Holy Cow! – Lessons in Food Respect

I love a good cow. Its meat is tasty, filling, and, especially when grass-fed and finished, full of fat-soluble vitamins, protein, and healthy fat. A cow’s organs are highly nutritious and affordable, often discarded by butchers, usually ignored by shoppers, and always available for the discerning Primal eater. The cow also produces a magical self-replenishing liquid called milk, which is either consumed straight up (not really for me), skimmed for the rich cream, or fermented (which in turn produces a helpful byproduct called whey) to make yogurt, kefir, or cheese. And those are just a few of the major foods we get from cows. They also poop a fair bit, and that poop has the potential to become fertilizer for plants underhoof. It’s pretty cool how it works – the cow eats the grass, runs the grass through the digestive wringer, poops it out, and, in the course of everyday life, steps on the poop so that it’s literally forced down into the soil to fertilize and promote even more grass growth. It’s the muck of nature, of death, and of life, and we’re all mixed up in it.

Pretty much every culture that came into contact with cattle, whether it was the ancestral wild aurochs standing almost seven feet tall at the shoulders or the large-humped, floppy-eared cattle of the Indian subcontinent, also recognized the importance, vitality, and (most importantly) potential of the animal. Judging from our earliest recorded visual art, our reverence for cattle dates back at least several dozen millennia. As you already know, the first graffiti artists weren’t throwing up aerosol paint on concrete jungle walls. They were ochre-wielding prey animal-obsessed cave painters. And their favorite subject seemed to be the auroch.

Okay, so? Art imitates life, or, more accurately, artists depict that which matters most to them. You don’t get out the easel, mix the paints, obsess over perspective, find the perfect lighting, agonize over getting started, and eventually pour your heart onto the page/canvas or through the lens if you don’t care deeply for what you’re trying to convey to the audience. That goes for starving art students foregoing a degree in finance or business for one in photography, and it goes for Paleolithic cave painters gathering enough ochre, manganese oxide, and charcoal to render massive depictions of stags, bison, horses, and aurochs on the wall. They don’t choose subjects randomly. Those famous cave painters didn’t just happen to paint hunting scenes populated by enormous (seventeen feet across, in some instances!) auroch bulls. Nope – the auroch likely got top billing because it was incredibly important to early man’s existence and survival. And it still is. These were the aurochs, the ancient ancestor of the modern cow, the “uri” that Caesar, in his “Commentaries” on the Gallic War, described as a beast whose size is “very little [less] than elephants” and which the Germanic tribes favored above all other animals. They actually survived, in wild form, until the 17th century in Europe and, throughout the latter part of their history, were given protected, almost exalted status (countries like Romania and Moldavia and various European cities even use the auroch as their official symbol). Poachers were prosecuted and usually executed.

Why does this matter to a bunch of evolutionary nutrition nerds, many of whom are atheist or agnostic with no ties to any deity – bovine or otherwise? Aren’t we supposed to pick and choose the good stuff from our past that makes sense today and discard the miscellanea?

Easy – while we shouldn’t play reenactment and subscribe to every single behavior or belief of Paleolithic man, we should be aware of their reasons for doing or believing things. We should understand why they believed or did what they did, because everything that happened on a wide scale probably impacts who we are today.

It’s normal to discount early spirituality, especially primitive or animistic incarnations, as products of irrational minds “that just didn’t know any better,” but consider the objects of their reverence before tossing them into the dust heap. Hunter-gatherers (past and present) and early pastoralists didn’t concern themselves with holy spirits and abstract heavenly fathers; they were all about the rain that sustained crops, the prey animals that provided meat and fat, and the plants that provided food and medicine. It may seem silly and quaint to see spirit or soul in simple vertebrates and aspects of the weather system, but the reasoning is quite sound. Early man wrought spiritual meaning from the things that provided tangible, material benefits. They respected the animals they hunted enough to paint massive murals on cave walls depicting them (or, as some contend, those paintings were instructional materials for prospective hunters). To my entirely unreligious mind, that kind of spirituality – the type that’s grounded in the things that truly do matter in a very materialistic world (food, shelter, water, life) – makes a lot of sense.

