How to source climate and nature friendly meat

Simon Billing, Executive Director at Eating Better explains how the charity’s new sourcing guide can help.

The Eating Better alliance, of which the SRA is a member, has launched a new guide to help food businesses buy better meat and dairy. “Sourcing Better” sets out a vision of farming, where food production goes hand-in-hand with caring for nature and protecting the planet, while ensuring profitability for the best of British farming. 

Drawing on the Better By Half roadmap, the “Sourcing Better” framework recognises that a holistic approach is necessary to raise standards across production, while at the same time, significantly lowering the volume of meat produced, meaning farms with less livestock, living a better, more natural life.  To this end, the guide identifies eight key impact areas that define what “better” is in sourcing policies: from the way in which the animal is reared and fed, limiting the use of antibiotics, to tackling GHG emissions and nature loss, minimising pollution, water scarcity and improving soil health.

Recognising that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” certification for the best meat and dairy, the guide offers the target indicators of “basic,” “better” and “best,” all of which are linked to the eight key impact areas. The goal is to move beyond the current baseline to a system which favours the highest animal welfare and the lowest impact on the environment, practices employed by alliance members such as the Soil Association, Pasture for Life, Farm Wilder and the Nature Friendly Farming Network. This approach is very much in line with the SRA’s “Food Made Good” programme to source and serve food that benefits people, nature and the planet. 

The Eating Better alliance is working to accelerate a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030. This is going to require transformational change, but momentum is building to overhaul how we produce and consume food, to lessen the impact current systems are having on the climate and nature. 

As the foodservice sector re-opens after lockdown and we return to eating out, businesses who’ve already embraced sustainable dining are well placed to showcase what eating better looks, and tastes, like. It’s never been more important to know where our meat and dairy comes from and how it is reared and fed. This guide empowers all those in the food industry to ask more of their suppliers, to ask about the provenance of the meat and dairy they use in their recipes. Building back better means building back greener and fairer from the pandemic. The SRA has been a pioneer in driving change in the industry and the “Sourcing Better” guide is another tool to support the association and its members to continue being part of the solution, by serving up climate and nature friendly meat and dairy and opting to use more plants, as standard. 

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