Summer wouldn’t be summer without the iconic smell of burgers, hot dogs, and a charcoal grill. I’d be lying if my childhood didn’t have memories of cook outs, hamburgers, chips, and ice cream cones while my dad fired up the barbecue.
You’ve heard about how beef prices are going to rise this summer. Sure, part of this is because of supply and demand—even the USDA is going to take advantage of that. But there’s a much bigger problem with the meat industry that has nothing to do with price. That’s why today, I’ve got delicious meat-free, gluten-free vegan tomato sauce and pasta recipe that’s so good you won’t even miss the meatballs or the pasta!
The Problem With Beef in America
Ultimately, the problem with beef in America comes down to one word: corn.
Corn is one of the cheapest, most subsidized, and most GMO-ridden products out there. The government has done a really good job of making farmers produce as much corn as possible for as little money as possible. That might sound like a good thing at first, and if corn today was processed without GMOs I’d be all for it. The truth is, ultra-low corn prices and accessibility has actually lead to many food companies cutting corners, creating a cheaper but very unhealthy product. Instead of using sugar from natural food sources, food companies opt for the refined high fructose corn syrup. You also wouldn’t believe how many additives come from corn and corn-products. Bottom line, corn is in just about everything we eat!
Feeding cows corn instead of the grass is the biggest instance of corner cutting from a food company. Cows’ digestive tracts are designed to function optimally on grass and herbs. They can of course survive on corn, as many animals are capable of adapting to their environments. But we’re cows ultimately meant to consume corn? Definitely not.
Cows that consume corn may grow quicker and get bigger faster, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Often they don’t have as many of the healthy or ‘good’ bacteria in their guts, causing them to get sick more often. As a result, farmers often pump these cows full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick and treat disease. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you have antibiotics in your meat and a majority of your exposure to antibiotics actually comes from the meat you eat.
But it doesn’t end there. Feeding cows antibiotics for prolonged periods of time leads to antibiotic resistant bacteria and pathogens, namely E-coli 0157. This is the same E-coli that contaminates meat, leads to recalls of meat products, and serious illness. We’ve actually got so much E-coli in our meat that it’s seeped into other crops. This is why you’ll see news stories for E-coli in foods like spinach or strawberries that normally don’t get infected.
The icing on the cake is in effort to kill off bacteria and other potentially harmful pathogens, slaughter houses use other chemicals and techniques to sanitize the meat. Different sprays and more additives to make meat a ‘safe’ product to eat. Ironically, if we stopped feeding cows corn for a few days before we slaughtered them, we could reduce their E-coli rate by as much as 80%! Most meat industry executives frown up this idea, however, because it can lead to weight loss (i.e. loss in profit).
Clearly, this is an abridged version haha. The problems with the meat industry are pretty complicated and definitely can’t be covered in one dinky blog post. If you’re interested in more about the meat industry and its questionable practices, check out this interview with Michael Pollan. He’s one of my favorite food journalists and to make a long story short, this guy knows his stuff. It was his work that actually lead me to stop eating red meat long before I gave up a majority of animal products. I simply don’t know what’s in red meat anymore and frankly one burger isn’t worth the risky!
And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for! This recipe is super simple to make and LOADED with vitamins, trace minerals, and antioxidants. When you cut the meat out of dishes, often you don’t realize how little time it takes to make some of your favorite differences. #perksofbeingvegan 🙂