Monday, 22 January 2018

Why buy your meat from an independent butcher/farm shop/farmer's market

FACT - there are a lot more meat eaters in the UK than vegetarians or vegans (studies suggest there are around 5% vegetarians in the UK).

FACT - the number of vegetarians is growing in the UK

It is known that producing meat, especially lamb and beef, produces greenhouse gases and that large amounts of meat for sale in the UK comes from abroad (stacking up food miles) and/or from factory farms with questionable animal welfare standards (both for animals and workers).  Eating too much meat is also be linked to health issues.

BUT, many of those who eat meat will not become vegetarian in the foreseeable future.  Meat is an integral part of their diet and despite an ongoing reduction in overall meat consumption in the UK over the last 40 years, the negative points above will not stop many from eating meat.

FACT - that makes for a lot of meat eaters. 

But where is the best place to buy your meat?  In my view this would be a local butcher or farm shop/farmer's market.   

Image attribution - wikimedia

Why buy your meat from an independent butcher or farm shop/farmer's market.

Environmental reasons 

  • By their very nature at farmer's markets farmer and many farm shops sell their own locally produced meat whilst independent butchers often buy from local farms.  This means the meat they sell has fewer food miles than supermarket meat. A local butcher will often be able to tell you which farm produced the meat it sells.
  • It is often easier to take your own containers so reducing plastic waste.
  • Lamb and beef produce the greatest amounts of greenhouse gas missions per kg of food but a local butcher, farm shop or market will stock a greater range of meats and may even sell locally shot rabbits or pheasants etc.

Animal welfare reasons

  • Some supermarket meat, especially food such as budget processed meats comes from factory farmed meat where-as butchers and farm shops generally use meat from local farmers who practice higher welfare standards.
  • Some butchers, farm shops and farmer's markets supply beef from dairy bulls that can be slaughtered at birth on large dairy herds .

Economic reasons

  • You will be supporting local businesses who in turn support the local economy keeping local people employed.
  • You can buy the exact amount you need, reducing costs and waste.  In a supermarket you are stuck with however much mince or however many chops are in the package but not so at a butcher.  Great for families of "odd" numbers who need 5 chops not the obligatory 4 from pre-packed supermarket shelves.  You can also easily buy less meat and then bulk out your meal with more vegetables and pulses.
  • You can buy unusual and cheaper cuts for more variety and less expense.  When did you last see scrag end in a supermarket but your butcher will supply it? A butcher will also often be able to tell you the best ways to cook your meat.


If you are not ready to go vegetarian then buying your meat from a butcher, farm shop or market is a good choice to make.  It may be more expensive than supermarket meat but it is a far better option for the environment, your pocket, your plate, the local economy and animal welfare.  If the cost worries you, why not simply reduce how much meat you buy so you can enjoy fewer meat based meals but that are of a higher quality and better for the environment. 

Do you eat meat?  Would you consider swapping the supermarket for a butcher, farm shop or farmer's market?

Sources used:

The Vegetarian Society Fact Sheets: Number of UK vegetarians


  1. We have a local butchers and its brilliant although the prices for meat are higher there then supermarkets and I think maybe that might deter people a little bit. You are so right in the things you say. x

    1. Hopefully you might be tempted to buy from a butcher now .. this post on not buying at supermarkets might be of interest to you too

  2. Meat isn't something I buy very often when I do I like the butcher

  3. I've always bought my meat from an independent butchers. Wasn't aware of all things you mentioned in your post but it's made me happy I go to the butchers.

  4. I don't eat meat, but I cook meat for my family and I fully agree on all points!

  5. Good post - yes I agree a local butcher is the way to go. He knows where the meat came from. #MMBC

  6. You are so right in all of this. It really is far better quality plus you know exactly where it came from. I do worry about the cost though - and I think the supermarkets really do have captive audience in that respect. #MMBC

  7. Hi Rosie, the meat from the local butcher tastes so much better than supermarket meat and I like the fact the local animals do graze happily in fields. But when money is tight I do have to think twice though as the price is noticably higher.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


  8. We have been looking into this too recently, and I definitely agree. I think my main concern is the food miles and the animal welfare. The more I read about the meat industry, the more I want to make sure what I do buy is ethically & sustainably sourced, it really is food for thought!!

  9. We get some of our meat off the farm, but otherwise most meat I buy is from the farm shop or butchers. The only issue is there's only one by us open on Sundays, so you do have to plan better if you're out on a Saturday and need a joint for sunday. I do buy some chicken from supermarkets just because I can't be bothered to go to the supermarket, and then into town, find and pay for parking, then trek to visit the butchers (I buy a decent range and make sure it's british though). Our good town butcher is a bargain if you're buying packs of meat - they do 3 packs for a tenner, joints are more expensive. But my OH is so picky - I bought a pork joint from the Morrisons butcher, and the OH moaned because it wasn't loin, and it was really strong and he said it was boar meat rather than female. I can't tell the difference but he's really picky. If I was cooking for me, I'd probably not eat much meat other than mince and chicken, but he has to have meat at every meal.