Ethical Omnivore 101 (the basics)

With a sea of information to read and digest it would be easy to get lost. Here is summary of the basics to get you started, my top ten.

  1. Support independent ethical farming – You can find better produce at a better price by cutting out the middle men. A direct farmer to consumer marketplace would really enhance our food choices.
  2. Avoid all factory farmed animal productschoose free range, organic, grass fed, traditionally produced.
  3. Make time to cookLoosing the ability to cook a wide variety of food, slow cooking meat, really enjoying veg, understanding pulses really reduces our food choices and control over our diets.
  4. Waste not want notuse up left overs, don’t over buy, cook and serve food. Think about how much food you throw away and work to reduce waste.
  5. Embrace a plant based dietthe easiest way to a healthy diet and freedom to choose is to understand how to enjoy a plant based diet. I’ll help you!
  6. Cut down on your intake of animal products – replace with veg, grain, legumes etc
  7. Raise your expectationsfor all produce, animal or plant to be good quality. If it isn’t change your supplier, rethink what you buy.
  8. Ask questions and read labelsquestion what is considered ‘normal’ and don’t make assumptions. Fancy restaurants or smart packaging doesn’t mean ethical produce.
  9. Open your mind Being an omnivore doesn’t mean we can’t access and use technics, ingredients, information normally reserved for veggie diets.
  10. Take responsibility for your own diet and health – Don’t rely on the industry for a healthy diet, their view point is biased and focused on profit. Read and learn, all the information you need is out there.

The Ethical Omnivore

 

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Spud’s shepherdless pie

I have discovered that green or puy lentils make a perfect substitute for beef or lamb mince in dishes such as spaghetti bolognese, shepherds pie, cottage pie, chilli etc. Simply make the same dish using lentils instead of mince, (cooking the lentils as per the instructions – I used dried lentils and cook them first). Or follow a recipe for a lentil version e.g. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10035/golden-veggie-shepherds-pie

As with all recipes most ingredients are flexible, if you don’t have celery or bay it wouldn’t ruin the dish, just add a bit of extra seasoning elsewhere. If you don’t have tomato puree, use some canned tom or passata and if you are really desperate ketchup.. will work. I am not proud a dollop of brown sauce is a winner in a nice cottage pie.

I go further and replace the butter with rapeseed oil and the milk with oat milk, organic cheese or no cheese, but it all works the same. I use Marigold Swiss organic vegetable bouillon powder vegan (doesn’t contain milk) it is perfect stock in all dishes even if I am cooking meat. I also use Season’s all in a lot of dishes for easy seasoning.

Spud is pictured below. A long story about our attempts to raise our own meat and ending up with 14 pet sheep (for another post). Spud was born this year to an old ewe we acquired from the farm next door (Doris), we didn’t know that she was pregnant then out popped Spud. Doris didn’t have milk so we bottle raised him. Hence he is so tame and happy to wear sun glasses!


 

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A must read book

I highly recommend reading this book. You’ll learn things you probably won’t have ever considered. The writing style and balanced viewpoint make it a pleasure to read. The author doesn’t dictate his views, rather shares a wealth of experiences through his global investigations. Leaving the reader to digest and reflect.

Reviews – Lymbery brings to this essential subject the perspective of a seasoned campaigner–he is informed enough to be appalled, and moderate enough to persuade us to take responsibility for the system that feeds us. – Guardian Book of the Week

This eye-opening book, urging a massive rethink of how we raise livestock and how we feed the world, deserves global recognition. – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

A devastating indictment of cheap meat and factory farming. Don t turn away: it demands reading and deserves the widest possible audience. – Joanna Lumley

This incredibly important book should be read by anyone who cares about people, the planet, and particularly, animals. – Jilly Cooper

Offers the kind of realistic and compassionate solutions on which our prospects for a truly sustainable world depend. – Jonathon Porritt

This meaty account makes a distinctive and important contribution, eschewing the narrowly domestic focus of many of its predecessors in favour of a global investigation . . . An engaging read–and it also gives a full enough picture of the situation in the UK to preclude any smugness on the part of the British reader. Anyone after a realistic account of our global food chain, and the changes necessary for a sustainable future, will find much to get their teeth into here. – Felicity Cloake, New Statesman

There s no end to techno-idiocy in pursuit of profit. But far more concerning is Lymbery s contention that the wastefulness of feeding human-edible plants and fish to animals is not just absurd but catastrophic. The main reason for hacking down the remaining South American forest is to grow soy to feed the pigs and chickens of China. – Evening Standard

Antibiotics – superbugs

spilled-medicine-syringe-1410945-1

Antibiotics are given to intensively farmed animals on a daily / routine basis. Why? Well cram thousands of animals into a small space and the only way to prevent an outbreak of disease is to give them regular antibiotic treatments. Not when they need it, but because the environment is so disease friendly.

