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how much conventionally raised meat is OK to include in your diet on a regular basis?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 18, 2011 at 1:53 PM

I work full time and am a student, which means I generally don't have a ton of time on my hands. I've been dedicating a lot more time to cooking as I've made the switch to paleo, but I find that realistically I will probably eat out for lunch at least 3 times a week. I eat at chipotle a lot, but you can only eat so much of the same thing. other days I opt for a salad from the deli or pervuian roast chicken w/veggies (YUM), which I imagine must be conventionally raised. I wonder, am I doing myself a huge disfavor by eating this much conventional meat? what is a reasonable mix to aim for to make sure I am getting all (or most) of the benefits of eating paleo? how conscious of this do I really need to be? and, finally, has anyone gone from my mix of conventional and grass fed/free range to ALL grass fed/free range and noticed a marked difference?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 26, 2011
at 02:09 PM

I posted my comments before reading yours, then realized you had already addressed the things I said. =) Good points.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 26, 2011
at 02:08 PM

I retract my previous statement about the carnitas -- reading comprehension fail on my part. Melissa and others have pointed out that the beef is cooked with soybean oil. Apologies!

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on May 18, 2011
at 09:19 PM

because chicken is very high in omega 6s compared to conventional beef and by all means go ahead and buy grassfed beef if it is available and you can afford it. Oily fish is a good choice and is quick and not very expensive..I try for 5 fish meals a week and also 1 liver meal.

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on May 18, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Kent Rieske? Sorry, but based on his stance on evolution I won't be listening to anything he has to say regarding nutrition science.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 18, 2011
at 05:36 PM

oh yeah, there's undressed lettuce in there too...

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 18, 2011
at 05:35 PM

the rice is. i usually get a salad bowl : cardboard bowl (i, uh don't eat that part) no beans, no rice, a double helping of carnitas with pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. I think I'm totally clear of soybean oil there according to their info.

91219405abedbfd400ce00dea242a00f

(1044)

on May 18, 2011
at 05:08 PM

The vegetables are done in soy oil as well, I think.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:50 PM

@becker when those other, possibly beneificial, nutrients are identified then i'll go and take another look. but as for what we know now, the other steps i've taken is sufficient enough for me to feel comfortable eating conventional and not busting my budget trying to source grassfed. if i come across a source that is affordable for me, ill pick some up but to eat grassfed when i can eat conventional for half as much while hacking the known nutrients i'm missing back in on the cheap doesn't make sense in my life.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:41 PM

thanks! I am pretty broke, but food (health) is something I am willing to spend $ on. I wonder though, why should I limit my chicken intake?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:40 PM

ooh nice! I normally just use a ton of butter but I'll try that very soon!

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:26 PM

http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/special_diet_information/special_diet_information.aspx

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:16 PM

it comes from the allergen listing on Chiptle's website, i believe. they list soy as an allergen and mention foods that would contain it. delicious delicious carnitas are not mentioned.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:15 PM

Kim: Melissa and others have said the carnitas do include soybean oil, but I don't know where that info comes from.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:11 PM

Also, I would rather eat pastured animals than supplement with fish oil, again for anti-nutritionistic reasons.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I don't eat n3-enriched eggs but the eggs I buy are partially pastured. I'm pretty sure there are benefits to eating pastured animal products outside of n6 vs. n3. CLA is actually n6 and it is higher in grass-fed, for example, and seems to be beneficial. Don't fall into the trap of reductionism. There are definitely benefits, and some potential benefits we may not even have identified yet. It's just that those benefits may not be worth it to you as an individual given your health status and your budget.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:05 PM

Yep! Here's a couple: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12421854 and http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/2612. I was so amped when I read these :D

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:49 PM

Ooh, I like your info about honey, can you find the studies for me?

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:21 PM

All very good points, but it assumes that we can name all of the good parts of grass-fed beef. Nutritionism is a good starting point, but sometimes there's a danger in relying solely on nutrients and supplements and substitutes when making food choices. There's a lot of fructose in raw honey, but I read a couple of studies that showed its ingestion leads to hardly any de novo lipogenesis in mice. Nutritionism would say the opposite, but raw honey is clearly more than the some of its parts in some as yet unknown way. Perhaps it's the same with grass-fed meats?

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:10 PM

there's little omega 3 in grass-fed beef to begin with and being grain fed only takes out the omega 3, it doesn't add omega 6. what is also missing is vitamin e, cla and k2. the fact of the matter is, if you eat wild caught fish 2-3 times a week and cook in pastured butter, then you're getting the things missing from not eating grassfed beef.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:38 PM

Mashed sweet potatoes are AWESOME. Add in 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract per pound when you mash them... PWO crack.

B4ec9ce369e43ea83f06ee645169cee0

on May 18, 2011
at 02:38 PM

Dexter... except for the carnitas I hear...

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:36 PM

Just know that all the meat at Chipotle is cooked in Soybean Oil.

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7 Answers

4
49de4cd2f26705785cbef2b15a9df7aa

(840)

on May 18, 2011
at 07:15 PM

The simple answer is: eat as much non-CAFO meat as you can afford to.

