Ask the Diva: How Does Wild Game Compare to Beef?

Wild game and grass-fed cattle are more similar than you might think. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Q. My husband is an avid hunter so we eat a lot of wild game. We currently have a freezer full of some very tasty elk that he harvested last November. Would elk be nutritionally similar to grass-fed beef?

A. In general, wild game and grass-fed cattle are both leaner than grain-fed beef. And according to the USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, elk is fairly similar to grass-fed beef, nutritionally. Keep in mind, however, that the fat content also varies significantly from cut to cut. The flank, for example, tends to be much leaner than a skirt steak. If you’re curious, you can look up and compare the nutritional details on many different game animals (and cuts) on the USDA’s website.

You might be surprised that the nutritional differences aren’t bigger. I think we assume that wild animals would have more nutritious diets. In reality, foraging for your food can make for a somewhat unpredictable diet. People also often over-estimate the nutritional differences between grass and grain fed beef. Grass-fed beef is still beef, not a salad!

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t advantages to choosing wild game and/or grass-fed meat. Both may be more environmentally friendly and humane choices, for example. Nutritionally speaking, however, elk, venison, grass- and grain-fed beef have more in common than not.

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Cooked elk meat from Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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