Meatless Mondays not good for you, or the environment.

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I have seen the idea of Meatless Mondays popping up a lot lately, most recently in Sara Groves’ recent “Room for Improvement” column in the Helena Independent Record on August 18, “Meat lover meets tofu.” While I commend Ms. Grove’s efforts to improve her personal health and the health of the planet—and encourage the rest of us to do the same—“Meatless Mondays” is not the way for us to achieve either goal. Health-wise, the nutrients in meat such as lean beef help maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and fuel physical activity. Environment-wise, reducing red meat consumption won’t impact the climate change issue. Only 2.8{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the US can be attributed to livestock production, according to a new study done at the University of California-Davis.

As a rancher and an avid exercise enthusiast, my family and I have enjoyed the benefits of beef and will continue to do, not just because it is our livelihood, but because it tastes great and is a healthy part of our diet. To promote this healthy lifestyle, a group of ranchers is participating in this year’s Hood to Coast Relay August 27 & 28. We call ourselves the Montana Running Ranchers. The relay, which spans 197 miles from the top of Mount Hood to the Oregon Coast, will bring together over 12,000 runners and 4,000 walkers. The Montana Running Ranchers, who are sponsored in large part by the Montana Beef Council, will be promoting the beef industry while running for cancer research.

Here is some food for thought when it comes to the benefits of beef:

• Beef is a naturally-nutrient rich food that is an important part of a well-balanced diet with 10 essential nutrients and vitamins our bodies need to be physically active, like zinc, iron, protein, B6 and B12.

 

• An excellent source of protein, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef provides 51{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} of the Daily Value recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in less than 180 calories.

• There are 29 “lean” cuts of beef, including popular cuts like tenderloin, sirloin and 95{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} lean ground beef.

• Not all proteins are created equal. The nutrients in beef help you maintain a healthy metabolism, useful in maintaining healthy weight, building muscle and fueling physical activity. Studies also suggest that the protein in beef may help prevent many chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes.


• It’s especially important that young children and older adults get sufficient protein. Children need the high-quality protein, iron and zinc in beef in order to develop their minds, as well as their bodies. Older adults can benefit from the protein in beef to help prevent loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.

• Beef’s fatty acid profile is generally misunderstood. About half of the fatty acids found in beef are monounsaturated, the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil. Studies show they may raise levels of “good” cholesterol while lowering levels of “bad” cholesterol.

 

• When consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat, lean, trimmed beef does not increase cardiovascular risk factors.

As far as Ms. Grove’s environmental concerns, ranchers in Montana and across the country are committed to leaving the environment in better shape for the next generation. Preserving, conserving and restoring the this country’s natural resources like open space, grasslands, wetlands, clean air and wildlife habitat are as important to us as they are to you. We have been working to reduce our carbon footprint and, according to a recent Washington State University study, ranchers have cut their carbon emissions by 18{4d08edaf359bc2115b18a651716ebd427a137946ddca2143fa23b3ea721061e4} from 1977 to 2007.

Environment and health-conscious consumers should feel free to enjoy lean beef as a part of a well-balanced diet every single day, knowing they are doing the right thing for their bodies and the environment.

Rich Roth

IX Ranch, Big Sandy

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