Replacing Beef with Bison: Everything You Need to Know

September 14, 2023

Bison were once considered a coveted source of sustenance in North America, as they were one of the only indigenous animals available for consumption. Over time, more meat sources such as beef (cattle) became readily available, rendering bison an afterthought. 

Thankfully, there are Native Americans  who manage Native lands and are dedicated to the conservation of bison,allowing them  to roam freely and graze among the grasses as they always have. 

One of these Native American-owned companies is the Cheyenne River Buffalo Company, owned by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. At Tocabe, we are proud to be partnering  with the Cheyenne River Buffalo Company to help put bison back in the spotlight. 

Bison and cattle (beef) are both types of bovine and while they may share a similar taste, bison reign supreme in every category. Keep reading to learn all about why you should put bison back at the top of the meat leaderboard.

Bison vs Beef: Farming Methods

One of the most significant differences between beef and bison lies in the farming methods used for each. Cattle are usually grain-fed and beef is usually produced in factories. Bison, on the other hand, are raised in pastures on indigenous lands and tend to be grass-fed. 

Our partners athe Cheyenne River Buffalo Company have always believed they should follow the bison (buffalo) and the bison will provide them with everything they need. This respectful belief has led them to offer all-natural, sustainably produced buffalo meat products. 

If you have been wondering where to buy Native American food like grass fed bison, visit our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace and get healthy indigenous offerings like grass fed bison shipped directly to you without even having to leave your house!

Bison vs Beef: The Environment

Both bison and cattle release methane, however, the small amount of methane produced by bison is offset by all of the other benefits they have on the environment. Bison are indigenous to North America and have been a vital asset to our ecosystem for quite some time. Here’s how: 

  • Overgrazing is not an issue with bison since they frequently roam from one area to another. This allows the prairie time to rest and regrow as the bison move elsewhere to eat. 
  • Bison bodily waste helps fertilize the grasslands where they reside. 
  • As bison roam, their large hooves assist in mixing seeds into the soil to produce new and healthy growth. Their hooves also leave impressions in the soil that retain water, causing the soil to stay wet and furthering the cycle of new growth. 
  • The natural grazing of bison helps to maintain surrounding vegetation. 
  • Bison are easier to care for than cattle because they don’t require as much drinking water, they fare better in bad weather, and they are better at foraging their own food. 

When you buy grass fed bison from Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace, you are directly supporting the ranchers who are continually contributing to the betterment of our environment. 


Bison vs Beef: Health Benefits

Both bison and beef  are red meats that contribute to a healthy diet when eaten in moderation but let’s do a side-by-side comparison to see how the two truly stack up against each other: 

Calories - Beef is significantly higher in calories than bison. When comparing a 4 oz. cut of each meat, beef has  224 calories, whereas bison only has 166 calories. 

Protein - Bison is higher in protein than beef, averaging 2 grams of protein more than beef   in a side-by-side comparison.

Cholesterol - Bison wins this one too!Bison contains 82 milligrams of cholesterol when compared to beef’s 87 milligrams. 

Fat - When comparing a 4 oz. cut of both types of meat, bison has almost ½ the amount of fat as beef. Again, bison is the best choice between the two if you are watching your fat intake. 

Saturated Fat - While beef was found to have 6 grams of saturated fat, bison only had ½ of that with 3 grams of saturated fat. 

Carbs - Both beef and bison rank low in carbs when comparing the 4 oz. steaks. While beef actually ranked a 0 on the carbs scale, bison only contained slightly higher at less than 1 gram. 

If you are looking for other foods that are healthy and pair excellently with bison, check out some of theindigenous food staples from our Indigenous Market:


Want to know something cool? A grass-fed cut of bison contains 3-6 times more omega-3s than any grain-fed cut of meat, making it an even contender with salmon.

As an added bonus, bison also will provide your body with all nine essential amino acids needed for nourishment. It is even high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that aids in controlling inflammation and helping your body grow healthy bacteria. 

