Many of us have been taught that meat is meat. But this is very far from the truth. There are a number of different practices used today to raise meat for consumption, and studies have shown that some are much healthier than others.

The main difference is that some animals are raised free range and some are raised in factory farms. What does that mean exactly? Well, I'll tell you.

An organic, natural fed, free range animal (we will refer to them as ONFR from now on) is raised as the name implies, more or less free to roam. They live outside, in the open, and have lots of space to move about. They are fed grass as opposed to grain, and they are virtually free of antibiotics and artificial hormones. These animals are much healthier to eat.

Factory farm (we will refer to them as FF) animals, on the other hand, are much different. These animals are raised inside a building, often crowded extremely close together with no room to move, and live their entire lives like this. They eat grain or some type of by-product, and they are fed numerous chemical drugs and growth hormones. They are also subject to treatment that most free range animals are not. These animals are not so good to eat.

So why are ONFR animals superior to FF animals? There are a number of reasons.

One of the biggest reasons organic animals are so much healthier than FF or non-organic animals is the lack of chemical drugs used to raise them. Factory Farm animals are pumped up with an enormous amount of antibiotics, growth hormones and appetite stimulants. All these chemicals are made to kill the bacteria and fatten the animal up. These chemicals accumulate in the blood and tissue of the animal, and many of them have been shown to have adverse effects in humans.

FF animals are often likely to be loaded with preservatives after the animal is slaughtered. Even wonder why meat you see in the store doesn't age very quickly and there is no smell? Well this is why. And many preservatives are detrimental, having been linked to several current health problems in America.

What the animal eats has been shown to have a huge impact on how lean the meat is, as well as it's nutritional value. Basically, the closer the animal's diet is to its natural diet, the leaner and more nutritional it is. For instance, cattle that is fed grass has a generous content of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, where grain fed animals have little to none. Chickens that are fed their natural diet have as much as 20 times the amount of Omega 3's in their meat and eggs as opposed to chickens that are fed grains.

The reason for this is that the greens that are part of the animal's natural diet contain omega 3's. So when they animal eats greens they store the omega 3's in their tissues. FF animals are never fed greens. They are mostly fed grains, but are often fed intestines, feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, road kill, euthanized cats and dogs and much more. So consider cows, which are vegetarian animals, eating these substances. Their digestive systems are designed to break down plants, not leftover animal debris.

And perhaps the most important reason of all to eat ONFR animals as opposed to FF animals is the compassionate reason. Now I am not one to talk or dwell on negativity, but I think the conditions that FF animals are subject to needs to be exposed.

FF animals are basically treated as inhumane as possible. Many animals are raised in crates and spaces so small that they cannot move or turn around. They live and breathe in their own excrement. Chickens are fed so many growth hormones they balloon to enormous proportions, often getting so big they cannot stand on their own feet. Then they are broiled alive with no pain killers administered. Egg laying chickens are often starved because this stimulates them to lay a larger quantity of eggs.

Some animals never see the sunshine or breathe in fresh air. Injured cattle that cannot walk are often left for days with no food, water or care, where they eventually die in their own excrement.

These animals are raised with the single goal of profit with absolutely no concern over any pain or suffering that is inflicted. Factory farms are the equivalent of concentration camps for animals (this is my opinion).

I could go on and on about the numerous abusive practices used in factory farms, but I don't feel it's necessary (If you want to know more visit www.peta.org).

The important point is that animals are living, thinking, feeling sentient beings and need to be treated as such. They are just as deserving of love and compassion as any human being. Just because they can't talk or discuss their feelings verbally doesn't mean they don't feel. Just look into the eyes of your dog or cat or whatever pet you have and that will be obvious. And one animal's pain is not more or less significant to another's. Which means a baby chick's pain is no less important than a puppy's.

And all this brings us to one more important health benefit. When an FF animal lives the way it does it is constantly in a state of stress and fear. Stress and fear have been known to release a number of chemicals and hormones into the body, many of which are toxic over time. These chemicals are stored in the animal's tissues, and then enter our bodies when we consume their meat. A happy, healthy ONFR animal is not going to have the abundance of testosterone and adrenaline in it's tissues that a FF animal will have. It's meat will be much closer to "stress free."

So for your own health and more importantly for the happiness of our furry friends, it is extremely important that we stop supporting factory farms with our hard earned dollars and start eating only ONFR meat. Now there is a lot of meat that is free range, but not organic or grass fed. So you have to check with the producer to see what their procedures are. Free range animals that are not natural fed or organic are still far superior to factory farm animals, so if that is all you can find and you don't want to go vegetarian it's a much more conscious choice. But be careful, because many of the so called free range meats you see in the store are not free range at all. There are almost no regulations on what free range is, so many companies deceptively put free range on their label, even though the animals are packed together in tight pens.

One of the easiest ways to find true ONFR meat is to go to your local farmer's market. There is almost always a vendor offering ONFR meat, or someone that knows where to get it. You can also visit this wonderful website, www.eatwild.com, for information on the benefits and where to get ONFR meat.

I wish you happiness, health and much peace.

Christopher Hall

Author's Bio: 

I am 26 years old and have been studying holistic health for about 6 years. It is my passion. I read about it, I study it, I talk about it and I live it to the best of my ability. It is also my profession. I am the owner of Alive and Aware Natural Health, an online all natural health and personal care store.

I have a certificate from the Australasian College of Health Sciences in Nutrition, Bodycare and Herbalism. I am also pursuing an Associates Degree at SWIHA in Holistic Health Care, with focuses in Nutrition, Western Herbalism and Yoga Training.