Feeling guilty? How to eat meat with a conscience

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What can meat eaters do to minimise their footprint and ensure they don’t contribute to supply chains that treat animals poorly and use unsustainable practices? Here are Salt’s three suggestions to help clear that carnivorous conscience.

1. EAT BETTER, LESS

The first and easiest way to be a more ethical carnivore is to eat less meat and make sure it’s of higher quality when you do eat it. The impact of eating less meat is obvious, while choosing a more premium product should ensure that the animal lived a longer life, in family groups, with plenty of time outdoors.

It’s also likely that its slaughter process will have been less stressful. The cheapest products are available at those price points because they’ve been intensively reared and corners have been cut; just look at the horsemeat scandal.

2. LOOK AT THE LABEL

If you’re buying meat in the supermarket, you’re already going to struggle to find out much about what you’re buying. However, there are a number of labels that can guide us in the tight direction. A bare minimum should be the Red Tractor label; Red Tractor assurance guarantees that the animal was produced in Britain, and has a base level of animal welfare and traceability.

For a more guilt-free purchase, look out for the Freedom Food or Soil Association labels. The former is the RSPCA’s assurance scheme, which is dedicated to improving welfare standards and ensures a good level of welfare. The latter indicates an organic product, also with high production and welfare standards.

3. GO TO THE BUTCHER

A good local butcher should be able to tell you what breed the animal was, where it was reared, what it ate and how it was slaughtered. Supporting businesses with these levels of traceability promotes better industry practices and makes sure you know what you’re eating.

Don’t be afraid to ask for details – ensure your meat hasn’t been mass produced and intensively reared. Ask for British breeds that have been fed naturally and allowed to grow to a decent age. For example, the cattle that made your beef should have been grass- fed and allowed to grow to an age of at least 30 months before slaughter.

The best butchers aren’t willing to sacrifice animal welfare and quality, and promote traceable ‘farm to fork’ supply chains. They might even know the name of the farmer who reared the beef you’re about to take home.

 

In London

The Ginger Pig: Barnes, Waterloo, London Bridge, Shepherds Bush, Clapham, Hackney and Marylebone.

The shops provide super knowledgeable staff and great meat from a group of NorthYorkshire farmers who rear produce especially for The Ginger Pig’s seven London outlets. www.thegingerpig.co.uk

Down South

Walter Rose & Son, Devizes and Trowbridge, Wiltshire

A multi-award winning family business,Walter Rose & Son provides the highest quality meat and is famed for its personal and intimate service. www.walterroseandson.co.uk

Oop North

Lishman’s of Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Renowned for its champion sausages and hams, Lishman’s uses top notch local produce from the nearby Dales. www.lishmansonline.co.uk

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