As I walk the isles on sale day, I notice the only roast in my budget are the tougher cuts. Good thing I like them and know how to cook them to a tender point. The cooking of tougher cuts of beef, pork, and lamb and wild game is the same. We have eaten lots of wild game, yak, and bison which all are cooked in the same manner.
Marbling may be something you avoid because of fears of cholesterol. It is marbling though that gives meat a perceived tenderness because fat acts as a lubrication when chewing and aids in the separation of fibers. Fat lubricates between meat fibers making the fibers easier to pull apart giving those molars an easier time. Fat also stimulates the production of saliva which further stimulates taste. Fat also helps protect against over cooking. Don't avoid fat, just be smart about it and don't over eat.
Stress tightens the muscles and produces tough meat. Most animals travel a long distance to the butcher and if they are not left long enough in pens in order to relax some, then you taste the results. Our livestock die where they lived so they have no travel stress or stress from being corralled in a strange environment. They are placidly eating grain and then dead. It is that quick.
Feed plays a part in that corn fed beef is usually more tender because it increases fat levels and the animal gains weight quicker so it is butchered at a younger age. Younger animals are more tender. Our animals are closer to 2 years of age instead of 18 months. Pasture fed along with hay and a small amount of wheat is what ours eat. The increase in age gives us more natural flavor and because of the relaxed environment, taste testers have all chorused saying the meat is tender. My cousin and her husband came and had steaks with us but complained about how large they were thinking they could never eat it all. To their surprise they devoured it. They buy a half a corn fed beef every year but had not tasted anything quite as good as our beef. Feed choices equates to different flavors and different people like different flavors. In lamb this is especially true as it feed makes a large difference in flavor.
Our favorite beef is Coriante but they are not fun to keep in as they are wonderers by trait and they are much slower growing. This means lots more feed to meat ratio and time, lots more time to get to butcher size. Unless you have mild year round weather so little hay is need plus lots of pasture, it just isn't real cost effective. We bought a good sized Corianted to begin with and may do that again one day because I'm craving it. We eat mostly Angus since it is readily available. That is what will go into the freezer this year and a Angus /Semental calf that will grow and do the same.
Aging, marinating, proper cooking, and slicing across the grain, all help to tenderize meat. There are two kinds of aging, wet and dry. We do only dry and our meat does not hang as long as traditional corn fed beef. Diet plays a role here as does time in order to be able to process the beef. We have to coincide our hanging time with days off in order to get the job done - not necessarily when it is best for the meat. Yet we have been blessed with very tender beef. Dry aging does not work well on pork, lamb, and veal as they do not have the marbling to protect the meat from rotting. Corn fed beef can be aged longer because of the increased fat levels. I have to say our pasture, hay fed are not any less fat but they are babied. Most of you don't process your own meat so I won't go into aging. Marinating and cooking I will talk about in another post.