The Meat Manifesto

Instead of the first post for 2013 being another “hottest food trends for 2013″ article (we have MORE than enough of those going around at the moment) I thought I’d give you something to add to your list of resolutions as we kick off a new year. To be more precise, I thought I’d urge you to prioritise the way you eat and the way you view meat. Treat it as a new beginning and a good excuse to make some changes. This isn’t meant to be an overly-serious piece but rather a call to action to take a hard look at the shit you are eating and the atrocities that have been committed to get it on your plate. Okay, wait, this ┬ámay well be overly-serious.

Inspired by a brilliant book, by a brilliant man (The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) I’d challenge you to read, absorb and actually ACT on my meat manifesto.

2013 Meat Manifesto:

1. Don’t eat meat simply out of habit. Ask questions instead. Pause for a second. Is this meat good enough to actually provide me with pleasure or is it something that I take for granted? Will I forget this meal in a few hours? Could this meat taste better? Should it taste better? Was it cheap or expensive – and, if it was cheap, WHY was it cheap? Maybe better meat is more expansive for a reason. Maybe eating less meat, but meat of a higher quality, is worth considering. Maybe.

2. Think about the animal that gave its life for that piece of meat. Beef is cow. Pork is pig. Meat doesn’t just magically appear in your supermarket aisles. Make the connection. And then ask yourself if you are at all concerned about the way the animals were treated. Have they been fed properly? Have they been treated with respect? And are you sure? How do you know? Did you even ask the person who sold you the meat? Was there even anyone to ask? Perhaps it is time to at least try and find people who seem to be able to answer these questions confidently.

3. Think hard about the way you cook your meat. Do you do it justice? Would you like to know a bit more about how to get the best benefits of various cuts? Because there is plenty of literature out there. Meat is a luxury item and deserves to be treated as such. Arm yourself with knowledge on how to roast, braise, grill, cure etc. and you immediately start looking at meat through different eyes. You respect the meat. You respect the animal that gave its life for the meat.

4. Do you try different things with meat? Do you explore cooking techniques, textures, cheap cuts and offal? There are parts of the animal that nobody ever wants but they are often the best and tastiest cuts of the whole beast! And they’re dirt cheap. Next time you want a fillet of beef, ask yourself: why? If the (wrong in my opinion) answer is you think it’s the tastiest, ask yourself what you are comparing it to. If people explore unusual cuts of meat then the entire animal can be utilised. Another sign of respect.

5. Do you stretch the meat that you buy as far as you can? Do you use leftovers for salads, stews, pasta sauces etc. Are you creative and do you put any effort into turning one meal into two or even three? Some effort and some planning will bring surprising results.

6. Are you willing to accept responsibility? The reason animals are pumped with things like growth hormones and additives is us. And our insatiable demand. As farmers speed up what should be a natural process the animals are the ones who suffer as a result. But the farmers are shirking their ethical responsibilites only because the general public keep snapping up the resulting inferior meat. Are you really ready to stand up and accept that there is a moral dimension that needs to be swallowed along with every bite of meat.

Sheesh, sorry. I got going a bit there didn’t I? But you see where I’m coming from. Instead of making a list with things like “stop smoking” and “go to gym more” on it, do something that counts. Do something that isn’t easy. That’s the point of change isn’t it?

Go forth and eat,


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4 Responses to The Meat Manifesto

  1. Karen January 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Fabulous principled writing, we changed our meat eating habits 2 years ago as a result of the awareness created by HF-W and Jamie Oliver. Growing up in Zim we were aware from young children that meat come from animals as we often bought meat from farmer friends and my Mum and I raised free range chickens. I lost my way for the 30 years I have lived in Cape Town with the convenience of polystyrene and plastic wrapped P&P offerings. That has stopped! If you do ever get to deliver to the far South (Lakeside) please add me to your mailing list. Very best wishes for 2013.

  2. Linda at Happy Hog January 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Excellent write up Andy..
    Many city folk are not aware of how animals are treated and don’t bother to ask. There are some frightening practices going on. Also there are those who care (very few) and others who wear blinkers (Oooh I don’t wanna see). We have had the most amazing experiences with particularly young adults who are none the wiser as to how pigs should be handled or raised. I can tell you some stories.
    Nonetheless hope many will take note of your heartfelt thoughts and ideas.

  3. Alida Ryder January 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Andy, this is such a powerful piece of writing. I am going to broadcast it all across my social networks. Everyone needs to read this. I will never, ever, stop eating meat but I have found myself gravitating towards cuts of meat that I would never normally have tried and I make sure I know where the meat comes from, at least 90% of the time. I don’t understand people who insist that they would rather have a lot of (inferior, unethical) meat than a little bit of excellent quality, ethical meat. Even more I will never understand how there are some out there who believe there is no difference. I commend you for writing this and I hope that it will make a difference!

  4. Adam February 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Great summary Andy. Awesome to see you sharing what I personally feel is the most important written piece on the food we eat, blindly.

    I am a meat eater, I am aware that many breeds of animals would not have survived till today if it wasn’t for us meat eaters and skilled farmers, butchers etc.

    I take care where i purchase my meat, I respect love and get the best out of my meat. Suppliers are important, we are seeing this again with the horsemeat scandal (which by the way is the second time this has happened, previous was either the 40’s or 50’s i think)

    buying local 9/10 ensures quality. Ignorance ensures those who wish to abuse the system get away with it, your readers i believe would benefit hugely from reading the whole meat book and understanding deeper the points Hugh is talking about. He as a journalist before becoming a TV chef and he researches deep to look at his manifesto from all areas (vegetarian, vegan, meat eaters the works)

    Have a brilliant week and thanks again from highlighting to your readers.

    People – go get the Meat book. you will love it.

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