Eating quality pasture-raised meat can help heal the planet and our bodies. This is what it did for Taylor Collins, the co-founder of Force of Nature Meats, and a former vegan. Taylor today debunks myths propagated about the deleterious effects of meat on our health and on the land. He explains that animals are an integral part of the process of regenerative agriculture by sequestering carbon, re-vitalizing soil, and increasing environmental biodiversity. He also explains how eating meat is a regenerative act for the human body, since it abounds in nutrients that build muscles and improve hormonal and cognitive function. Not all meat is equal, he hastens to remind us.. Its provenance affects its quality and its effect on the earth.
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Within the below transcript, the bolded text is Hilda
There are voices that promote abstaining from eating meat to help save the planet. Those in the regenerative agriculture movement suggest that animals are not a part of the problem but part of the solution and that eating meat is good for your health. This is episode 394 and our guest now is Taylor Collins, Cofounder of Force of Nature meats.
This interview builds on part one last episode where we examined how regenerative agriculture heals the soil. Now, we continue to explore that topic and we also dive into how eating quality pasture-raised meat can help us heal. This is what it did for Taylor. Taylor works to break down the misinformed narrative surrounding health nutrition and the impact of meat on the planet.
He explains that animals are an integral part of the process of healing. He describes how they revitalize the soil, increase biodiversity, and improve human nutrition. He goes into why he believes eating meat is cost-effective too, especially when you look at the price of nutrients per ounce. Finally, he debunks the negative mainstream narrative of meat, pointing out that the providence of meat makes a world of difference in its quality and its impact on the planet.
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Welcome to the show, Taylor.
It’s so nice. Thanks for having me, Hilda.
A lot of times, when people think about a healthy lifestyle or eating healthy, they think of green smoothies and plant-based. I understand that did not serve you and your wife well. Talk to us about that.
My wife now would be in a wheelchair or she would likely be dead if she were still on that path of green smoothies, raw vegetables, and a vegan lifestyle. It was the ultimate disaster for our own health and wellness. Specifically, my wife was having chronic autoimmune issues, lots of GI distress, and inflammation systemically. We saw every doctor and practitioner we could think of across all spectrums. She was told at the age of 21 that she needed a knee replacement and to be on arthritis medicine for the rest of her life.
She even had exploratory knee surgery. It was bad. She is a talented Ironman athlete and she was training for the World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii. At that point in time, all this conventional exercise, sports science, and nutritional wisdom were low fat, avoid animal-based products, high carbohydrates, and processed proteins so we were going vegetarian. She got injured. We’re like, “We’re not eating clean enough. Let’s go vegan.” It got worse, “Let’s go raw food vegan.” She got to the point where she couldn’t walk.
When did you all make the association between diet and her declining health?
We were at a point of desperation. Our backs are up against the wall and we had nothing else to try. We saw a holistic health practitioner. The first question he asked was, “What are you guys eating?” “Don’t worry about that. We got this dialed down. We’re eating kale three times a day and raw juices.” He’s like, “I want you to 180 degrees pivot. Eat some bacon, some high-quality grass-fed steaks, and pasteurized chicken, and see what happens.” It was night and day. It was years of symptoms that had completely resolved within days, some of them, and then weeks for others.
Remind me, was this an ethical choice that you all made that were like, “We’re going to go vegetarian or vegan?” Did you think it would improve your health? What was your driving motivation for being on that diet in the first place?
It was misinformation about health and nutrition. We always cared about what we put in our bodies and how we fueled our bodies. It’s a consideration of the larger ecological system and planet Earth that we depend on. There was a lot of misinformation in 2011 and 2012 when we were in college.
We went down the wrong path, but luckily we saw the light. Once we were healed by eating as our ancestors did, there was no looking back. That set us on a new trajectory in life where our mission in life from that point on has been to grow this supply chain of regenerative grass-fed meat. It helps change that narrative on the potential of the power of animals for human nutrition and planetary health.
Let’s go there with planetary health a bit. You’ve said at one point, “Without regenerative agriculture, there is no path to the future.” Tell us what you mean by that.