I think of Hinduism, which famously forbids the consumption of cow flesh while fully supporting consumption of its dairy. What’s interesting is that the earliest Hindu scriptures, the Vedic texts, depict the ritual sacrifice and consumption of beef in several instances. For example, in the “Mahabharata,” the king Rantideva (described as the “kindest and most liberal of the kings in ancient India,” so it’s not as if he’s some monster in the literature) slaughters two thousand head of cattle on a daily basis for food for his guests. If you’re interested in more evidence of early Hindu cow eating, check out the controversial “The Myth of the Holy Cow,” by D. N. Jha, or read a quick review. What happened is they realized the cow was a whole lot more useful and productive if they kept it alive for constant milk, ghee, and yogurt, and this is reflected in the later, more contemporary religious literature. Thus, the religious tradition arose out of necessity and out of economy. The cow’s dairy was more useful and sustainable than its meat.

So, what can we learn from this stuff, and what does it mean in the 21st century? To me this simply reinforces my belief in the utility and near necessity of humanely-raised meat. Notice that I did not say grass-fed and finished. While ideally I’d prefer every cow I eat to have only eaten its natural, grassy diet in order to maximize its nutritive status (CLA, vitamin K2, etc.), I understand that plenty of smaller, laudable operations might provide a bit of grain to their animals while still giving them a great overall life and minimizing pain and suffering. These are magnificent animals to whom we owe a lot. We’re not going to stop eating cows, since the depth of our connection with them is contingent upon their spot on our dinner plates, but we’ve got a lot of history with their species, and I think giving them the respect of their natural diet and environment – not because they have a soul or are imbued with spirit or anything – is worth supporting.

That’s my thinking on the subject. What do you think? Do you have reverence and respect for the food you eat? Where does it come from and how does it affect you? Share your thoughts in the comment board and Grok on!

williamcromar Flickr Photo (CC)

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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68 thoughts on “Holy Cow! – Lessons in Food Respect”

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  1. At a very basic level, taste the difference between an animal that died slowly in a state of adrenalin shock (meat from the average slaughter house) vesus one raised well (grass fed, free range, slaughtered humanely). It goes a lot deeper, but even our basic senses can tell the difference.

  2. I concur with most of the above, but as an agnostic, I think cattle may have a soul. If we do, then they do.

  3. I think it is highly important to know where our food comes from as well as how it was raised and treated. I like to meet my meat.

    I think it is important to support the farmers that respect their cows. And I concur with your take on the smaller farmers who may use a little grain. I’ve spoken with many and while the cows spend most of the time out to pasture, the handful of grain they get helps bring them in for milking.

    Good write up Mark. While I will not go so far as to worship them, I think we can thank and respect the animals that feed us.

  4. I like the Native American tradition of saying thank you to an animal you have just killed as a gesture of respect.

    Reverence for our place in the cycle of life and the spinning of the universe is a good thing. It keeps us grounded and humble. But reverence doesn’t have to become worship of any kind of deity. I am an atheist and I celebrate the Solstice.

  5. I’m neither atheist nor agnostic. I am involved in an organized religion as well as rather spiritual, respect for the sacrifice of an animal is paramount to me.

  6. I was a vegetarian for 6.5 years and absolutely agree with Mark. I don’t think it’s wrong to eat meat — and my health improved dramatically when I reintroduced meat and stopped soy, lasagna, etc. — but I do think it’s wrong to treat our animals inhumanely.

    Put differently, in an ideal world, every meat eater should be forced to participate in the slaughter process (even if just hunting) every so often. We mean well, but our society has made ignoring unpleasantries easy — if not acceptable.

    Animals are more sentient than once thought, and we’re taking all they have when we take their life. Why not give a little respect back?

