Can I Eat Meat And Be Eco-Conscious? 

Following a plant-based diet is often thought of as one of the main things you can do to live a sustainable lifestyle, mainly due to the high carbon footprint of meat coming from intensive farms. There are plenty of vegan alternatives as well as campaigns like Veganuary, but what about those of us who still want to or must eat meat? Can you still be considered an environmentalist and choose chicken for dinner? Not all meat is created equal, and thankfully there are a few easy things you can do and look out for that help minimise the damage done to the Earth:

Buy Local

Many supermarkets import meat from countries other than the UK, often where the welfare standards aren’t the same. The UK, for example, has certifications such as the Red Tractor (or Assured Food Standards) which covers animal welfare, environmental standards, safety, and traceability. 

As well as this, buying local reduces the need for meat to be imported from other countries, contributing to the UK being the biggest net importer of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the G7 group of wealthy nations because of buying goods manufactured abroad. 

If you’re worried about the cost of local butchers being inaccessible to you due to the higher cost, you can often find farmers markets that sell local meat at a lower price due to cutting out the middleman. If there aren’t any farmers markets near you, often you can get certain cuts of meat at local butchers for cheaper. Even if all of this isn’t possible, some supermarkets have turned to having a butcher within the store, and many supermarkets will advertise whether their meat is British (the packaging often has a union jack on) so look out for those. 

Pasture raised/Grass Fed

Pasture raised, or grass fed, simply mean that the animals have been fed they’re natural diet of grass instead of soy, which unfortunately has its links with deforestation in South America. As well as this, the production of animal feed has its own issues, for example the use of pesticides that can harm insect wildlife. For this, it is always best to look for meat that is labelled as organic. 

Regenerative farming

This term refers to practices that remove carbon dioxide caused by traditional farming methods and can include planting trees, rewilding, regenerating soil and improving the water cycle. The best thing about this new way of farming is that it not only prevents environmental damage but actively helps restore ecosystems. 

Consume Less

When it comes to wanting to be more sustainable, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply consume less. Being completely plant based isn’t always possible for a whole host of reasons, but having just one less meat-based meal a week could lower your impact.  

Often wanting to still eat meat can turn many people away from engaging in environmental campaigns or practices, but being sustainable doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing approach’. By reading the labels and choosing the meat you buy carefully, you can still absolutely eat meat and be an eco-conscious person. 


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