Throughout the seemingly infinite discussions about dietary choices, the subject of meat consumption is an oft-recurring topic of conversation. People have a strong desire to know where meat fits in their diet, and whether or not it fits at all. For those who have been consuming meat products their entire life, it makes sense that disagreements can arise between individuals who adhere to different diets. However, amidst all of the discussion, one point that does not arise much is the fact that many beef eaters have unknowingly consumed cow urine.
Those who have eaten meat will often describe its great taste, but it is difficult to perform research on every stage of meat production without becoming repulsed by what you find. In order for beef to be produced, a cow would normally eat grass and water. Unfortunately, in most of the circumstances in which cows are raised today, they are actually given corn or other grains to eat, in order to fatten them up more quickly, which translates to faster and higher profit for the companies producing the beef.
Grasses, hays and straws, which are normally what cows would consume, are forms of roughage, which require more saliva from the cow to digest properly. Being fed grains such as corn does not require as much saliva before being sent to the stomach, but this means that the cow can quickly foster a condition known as acidosis.
Under a typical diet, the large amounts of saliva that a cow would produce to break down its food properly balances out the acid in its stomach. Without as much saliva being sent to the stomach with the food, the acid is not balanced out and starts to cause a series of other problems. Acidosis often leads to the wall of the stomach becoming ulcerated, which in turn allows bacteria and other unwanted substances to creep into the bloodstream, ultimately playing a part in how the end product of meat will taste.
The production and filtration of uric acid causes additional problems. Uric acid is a byproduct formed when a creature’s body breaks down purines, which are found in various foods. Purine levels are highest in organs such as livers, kidneys or brains (this is where filtration needs are the greatest), but also found in the flesh of animals.
Even though purines are normal and acceptable in the body, as cell matter is recycled, purines are broken down and gathered up as part of cell waste, which requires proper disposal. Uric acid is the according byproduct, which in low levels, is efficiently absorbed through the bloodstream, and is then filtered through the kidneys and disposed of as urine.
With higher levels of uric acid, the body cannot handle it regularly, and this can cause gout in humans. For cows experiencing more acid buildup than they can handle, most often through acidosis combined with the natural regulation of uric acid, this results in much higher levels of toxic waste material that remains in their flesh. The production and subsequent regulation of uric acid is a normal body process that occurs all the way up through death, and ends up being one of the leading factors of meat’s taste.
Blood that remains in cow bodies after slaughter also accounts for the taste. Combine this with the fact that most cows end up sitting and sleeping in their own feces and urine due to the layout of most concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and you have a very grim and distasteful situation for eating meat. Whether you are a longtime vegan or vegetarian seeking to become more knowledgeable on meat, or a prospective diet-changer who is earnestly searching for the truth, let these realities caution you the next time you head to the grocery store or farmer’s market.