Skip to main content

Environment & ethics   |   Eating & drinking

Ben’s News: How much meat?

There is only one general Riverford meat topic right now – how much meat should we be eating? It’s a tough question for a butcher and one that, not surprisingly, most aren’t prepared to face up to.

Easter’s come and gone and I’d be interested to know whether anyone has scaled back on the meat element of their festive fare in response to the How Much Meat? campaign. With Professor Tim Lang suggesting a daily allowance of 70g, that doesn’t give a lot of leeway for celebratory meals. So what’s the answer? You’re certainly not going to fi nd it in the papers or cookbooks. A quick dip into The Guardian and Observer last weekend gives full bags of tricks for using pork mince, cooking chorizo, slow cooking pork ribs and breast of lamb. The plus side is that there was no beef on the menu and the suggested cuts and sausages are made from lesser used cuts but, on the down side, work your way through that lot and you’ll be well on your way through your monthly rations.

Being naturally contrary, the debate sometimes brings out the reactionary in me; I was on the verge of going online and booking tickets for Grillstock. “Music festivals are good and all, but have you ever been listening to a band and thought, ‘wow… I wish I was eating a big pile of meat.’ That’s where Grillstock comes in, a magical place where hotdog eating contests……..” says the website, and there lies the problem.

The mammon that is the culture of meat is so deeply embedded, even in the quasi alternative of music festivals, that changing it is going to be like moving mountains. Karl Marx would probably have had a thing or two to say about it. He probably did.

So what’s the answer? Thinking back to the early days of the climate change debate, I don’t remember it being like this. There were a few ‘holier than thou’ types on bicycles but, for the most part, we were all wrong together and now, for the most part, we’re all learning together. The meat question is just one issue. In the present context the methane figures are alarming but I stand by what I’ve said that around 25% of total GHG emissions isn’t a bad price for feeding the world. That’s it from me, but the debate continues on our website:


    Ben Watson

    Ben Watson is a wine connoisseur and owner of the much-loved Ben's Farm Shop. 

    Wicked Leeks is out now

    Cover star, Jyoti Fernandes, tells of the small producers standing up for their rights, while elsewhere we explore climate-friendly eating and how to eat seasonal in spring.

    Read more

    Live Life on the Veg

    Riverford's recipe hub, with recipes, veg help and foodie inspiration.

    Go to Riverford

    How to cook with a veg box

    From meal planning to unusual veg: food writer Stacey Smith talks through how to cook with a veg box.

    Read more
    Spread the word

    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.