It is commonly known that beef and all red meat should be consumed less- how less is itself a controversy. Stepping out from all the politics and controversies, it is time for us to have the REAL talk and consider grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef.

The difference between grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef

According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, a branch of the U.S Department of Agriculture, the standard for grass-fed cows are cows that have only eaten grass or grass-based feed for its entire life after it stopped drinking its mother’s milk.

On the other hand, grain-fed cows or sometimes called conventionally raised cows are cows that were moved to feedlots about 6-12 months old and rapidly fattened up on a diet based on corn or soy.

Farming practices

A cow that is grain-fed lives in concentrated Animal feeding operations (CAFOs) which is usually overcrowded and unsanitary. Hence, the cows are pumped full of antibiotics to survive the unsanitary condition also given drugs and hormones to grow faster. In comparison, a grass-fed cow may live on grasslands all through their lives.

Also, overuse of antibiotics in conventional farms has been seen to contribute an increase to the resistance of antibiotics in humans.

Environmental impact

One of the benefits of rearing grass-fed cows is the positive impact on the environment. It takes less energy into growing grass than grain, and the grain grown to feed livestock accounts for massive increase in the amount of fossil fuel energy. Another benefit to rearing grass-fed cattle is, the animal wastes can help fertilize the soil and increase the organic matter in the soil.

Nutrient composition

In 2006, a study was done in Australia to analyze the feeding systems of cattle and how that affects omega-3's and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. it was concluded that grass-fed cows have more omega-3’s and CLA than grain-fed as grain-feeding reduces the omega’s and CLA content of the meat.

It should be noted that both types of beef contain omega 6, however a study was done to compare the nutrient composition of grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. It was concluded that grass-fed beef has a better ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids and also loaded with Vitamin E.


For a society that has been raised on a diet consuming grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is said to have a more intense and meatier taste (which I personally prefer). In comparison, grain-fed beef has the more tender, melt in your mouth taste we are used to.


We are familiar with the meat section at the grocery store and how the grass-fed beef  is usually double the price of the conventionally raised beef. The reason for this is that it takes the farmer up to a year longer to get the grass-fed animal to reach slaughter weight than it takes the grain-fed animal.

Grain-fed beef is considerably very much cheaper because the farming practices used leads to the production of very cheap beef.


Congrats! you’ve made it this far and are willing to pay more for your beef. According to Deborah Krasner, the author of Good meat, fat is an insulator when cooking. However, Grass-fed beef is usually very lean and needs to be cooked with love and care the same way the cattle is raised.

Unfortunately, it takes a longer cook time to get the maximum flavour. Grain-fed beef on the other doesn’t need a lot since it is high in fat which gives the beef its automatic flavour.

#SpoonTip: Grass-fed beef should be cooked using low temperature to get the best flavor and prevent the beef from being chewy.


I believe beef can be part of a healthy diet as it is a nutrient dense food loaded with Vitamins B12, B3, B6 and rich in bioavailable iron, selenium and zinc. However, to make a positive impact on the environment and make a better decision for our health, I would rather eat beef from a grass-fed cow.

However, I do understand that not everyone has access or can afford grass-fed beef. This article gives tips to help save money when grocery shopping and use more money towards buying dare I say a better tasting and ethically sourced beef. 

Eating grass-fed beef is not the solution to all the climate and environmental problems we face but it is a step in the right direction to make things better. The flavour profile would also make me dish out the extra bucks for it.