Eat Sustainable Beef and Save Grasslands!
There is an inextricable link between wildlife-rich grasslands and livestock. Our wildlife-rich grasslands, like so many other of our wonderful landscapes, would not exist but for millennia of grazing by livestock, and mowing for hay. By choosing which kinds of meat you eat, assuming you’re not vegetarian (I am an ex-veggie), you can influence how farmers in the UK, and beyond, manage their land.
You may be amazed to know that much of the beef produced in the UK has soya meal, made from soya beans, in its diet. Cattle eat grass (and in most cases it is just one kind of grass, Perennial rye-grass) but their diet is supplemented with soya and cereals so they put on weight faster, and are ready to sell sooner. This soya usually comes from South America, where it is grown on land cleared from either Tropical Rainforest, or Tropical Savannah grasslands. You can do something about it though. Ask your butcher or your supermarket where their beef comes from and whether it has been fed on soya or other imported protein. If they don’t know, ask them to find out. And if they don’t care, then think about whether you want to give them your custom. You can make a difference. In my opinion (and I have tasted quite a lot of beef – all in the line of duty) the best beef is only reared on grass, and the best grass-fed beef has been fed on wildlife-rich grasslands and heathlands. It is slow-grown, so its flavour and texture is better, and the varied diet definitely improves the flavour; there is evidence it is better for you as well, as beef fed on a diet rich in wild plants has more omega 3 fats. And I would argue, from observing them, that cattle feeding more naturally on wildlife-rich grasslands are happier animals.
The Grasslands Trust is supporting Friends of the Earth’s campaign to get a Sustainable Livestock Bill through Parliament. The Bill has been introduced as a Private Members Bill, and if passed, will require the Government to ensure that beef produced in the UK is not fed from soya produced in South America, at the cost of Tropical Rainforest and important Tropical grasslands ecosystems such as the Brazilian Cerrado, and the Argentinean Pampas. The Bill also calls for Beef to be mostly grass-fed, and supplementary protein to be provided by home grown cereals, not imported feed. The Grasslands Trust is keen to see as much beef as possible fed on grass rather than cereals. You can read more about the campaign here http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/join_moovement_24437.html.
You can also help by asking your MP to sign Early Day Motion 367 and ask them to vote for the Sustainable Livestock Bill to go forward at its 2nd Reading on the 12th November.
Thanks for reading