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:

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:

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

The Ethical omnivore.





Rediscover mutton

Version 2

Mutton is sheep that is over 2 years old. Well-grown mutton to be one of the finest meats produced on the British isles. While mutton may be difficult to find in your local butcher, it is widely available on the internet. Whatever you choose, shoulder of mutton requires long, slow cooking to bring out the best results. Don’t be put off by the age, 2, 4, 5 yrs it is all good and in my view one of the most ethical meats you can source, based on the age and outdoor lifestyle a sheep lives. The older the best in our house, the flavour and the texture of the meat is amazing, just ask Charles (HRH)!

Ethical plus side, you are eating an animal that has had a longer life, sheep are still kept as grazing animals in a flock so it one of the most naturally farmed animal remaining. Mutton meat might come from a ewe that has been used for breeding or it might be a purpose meat bred slow growing sheep. The latter is the best but we should embrace both.

Serves 4–6
250g/9oz/1¼ cups salted butter, softened and diced
1 large bunch of oregano or rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped

large pinch of salt
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon or generous squeeze of juice
1 x approx 2.5kg / 5½lb shoulder of mutton on the bone

8 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
2 whole bulbs of garlic, peeled and halved
1 x 750ml bottle of red wine
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 140C / 275F / gas mark 1. Put the butter in a food processor. Add the herbs, reserving a little for later, and then the salt, lemon and black pepper. Whizz to a coarse paste – about 20 seconds will do it.

Slather the paste all over the top of the mutton to a thickness of about 5mm / ¼ inch. Put the shallots and garlic in a deep roasting tray and add any remaining herbs. Lay the mutton on top and pour in the wine; the liquid should just be touching the bottom of the meat – if not, top up with water.

Seal the top of the roasting tray with a layer of baking parchment followed by foil. Place the tray in the oven for at least 6 hours (overnight at 100C / 200F / gas mark 1⁄8 works too), or until the mutton is cooked.

Remove the foil and baking parchment and turn the heat up to 200ºC/400ºF/
gas mark 6 to crisp up the crust for 20 minutes. Strain the juices, discarding
the garlic and shallots, reduce a little in a saucepan, uncovered, over a medium heat, season and set aside to use as a gravy.

This is lovely served with braised red cabbage and mustard mashed potatoes.