Let’s Meat Again…
Some might find the concept of ‘meat and two veg’ a bit too simplistic when it comes to good nutrition, but this basic formula could be deemed one of the most balanced meals you can eat. In recent years, the wave of entirely plant-based diets and the call for more exotic ‘superfoods’ has seen meat disregarded by many, citing emotional, environmental, political and personal concerns – which are all valid – but, if your caution is purely health-based, don’t shun that sirloin just yet.
There are many reasons why meat deserves to be a part of a healthy, balanced diet, in moderate amounts and from discerning sources. It is important to buy organic, grass-fed meat, which makes for a more nutritious choice and supports better welfare for the animals. This type of farming discourages the use of routine drugs such as antibiotics, as well as hormonal intervention. Also, the idea of eating an animal that is free to roam is closer to how our ancestors ate and the natural order of things. Buying seasonally and locally is also good for the environment, and extends much-needed support to farmers. Research shows that a pasture managed along these principles makes for a healthier soil ecosystem that has environmental benefits and not necessarily the emissions overload that has been attributed to meat consumption.
As with any food, overconsumption isn’t good for your body (from a digestive point of view, in particular) but, in moderate amounts, red meat provides a nutrient-dense, and easily absorbed, source of protein. Organic meat has been shown to include more essential omega-3 fatty acids than its non-organic counterpart, and provides excellent sources of iron and B12, in which many of us can be deficient. It is usually the cooking methods (deep-frying or excessive barbecuing), and the side of greasy chips or processed white bun that can leave meat vilified. When you consider some meat substitutes use processed soya beans, these often don’t stack up nutritionally or environmentally against a good, grass-fed steak. We have been eating meat for millennia so, rather than discounting this beneficial food, there’s a case for respecting the meat we eat, and enjoying it with a more mindful approach.
Waitrose DUCHY Organic meat is from selected UK farms, chosen for their high-quality methods (waitrose.com).
The Ethical Carnivore by Louise Gray (Bloomsbury, £16.99) follows the writer over her year of ethical eating.
Daylesford Organic – tasty ‘real deal’ meat straight from Daylesford Farm (daylesford.com).