Our trajectory as a global civilization is one, we’re racing toward the edge of a cliff. Conventional agriculture and how it’s been practiced in an industrial capacity has degraded our lands of their once fertile, abundant resources that provide fertility for our plants and our animals as well as the fertility and nutrition for human consumers. At this trajectory, we’re at a point in time where in order to grow food and most of our farmland globally, it’s only done with chemical inputs through synthetic fertilization, the use of biocides, and other chemicals to grow food. In many circumstances, that’s how all food is grown globally.
At that trajectory, this whole idea of sustainability is not good enough. Why would we want to sustain the homeostasis of a system that’s broken? It’s slowing down towards that edge of the cliff. It’s the regenerative, potential, excitement, and capacity of the Earth to heal itself under the wisdom and guidance of Mother Nature. Humans can embrace that, farm in nature’s image, and heal landscapes. We can reverse the clock and the damage that’s been done to our ecosystem. We’re talking about biodiversity, habitat for species, human nutrition, and atmospheric carbon collection within the soil. It’s a win-win system.
This whole idea of sustainability is not good enough. Why would we want to sustain the homeostasis of a system that’s broken?
When we hear about climate change out there and our Earth going to the brink of that cliff, as you said, the blame is placed on our fossil fuels. There’s little conversation about turning that clock back. It’s more focused on pairing down the technology but they’re not talking about regenerative agriculture as part of the solution.
There’s no greater tool than regenerative agriculture to reversing, especially if we’re talking about carbon in the atmosphere. There’s no greater system in place, no invention or technology that exceeds the capacity of a thriving grassland. There are superhighways for carbon sequestration. This system works. It’s been in place for millennia. Fossil fuels and emissions are contributing to it but a lot of times, we’re carbon-based beings.
You, me, and all of the things we love like our clothes are carbon materials. Carbon is constantly cycled through the atmosphere back into the soil. What’s happened in the last hundred years is that we’ve disturbed our soil and the capacity for it to cycle carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. Now we’re collecting in a legacy atmosphere, a carbon load that we are no longer drawing down.
The image that’s coming to my mind right now, Taylor, is of poor soil that it loses its ability to absorb even the rain so it runs off and it takes away the topsoil. When soil is in poor health, it can’t even hold onto the rainwater. What I hear you saying is maybe when the soil is in poor health, it can’t hold onto the carbon too. Is that right?
Absolutely. I live in a rural farm community outside of Austin, Texas. I can go outside and I can smell carbon in the atmosphere. On mornings when I wake up and I smell carbon, I can look, and somewhere within 2 miles of me, there’s a farmer tilling his field to plant a monoculture. When you till the soil, that little bit of carbon that can be held in there is released back into the atmosphere.
You said there’s no better tool. I have a friend who has a company called Harnessing Hoofs. She agrees with you that the animals regenerate the soil and sequester that carbon. How do they do that again?
All landscapes and thriving healthy abundant ecosystems are teaming with life and they’re teaming with diversity. One of the key components of that ecosystem is positive animal impact. We’re talking synergies and mutualisms. Especially in North America, we have a native keystone species. North American bison used to be 40 to 60 million animals roaming across this continent.
Our grass species are ecotypes. Our climate and soil types all co-evolve for those ruminant animals. The mere presence of a bison biting on a grass plant stimulates that grass to grow further and the roots to dig down deeper. It needs that biological impulse. Bison also obviously cycle carbon, which above ground grass. That’s carbon. They cycle it through their room and process it through manure so soil biology can utilize it. They then grow richer plants and then nutrients return back to the animals.
They’re key for a nutrient cycle. They do other wonderful things themselves. The hoofs themselves, as you mentioned, are little spade-shaped tools that help aerate the soil. It helps break apart compacted soil so rainfall can infiltrate. It can recharge aquifers and new seeds can germinate. These species are a part of our ecosystem.
If we remove a keystone species from the land, it will deteriorate. That’s the biggest challenge with farming. If you don’t have animals as a part of a system, you have to bring in fertility. That fertility either has to come from chemical input or you have to import manure from another rancher. Animals have to be a part of that system.