3
Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:44 PM

It's better than no meat at all, so as much as is necessary. You have to consider the vanishing omega-3's in commercial meats, so supplement fish oil. Also, you shouldn't regularly eat rare commercial meat, especially when ground-up, because of all the bacterial contamination from the feedlots and processing plants. You'll be eating some of the additives and food byproducts that the cattle were fed. That's not ideal, but it's probably better than replacing those calories with grains, rice, or soy.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:10 PM

there's little omega 3 in grass-fed beef to begin with and being grain fed only takes out the omega 3, it doesn't add omega 6. what is also missing is vitamin e, cla and k2. the fact of the matter is, if you eat wild caught fish 2-3 times a week and cook in pastured butter, then you're getting the things missing from not eating grassfed beef.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:21 PM

All very good points, but it assumes that we can name all of the good parts of grass-fed beef. Nutritionism is a good starting point, but sometimes there's a danger in relying solely on nutrients and supplements and substitutes when making food choices. There's a lot of fructose in raw honey, but I read a couple of studies that showed its ingestion leads to hardly any de novo lipogenesis in mice. Nutritionism would say the opposite, but raw honey is clearly more than the some of its parts in some as yet unknown way. Perhaps it's the same with grass-fed meats?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 18, 2011
at 03:49 PM

Ooh, I like your info about honey, can you find the studies for me?

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:05 PM

Yep! Here's a couple: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12421854 and http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/2612. I was so amped when I read these :D

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:50 PM

@becker when those other, possibly beneificial, nutrients are identified then i'll go and take another look. but as for what we know now, the other steps i've taken is sufficient enough for me to feel comfortable eating conventional and not busting my budget trying to source grassfed. if i come across a source that is affordable for me, ill pick some up but to eat grassfed when i can eat conventional for half as much while hacking the known nutrients i'm missing back in on the cheap doesn't make sense in my life.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 26, 2011
at 02:09 PM

I posted my comments before reading yours, then realized you had already addressed the things I said. =) Good points.

3
3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

on May 18, 2011
at 02:29 PM

I'm not totally convinced at this stage of the benefits of eating grass-fed beef and pasture-bred pork and poultry, also "organic eggs". I think the supposed benefits are limited to balancing your fatty acid imbalance (n6 vs. n3). I'm not too sure if true benefits accrue in terms of the hormones, additives, toxins, and other antibiotics avoided.

If you're unbalanced in your fatty acids, then, I believe you can supplement with fish oil. I think it's the plant oils that are guilty of causing this imbalance and, in the case of poultry, you'll still have that imbalance, whether pasture- or factory-bred. Also, I aggree with Kent Rieske that the supposed benefits of n-3 eggs are miniscule. He believes that the benefits of grass-fed and organic beef, eggs, and wild-caught fish are way overblown (Google him).

I occasionally eat buffalo and wild-caught kingfish but that's about it. I only take 1 tsp of fish oil to balance it out. My CRP has been around 0.3 for the last 2 years.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:11 PM

Also, I would rather eat pastured animals than supplement with fish oil, again for anti-nutritionistic reasons.

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on May 18, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Kent Rieske? Sorry, but based on his stance on evolution I won't be listening to anything he has to say regarding nutrition science.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I don't eat n3-enriched eggs but the eggs I buy are partially pastured. I'm pretty sure there are benefits to eating pastured animal products outside of n6 vs. n3. CLA is actually n6 and it is higher in grass-fed, for example, and seems to be beneficial. Don't fall into the trap of reductionism. There are definitely benefits, and some potential benefits we may not even have identified yet. It's just that those benefits may not be worth it to you as an individual given your health status and your budget.

1
31cd30cb210f9d13bf990a3410fce31c

(423)

on May 18, 2011
at 09:59 PM

Good point Frank (assuming I read it correctly and you were hinting at the reason for eating grass fed and pastured animals outside of the supposed or real nutritional benefits). I like the idea of the animals I eat having had a somewhat happy life and hopefully a somewhat humane death. After watching Food, Inc. and seeing how CAFO animals are raised, kept and slaughtered, I have no issue spending the extra money for locally sourced and preferably grass fed and pastured meats. It just feels right to me.

1
35e09dae32de43af73b3bffaff5636fe

(103)

on May 18, 2011
at 08:44 PM

Look how the animals suffer* and ask again.

1
D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:13 PM

If you work full time and are also a student of course you are very busy and broke! Don't get into the either/or mentality here. You are doing very well giving up grains, sugar, and industrial oils. Don't worry right now about grass fed beef. It is probably more important to figure out how to do more of your own food prep using conventional beef and backing out of the eating out for now. The eating out is the deal breaker...bad oils, etc. Get in several wild caught salmon meals, use coconut oil, supplement with Carlson's cod liver oil, spend the extra money on pastured eggs and butter, limit the chicken meals and your omega 6/3 balance ought to be good for now. Read Kurt Harris' 12 steps. And I say kudos to you to be making the changes you can make for now and not waiting for the perfect.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:41 PM

thanks! I am pretty broke, but food (health) is something I am willing to spend $ on. I wonder though, why should I limit my chicken intake?

D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on May 18, 2011
at 09:19 PM

because chicken is very high in omega 6s compared to conventional beef and by all means go ahead and buy grassfed beef if it is available and you can afford it. Oily fish is a good choice and is quick and not very expensive..I try for 5 fish meals a week and also 1 liver meal.

0
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:21 PM

I'll let other people comment on how much of a disservice you are doing by eating conventional meats, however I will say that I noticed a DEFINITE improvement on how I looked and felt after switching to making all of my own food. I'd say this is due to food quality, both grass-fed meats, etc. as well as using better cooking oils.

There are plenty of things you can make at home rather quickly and easily, and take with you to school/work. Mashed sweet potatoes and sardines are one of my favorite to-go lunches.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 18, 2011
at 04:40 PM

ooh nice! I normally just use a ton of butter but I'll try that very soon!

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:38 PM

Mashed sweet potatoes are AWESOME. Add in 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract per pound when you mash them... PWO crack.

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