…a teenage Shan thought she had the answers.
So at 16, she stopped eating red meat. Her head told her it would be healthy. Her body told her otherwise.
15 years, an iron and a B12 deficiency later, the former vegetarian started eating red meat again. And went from feeling blah to bloomin’ marvellous.
These days, the @myfoodreligion content creator doesn’t worship at any particular food altar. She adapts what she likes from different approaches to suit what makes her feel good.
And what makes Shan feel really good is knowing where her nutritious food comes from.
So, she travelled to Aussie beef farm ‘Woko Station’ to check out the start of a food chain that ends at her dining table.
The cattle at Woko graze freely on a smorgasbord of high-fibre grasses in pasture-based environments for the majority of their lives.
The food chain Shan went looking for, turned out to be a ‘nourishment’ chain.
Beef farmers nourish the land. To nourish their animals. To nourish us.
“We are not only what we eat. But we are what we eat, ate,” Shan says. “If we’re eating animals that are eating these beautiful nutritious grasses that are green and luscious and full of nutrients - that really does reflect in the nutrition of your end product.”
Now that’s food for thought.
Recipe creator Shan Cooper is out to change the world, one kitchen at a time.
She thought cows were changing the world too, one fart at a time. And not in a good way.
Until a visit to an Aussie beef farm changed her mind.
Shan wasn’t alone in thinking gassy cows were right up there with cars and fossil fuel as climate culprits. Cows are often linked to climate change because they do emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
But, as Bart Simpson would say, “Don't have a cow, man!”
Shan discovered there’s a big difference between cows and coal - in how they emit greenhouse gases and how long they hang around.
Cows make methane when they’re digesting grass and plants. They do fart out a little, but mostly they breathe, belch or burp it out. It breaks down into carbon dioxide and water, the carbon gets absorbed again by plants and the cycle starts again.
It’s part of a natural or biogenic cycle involving carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
The methane stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years.
Greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are additional gases that have been stored underground for millions of years, and are not part of a cycle so hang around in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
If they handed out medals for the worst emitters, cows wouldn’t be on the podium.
Shan saw how beef farmers like Robert ‘Macka’ Mackenzie from ‘Woko Station’ are helping reduce emissions by sequestering - or storing - carbon in their land through activities from planting trees and varieties of grasses to changing grazing patterns and management strategies.
When cows graze, they stimulate more plant growth - plants that help remove more greenhouse gases from the air as they grow and photosynthesize.
“There’s so much that’s being done in the environment, to help sequester all of that carbon, whether that’s the trees in the environment, or the different types of grasses that they’re planting, to help really pull that carbon back out of the atmosphere and bring it back into the earth.”
Sounds like a down to earth recipe for success, Shan.