Meat: Why we should all eat less and buy better
A recent article by the Telegraph and Countryside Alliance, shone a light on plans by Tesco to increase meat alternative sales by 300% by 2025, with every meat product on their shelves having a meat free option. This has left many people in the farming industry rightly concerned. However is this an opportunity to get more people buying British? We think it might be and believe there's a lot of important reasons why we should.
It may surprise you to know that we actually support the trend towards eating less meat. A world of intensive farming, where meat is sold at extremely low prices isn't good for the environment, animal welfare or our own diets. It's also driven a sense of meat being a commodity when it should be something we all respect and appreciate, however inexpensive the cut.
So if we're all going to end up eating less meat, why not use this as an opportunity for us to buy better and shift to buying British every time? Supermarkets also have the opportunity to use this trend to make a conscious shift to only stocking British meat too. Whether they will or not is another question.
At Eastwoods, we've only ever stocked British, seasonal produce. It's part of our commitment to be as sustainable, accessible and high quality as possible. But why does buying British matter so much to us and why should it matter to you? Here's three reasons why.
New Zealand lamb, South American beef, European pork; these have all become relatively common in the UK, however meat that has to travel through multiple countries or half way round the world will inevitably carry a greater carbon footprint than produce from a farm down the road. Despite the distance this produce has to travel, it is often still cheaper due to the lower welfare standards in those countries. Something we talk about in the welfare section below.
British produce has also been found to have a carbon footprint per animal that is roughly half the global average (Government Committee on Climate Change, Jan 2020). This is largely due to the welfare standards in the UK restricting the intensity with which animals can be reared, combined with the very high use of grass over soya and other feeds for livestock.
Finally, with 71% of our land being managed by farmers, it's important to ensure they can invest in our countryside. British farmers are already rising to the challenge, with nearly 40% of farmers actively investing in renewable energy to power their farms and over 10 million homes. Not only that but farmers are also investing in re-wilding our countryside, such as a recent project to plant over 20,000 acres of wild flower.
Buying British therefore really does help us all minimise our carbon footprint when consuming meat.
A recent global review of farm animal welfare commissioned by the NFU found that "The UK has one of the most robust and comprehensive legal frameworks protecting animal welfare, extremely mature and well-developed industry bodies that recognise the importance of animal welfare, and a significant number of credible quality assurance and welfare schemes and/or initiatives."
The UK's animal welfare system is founded on five fundamental freedoms, designed to ensure we can be confident in our farming industry:
Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
Freedom from discomfort and exposure
Freedom from pain, injury and disease
Freedom from fear and distress
Freedom to express normal behaviour
Whilst minimum welfare standards are placed on any produce imported into the UK, we simply can't guarantee equivalence to our own welfare standards when buying produce from other countries. This is often why that produce is cheaper.
The food and farming sector is a foundation for so many other industries in our country. Whilst it may not be the biggest industry in the UK, with 4 million people employed it is crucial to jobs up and down the country.
Unfortunately, our self sufficiency has reduced from a peak of 78% in 1984 down to 64%, stopping this decline is crucial. High self sufficiency not only minimises our exposure to price rises due to external market factors, but also ensures we keep a crucial part of our economy healthy and vibrant.
So whether, your buying produce from Eastwoods or anywhere else. Buy British whenever you can.