Sustainable & Grass-fed Animals

The term ‘recovering vegetarian’ is interesting but ‘pegan’ is more accurate.  This was coined by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD to describe how closely the vegan and paleo diet actually are.

Nobody likes factory farming, industrial agriculture or the harm to land and animals that result.  Most people who are health conscious have been a vegetarian or vegan at some point.  However, meat that is pasture raised is nutrient dense and a source of omega 3’s and K2 which are both essential for long term health.

Is eating meat inherently bad or good?

Perhaps we need a different question.  What is our relationship to where food comes from?  Real solutions emerge from this kind of dialogue, not a moral debate.

Local Food versus the Corporate Agenda

Eating an ancestral diet helps people reclaim their health.  Its also reconnects people with their food systems.  Its about nurturing a world that is sustainable for our children and their children. The solutions are simple: grow vegetables in a way that mimics the natural world.  Nourish the soil and raise animals in the pastured model.  Small scale farming is being used in Brazil, Hawaii and on Salt Spring Island to name a few places.  It’s working.

The local movement is building from the ground up.  Corporations will never support this kind of decentralization.   People understand the importance and the intelligence of eating local so its spreading quickly.  I’m currently in a small town in Mexico.  I look around and see it all going down right here.  The people who are harvesting their own food benefit from this source of local wealth.  Fish, pork, chickens, fruit and produce of all kinds.  There are also mass amounts of cheap GMO corn along with all the processed, sugary junk that everyone can afford.  We are staying with a lovely family.  They’ve asked me questions about my work.  The 6 year old boy and his father are both on the road to diabetes.  We talk about parenting, technology, food and movement.  The boy wants to climb banana trees like my kid does when they play.  Yesterday he came out to a circus class to learn.

How Bad Is Meat Really?  

There has been a lot of anti-meat, anti-saturated fat rhetoric in the mainstream media still.  Its a heated debate and one I prefer to not engage in most of the time.  The standard story is that grazing animals are killing the planet (and their fat is the cause of high cholesterol causing heart disease which I debunk in this article).  Think of this continent prior to Europeans.  Think of Africa too.  How many grazing animals populated these lands then?

We know grass-fed meat is the most nutrient dense food gram for gram. Eating meat is environmental sustainable and ethical when done well.  Invest in the farmers who are committed to this approach.   Applying a natural systems and local food approach means a lot more people will be closer to their food production. The idea that meat is bad and vegetables are good is ridiculous.  Humans thrive on both.  Its how we evolved.

Let’s talk about the grain versus meat thing.  It turns out that enormous mono crops of GMO soy, corn and wheat have not solved world hunger.   We need to discuss these limitations of industrial agriculture and where  grazing animals come in.  Much of the planet is not conducive to cropping.  Animals can graze on lands that will never grow grain.  Remember too that industrial agriculture is the second largest environmental polluter not to mention how humans and animals are being affected by the fungicides, pesticides and diverted water.  Grains lack nutrients, in fact they are the lowest on the scale.  What they are used for is filler and highly refined, processed foods.  These are known to contribute to the epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and cancer that we currently face.

Energy Conservation & Our Carbon Footprint

Grass fed animals are using the sun’s energy directly.  Lab meat on the other hand takes an enormous amount of energy, not to mention the unsustainable practices needed to make it happen.  Why wouldn’t we harness nature and embrace how ecosystems include both animals and plants. Biodiversity equals resiliency.  Animals provide natural fertilizer for the soil.  If they moved around, this helps the soil.  The manure gets stomped into the topsoil’s biome.  Healthy soil actually removes and stores carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.  This is another reason grass-fed animals make sense.

How things are going now is not good.  Once the topsoil is gone it doesn’t matter how much chemical fertilizer we use. Nothing is there to grow. Animal husbandry in westernized society isn’t using any of these practices anymore. Overgrazing is happening.  Pasture quality has decreased.  My dad was a farmer.  I ask him about all this and he knows how differently it looked just 30 years ago.  Predator pressure meant herds stay tightly together to protect one another. Then the cattle would eat everything and move on which is ideal for the plant life. Perennial grasslands with a lot of diversity result.  The soil is happy.

Putting more animals on smaller patches of land and moving them frequently is better. It retains carbon and water in the soil.  It also diversifies the microbiome by allowing fungus and bacteria to thrive. This is just ecology.  If humans got out of the way it’s what would happen.  Working with nature makes so much sense.

Trends in Meat Consumption:  Prepare to be surprised

People are eating less meat than they were 50 years ago.  To be exact less beef is being consumed but more poultry.  This is largely because we found a way to produce chickens that is very inexpensive.  And people were misinformed.  Red meat became evil and we forgot about the health benefits of eating grazing animals.  Chickens don’t eat grass.  Even organic chicken is raised in factories and eats grain.  Chicken doesn’t have much B12 or iron whereas red meat is our best source of both.

What are the biggest nutrient deficiencies worldwide?

Low iron and B12 contribute to serious health issues including neuropathy, insomnia and depression.  These deficiencies can result in irreversible symptoms. Infants and elders are affected the most.

Energy & Essential Minerals

When we don’t harness nature, phosphorous and other minerals get trucked in which is an incredibly costly. Mining and moving these minerals in trucks has a huge carbon footprint. In biodiverse grasslands, fungus also sequestering carbon and works with the root systems.  The sun shines, the cows trample around, the mushrooms thrive and the soil is happy.  Voila!  Observing the way that natural systems have been doing this for 6,000 or maybe a billion years really does work beautifully.