The Cow: Beyond Beef

6 years ago

A few years back, my oldest daughter came home from school one day and announced that one of her friends was going to stop eating meat and become a vegetarian.  I asked why and she responded, “I don’t know—she said that she wanted to stop using/eating products that were made from animals.”  I am always looking for ways to broaden my children’s horizons and increase their knowledge, and this seemed to be a great opportunity so I ran with it…

Image: Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden via Flickr

I asked my daughter if she realized that the car that we were driving in would not operate without cattle by-products. I then asked her if she realized that the road that we were driving on was made from asphalt that contains a binding agent made from beef fat. I then asked her if she realized that the soap that she had used the night before to shower with was made in part with beef fat and protein…

The shoes on her feet and the basketball in her hand were both made from cow hide leather...The muscles in her arms are fueled by beef!

The car got really quiet so I kept rattling off common travel, household, textile, food and pharmaceutical products that all contained some by-product from cattle.  I believe that I rendered her speechless (which is no small feat given that this child is both incredibly intelligent and also going through the teenage stage of being omniscient).  Apparently, it had never occurred to her that so many products other than beef came from cattle…

The reality is that 98 percent of the beef animal is used to make products that we all rely on.  Many of those are products other than the great tasting beef that we all normally associate with cattle!  I would like to share some of the other products that are made from cattle.  These products are made from the stuff that is left over after the beef muscle cuts are taken out…



*Blood factors (for treating hemophilia, killing viruses, and making anti-rejection drugs)

*Chymotrypsin (promotes the healing of wounds)

*Collagen (used in plastic surgery and to make non-stick bandages)

*Cortisol (anti-inflammatory)

*Glucagon (treats hypoglycemia or low blood sugar)

*Heparin (anticoagulant used to treat blood clots)

*Insulin (for treating diabetes or high blood sugar)

*Pancreatin (aids in digestion of food)

*Thrombin (coagulant which helps blood to clot)

*Vasopressin (controls intestinal and renal functions)

*Vitamin B-12 (prevention of B-complex deficiencies)


Gelatin comes from the connective tissue of cattle and is used to make many non-beef food items such as: candies, dairy products, deserts, diet products and jellies.

Household Products

*Candles                             *Ceramics                          *Cosmetics                        *Crayons

*Deodorants                     *Detergents                       *Floor Wax                        *Insecticides

*Insulation                         *Linoleum                          *Mouthwash                     *Paints

*Paper                                *Perfume                           *Plastic                               *Shaving Cream

*Soaps                                *Synthetic Rubber            *Toothpaste                      *Car Polish and Wax


Cowhide Leather!–Which is used to make clothing, shoes, boots, belts, purses, wallets, gloves, luggage and upholstery for cars and furniture, and sports balls.


*Antifreeze (contains glycerol which is derived from beef fat)…

*Asphalt (contains a binding agent made from beef fat)…

*Beef Fats and Proteins are used to make: auto and jet lubricants, outboard engine oil, high performance greases, and brake fluid…

*Glue from beef protein is used in automobile bodies…

*Tires have stearic acid which allows rubber to hold its shape…

Cattle are not only great recyclers converting non-edible feedstuffs into great tasting beef, but they are also highly diverse in the products that they offer to us.

Thanks to the American National CattleWomen for providing the information listed above which helps us to have a better appreciation for all of the products that cattle give to us.


Anne Burkholder blogs at Feedyard Foodie.

(Image Credits: Anne Burkholder, unless otherwise noted.)

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