Eat less, eat better. What does “less” mean?

Eat less, eat better. What does “less” mean?

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You may have heard about our ‘eat less, eat better’ campaign, which launched in 2019 and was created to encourage people to think about where the food they eat comes from.

We also hoped it would inspire them to cut down on meat, fish, eggs and dairy from lower welfare farming systems by both trading-up to higher welfare options and trading-off to animal-free alternatives. Why? Because doing so is better for your health, for the planet, and for the animals in the food chain.

Recent research from The University of Oxford revealed a correlation between the foods that have the worst impact on both human health and the environment. 

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It is worth noting however that this is based on global food production, whereas British pasture-fed red meat is recognised as being more sustainable than some other global systems.

Our 'eat less, eat better' campaign has been met with positivity and a question that frequently comes up is “what does “less” look like?” It’s a great point because it varies greatly depending on your current diet. 

We think this needs to acknowledges that livestock can be a vital part of regenerative farming and soil restoration when farmed sustainably. It also needs to recognise that animal proteins can play an important role in a healthy and balanced diet, but that we currently have the balance wrong. 

Based on current academic thinking, we believe we should be aiming to eat roughly half of the “average” animal protein currently consumed in the UK. To figure out what this means, we looked at Defra's family food survey 2017/2018 and halved each of the amounts to calculate a weekly average.

This worked out as roughly one small portion of mince, one lamb chop, one chicken breast, two and a half sausages, half a fillet of fish, 980ml of milk, 90g of cheese and one egg. 

Of course, depending on personal dietary preferences, this will vary from person to person. Perhaps you don't eat a particular meat - pork, for example, in which case you might choose to increase your allowance of fish or cheese to balance this out. 

Eat less eat better amounts

But how do you cook with less meat in practice? Here are some ideas to make your allowance go further.

Break the habit of eating meat at most meals

In a world of super cheap, easily-available meat, many of us have become accustomed to eating it at most meals. 

But think of all the flavourless aeroplane fare, substandard service station sandwiches and generally disappointing dinners you’ve had in the past. The fact they contained meat almost certainly did not make them any tastier, so why bother? 

If you’re eating less, it makes sense that when you do eat meat, it’s the star of the dish. Avoid eating meat “for the sake of it” or purely out of habit.

Make sure that when you do, you choose good quality, high welfare options that support farmers who go the extra mile for their animals. Choosing British products also has the benefit of being more sustainable as their carbon footprint will be lower.

Make the meat the star of the show

Consider how the meat is being cooked too. If it’s smothered in overpowering sauces and marinades, might it not just as well be any other protein (such as tofu or pulses)? Far better to cook it in ways that bring out its natural flavour. 

Butterflying and gently grilling chicken breasts with a little salt, for example, is a great way to make the meat go further. 

One large chicken breast can easily feed two adults if butterflied, and it also allows the flavour of the chicken to shine through. 

Equally, if you’re using up your red meat allowance in things like chilli, lasagna or bolognese, it could be worth considering swapping it out for veggie mince, vegetables or, in the case of chillies, beans. Then you can use the meat in a dish that really showcases its own flavours, such as steak, burgers or sausages. 

Try new recipes

You might be looking at this and thinking to yourself that it doesn’t look like a lot of food. But while you are cutting down on animal proteins, you should be eating more fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses.

This might mean a bit of a learning curve while you adjust to new recipes, but the end result; a healthier you and a happier planet, should be worth the effort.    


Find out more about our 'Eat less, eat better' campaign. 

Date: 03 Dec 2019