    1. I agree with you completely in the last 21 years I spent 14 (in two 7 year stints) as a vegetarian.

      I too have felt all the benefits of eating meat again and will never return to being vegetarian.

      I buy my meat direct from the slaugher-house a short drive from my house. The animals are local and field-reared and the facility clean and humane and the staff respectful. I make myself go there and make a conscious effort to remember the life of the animals and give thanks – to them, not to any ‘diety’.

      Since following the Primal way over the last year I’ve finally found my place in the cycle of life so to speak.

      Grok on

    2. I totally agree, I spent 14 (in two 7 year stints) of the last 21 years as a vegetarian but have returned to meat eating since February.

      I buy my meat direct from my local slaughter-house where the animals are local and field-reared. I make myself go there and to try think about the animals and the benefit I gain from them.

      The staff are respectful and the facility is clean and humane.

      Since becoming Primal a year ago I feel a very great deal more connected with the whole cycle of life and our part in the ‘system’.

  7. I worship the Brahma cow. I even live on a road named for a hybrid Brahma/Angus breed: my address is Brangus Lane.

    I have photographed and drawn these beautiful cattle for two decades now. I love them.

  8. As usual, I agree with Mark for the most part except for one thing; cow dairy. I used to love cheese I would put it on everything. My entire life I had sinus problems and was never able to properly breathe through my nose. When I met my nutritionist (who has a lot in common with Mark), he told me dairy is one of the things he hates the most for a few reasons.
    (1) As far as my problem goes, dairy creates mucus (which is why I could never breathe). Mucus breeds bacteria. Bacteria causes sickness & disease. I quit dairy, & not only was I able to breathe properly for the first time in my life but my acne also disappeared.
    (2) Cow milk is for baby cows. Animals are breast fed to develop immunities. A cows immunities are nowhere near similar to a human’s. However, a goat’s immunities are extremely similar to that of ours and goat’s dairy is the only form of dairy he does approve of.

    I stopped eating dairy & felt great. once I turned primal I still continue to avoid dairy, but I feel incredible.
    Thanks Mark.

    1. Did you try raw cow dairy before giving it up entirely? I’ve heard from people who originally swore up and down that they were allergic to cow’s milk and then switched to raw (or raw grass-fed) and their symptoms disappeared.

      I do know grass-fed *tastes* different than CAFO even if it’s not raw. I’ve been using GF dairy for years now and I won’t go back if I can at all help it.

  9. Love this post Mark.

    I’m reading Ishmael again, and I just find it interesting the parallels between the agricultural revolution, and the cultural revolution that went along with it. Our health declined, as did our respect for our surroundings.

    Again, great stuff! I can’t wait to take my own kids fishing one day to teach them the importance of food cycles and how we’re all a part of it.

  10. I agree. I’m an atheist, and I believe in something like ‘what goes around comes around’. Not in a superstitious way – it’s just the natural order of things.
    And thus we got the ‘mad cow disease’.

  11. As someone who is reestablishing her relationship with beef, this was an interesting read.

    Having virtually sworn off eating beef for years because everyone told me it was bad for me, this reversal is a work in progress.

  12. To me it’s protein, I buy it at the grocery store because that is where you buy animal flesh. Hopefully they treat the cattle well.

    I’ve never actually mistreated, disrespected or other abused a cow so I figure I’m okay.

    1. If you were to pay someone to murder a human being for you, and the legal system found out, you would be put on trial and possibly convicted of being an accessory to murder.

      This is because we understand culturally that enabling or asking another person to do something bad for you is almost as bad as doing the bad thing yourself, if not in fact morally equivalent.

      I’m a hypocrite for saying this because I still buy CAFO beef, something I hope to change soon (I don’t have absolute control over the food dollars in my household), but I acknowledge that my purchases enable the abuse of cattle, and don’t pretend that I am not complicit in that guilt.

