What’s The Difference Between Grass Fed Beef And Regular Beef?

Are you confused about the difference between grass-fed beef and regular beef?

Do you wonder if it’s worth the extra cost to buy grass-fed?

With so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to know what to believe.

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between these two types of beef and help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

From taste and texture to nutrition and sustainability, we’ll cover it all.

So grab a seat and get ready to learn about the world of beef!

What’s The Difference Between Grass Fed Beef And Regular Beef?

The main difference between grass-fed beef and regular beef is the diet of the cows. Grass-fed cows are allowed to roam free and eat grass or other edible plants they find in their environment for their entire lives. On the other hand, conventionally raised cows are usually moved to feedlots after 7-9 months and fed mainly grain-based feeds that are usually made from a base of soy or corn.

This difference in diet affects the taste, texture, and nutritional content of the beef. Grass-fed beef tends to be lower in calories since it has less fat. It has also been shown to have higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef which has many health benefits. However, grass-fed beef can taste more gamey and feel dry and tough because it’s so much lower in fat. It’s easy to overcook it.

Regular beef, on the other hand, has a softer texture and a sweeter flavor due to the higher fat content. Most of the cattle industry starts their cows on grass and then transitions them to corn or grain in order to bulk them up quickly. This diet adds a ton of flavor to your steaks but also relies on antibiotics to keep their herds healthy.

What Is Grass-Fed Beef?

Grass-fed beef is meat that comes from cows that have been raised exclusively on grass and other edible plants. Unlike conventionally-raised cows, grass-fed cows are allowed to roam free and graze on pasture their entire lives. They are not fed any grain-based feeds, which means they have a lower fat content and are leaner than regular beef.

Grass-fed beef is also considered to be healthier than regular beef because it contains higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, CLA’s, and Vitamins A and E. These nutrients have been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

It’s important to note that not all grass-fed beef is created equal. Some cows may be labeled as “grass-fed” but may still have been given supplemental grain feed or finished on a grain-based diet. To ensure that you are getting truly organic, 100% grass-fed meat, it’s important to look for specific labels that indicate this.

What Is Regular Beef?

Regular beef, also known as conventional or grain-fed beef, comes from cattle that spend most of their lives grazing on grass in pastures. However, for the last 120-200 days before slaughter, these cattle are moved to feedlots and fed a diet of grain-based feeds that are usually made from a base of soy or corn. This diet is designed to bulk up the cows quickly and add flavor to the meat.

Conventionally raised cattle may be given antimicrobials to prevent diseases and to treat disease if they become ill. These cattle may also be given small amounts of hormones to replace those their bodies do not produce because they have become steers (non-intact male cattle). This helps them grow more efficiently and reduces methane produced by enteric fermentation.

Regular beef tends to have a softer texture and a sweeter flavor due to the higher fat content. It’s also easier to cook since it has more fat, which helps keep it moist and juicy. However, regular beef is often criticized for its reliance on antibiotics and hormones, which can be harmful to both the cows and consumers.

Taste And Texture Comparison

When it comes to taste and texture, grass-fed beef and regular beef have distinct differences. Regular beef tends to have a softer texture and a sweeter flavor due to the higher fat content. This is because conventionally raised cows are usually fed grain-based feeds that are usually made from a base of soy or corn. The higher fat content in regular beef also contributes to its juiciness and tenderness, making it a popular choice for steak lovers who enjoy a rich and buttery flavor.

In contrast, grass-fed beef tends to be leaner and chewier due to its lower fat content. This can make it feel dry and tough, especially if it’s overcooked. However, grass-fed beef has a full-bodied flavor that is often described as slightly gamey with undertones of grass or hay. This unique flavor is due to the cows’ diet of grass and wild edibles from grazing on biodiverse pastures.

Another notable difference between the two types of beef is the marbling. Marbling refers to the white streaks of fat inside the meat, which is considered a marker of good quality steak. Grain-fed cattle tend to have more marbling than grass-fed cattle, which is why grain-fed steaks are often rated higher in quality compared to grass-fed steaks.

