Seven Dangers of Common Beef
and Better Alternatives
Beef has been a mainstay in the traditional American diet – however, this beginning to changing now that mad cow disease as well as many other contaminants have been identified in commercial American beef. Many people are waking up, realizing that eating commercial beef is now most definitely a potential risk to their health and well being.
Americans eat more meat than any other nation in the world, with the typical American eating over 60 pounds of beef a year. However, the vast majority of beef is filled with harmful toxins and additives and is so poorly raised that the vitality of the animals suffers tremendously. The saying, “you are what you eat”, is literally true in many ways – since you absorb and concentrate the nutrients (and toxins) into your body of whatever you eat.
Do you ever wonder about the beef you eat? Where did that steak or hamburger meat came from? How was the animal raised? What types of antiobiotics and chemicals was it given? What did it eat? Was it healthy or diseased? The real question really is: what exactly are you eating?
These questions might give you an uneasy feeling – but knowing the truth and then taking action may save your life.
Most Commercial Cattle are Fed Grain
Due to the popularity of the Atkin’s diet and other weight loss diets that emphasize a no-grain diet, many people may turn to beef as a substitution. However, nearly all cattle are grain-fed before slaughter which abnormally alters the ratios of essential fatty acids. If you eat commercially raised beef, it will typically worsen your own body’s ratio of omega-6:omega-3.
According to a recent 2002 study (published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition), livestock fed on grain (as compared to wild animals or grass-fed livestock) have less omega-3 fat, which is beneficial for cardiac health, and more omega-6 fat in their tissues, which may promote heart disease.
Since most all cattle are typically grass-fed at some point in their life cycle, some stores advertise their beef as grass-fed. However, this may be misleading because grass was not the predominant diet of the cattle. The key is what the cattle were fed in the 3 to 6 months prior to being slaughtered. This means you will need to contact the person who actually raised the cows, NOT the store manager, to find out the truth.
This deception may also be true of beef that is advertised as “free of added hormones”. When we asked one health food store attendant about their “hormone-free” beef, they said that it means no hormones were given to the cows within 3 to 6 months of slaughter (but previous to that, they were given hormones). These actual facts were included in one of their brochures about their beef – but later, removed.
Hormones for Weight Gain
Most commercially raised beef calves start around 80 pounds and gain up to 1,200 pounds in a period of about 14 months. This is not a natural event. This is accomplished by feeding them large quantities of grain (usually corn) and protein supplements, in addition to various drugs and synthetic hormones, as the beef industry puts it, to “promote efficient growth”.
Various combinations of hormones, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, and the synthetic hormones, zeranol and trenbolone acetate, may be given to cattle during their growing cycle. Another hormone, melengesterol acetate, may also be added to cattle feed to “improve weight gain and feed efficiency”.
When humans eat this drug and hormone-tainted beef, measurable amounts of hormones are transferred to humans. Some researchers warn that human consumption of estrogen from hormone-drugged beef can result in cancer, premature puberty and falling sperm counts.
The largest use of antibiotics (over 50% of all antibiotic use) in the U. S. is for animals. The antibiotics are used to help the cattle gain weight but also to prevent disease outbreaks since disease is more prevalent in animals that are raised in such crowded conditions. About 9 million pounds of antibiotic feed additives are used annually in the cattle-raising process.
Routine antibiotic use is contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in humans. In contrast to animals raised on large, commercial “factory farms”, animals raised in natural farm environments rarely require antibiotics.
In addition to antibiotics, commercially raised cattle are given various vaccines and other drugs. The following is an example of a recommended course of care for a whole herd of cattle as shown on Pfizer.com:
- CattleMaster 4+VL5: a 4-way viral plus 5-way leptospirosis vaccine and vibriosis protection
- UltraChoice 8: a vaccine to prevent clostridial diseases
- Dectomax Pour-On or Dectomax Injectable: drugs to prevent and treat internal and external parasites
- ScourGuard 3®(K)/C: a vaccine to prevent calf scours
Residues of these drugs and antibiotics can end up in the beef, thus exposing the consumer to a mirage of chemical and drug residues.