      (by which I mean guilt in the culpability sense, not the bad-feeling sense.)

      1. It seems there’s lots of angst over killing animals, and several statements equating animals with people. I think that while suffering should be minimized while raising and slaughtering animals, it’s a mistake to conflate animals and people. Your murder for hire example doesn’t hold water with cows.

        Other than humans, and possibly whales and dolphins, animals are not self-aware. They do not have rights. Killing them is not murder.

        Note that I do not advocate killing dolphins or whales, as it _might_ be murder. One day we may advance enough technologically to communicate with them. Then what?

  13. “Look after your cows and your cows will look after you”


  14. I was just thinking about a subject similar to this. Some places it is hard to get all pastured grass fed anything, at a minimum paying respect is the least you could do. If this is through prayer or simple thoughts it should be done. Several points have made about us knowing our place in the natural cycle and I agree with those.

  15. One thing to remember, all cows get a little grain in their diet. Pasture-fed, raised, and grown animals will get it from the ‘seeds’ of grasses. Barley, alfalfa, etc all have this as part of this system. Just so happens to be part of the diet. Now, overfeeding them this grain (out of the context of their natural eating habits) is what causes the ‘bad’ effect.

    Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass

  16. Mm, I have tried twice to post a comment and nothing is appearing so apologies if this is now the third one!

    Briefly, ex vegetarian, now really appreciate the whole cycle of life and the food chain. I enjoy meat, buy it locally from locally raised animals and always try to give thanks to them, not to any diety!

  17. Ironically, Mark, I am a grass-based farmer who was turned on to your site by my Paleo-eating customers. I take great pride in the fact I raise and harvest my livestock with the utmost respect for them, the environment and socially responsibility. I’m not going to get rich doing this, but like those cave painters, I feel that what I’m doing in life is of great importance.

    1. Very nice. I appreciate what you are doing. I grew up on a farm myself.

  18. Dairy….a magical self replenishing liquid? Perhaps I misunderstood the statement…however cow’s milk is not a magical “self” replenishing liquid. For a cow to produce milk she has to become impregnated, naturally or artificially (more common), give birth, then have the calf taken away (usually sold to veal farmers)so the farmer can milk her at least twice a day, for human consumption. Cow’s dairy is not self replenishing. It is more accurate to say it is stimulated…through cold plastic and metal suction cups and rubber hoses. Just as with any mammal, if the mammary glands are not milked regularly they will dry up. I have visited a few dairy farms, including a leading Organic yogurt producer and their practices of impregnating and taking the calf away are no different than conventional. Dairy directly supports the veal industry. Sick.

    1. You have made a good argument against factory farming for sure; however I have a cow (Penny), and now a calf. The calf is 8 months old and still nurses her mother. I keep them seperate for part of the day so that I can get some milk from Penny for our family. And I hand milk, no “cold plastic and metal suction cups”.

      There are alternatives.

      1. If you have a farm. More power to you. However, a MAJORITY, of American Citizens do not. We must remember there are 6 billion people in this world, of which a very, very, very, very small percentage live such a simple and thoughtful lifestyle. I have hand milked as well while working on various farms, this population is few and far between. Visit a few large cities in the US and one is quickly reminded of how small our own experiences are in the whole scheme of things (small, meaning actual size not quality).

    2. Oh, pullease…. not ALL dairy is so achieved so horribly. Just as with CAFO cattle vs small-farm cattle, there is a HUGE difference between CAFO dairy and small-farm dairy.

      My Jersey cow is bred naturally by a local bull, fed grainfree during her pregnancy, and then calves in the spring. Her calf stays with her for a week until the colostrum is gone; during that time I usually HAVE to milk her out at least once a day as six gallons a day is far too much milk for a newborn calf. If I didn’t milk her out, it would cake in her udder, leading to mastitis. By the way, she is fed alfalfa cubes and alfalfa hay while being milked, not grain. This cow is totally grain-free.

