I Eat Organic, Grass Fed Steak for Breakfast. Here's Why.

Okay okay, I know that statement gets attention, usually not in a good way.  

I don’t need to convince anyone to eat a local, organic, grass-fed steak for breakfast a few times a week, but I want to tell you why I do.

Plant-based diets are very popular right now, and my meals are usually 3/4 plants.  I actually don’t even eat a true breakfast every day.  But when I do, I eat local, organic, grass fed steak, usually with half a plate of raw greens, and always of course, with my Bulletproof Coffee.  

Sounds decadent or unsound?  Hear me out.

  • Steak energizes you

  • Steak is nutrient dense

  • Steak keeps you satiated

  • The science on eating beef is more complicated than you might think

  • Steak for breakfast doesn’t mean I eat tons of meat all day long

  • My breakfast is actually pretty cheap

I was a vegetarian and vegan from the age of 13 to 36, so most of my life I never imagined that this would become my breakfast of choice.  At 36 I faced low estrogen and progesterone, fertility issues, exhaustion, and, every time I went to the dentist, cavities.  

I was an extremely conscientious vegetarian, religiously attending David Wolfe's conferences, drinking outrageous green smoothies pumped up with Vega and Warrior Food, not some junk food junkie.  I am still known for my crazy smoothies to this day.  I even tried eating fish for to see if that helped.  The thought of eating meat was devastating to me, but I felt truly awful, and I had tried everything.  A naturopath I was seeing, and Wendy Myers, actually, whose Mineral Power Program I was doing, both recommended I eat meat.  So there I sat one day, with a steak before me.  I could barely get it down, I hated it, and for years after I mostly only liked ground beef, which seemed more like my old college favorite, Smart Ground.  

Simply eating meat didn't resolve all my woes, it took more than that.  But one thing I learned fast was that I couldn't eat red meat for dinner.  Why?  So energizing I couldn't sleep.  We even found that my 2 year old son sleeps better if he eats chicken or turkey for dinner instead of beef, lamb or salmon.  

Red meat is energizing for me.  But why is that?  Well, to start with, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods in existence.  Harvard University chemist Mat Lalonde ranks beef 6th in most nutrient dense foods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwbY12qZcF4

Beef is also high in creatine, taurine, and glutathione, which are compounds some people take in supplemental form to feel more energy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25415270, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22063662

 

Steak keeps me satiated and my blood sugar stable with high amounts of protein and fat.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334852/

 

Now what about the association of red meat with heart disease and other illnesses?  I’m not overly concerned about it for myself, because my diet is not common enough that there really is any research on it, and where there is research on eating red meat the science is complicated.  Some studies detect increased heart disease and cancer risks for unprocessed red meat, but some only show risks for processed meat, others show no increased risks.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22322924

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648?dopt=AbstractPlus

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685950?dopt=AbstractPlus

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20479151

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23497300

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20713902

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18000518

Observational studies can show that meat eaters are either more or less likely to get a disease, and although the researchers try to correct for other factors, it’s impossible to select out other behavior that might be associated with eating more meat, such as eating fewer salads, or more fried foods, or generally being less health conscious.  It’s possible that eating red meat is just a marker for unhealthy behavior, but the ill health effects are not caused by the red meat itself.  

Second, there has been no studies comparing people who eat local, organic, grass fed red meat vs. conventional factory farm meat.  I do not recommend eating large amounts of conventional beef, I certainly don’t.  But we do have some research that suggests the beef I eat is healthier than conventional beef.

For example, organic grass-fed beef is higher in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than convention factory farm meat, and the positive research on omega-3s is everywhere.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/

The Standard American Diet full of factory-farmed, artificially dyed and preserved meats is also full of pesticides, GMOs, chemicals, hormones, trans fats, simple carbohydrates, and low on vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, omega-3s and omega 9s (olive oil).  Also what is the quality of the drinking water, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and what kinds of chemicals are artificial fragrances are applied to these subjects hair and skin on a daily basis.  Is the meat often cooked at high heat, which creates dangerous compounds called heterocyclic amines that contribute to cancer?  I just can’t compare my diet and lifestyle, not apples to apples at all.  

Finally, just because someone starts their day with high fat and protein does not mean they have a high fat and protein diet.  There are still two other meals in the day.  For me, I eat at least a cup of complex carbohydrates every night at dinner.  I find this helps me sleep well, and since I’m not trying to be on a ketogenic diet, the carbs at dinner allow me to have my carbs but not affect my daytime energy and motivation.  There’s a lot of discussion about macronutrient ratios in various diets but not as much about when to eat certain foods. 

 

Health aside, am I not concerned about the environmental impact of eating meat?

Yes, I always have been very concerned about this.  But I’m not telling you to run out to Burger King for breakfast and burn down the rainforests while your at it.  I’m talking about a local, pastured operation.  There is some really interesting work being done looking at how grazing animals bred for food can restore the grasslands and sequester carbon.  There is research that shows covering the midwest with GMO soy mono crops is devastating to the local environment.

https://www.farmprogress.com/grazing-systems/six-reasons-we-need-grazing-animals

https://www.albertafarmexpress.ca/livestock/grazing-grasslands-is-good-for-the-environment-study-finds/

http://www.polyfacefarms.com/principles/

 

What about cost? 

This unfortunately is a factor in all the food I eat.  Eating healthy can be more expensive, that’s for sure, but what’s the cost of being unhealthy and feeling tired?  Most mornings I drink Bulletproof Coffee, but a few times a week I also eat the steaks, which are usually a brand called Eel River I get from Whole Foods.  They have a flat iron steak that is actually two steaks, and it’s 11.99.  Not outrageous at all for two breakfasts.  As a budget option a local, organic grass-fed burger for breakfast might be 6.99 for a pound, so divide that in half if you’re really going for it, and it’s about the same as a fast food breakfast.  Add some organic greens from the store, or some free dandelion leaves from your backyard (no chemicals, please), and you’re done!

The bottom line?  Don’t eat red meat if you don’t want to, but if you do, try a local, organic, grass fed steak for breakfast. 

 

Here’s my pick for California:

https://certified-organic-beef.com/product/organic-grass-fed-flat-iron-steak/

And I get all my ground beef and other cuts from a wonderful Ventura family ranch:

http://www.jandjgrassfedbeef.com

Do some googling and I’m sure you can find great sustainable farming and ranching in your area.  If not, try your local natural foods store, Butcher Box or US Wellness Meats.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/beef#nutrition