Continued from Myth busting – Part 5
Myth: OK, so gorillas might not be a great example, but cows are vegans, they eat only grass all day long, and look how big and strong they get! Clearly, a low-fat, meat-free, plant based diet is the way forward!
Truth: Cows eat an extremely high-fat diet! And they are not vegans!
Yeah this one will really mess with your head! Yes, cows eat an 80% fat diet, through a very similar set up as described in Myth busting – Part 5 for the gorilla. Cows and gorillas are both fermenters, so in some ways cows and gorillas have more in common, from a digestive perspective, than humans and gorillas.
Cows are ruminants, they have multiple digestive chambers inside (you’ve heard ‘cows have four stomachs’ right?) the first of which is called a rumen. When they eat grass and leafy plants, it all goes straight down into the rumen, where the process of ‘rumination’ (hence the genus name, ruminant) begins. Rumination involves bringing the food up and down between the mouth and the rumen, generally four to five times for every mouthful.
A cow’s rumen is an amazing thing. This fact blows my mind: in a single cow’s rumen, there are more bacteria then there are human being’s alive on the whole planet! Boom! Mind blown!
And on top of all that bacteria, there are billions of protozoa and digestive enzymes too, and this is still only in the first of the cow’s four major digestive chambers. Traditional tribes used to understand that the lining of a cow’s rumen is so nutritionally dense, they would kill a cow and eat the rumen lining, throwing the muscle meat to their dogs. Yes, they ate the organs and stomach lining and gave the sirloin steak and fillet steak to their dogs!