That mention of the bison brings me to the Force of Nature, the meat company that you and your friend Robby started some years ago. I want to talk to you about why you decided to include bison. Maybe it has to do with what you’re saying. This is an animal that’s supposed to be on the land where you’re at.
As a meat company, we want to offer consumers a couple of key components. One is regenerative protein. It’s animals that have a positive impact on the landscape. Consumers have the opportunity through their purchasing powers to support regenerative agriculture. That’s key. The second part is diversity. In all healthy ecosystems, diversity is abundant. Diversity adds resilience. You and I are talking now, we recognize that diverse diets are key and important.
Animals have a positive impact on landscapes. Through their purchasing powers, consumers have the opportunity to support regenerative agriculture.
Most Americans only have access to pork, chicken, beef, and turkey. It’s important but a little bit boring after a while. For Force of Nature, we wanted to expand the animal kingdom to native species, keystone species, and more wild-type species so our community could have that diversity in animal protein as well as the diversity within the cuts within the animal.
I’m blown away that you all have wild boar and elk. Did you ever envision that Force of Nature would include such diverse meat sources, or did you start off with some of the more basic ones that you were mentioning earlier?
It was our plan to start out with some of the more underrepresented but super cool types of animals, very iconic and nourishing species that people didn’t have access to unless you’re hunting, you own a big ranch, and you can harvest your own deer, wild boar, or elk. We think that protein and nutrition are so important. We want to bring it to people globally.
You’ve experienced the difference that meat can make in your health, right?
Yes. It’s one of my favorite things to do. People always think about this example of a pasture-raised organic egg being cracked next to a conventional industrial egg and the difference in the color of the yolks, the texture of the shell, and its ability to stay together. You can see the same. Your eyes don’t lie when you’re looking at meat and you look at grass-fed regenerative bison.
If you put it next to industrial beef or even grass-fed beef in many circumstances, the color will not lie. The difference is that it’s very rich. It’s red and smells very rich in minerals. These are all the vitamins and nutrients that are supposed to be within that animal. A lot of our wild animals like bison, wild bore, elk, and venison haven’t been bred for hundreds of years to produce heavy bodies quickly on minimal inputs.
They still retain all their wild genetics and so their health is much closer to how nature intended and modeled that animal to be. That nutrition and flavor are passed on through the consumer where, in many times, domesticated animals. The goal has been to produce a copious and abundant amount of meat at a fraction of the cost. That’s not the intention of what we’re trying to set. We’re trying to provide very nourishingly, high-nutrient-density food.
You and your wife, as you said, have experienced a health turnaround. For people who have come to Force of Nature to get some of these meat products, have they noticed any changes in their health? Have you seen any testimonials to that effect?
All the time. We’re active on social media and we put together blogs. We’re encouraging consumers to try a variety of carnivore diets, which is cool because we’re bringing people who have never even thought about eating more meat as a potential for health into a new paradigm, a perspective on which they’re starting to second guess and question. Maybe medical advice that they have recently received has been misguided with the best intentions of healing themselves with meat. That’s a beautiful testimony of the power of these animals, the capacity for love, and what Mother Nature can provide us.
When you and Robby start Force of Nature, you knew it was going to be more than a meat company. I understand that your mission includes getting some of this information about regenerative ag out, right?
In order for regenerative ag to scale this revolution, it’s truly in the hands of consumers because there are producers, land managers, and multi-generation ranchers that want to change their practices, and they need encouragement. They need the catalyst, which is the consumer-purchasing power to vote for that change and to help them find that new system that’s more compatible with the harmony and the sink of Mother Nature.
The goal of Force of Nature has always been to create a global supply chain of regenerative meats. We have this legacy goal where we want to positively impact 1 billion acres of industrially conventionally managed, degraded land and convert it to a regenerative system. We think when we do that, that’s going to be the tipping point at which we talk about turning the clock around.
We’re going to be sequestering so much atmospheric carbon. It will be more atmospheric carbon being sequestered annually than what’s being emitted globally if we can hit that 1 billion acre marking. That’s what we’re going after. It’s a big ambition, but we think it’s important enough and consumers are stoked to join it.
Have you talked to Allan Savory? He has his savory hubs where he’s also trying to promote this vision.