      After the colostrum has cleared, I put the calf in a stall every night. In the morning, he nurses off one side while I milk out the other, by hand; he is then released to be with her during the day until weaning at 3-4 months when his teeth start slicing and dicing her teats cruelly. If it’s a bull calf, he’s raised on my farm for beef in 18 months. If a heifer calf, she’s either kept or sold to another small farm where I know they have similar principles to mine.

      Many people who have a cow or two for dairy do this same thing, and have done for hundreds of years. Most cow shares are run on this or similar techniques.

      So, if CAFO dairy, organic or not, bothers you as it should anyone, then make the effort to find and VISIT a humane dairy farmer. Most are thrilled to show and talk about their setup; in fact, I request it of any new customers.

      Check out this site to find a humane source of raw milk near you:

      1. Point is… dairy is for the babies of the animals that birth them, not for us. I look at it like people not spaying or neutering their domesticated feline or canine friends. If you want milk then the cow has to give birth….WE DO NOT NEED MILK IN OUR DIET!!!!! Have you ever breast fed a child? There is a surge in milk production within the first few days. The baby milks the breast as much as it needs. If the breast is not milked then the production slows. If the breast is milked a lot then the production increases or maintains. The same for a cow. Essentially, as you milk the cow while the calf is nursing then you are demanding the cow produce more than it would just for the calf. Humane or not, it’s not necessary. In fact its a waste of time and resources no matter how sustainable. So what that people have milked for hundreds of years. It’s still NOT necessary for our food supply. There’s plenty of things humans have done for hundreds of years and some of them just aren’t right or necessary. Dairy free and always will be. Humane source of milk,hah, how bout the only source of milk for us be human milk. Now that’s humane!

        1. Yep, we do not need milk, but I like it, and think it is a nutrient dense superfood. I’ll keep my cow, thanks.

          And, BTW, I wonder which of the things that humans eat have the intention (pupose) of being used solely as food by humans? Seems like just about everything we choose to eat has some other purpose, be it an egg that becomes a chick or a seed that becomes a plant. Just some food for thought…

        2. Well, I don’t actually drink much milk myself, but U like the Jersey milk for the butter, cream and cheese, plus the milk’s a good source of income that allows me to have the farm life I want. Any milk I don’t sell or feed to the poultry, weaner pigs and orphan lambs, I make cheese to sell.

          Yep, I’m an animal slaver! It’s true… I make them work for their lives here.

          hahaha, actually the joke’s on me… I’m the one who’s the real slave. All my critters have to do is bear their young in the spring, which they would do anyway, put up with milking once a day, wander the property grazing all day in the summer and fall, and wait for me to trudge through knee-deep snow to feed them hay twice a day in the winter.

          Point is, I do supply quite a few people who live in cities, with poultry, pork, beef and goatmeat, eggs, and dairy products, and they’re willing to drive the distance to get it.

          What’s the problem? Oh:
          “If you want milk then the cow has to give birth….”

          Well, the cow is gonna give birth every year anyway because that is what she WANTS to do!! Believe me on this. LOLOL If a cow does not get bred, she will bellow and bellow and BELLLLLLLOOOOOWW, driving you crazy until she goes out of heat in which case you get to hear it all again next month, or until you find her a bull or AI semen. A cow in heat is also dangerous to be around because she won’t hesitate to mount you in her frustration. Once impregnated, she settles down and becomes content and loving. At least mine does.

          The prime imperative of a cow’s life is breeding and raising youmg, and doing it every year…. just like it is for most animals, from worms to eagles.

          Who am I to deny my cow the right to bear young?? lol


          That’s your opinion. Most of my raw milk customers are young mothers who don’t want to feed their children grocery store milk. Should I deny them, just because you feel no one should drink milk? My parents are 85 and 90, and are thriving on the raw milk… they have almost no colds or other illnesses now. In fact, my mother had lymphoma and chemo five years ago, and credits the raw milk with pulling her through it.

