Written by Lisa Dreher, MS, RDN, LDN
A Guide to Clean Animal Protein

A Guide to Clean Animal Protein

Protein is responsible for nearly all of the work carried out in every cell throughout the body. Protein provides the building blocks for the structure, function, and regulation of all tissues and organs, as well as the repair of our DNA. Many foods contain protein, but none are as concentrated or complete as animal-based protein. As the new saying goes: you are what your food eats. If you eat animal-based protein, quality is everything.

The quality of grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish and pastured chicken/eggs is quite different from an animal that is forced to endure inhumane conditions, eat an unnatural diet of soy and grains (often genetically modified) and administered antibiotics. The later situation increases stress hormones, increases pro-inflammatory fats such as arachidonic acid, decreases vitamin and mineral content and raises the risk for antibiotic resistance. An animal raised in their natural environment will have a better quality of life, have fewer stress hormones, and higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

My patients often ask for recommendations on how to find the best quality, humanely-raised, minimally processed animal products. Take a look through some of my favorites below. And remember, a little goes a long way! The average adult needs about 30 grams of protein with each meal, which is equivalent to 4oz of animal protein (the size of the palm of an average hand). Eating less of the highest quality meat, chicken, fish, and eggs you can buy will put less stress on your body and less of a burden on the environment!

  1. ButcherBox – is an online meat delivery service. You can think of it as a meat CSA- you pay a fee and get a set amount of meat that changes each month, or you can customize what you receive. All beef is 100% grass-fed/grass-finished, they live their entire life on pastures and are never administered antibiotics. All chicken is organic and pasture-raised with ample access to outdoors and to shelter. All pork is heritage breed and either pastured or raised in open barns with space to engage in natural behaviors. No tail docking or other physical alterations are allowed. They send us a special deal for UWC fans. Our patients get $10 off of their first order plus free ribeyes. You can get that deal here.
  1. Vital Choice – offers sustainably wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, organic bone broth, and more. When it comes to heart and brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines are two of your best choices. Vital Choice offers some of the cleanest and healthiest fish and seafood options available. They even make it interesting by offering products such as salmon burgers, salmon breakfast sausages, and even salmon bacon!
  2. Applegate Farm’s – Unlike the first 2 options, Applegate Farm’s can be found in most grocery stores. They offer products such as breakfast sausage, bacon, deli meats, and chicken nuggets. While these foods are more processed, they are made with meat that has never been administered antibiotics and are humanely raised. All ingredients in these products are non-GMO. These are good alternatives to commonly eaten foods and work great for kids!
  3. Green Valley Organics – Although technically not meat, if you can tolerate dairy, it is equally as important to get the best quality possible. Conventional dairy often contains hormones, herbicides/pesticides, and other endocrine-disrupting compounds. Dairy from grass-fed cows assures you will not be eating growth hormones, steroids, or pesticides, all while supporting farmers who treat their animals more humanely. Green Valley Organics offers high quality products that are also lactose-free for the millions of children and adults who have a difficult time digesting lactose.
  4. Eat Wild – offers the most comprehensive state-by-state directory for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada. Products you can find include beef, pork, lamb, veal, goat, elk, venison, yak, chicken, duck, rabbit, turkey, eggs, milk, cheese, wild-caught fish, and more. They believe in “eating on the wild side” to obtain the nutritional content of wild plants and game—our original diet.

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