Nutritional Differences

Research has shown that grass-fed beef is higher in total nutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants, key fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids compared to grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef contains up to five times as much omega-3 fatty acids and about twice as much conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) as grain-fed beef. Omega-3s are essential for brain function and reducing inflammation in the body. CLA is associated with a few health benefits, including reducing body fat and improving insulin sensitivity. Grass-fed beef also contains less monounsaturated fat than grain-fed beef.

Grass-fed beef is a compelling nutritional option for both athletes in training and for the general population. For elite athletes, there are distinct advantages in incorporating grass-fed meats into the daily diet. Growth and recovery are significantly enhanced with the benefits of the nutritional advantages. Additionally, grass-fed beef contains more carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which our bodies process into vitamin A. It also contains higher amounts of vitamin E than grain-fed beef does.

While both grass-fed and grain-fed beef contain high amounts of vitamin B12, B3, and B6, as well as iron, selenium, and zinc, grass-fed beef is higher in these vitamins than grain-fed beef. However, the overall level of these vitamins per serving is quite low (about 2% of the daily value per 100g).

Environmental Impact And Sustainability

The environmental impact of beef production has become a hot topic in recent years, with concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and land use. Factory-farmed beef has been found to contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, fossil fuel consumption, and poor air quality, among other issues. In contrast, grass-fed beef has been shown to have a reduced carbon footprint and is more ethical, sustainable, and nutrient-dense than industrial meat.

Grass-fed beef is different because when animals have room to graze, they improve land use, nutrient and manure management, and soil health. All those benefits translate into a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, grass-fed meat is more ethical, sustainable, and nutrient-dense than industrial meat. It has more antioxidants, omega-3s, trace minerals, and vitamins.

However, it’s important to note that grass-fed beef does require more land to produce the same amount of meat as conventionally raised cows. This means that the environmental impact of grass-fed beef can be complicated to measure. Scientists rely on studies known as life-cycle assessments (LCAs), which take into account resources and energy use at all stages of production. A number of past studies have found lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with the feedlot system due to the fact that grass-fed cows gain weight more slowly and produce more methane over their longer lifespans.

However, recent LCA studies have found carbon-trapping benefits of the grass-fed approach. One study found that a 3,200-acre farm stored enough carbon in its grasses to offset not only all of the methane emissions from its grass-fed cattle but also much of the farm’s total emissions. Another study found that grass-fed cows can contribute to ecosystem regeneration and restore soil microbial diversity. Ultimately, incorporating factors such as soil health and carbon sequestration into LCA analyses will be necessary to fully understand the environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

Cost Comparison

The cost of grass-fed beef is usually higher than that of regular beef due to the higher cost of raising the cows. Grass-fed cows take longer to reach their processing weight on an all-grass diet, which means that more money is spent over time to care for them. According to Beef Cattle Extension, the cost of feed that the cow or steer eats is the most significant expense a farmer has as they raise a calf until it is old enough to be sent to slaughter. Other factors that contribute to the cost of raising cattle are sheds or other forms of housing and health care, such as vitamins, vaccines, and deworming.

NPR reports that grass-fed cattle are sent to slaughter later than conventionally-fed cattle because their diet contains fewer calories, meaning they take longer to reach optimal weight for slaughter. And, as a result, more money is spent over time to care for them. When slaughtered, grass-fed cattle generally weigh about 1,200 while grain-fed cows weigh closer to 1,350 pounds. This means that a farmer will not get as much meat to sell from a grass-fed cow.

In our research, organic grass-fed ground beef in grocery stores costs about $8.99 per pound, while conventional ground beef runs from $4.99 to $6.99 a pound. A monthly shipment of ButcherBox costs $129, including delivery, provides enough beef for 15 to 20 servings among two to four people; the company says it works out to an average of about $7 per meal.