Beef Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  12 min read
beef benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: beef benefits may include prevent anemia | beef side effects may include abdominal pain, developing Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bloating, constipation, impotence, inflammation, gas, taeniasis beef increases the risk of tapeworm infection

Longevity: beef side effects may include antibiotic, dioxin and artificial hormone ingestion, antibiotic resistance, blood clots, heart attack and stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, free radicals, hardened blood vessels, heart disease, high cholesterol, liver problems, potential E.coli or BSE (mad cow disease) infection, shortened lifespan, weakened immunity, unhealthy pH levels in body

Appearance: beef benefits may include build muscle mass, hair growth, hair health | beef side effects may include dull completion, skin issues, weight gain

Beef is…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, 15,414 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of beef / 1847 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of beef

Carbon footprint: high, 68.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of beef, a car driving equivalent of 158 miles or 254 kilometers | 44.92 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of ration-fed, fresh beef, a car driving equivalent of 103.25 miles or 166 kilometers | 27 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of beef, a car driving equivalent of 62.25 miles or 100.25 kilometers

Destruction: high, beef production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Beef is…

ANIMALS

Kills: cows, body parts often sliced, legs cut off and throats slit while still conscious, breathing and blinking and without pain relief

Harms: cows, branded, castrated and horns removed without painkillers, locked in tiny cages, genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk) shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, live last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste

Indirectly kills or harms: ecosystems and wildlife, habitat contamination (water and soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock 

Beef is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, meat processing workers have some of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness in the USA, the work environment in processing plants is dirty, dangerous, at times machines that injure workers by crushing, amputating, burning and slicing them, workers use tools such as knives, hooks, scissors, and saws, injuries include cuts, stabs, infections, scars, scratches, missing fingers, swollen joints, working conditions are humid, slippery, loud, hot or below freezing resulting in respiratory problems, skin infections and falls, workers experience

Living conditions: poor, workers must process thousands of animals per day, they are pressured to work as fast as possible, rest breaks and bathroom breaks are discouraged or denied, many workers must wear diapers, they experience stress, physical and emotional pain

Wages: low, in the USA workers are poorly compensated and earn under $15 an hour, they are often pushed to work faster so companies can profit more

Beef…

Where does most beef come from?

The United States and Brazil are the world’s largest beef producers followed by the European Union. The world’s top beef exporting country is USA, followed by Ireland, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland and France.

Is beef nutritious?

Beef is high in protein, zinc, B-vitamins and thiamin but also high in purines, cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat, antibiotics and growth hormones.

What are some vegan substitutes?

Check out this Vegan Substitutes List to see alternatives for meat, dairy, eggs, fish and more.

acidic foods and alkaline diet to improve ph levels

beef is acidic.

Is beef alkaline or acidic? Beef is acidic. What is the pH level of beef? Beef has a 4.5 pH level, once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

beef is gluten free.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Is beef gluten free? Yes, beef is gluten free. Beef does not contain gluten but ground meat, lunch meat, cold cuts, pre-seasoned meats and processed meats may contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

beef is not a common food allergen.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is beef a common food allergen? No, beef is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to beef but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

beef has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does beef have a high or low water footprint? Beef has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of beef? It takes 15,415 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef / 1,848 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

beef has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does beef have a high or low carbon footprint? Beef has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of beef? It takes around 68.8 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of beef, a car driving equivalent of 158 miles or 254 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

beef is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is beef eco friendly? Is beef sustainable?

No. Beef production is relatively unsustainable due to its high carbon footprint and high water footprint. Additionally, beef production requires land usage for cow pasture, grain and forage. Cows’ solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff contaminates soil and freshwater. Consequently, deforestation occurs to produce feed crops for livestock. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction and is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

beef is not vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Is beef vegan? No, beef is not vegan. Beef is meat, the product of a cow, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A cow must be killed in order to produce beef. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

beef has labor issues.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is beef a product with labor concerns? Yes. At this time there are concerns with beef production. It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Harvard health: beef

Beef, ground, 80% lean meat / 20% fat, raw – FoodData Central

Human rights watch:“When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting” Workers’ Rights Under Threat in US Meat and Poultry Plants

How many animals are killed for food every day

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.