If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

Choosing more ethical meat.

  • 26-12-2022 10:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,110 ✭✭✭AyeGer

    I'm not sure where to start with this, i have started eating more fruit and veg and less meat over the past couple of years. I am not comfortable with eating meat whre the animal has had a miserable life in a factory or some other awful place.

    I would prefer to eat meat that has had the chance to live a decent enough life up to the point of slaughter, if there is such a thing. Am i looking for free range or organic? Is there any particular certification that says the animal was not factory farmed?



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,520 ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

    For pork, check out the Irish Pig Society, see link below.

    Free range chicken is widely sold in supermarkets. Always buy organic eggs, they are not much more expensive.

    There is still no guarantee IMHO. And most of what you get in fast food joints/supermarkets/restaurants will place cost over ethics I think.

    I don't know of any certification that can provide you with the assurance you are looking for, but hopefully more knowledgeable posters can step in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,225 ✭✭✭✭the beer revolu

    Yes, definitely pork and chicken are the ones to watch out for - some unlikeable practices going on with them.

    I (maybe naively) feel that beef and lamb production in Ireland is reasonably ethical.

    With pork, the upside is that free range pork tastes about 10 times better than indoor reared pork.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,520 ✭✭✭✭igCorcaigh

    Yes, I have heard the same about practices in Ireland regarding pork and chicken.

    But even free range beef (Lidl minced beef for example) does taste much better, so maybe go by that guide as an indication of how well the animal is treated. Same with pork based charcuterie (check out On The Wild Side Kerry chorizo).

    A lot depends on your local suppliers, so search around.

    And treat meat as a luxury; you will be paying much more € for it.

  • *Mod Note*

    This post was below the standard considered acceptable in this forum. If you want to have a serious debate on this issue, the food forum is not the place for it.

    Mystery Egg

    Post edited by Mystery Egg on

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,230 ✭✭✭✭the_amazing_raisin

    There are EU laws which require minimum standards of animal welfare including a life free from cruelty, that they not suffer unnecessary harm, they're allowed to behave as they would in the wild and rules around transportation

    So avoiding meats from outside the EU is a good start, but admittedly most of the typical meats in shops are produced in Ireland anyway

    There isn't really anything you can do to be sure, even buying free range there's been stories of farmers who give chickens a very short amount of time outside

    Farming is a business and motivated by profit, like any other industry. And in general society wants food to be cheap, so there's a lot of pressure on farmers to produce meat as economically as possible

    As others have said, beef and lamb may be easier to find ethical standards. Pork and chicken are trickier, when's the last time you say pigs in a field?

    Perhaps one approach would be to speak to some butchers. They might have deals with some particular farms and would know which ones are treating animals better than others

    "The internet never fails to misremember" - Sebastian Ruiz, aka Frost (Escapist magazine)

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 698 ✭✭✭65535

    Have you (OP) considered beginning a Vegetarian diet - ?

    The gradual non-eating of animals is easy enough these days with the amount of alternatives available.

    Even one day a week to being with is a start

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    my wife is vegetarian, so as a result my diet is largely veggie too. but it raises some interesting, and sometimes conflicting, quandaries.

    if animal welfare is your primary concern, by my reckoning beef is a safe option. cattle in ireland (with caveats) live decent enough lives compared to other farm animals. you'd get a couple of hundred kg of beef from one cow, so you'd get a few years of eating for one person, for a single animal life.

    compare that with chicken, say; much less damaging environmentally, but factory farmed chickens have tougher lives than cattle in general. you'd get maybe a week of eating from a chicken (assuming meat every day); from what i can see, 1kg of meat from a chicken would be normal.

    in short, you'd get the same amount of meat from about 200 chickens as you would from one cow; and cows have better lives than factory farmed chickens in ireland, so from an animal welfare point of view, beef is the obvious option. but from an environmental point of view (GHG emissions, etc.) chicken is the better choice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,110 ✭✭✭AyeGer

    Thanks guys for the replies, much appreciated. Some very good suggestions there. I'm definitely trying to eat less and less meat and thankfully i enjoy eating more fruit, veg and nuts. Much healthier too.

    I've been asking a few people recently about this and like myself they aren't very knowledgeable about animal welfare or other possible benefits of free range food. Our beef has a very good name internationally. Drive around any part of Ireland and cows and sheep are visible in the fields.

  • Registered Users Posts: 32,634 ✭✭✭✭Graces7

    Like others here I just eat less and less meat. And I don;t miss it at all. My happiest years were when I had hens for eggs and a goat for milk and cheese. Poppy she was called. my goat! I used to take her on walks to the shore where I lived then.