Irradiation Causes Carcinogenic By-Products
Much commercial beef is now being irradiated which means it has been treated with gamma rays produced by the radioactive material, cobalt 60, or electricity to kill bacteria. Radiation of meat or other foods has been proven to produce bizarre radiolytic by-products in foods that are carcinogenic (i.e. cancer-causing).
As our cancer rates rise higher each year in the U.S., eating irradiated foods is in effect, an unfortunate experiment on the American public – where the long term effects remain to be seen. If you value your health, it is best to avoid eating irradiated foods, including irradiated meat.
No Labelling of Irradiated Meat. Although all meat is not irradiated, it is typically not labeled as such, so it almost impossible to find out which beef has been irradiated. Your best choice is bet is to purchase non-irradiated meat – which means you will need to find out what happened to the beef once it left the farm where it was raised.
Avoid Pasteurized Milk. This issue is virtually the same issue as with milk. Once milk is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized (even worse) to supposedly “protect” us from pathogens, its nutritional properties are seriously damaged which has been proven to cause more harm than good for most who drink it. However, if milk is consumed in its natural, raw (unpasteurized) form, then it is typically an excellent, health-producing food for most who consume it (assuming the milk has come from healthy cows and has been stored properly so it is contaminant and infection-free).
Stop Irradiated Beef in School Lunch Programs. Currently, school districts have the option of purchasing irradiated beef for their lunch programs, but parental notification is not required. If you are a parent, you can contact your child’s school district to find out whether irradiated beef is being served for school lunches. If so, you can work with them to discourage the use of irradiated beef and other irradiated foods.
You can also contact the following website for more information on how to work with your school district to stop the purchase of irradiated foods: www.safelunch.org. In addition, contact your state representative and senators today to urge them not to support irradiated food in school lunches.
Mad Cow Disease in U.S. Beef
As of December, 2003, mad cow disease has now been officially identified in American beef – although it has long been suspected due to the frequently unregulated practice of feeding infected animal parts to cattle. How widespread mad cow disease is in U.S. beef is not currently known.
Prions are the infectious agents thought to cause mad cow disease, called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, or the human version of mad cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). CJD is a degenerative brain disorder which causes punctuate, sponge-like lesions in the brain, which later leads to dementia as well as other brain symptoms and a gruesome, early death. CJD is believed to be transmitted to humans by eating beef infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The classic form of CJD (in which symptoms may be sporadic early on) usually surfaces among men and women in their 60s, but has been identified in younger people as well. There is no current cure for CJD nor is it routinely checked for in individuals who have degenerative brain symptoms.
In November, 2003 in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time, Swiss scientists identified a rogue protein implicated in CJD in human muscle tissue. They found traces of the so-called, disease-associated prion protein (PrPSc) in 8 out of 32 muscle samples, and in 10 out of 28 spleen samples, that were taken from 3 dozen patients who had died with the classic form of CJD.
PrPSc [prion protein] has so far only ever been found in tissue of the central nervous system. The Swiss researchers made the discovery by using a new chemical, phosphotungstic acid, which increased the sensitivity of conventional PrPSc tests threefold.
The discovery poses intriguing, but unresolved, questions about the molecular pathways taken by CJD to establish itself in humans, the scientists said. Patients with the rogue protein outside the central nervous system had “a significantly longer duration of disease and were more likely to have uncommon molecular variants” of the disease, they said.
Toxic Environmental Problems
In addition to dangers that commercially raised beef poses to your health, it also promotes extensive dangers to our environment. In the U.S., cattle production is a major source of environmental pollution in the U.S. as well as abroad. Substantial areas of forests, particularly the rain forests of Central America and the Amazon, are being cleared to make way for cattle. Deforestation contributes to the worldwide green house effect of global warming.
In the U.S., among the most severe problems are water pollution from the nearly 1 billion tons of fecal and urine waste produced by cattle each year. In addition, there are also enormous amounts of petrochemical fertilizers used to produce feed crops for cattle. Air pollution – both from waste and waste treatment methods of grain-fed cattle — are responsible for producing a significant portion of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (the 3 major gases that are largely responsible for global warming), along with other toxic gasses.
Inhumane Treatment of Cattle
Commercially raised cattle are treated as commodities, forced to gain huge amounts of weight in a short time via synthetic hormones and drugs, by being raised in a completely artificial environment. These cattle are deprived of some of the most basic requirements of life — fresh air, space, sunlight and normal social interaction.
