We recommend eating free range for three main reasons: the animals, the environment and your health.
When we buy meat that is not free range it is factory farmed. Animals raised in factory farms are subject to intensely stressful conditions and sometimes unimaginable cruelty all in the name of cutting costs. These conditions are fuelled and passively accepted by us, the consumers who demand more for less. In most countries animals raised for food are not given the rights and freedom from cruelty that our pets enjoy, even though many species, such as pigs, are just as smart and sentient. There are many organisations worth looking into to learn more about this issue, such as Voiceless and Animals Australia if you are living in Australia.
By raising animals in cages and feeding them grain grown elsewhere we break naturally occurring cycles. Cows provide many valuable services to the grasses that they graze on, including feeding them with nitrogen from their manure. When we remove them and place them into feedlots their manure rarely makes it back to feed adjacent grasslands. Instead it becomes waste and another issue for the farmer to deal with. The grains that we feed cows are not a part of their natural diet and so they often cause health issues for the animals. Many cows when slaughtered have failing if not completely failed livers.
The connection between grain diets and animal health affects our diets as well. Meat is nowhere near as good for you as when the animal is raised on pasture and eats what it has evolved to eat. This can manifest in a worse omega-3 and omega-6 profile of the fats contained in the meat, where grain fed meat has more of the bad fats and less of the good fats while grass-feed has the opposite profile. This can even manifest itself in farmed fish that are fed grain, where a grass-fed cow can have a higher level of omega-3 than a farmed salmon normally known for its high omega-3 content.
Since we know exactly what is in our food when eating at home eating free-range meat at home is as easy as asking for it at the butcher or supermarket. Eating out however presents many issues as restaurants rarely indicate on their menus whether their meat is raised free-range or not. This is why we created this list of free-range restaurants and butchers in Melbourne and Sydney. We plan to expand this out worldwide and integrate it into the next version of the app. If you have restaurants in your area that you know serve free-range meat then please submit them to us through the Contact Us form and we will include it in future versions.