    Raising twin orphan lambs finished me for that meat.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    We have one of the most degraded natural landscapes in the entire world, largely down to grazing livestock. beef is the most environmentally damaging meat you can eat anyway, regardless of animal welfare issues, so i've pretty much cut it out from my diet.

    wild shot irish venison would be the best meat from an animal welfare and environmental point of view, if you can get it!

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 4,986 ✭✭✭c.p.w.g.w

    But beef is the most nutritional dense meat we can get

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    it'd want to be, it takes far more to produce it. it's a very inefficient way of producing food.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,420 ✭✭✭893bet

    we have a degraded landscape?

    let the tourist board know so they can stop selling Ireland on that point.

    Irish beef is probably one of the most ethical meats worldwide due to the grass fed nature.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    We have one of the most degraded landscapes in the world; based on a common metric of how much of our landscape is in an original natural state.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,052 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Wild game is about the most ethical meat you can eat but obviously the season is limited. You could always buy a chest freezer and stock up.

    I've given up pork because the appalling way pigs are reared in Ireland. They're incredibly intelligent, social animals and we treat them like battery chickens. If I ever found myself with an unassailable craving for it, I'd go free range - Andarl Farm or similar - but I don't actually miss it at all, really.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    Venison is in season at the moment - I got a decent chunk of haunch in Fallon and Byrne for a reasonable price a few days ago.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,052 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    I know, I fill my freezer every year! Also available in Aldi and Lidl.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    Where do Aldi and Lidl source it? I neglected to ask in Fallon and Byrne.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,420 ✭✭✭893bet

    The common metric?

    Can you provide a link of some sort demonstrating this common metric and showing Ireland as one of the top of the pile?

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,293 ✭✭✭✭Alun

    From memory, the venison in Aldi and Lidl is imported from New Zealand where they farm red deer extensively.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 13,052 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    All the venison I've seen in any of the supermarkets comes from Wild Irish Game in Glenmalure.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,293 ✭✭✭✭Alun

    I see venison from there in Supervalu regularly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,052 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    Possibly some of the frozen specials but the fresh, seasonal stuff is always Irish and from Wild Irish Game.

  • Registered Users Posts: 97 ✭✭rainagain

    Agree with talking to butchers, not many producers but getting to know them is worth the effort. is a good example - speaking to the guys in there a few months ago about pork. The said the pigs go to a smaller abattoir that's well run a few days before slaughter, so they get used to the new place and are less stressed - better for the last few days of their life, and better tasting meat too.

    There's product like but no details on who farms the pigs.

    Also and

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 2,894 Mod ✭✭✭✭Black Sheep

    Some good suggestions / thoughts in this thread already.

    For pork I would recommend Andarl Farm...

    Velvet Pork | Buy Pork Online Ireland | Andarl Farm – Andarl Farm Ltd

    For beef I would second the recommendation of Higgins Butchers but there are other direct to consumer farm shop type operations that are good, I've used Donabate Dexter, FXB and Whelan's Butchers. I agree with the posters who said that Irish cows probably have a decent life compared to chickens and pigs however, you probably can't go that far wrong.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 47,443 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    in general (not just animal welfare); i remember reading that the three main things you can do at home to reduce the environmental footprint of your diet, was to 1) reduce your meat consumption; 2) waste less food and 3) use your oven less.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 2,894 Mod ✭✭✭✭Black Sheep

    I feel reasonably strongly about animal welfare - pain, poor living conditions etc - and have done since I read Peter Singer in college (Practical Ethics, Animal Liberation).

    I've been vegetarian in the past, and always "for the animals", if you like. That slid more into trying to spend my money more ethically and eat meat more mindfully I guess, although that word has become overused of late.

    I accept for many people eating less meat or higher welfare meat is about climate but actually even if the climate was grand there would still be a good moral argument about animal treatment in the food industry. I think that's forgotten sometimes.

    On climate I think from an individual point of view probably car usage, flying etc are more where my decisions are climate related than what goes on in my kitchen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 277 ✭✭iniscealtra

    @Black Sheep I’m in the same boat really. Don’t fly anymore. The boat is great. I do eat meat. OH hunts, so have vension quite a bit as well as other meat from the supermarket.

    Vension is a great option, after that lamb and beef. Free range chicken but free range pork is really hard to find in Ireland.

    Sure any farmed food is coming from a landscape managed by humans and therefore in an non natural state. @magicbastarder As does Irish vension

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 1,110 ✭✭✭AyeGer

    That's the angle i'm coming from, its more about the welfare of the animals that is making me want to change. And if its better for the environment that that is great too. In Europe we are probably better than some other parts of the world thankfully but still have a bit to go.