Eating nose to tail is the best way to stay healthy, save money, reduce waste, and be more conscious about the environment! Learn all the health (and not only) benefits of eating nose to tail and how you can get started without getting overwhelmed.
What is Nose to Tail Eating?
Eating from nose to tail is the way our human ancestors used to eat before the modern food systems got revolutionized (or should I say ruined?) by the industrial revolution and modern eating patterns. Eating nose to tail means eating and using all the parts of the animal, including:
- Muscle meat
- Organs (heart, liver, kidney)
- Fats (tallow, lard) and fatty parts
- Short ribs, oxtail, flanks
- Tendons and cartilage
- Bones and bone marrow
This is quite different from how most modern people consume meat, mostly buying and eating only the muscle portion of the meat, including chicken breast, steaks, and pork chops.
Eating nose to tail was a necessity for our ancestors, who couldn’t afford to waste any precious calories. But guess what. They also suffered fewer chronic diseases than we do now because of the many health benefits that come from eating organs and other unpopular animal parts.
Let’s dive in and look at all these benefits!
What are the health benefits of eating nose-to-tail?
Many people believe that, in order to be healthy, they should reduce (or even cut out) their meat consumption. Meat has gotten a bad reputation in recent times.
These misconceptions are mostly fueled by (surprise!!) the modern economic systems. Ever wondered why the “beyond meat” and meatless food industries are taking over?
But without venturing too much into politically incorrect talk, the modern way of eating meat can be unhealthy. Eating only (or mostly) lean muscle meat, in fact, can create nutritional deficiencies and imbalances that can lead to chronic diseases.
Eating nose to tail is the most natural and healthiest way to eat. Let’s see why!
Eating nose to tail helps balance out amino acids
Muscle meat is rich in the essential amino acid methionine, which is essential for maintaining proper body functioning. The problem is that when consumed in excess, methionine is transformed into homocysteine in our liver. Homocysteine, another amino acid, can accumulate in our blood vessels and, because it’s highly reactive, can damage blood vessels and cause chronic health conditions such as heart disease.
Our body, as the perfect machine it is, has its own mechanisms to prevent the accumulation of homocysteine that can cause damage. They mainly involve recycling homocysteine and turning it into the amino acid cysteine or back to methionine.
Homocysteine recycling, through different chemical processes, depends on the availability of certain nutrients such as folate, vitamin B12, and the amino acids glycine and serine. Guess what! Organ meats and other animal parts such as skin and tendons are particularly rich in all these nutrients that can buffer the harmful effects of methionine in your body! Isn’t nature just amazing?
In particular, glycine is abundant in collagen-rich animal parts such as skin, tendons, connective tissues, bones, oxtail, and many organs. Glycine is not only necessary to maintain a healthy amino acid balance in the body, but it also regulates inflammation, boosts antioxidant levels, and helps detoxify the liver.
When eating nose to tail you’ll naturally balance the methionine in muscle meat with the glycine in the other animal parts, preventing any “danger” associated with eating meat.
Eating nose to tail fuels your body with nutrients
Another disadvantage of eating mostly lean muscle meat is that its nutrient content is often lower than other animal parts. Eating nose-to-tail fuels your body with many essential nutrients that many people nowadays are lacking, including those that are important in maintaining optimal health and preventing chronic illness.
Liver and other organ meats are natural superfoods and are rich in essential vitamins (such as vitamin A, folate, B vitamins), minerals (such as iron, zinc, copper, and selenium), and other nutrients (such as omega-3 fatty acids and collagen). I invite you to read my post on organ meats (here) to find out more about the nutritional value and benefits of consuming different types of organ meats.
The tougher and collagen-rich cuts of meat and animal parts such as skin, tendons, and bones (used for making bone broth, for example) are an excellent (and affordable) source of collagen and glycine, necessary for maintaining healthy skin, joints, muscles, and bones, and improving gut health. Read more about collagen and gelatin and all the benefits and sources here.
Fat is needed to absorb vitamins and minerals properly, as well as for maintaining hormonal balance, brain function, and a healthy immune system.
What are the other benefits of eating nose-to-tail?
If taking care of your health in the best and most natural way doesn’t seem enough, eating nose to tail also comes with extra benefits:
- Is cheaper
- Is more environmentally friendly and ethical
- Helps reduce waste
Just think about eating nose to tail as a way to celebrate the life of an animal by using everything. This way fewer animals will be needed to feed your family.
Buying meat in bulk, including the less popular cuts of meat also makes you save a pile of money! And organs are sold at a fraction of the cost of steaks (sometimes even given away for free)!
Eating nose to tail also reduces waste both at the production level (many times the less popular cuts and parts end up in the dump!) and at home. For example, use all the bones from your meals to make delicious and nourishing bone broth!
How can you get started on nose-to-tail eating?
1. Experiment with new cuts and parts
Try less popular cuts of meat such as oxtail, shanks, or organ meats such as heart. You can then transition to more “ambitious” parts.
An easy way to get started is to roast a whole chicken or to eat whole small canned fish like sardines, herrings, or anchovies.
2. Eat the fat and the skin
Don’t discard the fat from the meat, and eat the skin of the chicken! You can slow-cook beef, mutton, and pig skin as well, or add it to your bone broth for an extra gelatinous batch.
3. Eat liver every week
Liver is a real superfood (read more about it here) and provides a lot of essential nutrients such as vitamin A, folate, and iron. Eating a portion of liver every week is a great way to boost your diet with nutrients, boost your health, and save some money. Try this super tasty beef liver with sweet potatoes and onions, or “hide” the liver in this organ meat homemade breakfast sausage.
4. Save the bones for making bone broth
Whenever you roast a whole chicken or eat shanks, oxtails, or other cuts of meat with bones, save the bones to make delicious bone broth (read all the benefits of bone broth and find an easy recipe here). You can also add other collagen-rich parts such as skin, cartilage from joints, or even chicken feet to make the bone broth extra rich in gelatin.
A good trick is to keep a bag in the freezer and add the bones every time you have some until you have enough to make a batch of bone broth.
You can add bone broth to any soup or stew for extra taste and nutrition, or just sip a warm cup of bone broth as a regenerative drink.
5. Buy your meat in bulk
Finally, a good way to start eating nose-to-tail is to buy your meat in bulk from local farmers. For example, you can get a whole mutton, or a quarter of beef.
Buying in bulk makes you save money, and you’ll get all those unusual parts that you probably wouldn’t buy from the store. Plus, when you source local grass-fed meat raised on pasture without hormones or antibiotics, you get a much higher quality, healthier meat than what you normally buy at a grocery store or butcher shop.
When you order your meat, you can express your preference about what cuts you prefer (for example more steaks, more stew meat, or more ground meat). You’ll get plenty of bones for bone broth, and you can even ask to have all the bones butchers normally discard. Don’t forget to ask for all the organs as well!
Can children eat nose-to-tail?
The answer is they should! All the benefits of eating nose-to-tail apply to children, helping them nourish their growing bodies with all the nutrients they need.
Liver and bone broth are great foods to include in children’s diets, from as early as 6 months of age, when they are ready to start solids.
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Some nose to tail recipes from the blog
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