There is a lot of talk about eating vegan and vegetarian but what if you are not quite there yet or simply do not want to give up on meat and dairy? Does it have to be all or nothing for your food choices to really make a difference?
The good news is that you do not have to entirely give up meat or dairy to benefit the environment, animal welfare or your health. Looking out for certain labels and certifications before you buy your food can actually make a world of difference.
Making a conscious decision to buy higher welfare meat and dairy seems easy enough in theory but in practice things can get complicated. Clever packaging or even fake farm names can lead us to believe that the meat and dairy products we buy come from a good place, while in fact the animals have been raised to appalling welfare standards in crowded environments that resemble factories more than farms.
Environmental charity Hubbub has partnered with Eating Better to put together this useful video on how to buy “less but better” meat and dairy.
Hubbub’s video explains what different labels such as Free Range, Organic, RSPCA or Red Tractor mean. It also mentions that according to some of the findings from Eating Better, “only three retailers (M&S, Waitrose and Co-op) include ingredient meat sourced for their own-brand ready meals in their farm animal welfare policies. While retailers are generally keen to promote the provenance and animal welfare standards of their fresh meat, the research found that this didn’t apply to meat used as an ingredient in ready meals. Nearly 30% of meat-based ready meals did not indicate the country of origin of their meat.”
I have talked in the past about welfare labels and in many ways I feel that not much has changed. If you are looking for higher welfare meat or dairy, then organic is best. Yes it is more expensive, but as you eat less animal products, it all evens out, and at the end of the month, you will not be worse off. As the video points out, Pasture For Life also is a good option. You can check out their website to find where to buy grass-fed meat and dairy.
Remember, be curious, know where you food comes from and demand better animal products. In many ways this sums up the flexitarian philosophy.