My wife and I live on a ranch called ROAM Ranch and we are a savory hub. We are accredited and we’re part of the land-to-market program. We sell our bison through Force of Nature. Force of Nature buys animals from many different savory hubs. If your audience hasn’t heard of Allan Savory, look him up real quick. He was a formative man in my life who helped me see the light and changed the trajectory that my wife and I were on.
He’s so brilliant. We’ve had him on the show before and it took a while for me to wrap my head around what he was saying, which you’ve also explained. It’s taken a little while for me to understand that the animals are not the trouble. It’s a lack of foresight from humans’ point of view that has caused some degeneration on the soil to certification as well, and of course our health. All of it is wrapped up together. It has degenerated. He says we need to holistic approach to the planet’s health and our own health.
You nailed it and it’s beautiful when it works. To get there, you look into Mother Nature. That’s what Allan Savory did. He looked at ancient predator-prey relationships and how large herds of ruminant animals naturally want to move. They don’t want to be confined, overgraze, and be hanging out in their own waste. Human mismanagement puts a system in place where that is the standard or the status quo, and that’s in opposition to all their natural instincts and behaviors. We get out of the way. Savory pioneered that. When you say it, you’re like, “Of course,” but until someone says it, you’re like, “I didn’t even think of that.”
Coming up, Taylor shatters the misconception that high-quality meat is expensive.
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Of course not. You’re thinking if we eat more carrots, that’s better for the planet. This is a huge shift. You talked about your vision and also the diverse animals that you have there at Force of Nature or ROAM Ranch. Tell us at least about one of the hurdles that you faced either on your ranch or even in getting Force of Nature started. I feel like it always helps all of us to be inspired to realize this is not going to necessarily be easy to make some of these changes or to be a part of something like this but it’s rewarding.
We could go on for hours on the hurdles and the challenges of all this. I’ll tell you hands down, the biggest one early on was we’re sitting with buyers at National Retail Accounts and some of the biggest natural accounts in the company and we’re telling them about regenerative agriculture. This is the first time they’ve ever heard it. We think like, “This is a no-brainer. This is obvious in alignment with what their customers want and what they want.”
In those early days, it always came down to, “That sounds good, but what’s the price?” The commoditization and the industrialization of meat have been one of the worst things that have ever happened to our civilization. We commoditize living sentient beings. We’re trying to squeeze and maximally extract how many dollars we can get out of them without the minimal amounts of inputs. For some reason in our Western mind, we want meat to be cheap and abundant.
The commoditization of meat has been one of the worst things ever happening to our civilization. We commoditized living sentient beings, and we’re trying to squeeze and maximally extract dollars we can get out of them with the minimal amounts of inputs.
Nourishing grass-fed meat is something that we’ve had to process. When you work on the nutrition and the dollar per ounce of a Force of Nature bison, for example, it’s cheaper than an ounce of a Snickers serving or a bag of Doritos. This misconception that high-quality meat is expensive is not true. We need to shatter through that. This is premium. This isn’t the most nutrient-dense product we can be putting in our bodies and it’s also good for our planet.
Why do you think there’s this big push though, Taylor, to have us eat less meat? Meatless Monday is one example, but there’s overall a push like, “If we eat less, the planet will be healthier.” Do the people who are pushing that agenda think that, or is there something else at play? What’s your impression?
I know for a fact being on the land and managing land that the reason that this narrative is allowed to exist is that consumers have never been further disconnected from the land on which food is produced. We’ve never had blinders on like this as a civilization. People have no idea what a monoculture of carrots looks like, even an organic monoculture. They think that for some reason it’s this cornucopia of life and fertility when in reality, even in an organic setting, there are no monocultures in nature.
You’re fighting nature through mechanical inputs. In order to do that, you’re destroying habitat and soil biology. It’s the most destructive system I could ever think about. When you walk on a plant-based farm, even in some of the best examples of industrial agriculture and monoculture settings, there are no birds, bugs, and life. It’s a desert. It’s one single species, and it’s against all the principles of a thriving ecosystem.
Is that monoculture promoted because it’s easier and cheaper and it seems better on paper but not in real life? Is that the disconnect you’re talking about?
