For Those Who Care: Grass-Fed vs Farmed Cows for Collagen - Amandean

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August 10, 2021 7 min read

In this article:

  • Why you need collagen in your diet
  • How is farm-raised collagen produced?
  • Advantages of grass-fed collagen
  • How to choose a collagen supplement that fits your standards
  • Amandean's Premium Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides

Why you need collagen in your diet

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body andin the bodies of many animals. Our bodies naturally produce collagen and disperse it throughout our connective tissues including the skin, joints, ligaments, eyes, muscles, and blood vessels to name a few! There are many types of collagen proteins, but the main three types (type I, II, and III) provide firm and flexible support that cushions your joints and pads your feet with every step you take. As we age, our collagen production slows, and in comes the common signs of aging like loss of mobility and sagging skin. Whether you're in your early twenties and want to grow your hair and nails while also doing a little collagen "loading", or if you are starting to feel some of the aches and pains of collagen depletion, you may benefit from adding a collagen supplement to your diet!

When we consume collagen, it gets broken down within the digestive system into amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids then stimulate the body to produce more collagen. The health benefits of collagen consumption are widespread and include improved skin elasticity, joint health, gut health, muscle building, hair growth, and more.

Aside from bone broth, benefitting from collagen through diet alone is near impossible. Collagen supplements can be sourced from fish skin, cow hides, chicken tendons, and eggshell membranes, each with varying degrees of quality and bioavailability. Bovine collagen, or collagen peptides sourced from cows, is one of the most widespread and common collagen sources, and for that reason its ecological and ethical impact deserves a bit of light shed on it.

Farm-Raised Collagen

Just like buying a nice steak or ground meat, when selecting a collagen supplement you have a choice in how your cow was raised and fed. Both of these factors can greatly impact the quality and purity of the meat, and in part guarantee your satisfaction with the product. Farm-raised collagen is sourced from farm-raised cattle. It is the most cost-effective yet often the most tainted source of bovine products available, and unfortunately, many collagen supplements on the market are made using collagen sourced from farm-raised cows.

Collagen powder is rarely the primary product for which cows are farmed; they are often farmed for their meat first, and then collagen peptides can be derived from the byproduct of meat production, the cowhides. These large scale factory-farms raise grain-fed cattle, which can be very harmful to the health of the animal. Cows raised on farms following CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) are generally raised in poor conditions with little space to roam, lack diversity of nutrients in their diets, and have weakened immune systems. Thus, they are given antibiotics, which can then be passed on to the end consumer via the dietary supplement, along with pesticides and other potential toxins.

What’s more, it's better to examine the quality, testing, and purity of ingredients than to choose ingredients based solely on the geographic source. Selectively-sourced means the way ingredients were chosen or harvested takes into consideration how they were grown or fed. Always look for a Non-GMO certification and cGMP testing on your collagen.

Grass-Fed Collagen

Grass-fed collagen, on the other hand, is sourced from grass-fed cattle. Just like at the grocery store where grass-fed beef is regarded as a higher-quality cut of meat, protein powders made from grass-fed cows are seen as higher quality as well. Buyer beware, some factory-farms will still use the term "grass-fed" as a buzzword when the animal's primary source of food is from soy or grains. For this reason, you should try to find out as much as you can about the conditions of the area where the cows were raised and look for the term "pasture-raised" in addition to "grass-fed."

Pasture-raised cows are given free range to roam their natural environment and graze on grass and other wild plants. Pasture-raised cows are generally much happier and healthier. This is because cows' digestive systems are adapted to eating grass and other plants. It is much better for the cow's digestion and nutritional needs and is less likely to call for intervention with antibiotics, hormones, steroids, or other additives to their diets. Free-roaming cows also have a higher quality of life, much closer to their natural lifestyles as opposed to overcrowded and unnatural mass factory-farms.  

