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What is the Difference Between Grass-Fed and Vegetarian-Fed Beef?

Written by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD on February 08, 2022


The type of food that cows eat has a major impact on the quality of the final beef product. There are two main types of beef competing in the marketplace: grass-fed vs. vegetarian-fed.

Grass-fed cows graze primarily on grass, while vegetarian-fed cows are fed grains such as soy and corn. When deciding on which type of beef to choose, the farming environment, animal welfare, and nutritional quality are all important factors to consider.

Vegetarian-fed is more commonly known as grain-fed, and is what is most readily available in grocery stores. However, grass-fed beef has been gaining popularity for its purported health and environmental benefits.

If you’re asking yourself, “is grass-fed beef better?” we’ve got you covered.

This article will answer that question as well as compare the biggest differences between grass-fed meat and vegetarian-fed meat.

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Pros and Cons of Grass-Fed Meat vs. Vegetarian-Fed

There are pros and cons with each type of beef to consider, based on your individual needs and goals.

Grass-Fed Meat


  • Nutrition: Grass-fed meat is richer in nutrients compared to vegetarian-fed meat, especially vitamin A, vitamin E, and antioxidants like Antioxidants protect us from potentially harmful chemicals in our environment, and can support a healthy immune system.
  • Lower in fat: Grass-fed meat is lower in total fat, but higher in the good fats like omega-3’s that fight inflammation and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fat that may support weight loss.
  • Superior taste: Grass-fed meat tastes better, resulting in a leaner and juicer cut of meat.
  • Environment: Grass-fed cows support a healthier ecosystem by boosting soil health and fertility. They also have an increased potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Animal welfare: Grass-fed animals experience a better quality of life, and are allowed to freely range across pastures.


  • Higher cost: Grass-fed beef is not as readily available as vegetarian-fed, so it costs a bit more.

Vegetarian-Fed Meat


  • Lower cost: Vegetarian-fed meat is more readily available and mass-produced, therefore the cost is generally lower than grass-fed meat.


  • May contain antibiotics and harmful chemicals: Because grains can be tougher on a cow’s digestive system, they are often injected with antibiotics. They are also given hormones to grow faster.
  • Cows may live in an inhumane, crowded environment: Many grain-fed pastures confine cows to small spaces that are unsanitary, where they are not allowed to run freely.
  • Higher in fat: Grain-fed cows tend to gain more weight and have more fat on them, which creates a more fatty piece of meat that is not as healthy.

In addition, grass-fed meat is responsibly sourced, which means all livestock is raised with the planet’s health in mind, and the goal of producing less pollution and maintaining better soil quality.

While grass-fed beef may cost a bit more, it is well worth the investment for all of your beef products, whether that be a grass-fed steak or grass-fed beef jerky.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Better?

When it comes to quality, sustainability, and protecting the welfare of animals, grass-fed meat wins the prize.

The top three reasons why grass-fed beef is superior to vegetarian-fed is its positive impact on the environment, animal welfare, and enhanced nutrition.

Our Chomps grass-fed beef jerky sets the standard in all 3 of these categories - where every product is 100% grass-fed and finished beef.

Visit our Chomps store to explore our tasty and nutritious grass-fed jerky options, such as our Original Beef Jerky.

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Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Melissa Mitri, RD Melissa is a health writer with over 12 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She specializes in helping women move away from restrictive habits that lead to vicious yo-yo weight cycles. Melissa enjoys writing about health, nutrition, and fitness with the goal of simplifying complex health topics for the reader. You can find out more about Melissa at