But what does it mean to buy ‘better’? If you care to find out more about how your dinner got from farm to fork before you tuck in, I have compiled a handy list of the best places to buy high-welfare, sustainable or regeneratively-farmed meat in Cardiff.
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 the negative impacts of our diets on the climate, environment and our health. One of the most climate positive changes we can make is eating less meat and incorporating more plant protein.
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 broadly what is meant by the term ‘regenerative farming’.
If we choose animal products farmed in a regenerative ways, we can play a part in supporting systems that work in tandem with nature, instead of against it.
WHERE TO BUY MORE SUSTAINABLE MEAT
Sadly, just sourcing locally or independently is not a 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, it’s worth checking out this guide from Compassion in World Farming: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/know-your-labels.
Below I have listed some places where you can find regeneratively farmed, higher welfare or more sustainable meat in Cardiff.
*This list is based on my own research and knowledge – you may also be able to find regeneratively farmed meat in other restaurants and shops not on this list. If you know somewhere I’ve missed, please give me a shout and I’ll add them below.
Cardiff Farmers Markets (Roath, Riverside & Rhiwbina)
An excellent place to pick up organic meat, free-range and organic eggs, and lots of other goodies, all from local suppliers in Wales / South West . They are usually based in Rhiwbina every Friday; Roath every Saturday; and Riverside every Sunday morning. You can see a full list of current stallholders by clicking here.
To find out more about Cardiff Farmers Markets, have a listen to this episode of the Hank Cardiff podcast.
Slade Farm Organics (Bridgend)
This small family farm supplies organically farmed Welsh Beef, Lamb, Pork (and veggies) to the local community. They farm in harmony with nature, and work with the local community to deliver a range of organic produce throughout the year. The farm is built on a system of sustainability and a closed cycle of nutrients – meaning that all of the animals and crops are completely fed from this same parcel of land; all of the produce is born, raised and harvested on the farm.
There is an on-site farm shop but if you can’t get to the farm, they also offer free local delivery for orders over £35 to Bridgend, Barry, Cowbridge, Llantwit Major, Porthcawl, Pyle, St Athan & Ystradowen. They offer free delivery for orders over £60 to Cardiff, Dinas Powys, Sully, Penarth & Miskin.
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 regeneratively farmed 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 / sustainability on some of the oven-ready meals and the chicken, as I think they source some of this from other suppliers.
RESTAURANTS SERVING MORE SUSTAINABLE MEAT
Eating out? Here’s where you’ll find more sustainable meat options 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 using Welsh, 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 deep savoury flavours.
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, grass-fed Welsh lamb shoulders, and haunches of wild venison (arguably the most sustainable meat in the UK). My favourite pub in Cardiff by a country mile!
“Honest Farming” is this chain’s way of addressing their impact on the planet, by sourcing beef from farms that are helping to regenerate biodiversity and soil health.
They say, the only way to make sure their meat is from regenerative farms is “to rip up our beef supply chain and work with farmers directly.” This means buying ALL the cuts of beef (not just the ones they’d usually buy from middlemen to make their burger patty) but this means they have lots of cuts they can’t use – so they pass them on to other businesses.
The Ethical Butcher is one of those, and you can buy these extra cuts directly from them, to cook at home. A great example of how businesses and brands can work together to start repairing the damage done by industrial agriculture.
Kindle (Seasonal Small Plates)
Kindle combines fire food with natural wine in a vibrant, informal and unique setting. The restaurant works closely with local farmers, gamekeepers and gardeners to use ethical produce with an emphasis on provenance & sustainability; 70% of the menu is meat-free, with the rest being made up of sustainable nose-to-tail dishes.
Nook (Seasonal Small Plates)
The wine list here is full of low-intervention wine, raw wine, and natural wine. Yum. And in-keeping with the attention to detail when it comes to booze, they also go big on sourcing their meat and veggies very carefully too. Much of the meat comes from Oriel Jones (mentioned above) and the fish is from Ashton’s fishmonger in Cardiff Market.
The team at this buzzing steak restaurant work hard to source the best ingredients and products from the South West. They only select beef from farms raising their cattle on pasture, with their in-house butchers cutting fresh for each service. Interestingly, they also grow lots of their own produce for the restaurant on their own farm, which you can follow at @buttercliffe_farm.
Parallel (Small Plates)
Sister restaurant to Pasture, this sexy little small plates restaurant and wine bar has the same focus on sourcing and high-quality ingredients as its bigger sibling.
Pie Minister (Pies)
This trendy Bristolian chain restaurant specialises in delicious, affordable free-range & grass fed meat pies (there’s plenty of veggie ones and ‘lighter’ 440 calorie ones too). They have a big focus on sustainability, and they do take-aways, too.
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. They use free-range bacon, Neals Yard organic cheeses and Jimmy’s Farm sausages.
The Tidy Kitchen (Catering)
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 and sarnie shop with a difference. Laura’s menus always indicate whether the meat is PGI Welsh, free range and / or grass fed, so you can make an informed choice.
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.
Recently, 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 100% 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.
They also introduced carbon footprint labelling to their menus earlier this year, thanks to Klimato.
Know any others I have missed? Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know.