Meaty Impact and Innovations

Lately it seems everyone is talking about meat and the sustainability issues that surround it. So I’m going to join in!

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve wrote about it, earlier this year I tried Veganuary, then for Lent I gave up meat and now I’d class myself as Flexitarian (or whatever new trendy name it’s been given this week). Basically I go days, weeks even without eating meat.

A few nights ago Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped broadcast a special on the innovations that are making meat healthier for us and better for the planet. It’s definitely worth a watch, but if you haven’t got the time, here are some highlights…

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Did you know?

Cows produce more methane than cars, planes and trains combined. They release about 120kg of methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. 

33% of cereals grown in the UK are used for meat production.

Most of the world’s soy crop ends up in feed for poultry, pork and cows. The expansion of soy to feed the world’s growing demand for meat contributes to deforestation. 

For 2kg of chicken it takes 4.6kg of feed. For 2kg of pork it takes 6kg of feed. And for 2kg of beef it takes 30kg of feed. That is a lot of crop needed for a small amount of meat!

It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef but only 1,250 litres for 1kg of wheat.

The innovations for a more ‘sustainable’ meat industry covered were a little bonkers, but it does show that the industry is starting to look at alternative ways in order to protect the planet.

Belgian Super Cows – Apparently these huge muscly cows are bred through natural selection (hmmm) due to an inactive muscle control gene. They produce around 30% more meat than a normal cow and somehow do this through eating the same amount of food as a normal cow.

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Spirulina Algae – Spirulina is an edible microalgae that can be grown in tanks on top of buildings. It’s still new technology but it could be used to replace normal animal feeds freeing up land currently used to grow animal feed to grow human vegetation instead.

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Ostrich Meat – Ostrich’s produce 10 times less methane than cows, they require 3 times less land to graze, can produce 64 tons of meat in a lifetime opposed to a cows 1.72 tons and the water footprint of ostriches is roughly a third of cows.

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If you’re having a BBQ this bank holiday, why not give an ostrich burger a go? Or veggie sausages? My favourite is BBQ’d pineapple. Yum! Whatever you do, have a great long weekend! xxx

What is a Flexitarian?

At the start of the year I took part in Veganuary. Then for Lent I gave up meat.

I enjoyed being veggie so much that I extended my non-meat eating period until a weekend in Berlin where lots of beer weakened my resistance to currywurst (oops). Since then I have only been eating meat on the odd occasion.

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It turns out eating meat ‘on the odd occasion’ is actually a thing. It’s called flexitarianism.

Described as vegetarians with benefits, flexitarians are people whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat. Many vegetarians and vegans consider flexitarianism as cheating, but research shows that the diet just might be one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact and improve health.

Mostly my diet contains no meat but I now allow myself an exception if I really fancy some when I’m eating out or I know that it is good quality.

For example last week I was working in London. On Tuesday evening I had Moroccan food, lots of tasty veggie mezze at Oasis in East Finchley. Then on Wednesday I went to Flat Iron in Soho for one of their famous steaks because I knew it was going to be a) good quality b) ethically sourced from their own herd in Yorkshire and b) absolutely delicious!

Personally I think giving this way of eating a title is abit silly. I can however vouch that having this type of diet certainly comes with benefits.

Benefits of being flexitarian:

  • Less meat = less cost – meaning more money left to spend on good quality meat when you fancy it instead of processed or chemically enhanced
  • Improved health – it’s a win-win as you still get the protein that comes from eating meat occasionally but also have the nutritional benefits from a plant based diet
  • Reduced environmental impact – livestock requires more food, water, land and energy to grow and transport than plants

Next week I’ll post some of my favourite  veggie recipes for you to try. But for now, I’m off work and heading out into the sunshine to kick start my bank holiday weekend with a delicious brekkie from The Farm in Harrogate.

Have a gooden! x

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