Yesterday, I wrote a blog titled, “Eat beef for a long, healthy life.” The post described the health detriments that many who go meatless suffer from, and it highlighted the long life expectancies of the nations of people who consume the most meat.
In short, eating meat is beneficial to our health, and despite what USDA’s MyPlate suggests, we should consume animal fats and proteins without guilt and with the confidence that it will help fuel our brains and bodies while reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Environmental activists love to beat up on beef. They believe that our planet would benefit if we ate more legumes, lettuce, almonds and tofu and avoided meat altogether. They argue that cattle grazing (and feeding cattle corn) is a wasteful use of our natural resources. And they erroneously believe that cow farts are large contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, cattle are excellent at using water, grass and solar power and converting it to nutritious beef and beneficial by-products that enrich our daily lives.
I recently read an article on Civil Eats titled, “‘Eat less meat’ ignores the role of animals in the ecosystem,” that explains how graziers work to restore ecosystems while nourishing people.
Here is an excerpt from the article, which was written by Ariel Greenwood:
“A rule of thumb that has emerged in environmentalists’ circles is simply ‘eat less meat.’ This statement frames meat as an indulgence rather than one, the end result of an essential and timeless ecological process (the biological breakdown of vegetation, which feeds the soil and removes dead grass so that new vegetation can grow) and two, a fulcrum in the way land across the world is managed or mismanaged.
“As a grazier and land manager, I’m part of a growing group of people who have committed our lives to restoring the health of environments directly, through exquisitely precise grazing on sensitive land, and who depend on the support of our communities to do this work.”
While I disagree with Greenwood’s criticism of modern feedlots and conventional beef found in the grocery store, I do think she makes some excellent points, and with this post, she likely reaches those who may be on the fence about eating meat.
Greenwood reminds her readers that ranchers are conservation-minded, and in her explanation of how she manages her pastures, she may convince readers that beef should remain the center of the dinner plate.
A second article published on Quartz and written by Sara Place, Ph.D., National Cattlemen’s Beef Association senior director for sustainable beef production research, succinctly explains how cattle utilize the sun to produce beef.
Place writes, “The process by which cattle upgrade plants, and specifically plant proteins, means they are adding nutrients to the human food supply that would not exist without cattle. Researchers at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found that, globally, cattle provide 66% more protein to the human food supply in the form of beef than they themselves eat. This is possible because most of the plants cattle eat are human-inedible.
“Rather than competing for food and energy, cattle are adding to the bounty that exists on humanity’s collective dinner table. Cattle are mobile, self-replicating, solar energy-powered beings that provide the original plant-based meat to humans—beef.”
I think I’ll keep that last sentence in my arsenal for future use.
Read it again: “Cattle are mobile, self-replicating, solar energy-powered beings that provide the original plant-based meat to humans—beef.”
In the face of cell-cultured proteins and plant-based protein patties, I believe beef still has the upper hand when it comes to nutrition and environment, and Place effectively explains why in a single sentence. Bravo!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.