When it comes to beef, there’s a misconception that grain-fed tastes better than grass-fed beef, and speaking about nutrients, many people still believe that grain-fed could be better. That’s the reason we’ve decided to give you the facts on Grass-fed vs. Grain-fed beef so you can make up your own mind! Let’s get started.
Grass-fed vs Grain-fed beef
Grass-fed cows eat (mostly) grass, while grain-fed cows eat (mostly) an unnatural diet based on corn and soy during the latter part of their lives. Let’s put it this way… The calves are born, drink milk from their mothers, and are then allowed to roam free and eat grass or other edible plants they find in their environment.
And so it goes for about 7–9 months. After that, most conventionally raised cows are moved to feedlots. Cool fact: large feedlots are called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). There, the cows are kept in confined stalls, often with limited space, which is not that cool, right? They are rapidly fattened with grain-based feeds usually made from a base of soy or corn. Typically, their diet is also supplemented with small amounts of dried grass. Here, we’re talking about the common life of a calf with a grain-fed future beef.
As you can see, grain-fed cows’ needs are different from grass-fed, they need to grow fast, the main objective is to go out to the market and it is very common to maximize their growth with drugs such as antibiotics and growth hormones. While grass-fed cows eat (mostly) grass, grain-fed cows eat (mostly) an unnatural diet based on corn and soy during the latter part of their lives.
To simplify the nutritional information, let’s say that grass-fed beef contains less total fat than grain-fed beef, but a lot more Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, which are both linked to health benefits. In general, beef is full with vitamin B12, B3, and B6, it’s also rich in highly bioavailable iron, selenium, and zinc. In fact, meat contains almost every nutrient that you need to survive. But even though the difference isn’t great, grass-fed beef generally contains higher amounts of certain nutrients such as antioxidants in Vitamin E form, fatty acids like Omega 3 and more.
When it comes to colors and flavors, you will notice often when beef is grass-fed by the slight yellow hue of the fat. This is a result of the pigments in grass and does not affect the quality of the beef. Beef from grain-fed cattle has a brighter, whiter fat with more marbling throughout due to the higher sugar and fat content of the grains, this affects the flavor too, because of the increase in intramuscular fats. Grain-fed beef is said to have a more buttery flavour, while grass-fed is said to have a more complex flavour as a result of the varied pastoral diet.
Choosing between grass-fed beef & grain-fed beef
That said, we believe it’s simply a case of personal preference. But despite all the controversies in the field of nutrition, most people agree that the most important thing is to eat real food, that’s why we are more likely to enjoy the flavor of grass-fed beef, which is delicious by the way and the idea of cattle raised on natural pastures, taking care of the environment and what we put in our bodies makes us choose it everyday.