It all started a few years ago when my numerous steak dinners came to a sad end. I remember running into the doctor’s office with stabbing stomach pain and swelling followed after a meal I ate hours prior. That night, I was diagnosed with a peptic ulcer. It is contracted from many factors such as the food we eat causing bacteria. Certain foods we eat are more difficult to digest than others. Meat takes the longest to digest as it uses more acid secretion and therefore can make you feel very heavy, bloated; let’s just say unhealthy!

Shortly after the emergency visit to my physician, I began to watch more of what I would eat on a daily basis. I started eating more veggies and less meat; that included no pork and keeping cattle meats to the minimum. Before developing digestive issues, I was a carnivore at heart; a medium rare steak with chimichurri sauce was my all-time favorite dish. It’s a well-known fact that meat needs to be cooked to a certain temperature to kill bacteria. Eating rare meat for so many years made me question if a bacteria in the meat had caused these painful ulcers.

I was curious to find out what different types of toxins I was injesting and what healthier food alternatives were out there. I was alarmed when I learned that about 80% of all U.S. feedlot cattle are injected with hormones to make them grow faster.

Dairy cows are also victims. Approximately 17 percent of all cows in the U.S. were given the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone rBGH, to increase their milk production. This means higher profits for the meat and dairy industry, but at what cost?…Human! The hormone residues in meat of growth enhanced animals can disrupt human hormone balance, causing developmental problems, interfering with the reproductive system, and even leading to the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer. Pretty scary huh?

These growth hormones are not detected in the meat we consume, but also pass through the cattle to be excreted. Let’s talk about the environmental impact. We should be increasingly concerned since it is contaminating our soil, surface and groundwater. I am sure many reading this would say that the chemicals impacting our environment and health implications should be enough of a valid reason for banning all beef treated with hormones in America. The sad reality is that Europe is ahead of the game. They have prohibited the import of hormone-treated beef since 1988, and have banned all imports of U.S. beef treated with hormones. I say we follow their footsteps and stop putting artificial hormones in our bodies that provide no benefits, but rather, are killing us.

If you are asking yourself what you can do to keep your family healthy from all these toxins; well, it’s very simple. The next time you do your food shopping, look for sustainable options, and choose only hormone-free beef and rGBH-free dairy products at the supermarket. Look for foods that carry the USDA-certified organic label, this means the animal was not given hormones. The mission should not only be about us, but to protect and give back to the environment for all of the amazing natural resources it has to offer. Before you take a bite of your next burger, remember the old saying, “you are what you eat.”