Vegans haven’t killed off the butcher! As report reveals Britons are spending more on meat, local shops report an influx of business as customers seek better quality cuts

  • Spending on beef, lamb and pork in British butchers is up to £438M in 2021 
  • This is despite British people cutting their meat consumption by 17 per cent
  • Butcher John Pallagi told FEMAIL people are consuming higher quality cuts

Local British butchers are thriving despite the rise of vegan and vegetarianism as people are searching for higher quality meat despite cutting down their overall consumption. 

Spending on beef, lamb and pork in British butchers jumped by 28 per cent to £338.5 million in 2020 and grew even more in 2021 where sales rose £438million, according to research from Kantar. 

However, daily meat consumption in the UK has fallen by 17 per cent across the last ten years, with vegan meat imitations thriving at supermarkets and estimated to be worth £1billion to the UK economy.

This is likely because middle class Brits now look down on buying meat from the supermarket, with ’boutique butchers’ instead the place to go for the best cuts. 

Paul Grout, the founder of the Meat chain, which has butchers across some of north London’s most expensive postcodes believes that people have become more interested in ‘provenance and wanting to know where their food comes from’.

Local British butchers are thriving despite the rise of vegan and vegetarianism as people are searching for higher quality meat despite cutting down their overall consumption (stock image)

He told the Times demand went ‘absolutely mental’  at his Stoke Newington shop during lockdown as locals unable to go to restaurants forked out £13.75 for 250g cuts of fillet steak at £13.75 and £67.50 for 3kg legs of lamb for £67.50.

Other butchers, such as HG Walter in west London – that supplies Michelin starred restaurants and Harrods – saw queues around the block despite the number of butchers in the UK falling by 60 per cent to fewer than 5,500 in the last 25 years.   

John Pallagi, CEO of Farmison & Co an online butcher told FEMAIL: ‘Making sure the nation eats better quality produce is something we actually have in common with many of those advocating for plant-based diets.

In lockdown, demand not only surged for quality meat with flavour as people looked to recreate the restaurant experience at home, but with that came enthusiasm for the provenance of our meat.

‘I’ve always been adamant that heritage British breeds taste better and that encouraging the public to seek out and eat this meat is a good thing for the environment, and is a true super food.

‘We also experienced surges in demand from our customers when we put out educational pieces that to be sustainable, we must reduce waste and eat the whole carcass.

Spending on beef, lamb and pork in British butchers jumped by 28 per cent to £338.5 million in 2020 and grew even more in 2021 where sales rose £438million, according to research from Kantar (stock image)

‘Customers who suddenly were preparing most of their own meals jumped at the opportunity to try new cuts, in the process helping us to reduce wastage’.

Tony Hindhaugh, Director at Parson’s Nose butcher, added: ‘Covid was a game changer for the high street and especially food retailers. 

‘Without doubt, scepticism that Covid was man-made and there was a link to animals made customers question the food they were eating. This together with shortages in large supermarkets and concerns about crowds assisted in driving customers back to the high street and shopping local in their communities.

‘People working from home has clearly had an impact on sales of meat as work time lunches have fizzled out and families are spending more time together over the dining table. People are more willing to cook for themselves and have a much greater awareness of “you are what you eat”.

What’s a climatarian diet and what foods should be avoided? 

Dr Alona Pulde suggests being mindful about the following everyday items, including coffee, sugar and palm oil, as they also contribute to increased carbon emissions and deforestation.

● Beef and lamb. Consider limiting or eliminating as they are primary contributors to environmental damage. In fact, beef, mutton and milk production contribute 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions amongst livestock6

● Palm oil. Contributes to deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, natural habitat destruction, and higher carbon emissions

● Farmed fish. Require more wild fish consumption than actual fish production. Their feces contribute to water pollution, while the crowding of fish can breed bacteria and other disease

● Coffee. Increased demand has resulted in production that contributes to deforestation, heavy water usage and runoff that pollutes waterways and destroys natural habitats

● Sugar. Production leads to deforestation and destroys natural habitats. It is water intensive, which erodes the soils and contaminates waterways, damaging sea life ecosystems

‘Customers were more interested about where food was coming from and also much more willing to pay a little more to get piece of mind in the provenance and quality of their food. 

‘The environmental impact of this is massive. Cheap meat is mass-produced, is full of growth hormones and accounts for a considerable amount of harmful gasses in our environment.  

‘Now that lockdown is easing and things gradually are getting back to normality, the trend has remained and not dropped off. Parson’s Nose sales are still significantly up and the same appetite for knowledge and information about what you eat is still there with the customer. This is good for the trade of butchery and the high street as well as shopping locally and responsibly.’

Earlier this month, a study published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, revealed that most people are eating less red meat and processed meat than a decade ago.

The Oxford-based team found that while there was a 17g daily drop in nationwide daily meat consumption per person, it is not happening quickly enough to meet the National Food Strategy’s goal.

The goal, which is based on a review of the UK’s food system including farming and sustainability, recommended that meat consumption should fall by 30 per cent across the next ten years.  

Elsewhere, a recent report by Waitrose found middle class Brits are ditching meat and adopting a ‘climatarian diet’ in a move to reduce their carbon footprint.

Dubbed the ‘new 5:2 diet’ – a reference to a popular weight loss method where people only diet two days a week – eco-conscious Britons are spending five days a week veggie and treating themselves to meat at weekends.

But it’s not just cutting down meat consumption to be more green, Waitrose shoppers are also looking for other ways to be more eco-friendly with their diets, including minimising food waste by donating excess food and not buying groceries wrapped in excess packaging. 

Nearly 70 per cent of Waitrose customers said reducing their climate footprint was either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important. 

Meanwhile,  Lifesum, the leading global nutrition app has launched a ‘climatarian’ diet for its users which  focuses on reducing the carbon footprint with plant-based, locally sourced produce. 

It isn’t the same as a vegan diet – as it includes eco-friendly meats like chicken – but avoids plants that are environmentally damaging like almonds and avocados.

Earlier this year, Countryfile presenter Adam Henson warned of the devastating impact of the fruit on the environment.

He said: ‘Avocados and almond milk are disastrous for the environment. It isn’t a simple argument.

‘Beef, sheep and dairy farmers are having fingers pointed at them quite a lot about health and climate change, but the industries are doing a huge amount about that.

‘So, I would urge people to eat British food and don’t buy cheap food from abroad.’

The labour to make avocados is very water intensive – with a kilo of avocados requiring 2000 litres of water to grow.

And this, coupled with the Western fascination with the fruit, has led to avocados being linked with water shortages, human rights abuses, illegal deforestation, ecosystem destruction and general environmental devastation in Mexico.

Food creates 20-30 per cent of all global carbon emissions. A major component is also reducing animal food consumption, particularly beef, which contributes to higher emissions than plant foods (about 57 per cent compared to 29 per cent) and more than transportation globally

‘A Climatarian diet focused on whole plant-based foods, has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and obesity, while increasing overall vitality, mental health and longevity. Some people even notice their skin clears of blemishes or acne – or just looks healthier and younger,’ Dr Alona Pulde told FEMAIL.

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