Our meat is good for you. Red meat and animal fats have had bad press in recent years. Herbivores that are made to eat grain and ‘performance feeds’ produce a type of fat that is not only bad for them, but bad for us.
Globally, our consumption of grain-fed meat and dairy products is contributing to modern epidemics of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol.
But studies in the US and UK have proved that meat, fat and dairy products from animals that are fed the old way, on permanent pasture, are positively good for us. Meat produced this way is:
Low in the saturated fats associated with heart attacks and strokes.
High in total omega-3 fatty acids, which feed the brain, and protect against heart and neurological diseases.
Present omega-3 fatty acids in a balanced ratio with omega-6 fatty acids (unlike vegetable oils).
High in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which fights cancer and diabetes, benefits the immune and inflammatory system, and reduces body fat and risk of heart attack.
High in beta carotene, vitamin E and the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin.
High in calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The implications of these findings are enormous. We should not be cutting out animal fats from our diet, as almost all recent medical advice insists. We should simply be taking care that we’re eating the right sort of animal fat – 100% pasture-fed. And this goes for milk and dairy products too.
It’s also good for the planet
Permanent pasture is one of the most effective systems of carbon sequestration we have on the planet. A low density of free-roaming herbivores, like we have at Knepp, generates a dynamic wood pasture system with a huge variety of habitats, from groves and thickets to open grassland and water-meadows, attracting numerous rare species of birds, bats and butterflies.
Because we’re not using any fertilisers or other chemicals, high energy feeding systems or farm machinery, our method of meat production is sustainable, low cost and very low carbon.
It’s good for the animals
Our old English longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs, red and fallow deer run in natural, multi-generational herds and have free rein of 3,500 acres of rewilded land, with organic, herb-rich pasture and woody shrubs and trees to browse from.
They have excellent immune systems, unlike animals reared in intensive systems. And they don’t have permanent indigestion because their stomachs are being asked to cope with food they were never designed to eat.
And it tastes good, too
Our meat is denser, richer, and has more flavour because our animals are ‘slow-grown’, gaining weight on natural foods at their own pace rather than fattened unnaturally fast on grain and protein. Old English longhorns produce exceptional beef with characteristic ‘marbling’ of fat, for fantastic texture and taste.
Our Tamworth pigs hoover up acorns in the autumn, which gives our pork a flavour similar to wild boar, entirely unlike the pale white meat on offer in supermarkets. Our meat is matured on the bone the traditional way – beef for 35 days, venison for a minimum of 7 days – for extra tenderness and flavour.
“I just have to send you this email, as I am glorifying in post-prandial bliss following a simple, ultra-elegant and sublimely, nay profoundly, delicious Knepp rump steak. My God it was good! Not just good in a pedestrian sense, but in a timeless, ancestor stirring, stunning way, which left us staring at each other, bereft of speech. Food that can do that needs some explaining!”