  35. “….deliberate killing of animals makes me bad, but your deliberate plowing of land for soybeans (and killing animals in the process) does not. The intent argument can be used to rationalize away anything that’s uncomfortable.” Well, there is a definate difference in war it’s called “collateral damage” in courts it’s called “manslaughter”. I suppose eventually (if civilization ever progressed enough) most grains and vegetable could be grown hydroponically which would eliminate the need for concentrated land use and accidental killing of animals….

    “the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers.” Sorry, didn’t make that clear – you are right – Muscle meats do come from steer…. The gimpy dairy cows account for some burgers – Right that there’s not enough “culling” of crippled dairy to meet the demand – hence the rapid conversion to cattle feedlots….. from the pictues I’ve seen, they’re as far as the eye can see. In fact, my 8 year old nephew made a (not so funny joke) upon seeing the photos on my computer….. “Why are all the cows in jail?” He knows now.

    ” What you are trying to persuade me of is that it is bad for me to kill an animal for the purpose of feeding myself.” If eating meat were the only way to survive and thrive…. I’d have absolutely no problem – it would be necessity. Heck, I’d eat my own dog if required to sustain life. BUT – it’s not necessary (and probably not the best dietary choice at that)…..

    The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
    • @Provoked “I suppose eventually (if civilization ever progressed enough) most grains and vegetable could be grown hydroponically which would eliminate the need for concentrated land use and accidental killing of animals….”

      If civilization ever progressed enough then we would also be growing meat in labs.

      But that’s not the point; the point is morality is subjective and someone like yourself seems to believe that everyone should hold the same moral standards as yourself (or at the very least similar to yourself). Well sorry but that ain’t the case; every body tends to have their own set of morals and what could be moral or immoral for someone could be the very opposite for another.

      What matters is ethics or rather universal ethics which can be applied universally across all segments including across species. May be I would become a vegan the day a Lion would turn one too.

      It is natural to consume other living beings either plant or animal or other forms of life like fungi(mushrooms – which are more animal than plant) and fish etc or any combination of them as suits the living being that consumes.

      I believe you agree with this but have issues with any deliberate attempt to kill another animal. Well that is the way nature works; i.e. food is sought out deliberately!

      We deliberately kill another living being such as a plant or an animal in order to eat it. So I don’t know if you have some kind of Materializing Device or a Magic Lamp that you use for getting your food but we don’t.

      Also, just like animals are deliberately raised for slaughter as you put it; plants are also deliberately raised for slaughter – OK so?

      However if your distinction was one between plant and animal life then it is both speciest as well as absurd. Both are living beings and are able to perceive pain in varying degrees based on their types of nervous systems as well as sensory inputs.

      If you still however contend that for some reason pain as experienced by animals is greater then may be we could lobotomize them; may be fry the circuits in their brain or even better use genetic engineering to ensure that they have no brains just like most of the pushy “Ethical” Vegans out there! Hope that would make you feel much better, much much better!

      Seriously; I see no reason for making a distinction between plants and animals; and I consider it a waste of time to argue with someone who takes of beig compassionate about One Group(put any group, race, nation etc) but discriminates, distinguishes and differentiates about the Another Group (put any group, race, nation etc) in and under the same context; but then I had nothing better to do than argue with a self righteous vegan.

      Yes like stated in the comments above more people have switched to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle than in the past; of course we also have higher heart disease; diabetes; hypertension; etc too – So that kinda explains it!

      Cheers and Love

      Just My Thoughts wrote on July 10th, 2009
  36. “The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.”

    If you wonder why omnivores find vegans annoying, it’s because of the vocal minority who make judgmental statements like this. I think that the farmer from whom I buy my pastured chickens shows more compassion to the chicken than the fox who is waiting in the woods to rip it to shreds. And that’s what would happen to that chicken if there were no farmer to protect it. It’s clear we have nothing more to discuss; get in a last word if you want, but I am done with this discussion.

    Migraineur wrote on March 25th, 2008
  37. I think that the farmer from whom I buy my pastured chickens shows more compassion to the chicken than the fox who is waiting in the woods to rip it to shreds.

    Love it!! :-)(and I have some grass-fed beef on the counter getting getting ready for the cast iron skillet).

    Dave

    Dave C. wrote on March 25th, 2008
  38. So we resort and conclude by comparing man to foxes? So be it…. have the last word.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008
  39. The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.

    Your sense of moral superiority is misguided. Let’s suppose that animal consumption were outlawed. What would happen to all the livestock? Farmers could no longer afford to feed them and would have to release them into the wild, where they would severely disrupt the ecosystem. All living things are destined to die. It’s not like cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock would live forever if we didn’t kill them for food. Humane raising and slaughter of livestock is infinitely better than a short, brutish life in the wild.

    Since you’re so opposed to intentionally killing animals, Provoked, I hope you are a true vegan who consumes no dairy, wears no leather, and refuses modern medical treatment as so many procedures, surgeries and medicines were first tried out on lab animals.

    Sonagi wrote on March 25th, 2008
  40. No dairy….. no animal product clothing…. No medications for 12 years (pre-vegan) have not been sick since – sorry…..

    What would happen to all the animals? Now, you’re inviting my loveliest of dreams. Firstly, there would be a halt to artificially inseminating and breeding them. I am in favor of population control for all human and non-human animals.

    I live in Florida – the south is filled with areas that have backyard/urban/sub-urban chickens. Chickens were meant to be wild. The only “problem” animals would be cows & pigs.

    I’m pretty certain many people such as myself with ample property could/would foster many/most. There are countless numbers of sanctuaries – all provide quite well for the animals and exist only on donations – If the government now supports the animal-as-food industries to the tune of 87 billion$/year – perhaps some of that $ could be filtered into the care of animals till their “time”?

    However, it is said – if all factory farm animals were released they would require 3/4 of the US land mass…. that’s how critical the situation has become. As it is now, it is not sustainable -we have literally created a monster.

    Of course nothing happens “overnight” – I believe in time there will be a slow-down on meat eating -so much of the industry is now kept artificially low to keep people buying the “product”. For example the Consumer Price Index records that houses, cars, non-food goods rose approx. 1400% since the 50’s – compared to foods (mainly animal-based foods) which have only risen 300%. If nothing else, I’d like to see my tax dollars not support an industry that I philosophicaly am opposed to. Let the market determine. If the true costs were revealed to people in the $ it takes to clean the water/dispose of remnant wastes, truck/process/refridgerate meats – many would say it’s not worth the expense. Reality would change things slowly – as I think it is already….

    Thanks for being open to hear an alternate scenario – it’s not perfect. But certainly the current situation with manure lagoons, tremendous water/fuel/pharmecutical use to grow/process meat is much worse.

    Provoked wrote on March 25th, 2008

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