Yes it is true! See this NHS article and report by the Chief medical officer:

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/12December/Pages/Antibiotic-use-in-farm-animals-threatens-human-health.aspx

The super bug threat is a ‘ticking time bomb’. A report by the Chief medical office claims the concern is agricultural antibiotic use is driving up levels of antibiotic resistance, leading to new “superbugs”.

Google it: antibiotics used in farming

In simple terms the viruses mutate, they fight back. We have a limited amount of antibiotics to fight disease. Give it a laboratory environment (factory/intensive farming) to practice in and we create a super bug – An antibiotic resistant superbug.

See a study done at Harvard university:

A cinematic approach to drug resistance

Two main risks to humans: a) resistant bacteria makes it into the food chain b) you get an infection for example from a minor operation which can’t be treated by Antibiotics.

Hmm that bacon sandwich doesn’t taste quite so good now does it?

What can you do? The more intense the farming the greater the use of antibiotics, the use of antibiotics underpins the factory farming system. By buying intensively rearer meat you are funding the problem. Buy free range meat or better still buy organic meat that restricts the use of antibiotics to an ‘strictly as needed’ basis.

The Ethical omnivore.

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Cows eat grass?

Yes they did, but not anymore! Cows are sadly now also part of the factory farming machine. Dairy cows and meat cows are increasingly being intensively farmed with little or no access to grazing. They don’t leave the shed, they stand on concrete, they sleep on sand and they have a grain fed diet.

Cows are ruminants, they are designed to eat grass. It is no brainer, we can’t eat grass, they can and they turn it into food = win/win.

It was until someone decided it would be ‘better’ to put them in sheds and feed them grain. Grain that humans could eat, grain that is grown miles away and imported, grain that might be GMO, grain that takes more water, energy and land to grow than grass and leaves cattle stood in dry mud or concrete pens for the whole of their lives. You don’t have to be an academic to work out that it makes no sense.

Plus the fact that meat and dairy from cows that eat grass is healthier and it tastes better:

  • Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef.
  • Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the total fat content, compared to 1% in grain-only fed beef.
  • Grass-fed beef is loaded with other natural minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.
  • Grass-fed beef has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)
  • Cows on a diet of fresh grass produce milk with five times as much of an unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do cows fed processed grains. CLAs can protect the heart, and help in weight loss.
  • And it tastes better!

As an Ethical omnivore what can you do?

Meat: Some products are labelled ‘Grass fed’ but most aren’t. Buying organic beef is a guarantee (UK) that the cow has been pasture grazed. Avoid buying non labelled, cheap or foreign meat. Ask the retailers if the beef or dairy you are buying is grass fed. Best of all buy directly from the farm (we buy online organic beef and it the same price as supermarket beef!) or a reputable butcher and ask them the question. How is this meat raised. Found out more in posts about beef.

Milk and dairy: Currently labelling on milk doesn’t let you know if your dairy cow was on pasture or not. The only way to guarantee this is to buy organic dairy (UK). Under organic standards cows has to have access to grazing. Some retailers are also making a stance and deserve our support. See:

http://www.compassioninfoodbusiness.com/award-winners/search/?org=&sector=&country=&award=Good+Dairy+Award

Also be prepared to pay a bit more for your dairy, think value rather than cost. It is pennies in the grand scheme of things. With price pressures in the industry it is getting worse, USA style ‘mega’ dairies are spreading. See:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-controversial-mega-dairies-that-alarm-campaigners-and-divide-a-struggling-sector-of-british-a6744511.html

indoor-cows-1cows-grazingIndoor or outdoors? – you have a choice when you buy your meat or dairy.

The Ethical omnivore.

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