Tag Archives: sustainability

Less meat, more veg

Radio 4’s Farming Programme had an interesting feature yesterday morning about

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Harvest Thanksgiving, Newburgh 2015

vegetarianism in Germany  – apparently the government is introducing a controversial ban on meat at government receptions. This is on environmental grounds – it seems that in Germany they take very seriously the costs of producing meat vis-à-vis a vegetarian diet. Indeed, from the programme I gather that this is a hot potato (!) in German politics, with vegetarians identified as crazy left-wingers compared with the conservative cattle-munchers.

Can you imagine such a debate happening in Scotland? For a start, despite decades of awareness of the issues, there is little high-quality or high-profile public debate on the sustainability of meat-farming. It’s an international rather than merely national issue, as previously ‘developing countries’ increase their appetite for the ‘western diet’ over traditional vegetarian habits; hence an increasing global demand for meat.

The meat-versus-veg debate is frequently over-simplified. Scotland has a wealth of high-quality, compassionately-farmed beef, lamb, pork and increasingly, venison – not to mention game birds and the whole of the fishing industry. Apart from the deliciousness of the product, meat’s importance to the economy, and a vast cultural heritage, there are jobs to consider. I’m certainly not in favour of wholesale vegetarianism, imposed or otherwise. But I do go along with the many leading academics, environmentalists, farmers and food writers that we should all be eating less meat; and what meat we do eat should be of high quality.

Much research has linked heavy meat-eating to high incidence of cancer and heart disease. Decades of research findings have found that diets high in vegetables and fruit have a strongly protective effect on our health. Fish also enjoys a favourable profile in health and diet research. I’m certainly not an expert on these areas; but I know that these messages aren’t new. The links I’ve made highlight just a few sources of authority, but there are many more. I reckon it’s time Scots took the evidence to heart. Maybe we should revertPopeye to childhood role models:

I’m Popeye the sailor man – I lives in a caravan – I fights to the finish cos I eats me spinach – I’m Popeye the sailor man!

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Enter the Calamari Queen

(Or ‘Hello Squid Kid’).

Last week I bought a couple of tins of sardines for the cupboard – apparently their nutritional qualities are unaffected by the canning process and of course they’re cheap.  According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall they’re also sustainable if farmed correctly.  However I must admit it was  a bit of a ‘worthy’ purchase rather than a passionate one.  My memories of past tins of sardines are not inspiring.  Still, at 45p a tin in Aldi, I couldn’t pass them by.   Then I spied, sitting right beside them, tinned calamari, and tinned mussels – each at 86p a tin, hey big spender!  So I took a tin of each.

Cooking for one can be a bit of a challenge – I want things to be quick and easy and tasty; healthy; good for the environment; and preferably also, in my current circumstances, cheap.  Well I’m glad to say my Calamari in Tomato Sauce have ticked all my  boxes.   Or at least I think they have; I’m not a sustainability expert but from a quick trawl on the internet I can see that there’s some debate.  Apparently the little squids are scoffed by the bucketload by cruising sperm whales; so by comparison it seems humans might not make a major impact.  And they breed fast, the little blighters, you’d think all those arms and legs would get in the way.

According to the box, my supper contained 7.4g of fat, of which saturates were only

Calamari 0370.8g.  The whole tin contained 150 calories and it wasn’t even high in sugar or salt.  With my baked potato and salad I felt I was being suitably virtuous but also, I have to say, it tasted really good.  So now I’ll approach my tins of sardines with a more optimistic fork.  Especially since Hugh F-W uses the term ‘Bloody Mary’ as a verb in a recipe suggestion…  sardines with vodka, anyone?