If you want to continue eating meat, but care about how it’s been produced, I have tried to compile a handy list of the best places to find high-welfare, sustainable or regeneratively farmed meat on the menu in Cardiff.
*This list is based on my own research and knowledge – you may also be able to find high welfare meat in other restaurants and shops not on this list. If you know someone I’ve missed, please give me a shout and I’ll add them below.
SUSTAINABLE, REGENERATIVE, CLIMATE FRIENDLY – WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan, the dietary choices we make have an impact on the planet. Thinking carefully about where food comes from can help reduce any negative impacts on climate, environment and our health.
This includes eating less meat overall and incorporating more plant protein, not eating meat that’s been intensively farmed, and choosing climate and nature-friendly meat, produced to higher welfare standards. This includes local, grass-fed and higher welfare meat like organic.
The environmental impacts of farming are complicated. The best methods of farming produce fewer gases that contribute to climate change. They also help to protect wildlife, encourage biodiversity and keep soils healthy. This is regenerative farming.
WHERE TO FIND IT
If you’d rather make your own bacon sarnies and eat them in your pyjamas, below I have listed some places where you can buy high-welfare meat to cook at home.
Sadly, sourcing locally or independently is not a catch-all guarantee of higher welfare, nor is simply shopping with a local butcher. It’s worth remembering that up to 70% of UK farm animals are reared in intensive systems, and there’s no law requiring food labels to say how an animal has been raised (except for whole hens’ eggs). The best way to know the welfare of the meat you are buying is to be proactive and to ask – any decent supplier or butcher should be able to tell you the specifics.
For more information on what welfare labels to look for when shopping for meat, visit: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/know-your-labels.
Cardiff RCMA Farmers Markets (Roath / Riverside)
An excellent place to pick up organic meat, sustainable seafood, free-range eggs, and lots of other goodies, all from local Welsh suppliers. They are usually based in Rhiwbina every Friday, Roath every Saturday, and Riverside every Sunday morning. See a full list of stallholders offering home delivery by clicking here.
To find out more about the market, have a listen to this episode of the Hank Cardiff podcast.
Oriel Jones Butchers (Canton)
Situated at the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains, the Oriel Jones’ family farm has long been renowned for quality meat, particularly Welsh lamb, but they also pride themselves on their reputation for superior Welsh beef. They have a butcher shop on Cowbridge Road in Canton, but they also have what they call a ‘modern meat shop’ on Cathedral Road, where you can get bacon sarnies cooked to order, and also buy oven-ready meals and pies. It’s worth checking the welfare on some of the oven-ready meals as I think they source some of these from other suppliers.
Carn Edwards (Online)
All of the longhorn cattle on Carn Edwards farm in Pembrokeshire are pasture grazed, and when winter arrives are housed and fed on grass silage round bales made in early summer. They offer free delivery on online meat sales of £70 or more.
EAT OUT – RESTAURANTS
Eating out? Here’s where you’ll find more ethical, sustainable meat on the menu.
The team behind these gorgeous Cardiff Spanish restaurants pride themselves on the fact that their meat is ‘impeccably sourced’; from using rare breed, outdoor pigs for their pork, to the Spanish, ex-dairy, 12 year-old cows for their succulent steaks. Bar 44 specialises in Tapas, whilst Asador 44 headlines on top-quality meat, fish & veg cooked over fire.
Curado’s Rubia Gallega – on the bone rib-eye steaks – come from 8-16 year old dairy cattle reared in the pastures around the Portuguese and Galician borders. Whilst in the UK, most beef cattle are slaughtered by 30 months, the beef traditionally eaten in the Basque region comes from elderly beasts aged between eight and 18. The meat, almost maroon in colour and edged with yellow fat, is renowned for its marbling and savoury flavours of great depth.
Formerly known as Dusty Knuckle Pizza, these guys are so passionate about ethical food they even went on a fundraising pilgrimage to Naples in the name of Slow Food International, (find out more about that in this episode of the Hank Cardiff podcast.) In 2018 they won people’s choice at the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good awards, and The Times has also called them one of the 25 top pizza restaurants in the UK.
Jon and Rosie use high welfare franks from The Grid Iron Company to stuff their buns. The traditional Frankfurters are made with outdoor reared, Gloucester Old Spot pork from Mount Grace farm in North Yorkshire, and each is made by hand using the best pork and natural casings before being lightly smoked over wood chips.
The Heathcock (Gastropub)
Locality and seasonality are the key components of The Heathcock menu. Sharing dishes are a big deal too – from hearty pies, to slow cooked Welsh lamb shoulders or whole, Welsh baked seabass. My favourite pub in Cardiff.
Attention to detail is the signature of Matsudai’s long-simmered, handmade bowls of delicious ramen. Founder James is meticulous about sourcing as many ‘authentic’ ingredients as possible, but he also leans on local suppliers, sourcing free range chicken and pork from a local, high-welfare farm for use in his bone broths – which take up to four days to prepare.
Nook (Seasonal small plates)
The wine list here is full of low-intervention wine, raw wine, and natural wine. And in keeping with their attention to detail when it comes to sourcing the booze, they also go big on sourcing their meat and veggies very carefully too. Most of the meat comes from Oriel Jones (mentioned above) and the fish is from Ashton’s fishmonger in Cardiff Market.
Pie Minister (Pies)
This trendy Bristolian chain restaurant specialises in delicious, affordable free-range meat pies (oh and there’s veggie ones and ‘lighter’ 440 calorie ones too). They have a big focus on sustainability, a cool, contemporary interior, and they do take-aways, too.
Paternoster Farm (Field to Fork street food)
Paternoster Farm (formerly known as Slow Pig) creates an ever changing menu of pork & beef dishes made with meat from their very own herds of free-range woodland pigs and buffalo. This is field-to-fork eating in its truest form. Based in Pembrokeshire, you can find them at pop-up events and festivals around the city.
Shake Shack (Burgers)
Didn’t expect to have these guys on the list – but actually, they pay careful attention to the way they source their meats. This American burger chain is rumoured to be Obama’s favourite, and the Cardiff one was the first UK one outside London – and they use free-range bacon, Neals Yard organic cheeses and Jimmy’s Farm sausages!
The Stable (Pizza & Pies)
Established in 2009 in Bridport, this mini chain of restaurants is steadily growing, with the latest in Cardiff. Loads of free-range chicken and local, Trealy Farm produce on the menu which is centred around pizzas and pies. Oh, and proper cider too.
The Tidy Kitchen (Catering Co)
Tidy Kitchen head chef Laura has worked for a number of celebrity clients ranging from key members of Formula 1 to chart topping celebrities and British Rock Stars – but now she’s back home in Wales running a catering company with a difference. Laura is committed to the future sustainability of the food world – she says “for us, the way in which the meat has been reared and the vegetables have been grown needs to be forward thinking and show respect for our environment.”
This chain restaurant uses fresh, exciting ingredients to make Mexican street-food with higher-than-average welfare meat and sustainable fish – they’ve even picked up awards for it. In 2020, they’ve taken it up a notch – their free-range pork is now gold welfare standard and sourced from British farmers; their beef is always grass fed; they have upgraded their chicken to free range, moving above and beyond the industry standard; and they work closely with fish suppliers to find species of fish that meet strict standards on sustainability.
Know any others I have missed? Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know.