Sustainable Christmas dinner options: farmers recommend lamb

sustainable christmas dinner
© iStock/Astakhova

The UK’s National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on consumers to consider lamb or mutton as a sustainable alternative to their traditional Christmas dinner.

While goose and turkey are considered the classic offerings for a festive meal, the NSA highlights that sheep meat is both filled with nutrients and sustainably sourced: lamb and mutton sold in the UK is typically sourced from local farmers, meaning the environmental impact of transporting the meat is minimal. By considering sustainable British sheep meat as a Christmas dinner option, consumers can be assured that their meal will not only be flavoursome: it will also support the UK’s farming community and assuage environmental concerns.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said: “With Christmas and New Year celebrations almost upon us, there is no better time to enjoy some of the UK’s most sustainably produced meat. If a roast leg of lamb cannot tempt you away from your turkey on Christmas Day perhaps consider a slow cooked lamb tagine or curry over the holidays, perfect to enjoy after a Boxing Day walk or a busy day catching up with family. One of the biggest news stories of 2019 has undoubtedly been our need to consider the environment in our consumer habits. Despite much of this news suggesting red meat is a contributor to climate change, more recent research is now evidencing the fact that traditional pasture based grazing systems such as that adopted by the majority of the UK’s sheep farmers can actually be part of a wider solution to this serious problem. Free range, extensively produced sheep meat is a great choice year-round; and especially at times of celebration such as Christmas.”

The NSA recently launched its Heritage Sheep initiative, aimed at raising consumer awareness of the range of sheep breeds available in the UK. There are 60 distinct native breeds of sheep across the country.

Katie James, Communications Officer for the NSA, said: “The Heritage Sheep proposal is based on informing consumers about the ‘ABC’ of sheep meat. This is the Age and Breed of the sheep and the area of Countryside where it has been farmed. These factors really do give variety to those looking to enjoy sheep meat, so why not visit your local butcher this Christmas to ask about the produce’s origins? The information the butcher can give you will likely highlight the reduced food miles of locally produced meat, [which] is therefore another good reason to choose lamb or mutton as we are reminded of our need to change our habits to help our environment.”

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