'It's not the cow, it's the how': Butcher stresses UK meat's sustainability

Equating worldwide meat production with the UK's system is 'simplistic and damaging'
Equating worldwide meat production with the UK's system is 'simplistic and damaging'

A butcher has won the praise of the farming industry after highlighting the sustainability of UK meat production and the importance of the mantra 'it's not the cow, it's the how'.

John Pallagi, founder of online meat shop Farmison, published an opinion piece in The Times titled 'A meat-free month isn’t the best choice for us or the planet.'

He said many of the charges levelled against the global meat industry were 'justified', pointing to the deforestation in the Amazon to make way for beef farms.

But he said equating this with traditional farming practices in Britain was 'simplistic and damaging'.

"When it comes to meat, it’s not the cow, it’s the how," Mr Pallagi wrote in the paper.

"The farmers I work with graze their herds and flocks on upland pastures and are enrolled in numerous environmental stewardship schemes."

He said the UK’s maritime climate was 'supremely well suited' to livestock farming, and producers 'have been doing it for centuries'.

"In fact, our heritage breeds, from Aberdeen Angus to Swaledale lamb, are not just the envy of the world, they’re reared by them too. Take Uruguay: its national herd is predominantly Hereford beef."

Mr Pallagi went on to say that farmers 'cared dearly' about keeping the heritage of the bloodlines of their breeds alive and 'doing right by the land'.

"There should be no place for cheap products imported from intensively farmed systems on our supermarket shelves or kitchen tables," he wrote.

The NFU praised the opinion piece, adding that eating meat sensibly throughout the year was 'the best way to have a positive impact on the environment'.

"In Britain we produce red meat and dairy very well," NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said in response.

"Here, beef production emits half the amount of greenhouse gases other countries do on average and our farmers are striving to do even better, working towards agriculture being net zero by 2040.

"We have the climate to produce bountiful lush grass so our red meat is predominantly fed on forage, and our farmers take great pride in how they care for their animals and the land."

Mr Roberts said that the diet debate 'was complex', and the statement 'it's not the cow, it's the how' was the 'same for all foods'.

"What matters is how food is produced, where it has come from and how suitable the available natural resources are to that production," he said.

"A healthy, sustainable diet should be about balance all year round and always looking for responsibly sourced food – whether it’s your fruit, veg and cereals or your meat, eggs and dairy.

"For me, that means buying local, buying seasonal and buying British."