After two years of living with an intermittently vegan, intermittently vegetarian, occasionally carnivorous and invariably combative teenage daughter, I feel well versed in the social, ethical and environmental arguments around eating animals, eggs and dairy. My boys remain committed, unquestioning, steak-loving carnivores but I find that, though it may take a little more thought, I am happy to eat much less meat than I used to. In fact, if I am away from home for a few days I positively crave vegetables.
For most of us, eating less meat, less often would be better for our health, better for the planet and, if we use some of the money saved to buy thoughtfully, better for the animals involved. You might think this is just a self interested vegetable grower speaking, in 2010 I bought the Riverford meatbox company from my brother Ben, so it is in my interests to promote a balanced diet, with at least some meat. Grazed grass and clover plus manure (the welcome by-product) are also vital to maintaining soil fertility and allowing us to grow vegetables successfully. Our message, which you will hear us preach occasionally through the year, will be to eat good meat less often, to eat all the animal and to be sure that you are happy with how it is produced. We know all the farmers who supply our meat (many of them also supply vegetables); the animals are slaughtered carefully in a local, small family run abattoir and hung and butchered by hand by our team of skilled butchers. Even my daughter is happy to eat it, sometimes.
How does meat fit into your diet, if at all?