how to eat meat sustainably

I do love meat, which is why I eat meat (and fish) mindfully and as ethically as possible. I don’t eat meat if I don’t know where it came from and I don’t eat it every day. It takes a lot of resources to get meat on our plates, and I respect that wholeheartedly.

I interviewed bro n sis duo Danielle and Sam White last year. They're cattle farmers who are incredibly passionate about ethical and sustainable farming. See here.

Aptly, I’m an even heartier vegetable eater. I grew up this way – meat was a once or twice-weekly indulgence. Mainly because it was expensive. Meat days were a delicacy, delicious, hearty, SPECIAL. Nowadays meat is available so cheaply and readily that many eat great big mounds of it twice a day. It shouldn’t be this way. Again, it takes a lot of resources to get meat on our plates.

If we want livestock to be farmed ethically and in an environmentally-friendly manner, we need to eat less of it. Farmers can't keep low-stocking densities, treat animals with care and respect and manage environmental impact effectively if consumer demand is too high. It's high consumer demand for cheap meat that got us into this intensive farming mess in the first place.

Every year in Australia alone, 490 million chickens are raised and slaughtered for meat. Free range chicken meat only accounts for 10-15% of chicken produced, with less than 1% of the total production also being organic. (via Sustainable Table)

This is how I eat my meat:

All meat I buy is direct from the farmer at a farmers’ market. It’s a little more expensive than buying from a supermarket. From the get go I have to buy less because I can’t afford to buy a heap. I buy a little heritage breed pork or a little grass-fed lamb or beef, a bag of mussels. If the chicken dude is there I buy a bag of livers. At home, I use the meat as a side dish. Vegetables are the heroes of my meals. Most of my meals in a week are meat-free; eggs or legumes for protein. Back to the meat - it all tastes amazing, the flavour... oh my. I’ve even converted my dad to the pork (Yarra Valley Pork). He says it tastes like the pork he used to eat as a young boy in Crete. That’s just it – it IS just like the pork he used to eat as a young boy. It’s been raised outdoors, in pastures, with care and love. It tastes like meat should taste, and I find myself satisfied with less.

This year, if there’s one thing I want all meat-eaters around me to take on board, it's to eat meat more mindfully. I’m going to be writing a series of posts on this and sharing a heap of 'meat as a treat' and meat-free recipe ideas. But for now, a few short tips:

Assess your weekly food budget
Locally farmed, ethical, pastured meat does cost a little more. Look at what you’re spending your budget on. If there’s a heap of processed foods on the list – cereals, chips, biscuits, soft drinks – maybe think about cutting those out. How much are you spending on meat? Add the savings from the crap you cut out and take it to a farmers’ market.

Get yourself to a farmers’ market
Proper, free range, chemical-free and ethical meat is cheaper bought direct from the farmer at a farmers’ market. There’s a tip for you.

The portions are smaller – don’t freak out
They pack in more flavour.

Choose the cheaper cuts
Osso bucco and neck chops are full of flavour and when cooked for a few hours produce the most tender sweet meals.

Use more vegetables
Pad your beef stew out with heaps of vegetables. 70% veg, 30% meat. I reckon that’s a good hearty ratio. At the end of the day, we’d all greatly benefit from HALF our plates featuring vegetables and only a ¼ meat, as per the plate model, which is fast becoming the accepted healthy eating model around the world (P.S minus the grains I say – more on that another time).

If you can’t fathom going a day without meat, spread your meat consumption over the week
A wee bit in each meal, for flavour.

Learn to cook satiating vegetarian meals
Check back in on Friday for one of my favourite traditional Greek veggie meals...


2 comments:

  1. Great post! Basically sums up exactly how I feel about meat. I made a commitment to only eat meat once a month, and it must not be factory farmed. There is some great lamb in Australia reared on native grasses and bush which is my favourite :)

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