Did you know that the Bison is the national mammal of the United States? The largest mammal on our continent, bison are a truly majestic and impressive creature! Bison has generated a lot of buzz recently in the culinary and health worlds. What should we know about eating bison? Is bison meat healthy? Is bison red meat? Should we be eating ground bison? Bison vs beef… what’s the difference?
There are so many reasons to make the switch from bison to beef. Let’s take a look at what the differences are.
Bison vs Beef: How Are They Similar? How Are They Different?
Both bison and cattle are both even-toed ungulates. They’re relatively closely related, belonging to the same genetic family, Bovidae. Cattle are domestic animals, while bison are nomadic grazers. Both animals are ruminants, meaning they’re able to extract nutrition from vegetation. They manage this by having specialized stomach systems that are able to ferment vegetation before digestion. Although cattle are naturally inclined to eat grassy vegetation, they’re often fed grain-based feeds. Bison, on the other hand, travel in a wandering herd and are able to consume their natural diet. Not only this, but it’s believed that their migration is dictated by a drive to optimize their diet.
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American bison is commonly referred to as buffalo in Canada and the United States. Bison are so regularly called buffalo that it’s fair to call this a nickname. There is actually a different animal known as the true buffalo, which is only a distant relative to the American bison. The true buffalo is found in Asia and actually looks quite a bit different than the American bison. The North American continent was home to millions of bison in prehistoric times, stretching south to Mexico, north to Alaska, and east through the Appalachian Mountain Range. By the late 1800s, however, human hunting and impact on their habitat reduced the number of buffalo to a mere few hundred.
While their habitat is much smaller now than it was in prehistoric times, the number of bison has thankfully rebounded. There are now somewhere around 500,000 bison in the United States, and over 12,000 in Canada. In Mexico, there is one bison herd, numbering somewhere between 80 and 130.
The Benefits of Eating Bison Instead of Beef!
Both beef and bison have a similar flavor and share the benefits of having all nine amino acids and a number of vital vitamins and minerals. That being said, when you compare beef nutrition to bison nutrition, bison wins hands down.
For Your Health – Is bison meat healthy? The short answer is yes! Next time you’re at the store to get taco materials, consider the health benefits of ground bison vs ground beef. If you’re looking for a low fat, low cholesterol, and nutrient-dense meat to incorporate as a regular part of your diet, look no further than bison. With significantly less fat and calories than beef, bison also has one of the best protein densities out of the common meat types. A serving of grass-fed bison has three to six times the amount of Omega-3s as that of grain-fed animals. The amount of Omega-3s in bison meat is equal to the amount you get from salmon.
Bison meat is high in the natural trace element selenium, which is known to help elevate one’s mood. Other positive aspects of bison nutrition are that it’s a rich source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant, and that grass-fed bison boasts four times the vitamin E than grain-fed beef. If all that wasn’t enough, bison wins the prize for the highest-known levels of conjugated linoleic acid, also known as CLA. There is some evidence that this anti-carcinogen and fat blocker could reduce the risk of a number of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, and various immune disorders.
For the Animals – Whether you like it or not, when you’re buying food, you’re voting with your dollars. I’m not trying to go all vegan activists on you here, far from it, but even us meat-lovers can agree that there are more and less ethical ways to raise animals. While there’s a wide-range of cattle-raising styles, some of which allow them a lot of space to roam, many beef cattle in America are kept in inhumane conditions. Bison, though, are allowed to roam freely for most of their lives. If you like knowing that your meat came from animals who had a good and free life, bison might be the choice for you.
For the Environment – Both cattle and bison emit methane, but many believe bison’s small methane output is offset but it’s many environmental benefits. Since bison are nomadic, they don’t devastate areas by overgrazing. As a wild and native animal in North America, bison participate as an important part of the ecosystem. Their urine and manure fertilize the grasslands, their hooves help stir seeds into the ground as they roam, and they keep the native vegetation in check. So many people love the taste of beef but feel conflicted about the environmental impact of raising domestic beef cattle. If you opt to replace beef with bison in your diet, though, you’re supporting the further protection and cultivation of a species that is essential to prairie ecology.
Are You Going to Make the Switch From Beef to Bison?
Well, there you have it, the results of the bison vs beef showdown. With so many benefits that range from your health to the health of the environment, why wouldn’t you make the switch from beef to bison? Whether you run a restaurant or just love cooking high-quality, healthy, delicious meals at home, adding bison to the menu is a no-brainer. We offer a number of different box sizes to best suit whatever bison, elk, and boar needs you could have!