Why An Athlete should choose Wild Game Meat Above Factory-Farmed Meat
In April 2018 Alexander Gustafsson was a guest at the Joe Rogan Experience, here he talked about his diet. Alexander Gustafsson was a top contender in the Light Heavyweight division. Now there are rumoers he'll be making his return in the UFC.
Overall the diet of Gustafsson isn’t all that special. The main thing to him is that he eats healthy. But he is not too strict and likes to sin sometimes:
“I don’t eat shit food, of course sometimes I drink a couples of beers, I have a pizza occasionally. I have to live sometimes, but in general it is good regular meals”
However, there is one aspect in his diet that is particularly special: Gustafsson never eats factory-farmed meat. All the meat he eats is hunted by himself in his home country Sweden. As a result the bulk of the meat he eats, comes from wild boar, deer and moose.
The motivation for eating exclusively wild game is twofold. First of all, Gustafsson doesn’t want to support public farming because it is unethical. Secondly, he prefers wild game because of the health benefits it has over factory-farmed meat.
In what follows, I explain why I agree with Gustafsson and why you should too!
Let's dissect his two core reasons to eat wild game: Health and Ethics.
In the podcast, Gustafsson said the following about the health benefits:
“You can’t get better nutrition into your body, than eating that [hunted] meat… How do you feel after eating a [factory farmed] steak compared to hunted meat? You don’t feel the same, you don’t feel tired, you don’t feel like you get a food coma”
This, of course, is a subjective opinion of Alexander Gustafsson. He states that hunted wild game is better than factory farmed meat, because he feels better after eating it. I think that intuitively most of us agree with him. The more natural a food is, the more healthy it is, right?
When we compare some of the characteristics of factory-farmed meat with some of the characteristics of wild game meat, the intuition seems true:
Wild game, in general, is leaner. The wild animals roam around free, searching for food, which makes the animals store less fat. Furthermore, they eat a natural diet. The diet of factory-farmed animals mainly consists of corn and grain.
Next to a general lower fat proportion in wild game, it also seems that the existing fat is healthier. In wild game, the ratio of polyunsaturated fats/saturated fats is higher than the ratio in factory-farmed meat. The higher this ratio, the lower the risk for heart disease.
Another result of eating a natural diet is that the meat of wild game is higher in omega 3 fatty acids.
Wild game is free of antibiotics and added hormones.
These health benefits could, on their own, be enough to convince you to replace factory-farmed meat with wild game meat, from time to time.
But there is another reason to convince you. And this reason is that wild game meat is the more ethical choice.
But, other than health benefits, there is another reason to convince you. And this reason is that wild game meat is the more ethical choice. Consuming wild game instead of factory-farmed meat is better for the animals and better for the environment as well.
Everybody is familiar with the horrific images of livestock being cramped up in small confined spaces, often being treated horribly by the workers in the factory farm. And it seems that, no matter how many of these videos surface, no real actions are undertaken to significantly increase the welfare of the animals in these factories. These conditions are a consequence of companies maximizing profit and customers taking merely the price of the meat into account—and not the animals’ welfare.
When buying wild game (or hunting yourself), you do not contribute to this cruelty. The meat is derived from animals that have lived a natural life, free from man-induced suffering. They have lived, eaten, and behaved the way the species has evolved to. When killed by an experienced hunter, the animal will feel close to no pain.
The environmental consequences of eating factory-farmed meat are huge. The production of meat is responsible for:
Deforestation. Vast areas of land are necessary for livestock to graze. Usually, the bulk of the feed for the animals is harvested feed (e.g., corn, grain, soy). The growing of these feeds requires vast areas of land as well. A vegan diet is more efficient in the sense that less land is necessary to provide the food for the same amount of people.
Stream and riparian pollution. The animal waste from the factories commonly finds its way into neighboring streams and rivers. The excess nutrients from the waste cause the growth of toxic algae and the depletion of oxygen in the water, killing fish and other wildlife.
Antibiotic resistance. It’s estimated that antibiotic use in livestock accounts for 70 to 80 percent of total consumption. The livestock has to be heavily medicated (as a preventive measure) since they easily get infections as a result of their dire living conditions. The overuse of antibiotics in livestock has been linked with resistance to these medicines in humans.
All these adverse effects of factory farming do not apply to wild game. If the hunted animal is not endangered, harvesting meat from the wild does not alter the natural ecosystem.
In fact, in the over-urbanized world we live in today, the hunter can restore a natural balance which has been lost. In many areas, all predators have disappeared which leaves the population of prey animals unchecked. The overpopulation of these animals can damage the ecology by overgrazing.
Important note: Obviously it’s not sustainable for the whole world to replace its consumption of factory-farmed meat with wild game. The wild game would soon be eradicated. But currently, this is in many regions not a problem. You as an individual can make the decision to improve your health and not contribute to animal suffering and environmental deterioration by choosing wild game over factory-farmed meat.