Healthy Eating

The Eco-Conscious Carnivore

A meat-lover's guide to making choices that maximize personal and planetary health.

The Eco-Conscious Carnivore
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"DO YOU WANT REGULAR GRASS-FED, OR ORGANIC?" asks the clerk behind the meat counter. It's winter and I've been craving a warming substantial food like brisket.

"What's the difference?" I want to inquire, though I anticipate the groans of impatience from the queue behind me.

I suspect that I'm not the only consumer for whom buying meat has become a complex issue--but one worth taking the time to sort out. Although the benefits of a mostly vegetarian diet are well established, beef remains the single best source of vitamin B12, a nutrient that's necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells and maintenance of the nervous system. It's also an excellent source of zinc, phosphorus, and iron.

As it turns out, the meat that's best for you is also what's best for the planet. "The healthfulness of meat and the way it's produced are very closely linked," explains Jennifer Wilkins, Ph.D., R.D., a food and society policy fellow in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. "Nutrition, health, and the health of the environment are all interconnected."

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