          Five years ago my dog, then 12, also had lymphoma and the vet urged me to put him down, but I just couldn’t because he didn’t seem that bad off yet. But he did start to go down hill and finally refused to eat anything for over a week. In desperation I gave him a little colostrum from a goat that had kidded that morning. He sniffed it, took a taste, then slurped it down. For a month, colostrum was the only thing he would touch, and then he started drinking fresh goatmilk for another month before he would even look at meat again. A horrible weeping sore on his side that he’d had for many months started closing up and growing hair. He started running around and even played with the new puppy.

          He lived another three years before finally dying at 16.

          Sorry, but you’ll never convince me that raw milk is bad.

    3. There’s nothing wrong with eating veal in and of itself. It’s the screwy things they do to calves to make their meat “whiter” that are appalling, but that’s not everybody in the industry, just the usual CAFO suspects.

      In the old days they’d have simply slaughtered the calf, end of story.

      1. Domesticated farm animals…bred by humans for personal use…Which will come first the extinction of the dairy farmer or the extinction of the modern day cow? Either way, we’ll be moving in the right direction.

        1. Thanks Heather… I had been trying to decide what to write for my next blog post, but now I know. It is going to “Why we keep a family cow” 🙂

        2. PETA…..NOT SO. You all did a good job of ruffling my feathers with your experience and perspectives, however. Thanks for hearing out some of mine. Honestly, I appreciate your lifestyle, though won’t be sold on dairy as you won’t be on non-dairy….. You’re welcome…I’d like to read your post.

        3. I’m not trying to convince anyone to consume dairy nor do I believe that it’s for everyone; but I am trying to point out my experiences have convinced me that dairy is not evil, and may be helpful, even healing.

          Some people CAN consume it with no problem; some people even benefit from it. Raw milk CAN even heal. I have seen it with myself with my own mother and my dog, both with lymphoma. I also have a customer with severe IBS who can only drink raw milk kefir… she lives on it. Every time she tries to eat other food, her bowels go into agony. Raw kefir is the only thing that eases them; it keeps her alive.

          I’ve also had several customers with babies who couldn’t tolerate their mother’s milk or any formula, including soy (a bastardization that should never be permitted to exist), whose babies happily drink raw goat’s milk.

          I’ve been selling raw milk for 13 years and have lots of such testimonials, so naturally it’s a little difficult for me to accept the premise that ALL dairy is bad and no one should ever drink it.

          CAFO dairy is bad. Pasteurized and homogenized milk, organic or not, is bad.

          Raw milk straight from the cow or goat and unadulterated is the only way to go if you’re going to consume dairy.

        4. Never has a domesticated animal gone extinct. Breeds might disappear as more efficient ones are developed, but no domesticated farm animal has ever gone extinct.

  19. Too bad cows can’t talk, they would most likely tell you to stop cutting them to pieces with saws.


    1. African cape buffalo would probably ask the lions to stop hunting them as well, but it ain’t gonna happen.

    2. If they could talk they would be sapient beings, a different form of “people” and killing them would be murder.

      But they aren’t they are a glorious, healthy source of food.

  20. I feel the same as Kelda. It is very satisfying to sell the nearly perfect product. It’s great to walk amongst the cattlebeasts whilst shifting their break, watching them interact with the dogs and seeing how happy they are with each new strip of paddock.

  21. Another treat the cow has given us is the psilocybin mushroom. The late Terence Mckenna, in an interview with High Times Magazine said the following; “the presence of psychedelic substances in the diet of early human beings created a number of changes in our evolutionary situation. When a person takes small amounts of psilocybin visual acuity improves. They can actually see slightly better, and this means that animals allowing psilocybin into their food chain would have increased hunting success, which means increased food supply, which means increased reproductive success, which is the name of the game in evolution.”