If you do desire to eat beef, the only real choice is grass-fed beef where the animals have been raised in a natural environment without toxic drugs or hormones. In addition, grass-fed beef has the omega 3 to 6 ratio in a more proper balance. Some websites on the internet offer variety of farmers that can provide sources of grass-fed beef.
However, even natural sources of beef are fraught with various problems:
a) Beef is much more difficult to digest than other foods, especially if cooked,
b) beef expends a much larger amount of your digestive enzymes to digest it, thus exhausting your own enzymes more readily, and at an earlier age,
c) beef perpetuates an arachidonic cascade in the body, contributing to inflammatory conditions and pain,
d) eating cooked meat rapidly uses up your mineral supply so additional mineral supplementation is required,
e) beef contains “death hormones” liberated by the animal into its flesh at the time of its death, which ends up in the meat,
f) raising beef uses up tremendous amounts of natural resources (that could be used to raise more sustainable crops) and contributes to large amounts of environmental pollution (including naturally raised beef).
Even before beef was so contaminated, worldwide research on eating cooked meat has shown that it is associated with chronic neurodegeneration in all major nations where eating meat is predominant (associated with mineral and enzyme exhaustion).
A Protein of Choice
An excellent protein choice is to add edible mushrooms to your dinner table, such as shitake, maitake, Portobello mushrooms, trumpet mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and much more.
In contrast to beef (or other animal proteins such as chicken), edible mushrooms are:
a) rich in very high in quality protein (higher than beef) but without the arachidonic cascade
b) in contrast to beef, they are very easy to digest; they do not create a huge deficit in your enzyme supply
c) contain no death hormones (or any other synthetic hormones)
d) are an environmentally sustainable crop which promotes a healthier environment which helps to protect against global warming
e) mushrooms typically contain natural, immune-boosting phytochemicals which supports better health
f) edible mushrooms are absolutely delicious – and may be easily prepared in many tasty ways.
Even for the most died-in-the-wool beef or chicken eater, cutting up edible mushrooms into thin strips or in bite-size pieces, when cooked and spiced correctly, look like strips of meat or chicken and taste similar (really much better!) than the best animal protein you have ever had.
Look in your local grocery store for these delightful mushroom protein enhancers. You’ll be stepping up to better digestion, a better immune system – and best of all, better health.
Abnormal Omega Fatty Acid Ratio in Commercial Beef
Research Citation from PubMed
Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease. Cordain L, et al., Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;56(3):181-91. Department of Health and Exercise Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
HYPOTHESES: Consumption of wild ruminant fat represented the primary lipid source for pre-agricultural humans. Hence, the lipid composition of these animals’ tissues may provide insight into dietary requirements that offer protection from chronic disease in modern humans.
METHOD: We examined the lipid composition of muscle, brain, marrow and subcutaneous adipose tissue (AT) from 17 elk (Cervus elaphus), 15 mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), and 17 antelope (Antilicapra americana) and contrasted them to wild African ruminants and pasture and grain-fed cattle.
RESULTS: Muscle fatty acid (FA) was similar among North American species with polyunsaturated fatty acids/saturated fatty acids (P/S) values from 0.80 to 1.09 and n-6/n-3 FA from 2.32 to 2.60. Marrow FA was similar among North American species with high levels (59.3-67.0%) of monounsaturated FA; a low P/S (0.24-0.33), and an n-6/n-3 of 2.24-2.88. Brain had the lowest n-6/n-3 (1.20-1.29), the highest concentration of 22:6 n-3 (elk, 8.90%; deer, 9.62%; antelope, 9.25%) and a P/S of 0.69. AT had the lowest P/S (0.05-0.09) and n-6/n-3 (2.25-2.96). Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers were found in marrow of antelope (1.5%), elk (1.0%) and deer (1.0%), in AT (deer, 0.3%; antelope, 0.3%) in muscle (antelope, 0.4%; elk, trace), but not in brain.
CONCLUSIONS: Literature comparisons showed tissue lipids of North American and African ruminants were similar to pasture-fed cattle, but dissimilar to grain-fed cattle. The lipid composition of wild ruminant tissues may serve as a model for dietary lipid recommendations in treating and preventing chronic disease.