Pasture-raised cattle is also one of the more sustainable farming methods followed for livestock. Livestock farming contributes 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so anything that can help to get this number down or reduce its environmental impact makes a huge difference. Free-roaming cows can help with soil fertilization and reduce the need for farmed grains and soy, thus increasing biodiversity. Finally, because these happy cows are given a buffet of wild grasses and plants, the levels of vitamins, nutrients, and even antioxidants that are passed down through their meats and dairy products are much higher than farm-raised cows. Healthier cows mean better-quality collagen and a healthier you.

How to choose a collagen supplement that fits your standards

If you're interested in buying a more eco-friendly, ethical, pure, and effective collagen supplement, here are a couple of things to look for:

  • Non-GMO:Seeing your supplement is classified as “non-GMO” is a great indicator that sustainable and clean farming practices were followed.
  • Processed in cGMP Facilities:Products should be tested and packaged in a (Current Good Manufacturing Practice) cGMP facility to ensure the quality and purity of whatever product you order.
  • Pasture-raised:By now you've probably realized grass-fed or pasture-raised cattle are the preferred source of collagen. Look for both of these terms to be explicitly named, either on the packaging or somewhere on the website, to ensure the cows live a happy life with lots of healthy, green foods.
  • Fair-trade:Although rare, some collagen supplements use the fair trade logo to signify the workers who raised the cows were treated and paid fairly. However, if they do not have a logo, this doesn't necessarily denote bad farming practices. It's just a bonus!
  • Organic:Supplements that use organic certifications also avoid any contaminants or harmful additives which can negatively affect the quality of the animal's life and the resulting supplement.
  • Additive-free:This is one of the most important points of all! A high-quality collagen supplement will not need added ingredients, including flavors. Oftentimes, brands use sweeteners and artificial flavors to mask unpleasant tastes or smells resulting from less-pure supplements and sourcing. Unflavored supplements should be naturally odor and flavor-free, giving you more versatility in the kitchen. The simpler the ingredients list, the better!
  • Marine-collagen:If you're a pescatarian or looking for a supplement with an even gentler impact on the environment, you can also choose to buy marine collagen or fish collagen. Similar to the “grass-fed vs. farm-raised” debate with bovine collagen, marine collagen can be made from farmed fish or sustainably fished, wild-caught fish which are free of toxins like heavy metals and antibiotics. The same guidelines apply to shopping for a marine collagen supplement as well; the simpler the better!

Amandean's Premium Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides

At Amandean, we strive to make all of our supplements as eco-friendly and pure as absolutely possible. Our Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides Powder is sourced from 100% pasture-raised, grass-fed South American cows. From birth, our cattle are raised on lush grasslands in Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, giving them plenty of space to graze and freedom to roam. It is keto and paleo-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains no wheat, corn, eggs, dairy, soy, or yeast. Similarly, our Premium Grass-Fed Gelatin Powder is also sourced from cows on the same grasslands, but the collagen is not hydrolyzed into peptides. Allowing the collagen to remain in its partially cooked state helps it to retain its gelling properties and makes a great healthy substitute for store-bought gelatin. As always it is free of artificial flavors, so it can blend seamlessly into your favorite foods and desserts!

Additionally, we realize sourcing is not the only factor that impacts the sustainability of our products. In an effort to eliminate our plastic footprint, we have partnered with rePurpose Global to go plastic neutral and offset the plastic used in our packaging by supporting plastic cleanups in vulnerable communities.

In the end, transparency is king. If you have a question about a brand's practices and the quality of life afforded to the animals that make their products, you should receive quick and easy communication. If you have questions about our products or sustainability initiatives, feel free to reach out to the experts at team Amandean at any time.

Summary Points

  • Our bodies naturally produce collagen and disperse it throughout our connective tissues including the skin, joints, ligaments, eyes, muscles, and blood vessels to name a few
  • Collagen supplements can be sourced from fish skin, cow hides, chicken tendons, and eggshell membranes, each with varying degrees of quality and bioavailability
  • Cows raised on farms following CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) are generally raised in poor conditions with little space to roam, lack diversity of nutrients in their diets, and have weakened immune systems
  • Free-roaming cows also have a higher quality of life, much closer to their natural lifestyles as opposed to overcrowded and unnatural mass factory-farms



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