Both bison and beef contain high amounts of zinc and iron and  contain a fair amount of niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12. 

Want to know something cool? Selenium is known to increase your mood. 

If you’re wondering if bison meat is healthy, the answer is without a doubt YES! Bison is always an overall healthier alternative to beef. 

Bison can be purchased in all the same cuts as beef -  if you want to make tacos or burgers, try buying ground bison and reap the added health benefits. Since bison is lower in fat and cholesterol, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging it in your next meal! 

Want to know something cool? Bison is the front runner for meats with the highest levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), an anti-carcinogen that may help prevent cancer. CLA  is also a fat blocker that  may  help prevent diabetes and obesity. 


Bison vs Beef: Which Flavor To Favor

Since bison has  less fat content than beef, it contains finer marbling, making it a much more tender cooked steak, which is perfect becausethe most popular way to prepare bison is to grill it. After all, nobody enjoys sweating  over a hot grill only to bite into a tough, overcooked steak. 

For tips on cooking the perfect bison steak, check out our article “How to Grill Bison Steaks”

Many people have noted that the flavor of bison is sweeter and richer than that of beef, however, when substituting bison for beef in your favorite recipes, you likely will not notice the difference in flavor at all. 

That being said, these two types of meat can differ in either taste or texture, depending on which cut of meat you’re using and how you’re preparing it. 

Regardless of what’s on your menu, it’s always a good idea to let bison be the star of the dish as it is both delicious and nutritious. Bison is also extremely versatile - it is usually preferred on the grill, but it is just as amazing when prepared pan-fried or even roasted! 

To finish off your meal, don’t forget the perfect sides to accompany it! Check out our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace and stock up on  corn, beans, or grains to complete your meal. While there, make sure you grab some of our Tocabe Bison Rub to elevate that bison flavor profile. 


Bison vs Beef: Accessibility

This may seem like an easy win for beef, as you can find it in virtually every market around. While beef may win in terms of location, it does not necessarily win in the category of accessibility. Let us explain… 

Many people don’t buy bison simply because they don’t know where to find it. Thanks to our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace, we have made regional shopping local for your convenience. Now, you have access to Native and indigenous ingredients with just the click of a button. 

Better yet, if you find yourself in the North Denver, Colorado area, come visit us at our Tocabe Indigenous restaurant so we can serve you the finest indigenous food, such as: 

  • Indian Tacos
  • Melting Pot Salad
  • Stuffed Fry Bread
  • Medicine Wheel Nachos
  • Bison Ribs

Take a closer look at everything Tocabe Indigenous restaurant has to offer! 


And The Winner Is…

The blue corn ribbon clearly has to go to Bison for its overall success in all the categories. 

If you were on the fence about trying bison, now is the  time to get down from that fence and give it a try! You won’t regret it, seeing as how the sheer flavor alone will have you forgetting any doubts you once had  about this coveted indigenous food, notto mention the massive amount of health benefits you will gain from adding bison to your diet! 

Now that you’ve been schooled on all things bison, be sure and check out Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery and our Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace as soon as possible to indulge in some delicious Native American foods

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About theTocabe Marketplace

Always High Quality Ingredients, Localy Sourced and Fresh

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Cook & create amazing healthy dishes with Native and Indigenous ingredients.


Our philosophy is Native first, local second. We source the right products from the right people. To us, ingredients don’t just make the food, they tell the story behind it.

Accessibility to high-quality, healthy Native and Indigenous ingredients is extremely limited based on location. Tocabe’s Indigenous Marketplace is simplifying the supply chain and making regional cuisine locally accessible by connecting you to Native and Indigenous ingredients with just the click of a button.

By shopping at our Indigenous Marketplace, you’re participating in food sovereignty and supporting Indigenous farmers, ranchers, and caretakers across the nation, making an impact in our communities. So, shop our marketplace today. And in the meantime, learn how to create Tocabe’s pancake recipe with Native-produced, wholesome ingredients that also make a difference.