  22. The emphasis on pasture-raised, humanely slaughtered meat is one of the things that resonated most strongly with me about the Primal lifestyle. I am not perfect in this regard – any time I eat out I know I am making a conscious decision to eat factory-farmed meat. But despite the cost I feel like it’s the single most “right” thing I can do in my eating practices. I go for good meat before anything else (e.g. organic fruit and veggies)

  23. I east grass-fed beef (Novy Ranch), but have a better connection with the meat, fish, and fowl that I harvest on my own. Done right, hunting wild game is natural and moral. Because the dying is often visible and the blood is literally on the hunter’s hands, hunting, especially close-range traditional bowhunting, demands an incomparably greater connection to the reality of our food than does a thoughtless trip to the local market.

    1. wouldnt it hurt less with a rifle?

      If you want more connection and you dont mind the extra pain, why not dispense with the bow and use a knife or your own body.

      It may sound silly but we already know humans can do this. we have more endurance than (almost?) any other land animal. look up persistence hunting if you dont believe me.

      1. Whether or not it hurts less with a rifle depends entirely on where you hit the animal.

        Every season there are hunters who are terrible shots with rifles. Sometimes the game runs off for miles and is never found as it slowly bleeds to death over the course of days.

        Going out early in the season honestly scares me because you never know what trigger-happy novice hunter is going to do when he gets a glimpse of you walking through the woods.

        I believe ethical hunting involves being an excellent marksman and bringing down your target with a single, clean blow more than what type of weapon you use to do it.

  24. Sorry – I don’t “east” grass-fed beef, I “eat” grass-fed beef.

  25. I like beef….but I like my venison better….which is why for the most part I will always eat grass fed beef….its tastes more like our venison. I also like the venison because either myself or my husband spent hours scouting the woods looking for deer paths, hours sitting and waiting and walking and waiting some more to finally see and hopefully shoot the venison that sits in our freezer…that’s how you learn to respect the food you eat!

  26. I hunt a lot of my own meat and minimizing the suffering of game is of high importance to me.

    I fully support harvesting your own game, but I wish more people would learn to do it right. Every season I see more and more people gut-shooting game, shooting multiple times because they’re inaccurate, and wasting meat because they don’t know how to process it right.

  27. Great post. I am incredibly lucky to live in new zealand where cows and sheep are all pasture fed, but it is so important to keep in mind that these animals are living, sentient beings before they die to fill our freezers. I have horses and rent 2 acres of pasture. We have just had our first three ewes killed at the pasture, and it gives you such a bigger sense of respect for our meat as i have cared for them and known them. Cant have any cows but intend to get more sheep next spring!

    1. We are lucky, eh. I need to get a few weaned lambs to clean up around the yard and chook run. Pretty easy to butcher yourself, too. Very tasty.

  28. This article and many of the wonderful comments spoke to my heart My husband and I own nearly four hundred cattle at our small ranch in Montana. They live in the most natural setting we can offer, with little human interaction, few crossfences, and grain only during calving season. We have recently lost some cattle due to harsh winter conditions, and the pain is similar to the loss of a family pet. I by no means worship the cow, as I am an active Christian, and enjoy eating all kinds of meat. The saddness I experience is when we, as humans, are either unable or unwilling to not only treat our animals well, but fail to put them to good use. There is so much waste in the food industry as a whole. Thank you, Mark, for educating people about using what we already have rather than simply trying to create “new” or “better” things. For those of you, or your kids, who have not had the chance to visit a real working ranch, I encourage you to do so– you’re invited to mine! There is nothing more beautiful or elegant than a colorful horned Brahma or Longhorn, leading her little bucking bull to water as the sun sets over the mountains. Humans have been given all of these gifts, and yet we continue to want more, more and more. Thanks for reminding us of the simple things in life, like the cow.

  29. Eating meat is great. But the animals should be treated as living beings, not just inanimate inventory.

    Why do treat our pets so well, and our livestock so horribly?

