Repeatedly, readers, family and friends tell me that they would like to eat more ethically, and they do hear what I’m saying about animal welfare – but that it’s just too expensive to eat any differently.
Well, speaking from experience, I know it really isn’t that hard, or expensive, and that once you start doing it, it can become just like second nature. Looking for the free range or organic badge in the supermarket, scoping out the veggie options on the restaurant menu, and getting excited about eating a really good quality piece of meat just once or twice a week are all quirks that have become part of who I am now, and here are some of the little things that I have learned along the way:
1 – Beans and vegetables are really, really cheap: One of the easiest ways to eat more ethically is to cut right down on the meat – the added bonus being that it will probably make your wallet a little bit fatter, too. You can make a HUGE vat of vegetable chilli or curry for no more than a couple of pounds, tupperware them up, and bang them all in the freezer to dig out as and when you need.
2 – If you can’t give up the meat, free-range chicken doesn’t have to cost a fortune: …if you give up on the fascination with buying skinless, pre-packaged chicken breasts. Opt instead for the (much tastier) thighs and drumsticks and you can usually pick up a chunky pack of about 8 for less than a fiver. Shred the cooked meat into a curry or whatnot if that’s what you usually do, although I really love roasting legs in soy sauce, honey, chilli and garlic for finger-lickin’ yumminess. Lidl also sells a whole free-range chicken (perfect for Sunday dinner roasting) for under £4.
3 – In fact, you can even get free-range chicken nuggets: I know we’re all supposed to be steering well-clear of the processed stuff, but sometimes, a garlic-butter-filled chicken kiev is the only thing that will hit the spot. Thanks to Jimmy Doherty, you can now buy these in Tesco, made from the previously wasted meat from ex-laying free range hens (and they’re on offer for 2 packs for £4). Recently Tesco also expanded the range to include free-range chicken goujons, so if you do feel like a night on the naughty food, you can still eat ethically. You can read more about Jimmy Doherty and Tesco, here.
4 – And, even the cheapest cuts of meat taste amazing slow-cooked: I love my slow cooker. It’s a given that organic meat is more expensive, therefore it makes sense to buy the cheapest cuts (sorry, but fillet steak is out of the question here). Luckily, even toughest brisket tastes absolutely incredible after a day in the slow cooker covered in a bottle of cider or half a bottle of wine! You can pick up a cheap and effective slow cooker for about £20 – £30.
5 – It does make sense to buy British: Anything produced on our little island is going to have created a much smaller carbon footprint before it gets to our plates (yay). In addition, when it comes to meat, UK welfare standards are often much higher than those in other countries – and buying locally also means supporting British business and the UK economy. You can read more on the benefits of buying British here.