It’s the industrial model. It’s all about mechanization, scalability, and inputs. What’s keeping that system in place is inputs. Believe it or not, the same companies that own the fertilization and the chemical and biological tools to grow those monocultures and genetically modified crops are the same companies that are co-owned by the pharmaceutical industry. It’s the same pressure that this industry is receiving as what the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical industry are receiving. We have a lot of the same conflicts of interest in place that are allowing and propping up an unsustainable model to exist.
You were referring to how your meat is cheaper per ounce than a Snickers or a bag of Doritos. If the bottom line for some of these companies is dollars and cents, they can make more money from soybean imitation burgers than they can from meat. The profit margin is bigger is what I’m saying.
No doubt. There’s a direct connection to the health of the soil, the health of the food you’re eating, and then the health of the consumer. We’re seeing an all-time dysfunctional state of human health within our global civilization. It’s not meat that’s at stake. It’s the degradation of our soils globally and in many circumstances, how we’ve produced food and how we’ve genetically modified an engineered food that lacks nutrition. It lacks resources and connectivity back to the planet on which we depend.
Speaking of connectivity, can folks come to visit ROAM Ranch? I would like to see these bison with my own.
We love people visiting the ranch. We have 2,000 people a year. As a savory hub, we’re a demonstration site. You can come out here and learn about regenerative agriculture. We have Airbnbs. You can do tours. We do field harvest for our animals. Consumers want to connect that ultra next-level tier with the meat that sustains their family and their communities. We can teach you how to butcher a bison. If you may want to butcher it with flint, dig up some arrowheads and some ancient tools and do it together. We love having people come to visit.
That’s fantastic. Taylor, let’s bring it back around, as we start to wrap up, to your wife’s health and your health. I’m extremely curious. Is she back to participating in athletic competitions and such?
Once we changed our diet, she competed in the world championship race. She was able to recover. We have two amazing young kids now. She’s staying super active and fit. We’re in a good place and no going back, only eating more meat. I don’t think there’s a single meal that we finish where my wife was like, “Can we eat 3 different types of animals instead of 2?” I feel very lucky.
I’m so glad. I want to pose to you the question here that I usually pose at the end. If the audience could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
Do this weekly here at the ranch and we find some living soil. Our whole family goes out there together in a field, we put our hands in it, we take our shoes off, and we share our biome. We touch, feel, and smell the soil. We thank it and it’s something that connects us as a family to each other and something that connects us to a greater whole, which is the planet Earth. It keeps us grounded. I highly encourage you to find some living soil, breathe it in, rub it on your body, and thank it.
The earth keeps us grounded. Find some living soil, breathe it in, rub it on your body, and thank it.
Beautiful advice. Thank you so much for this time, Taylor. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, Hilda.
Our guest now was Taylor Collins. Check out his website, ForceOfNature.com for more on regeneratively raised meat like bison and wild boar. You can find me at HolisticHilda.com. Now, for a recent review from Apple Podcasts. AprilsKentuckyLife says, “Fantastic resource. I’m so thankful for this show. I find the information valuable, especially with the current trend of censorship when it goes against mainstream thinking. Thank you, Hilda, for interviewing fascinating people with interesting viewpoints.”
April, it is my pleasure, and thank you for your review. You are also welcome to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Go to ratings and reviews, leave us as many stars as you like, and tell us what you think of the show. Every review makes the show more appealing to a potential audience. Thank you so much for tuning in. Stay well. Hasta Pronto.
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About Taylor Collins
Taylor Collins is a Co-Founder of Force Of Nature as well as a Land Steward and Founder of ROAM Ranch, a 900 acre multi species regenerative ecosystem in which soil building practices are integrated into every aspect of land management. ROAM Ranch serves as the living and breathing entity in which Force Of Nature’s values and mission is modeled upon and for this reason, Taylor pasture raises bison, ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs, and intentionally creates habitat for both native and migratory species to co-create on this landscape. With a robust event schedule, ROAM Ranch hopes to amplify regenerative practices within the next generation of land stewards as well as those currently managing land conventionally. When not wrangling bison, Taylor enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, trail running, cycling, and planting trees.🖨️ Print post
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