  30. When I hiked the Colorado Trail in 2006, cow pies were everywhere. It was also a rainy year so there was no way to avoid stepping on them. My hiking partner told me that when I forded the Rio Grande that the minute my boots came in contact with the water, it turned red and the cow remains went everywhere. Of course, I was concentrating on fording the river, not looking at my boots, so I missed the show.

    Sometimes it was very difficult to find potable water because we’d turn the corner and there would be cattle wading in the river, pond, or lake. Other times it was difficult to find a clean place to camp. We frequently had to remove cow pies to set up our tents.

    What was most interesting to me was that the bulls were most afraid of us women hikers. They’d see us and start running for the hills, calling the cows to follow. Not all of the cows obeyed; some stayed behind. We would have calves follow us down the trail like dogs. Thank goodness there are gates in some areas.

  31. It’s a perverse anthropomorphization, but I like to ask myself ‘if I had the chance to come back as this animal- would I’. The deer my friends hunt-yes, my chickens and beef- yes, industrialized pork and poultry- no. Conventional beef- maybe.

    You can not have life without death – you have to make the most (and the best) out of both.

  32. I agree with Victoria. Anthropomophization (to give a nonhuman thing a human form, human characteristics, or human behavior) is contrary.

    1. Well, now, and it depends on what you define as “human.” When you’ve got certain species of animals capable of producing art and recognizing themselves in mirrors, you have to ask yourself what’s so different between us and them.

      Maybe it’d be more appropriate, rather than assign uniquely human traits to animals, to instead look at ourselves and what parts of us are animal. Which is everything, really. Every animal has a unique ability or two not shared by other members of the animal kingdom. I don’t know when we decided we were somehow set apart just because of our particular differences.

  33. Amen Mark. And from a paleo point of view, I have the incredible luck of living in Uruguay, a country which has it´s economy based in producing grass-fed cattle. In our supermarkets, the most expensive beef cuts is “feedlot”! The cheep cuts are just grass-fed beleive it or not.

  34. As a child I was raised on a self-sufficient farm. We raised our own goats for milk, cheese, kefir, and meat; our own chickens for eggs and meat; and hunted: deer, turkey, pheasant, duck, goose. I still hunt my own deer meat and hopefully next year my husband and I will get to go elk hunting for the first time, since recently moving to Colorado. I don’t hunt for sport – I hunt for the meat, because it feeds my family in a healthy way while helping maintain environmental balance (keeping overpopulation in check). Truth be told, I feel a little sad every time I shoot an animal, but I know it is food on the table and its life gives us ours, and for me that is a spiritual and deeply moving experience.

  35. It is stupid to think God had nothing to do with animals being apart of what we eat. He is the very one who created us and the animals. I believe their were these paleolethic people because the paintings on the wall dont lie’ However it wasn’t millions of years ago and I wont believe what is opposite of what the Bible says’ The earth could be millions of years old but we humans have only existed for 8000 years. Am greatful to still get real food on this planet and it has everything to do with God making it happen! and actually animals back in the Bible times were extremely imporant as the were for burnt sacrifices to The Lord God of the Universe as a cleansing of sins. Then Jesus came and we no longer needed these sacrifices becuase He was/is the ultimate sacrifice. Please say what you will about any other belief but leave Christainity out of it! it has no part in these pagan falsehoods’ Jesus wants you to be blessed and God is a God of love’ you can come to Him and be free if you believe and just have faith’

  36. In India, the calf is not used for veal, but for plowing in the fields when he grows up(I am not sure how prevalent this is in modern times, but it stems for the fact that we consider cow sacred). Of course, it all depends how you treat the cow, since you could technically abuse it or overwork it. I wonder though, is it really necessary to kill the male calf? Can it not grow up to be a steer and be a potential “candidate” for female cows? I am not very familiar with dairy practices or habits so you guys might have to help me on this…

  37. i love to play softball or take a dance class iam age 53 k thanks nancy i live in moreno valley ca