Beef up your diet with high-quality red meat from Scottish farms – Jak O’Donnell

Much of Scotland's farmland is comprised of grass and farmland not suitable for growing crops, but ideal for producing beef to the most stringent quality and welfare standards. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Much of Scotland's farmland is comprised of grass and farmland not suitable for growing crops, but ideal for producing beef to the most stringent quality and welfare standards. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Livestock farmers play major role in looking after the landscape and safeguarding thousands of jobs, writes Jak O’Donnell

Having worked in the restaurant industry for a number of years, I’ve seen a lot of trends and fads come and go, but high quality local ingredients never go out of fashion. Recently, this has picked up pace as a shift in attitudes towards consumption is becoming more widespread – especially among younger people.

Jak O'Donnell, Chef/Patron of The Sisters Restaurants, Glasgow

Jak O'Donnell, Chef/Patron of The Sisters Restaurants, Glasgow

I’ve noticed a particular rise in people favouring a ‘locavore’ diet of high quality, traceable and sustainable ingredients that tell a story.

These are ‘mindful eating’ practices whereby rather than choosing exotic ingredients and global brands, consumers are increasingly favouring authenticity, independent businesses and products produced locally (Mintel Global Consumer Trends 2019). In Scotland, we have this in abundance.

Let’s take Scotland’s red meat industry as an example. Per head, we’re the biggest consumers of it in the UK, reflected in figures that show 90 per cent of Scottish households bought beef during 2018 (Kantar Worldpanel), higher than the UK average of 86 per cent.

However, as headlines continue to be made regarding negativities surrounding the consumption of red meat – largely based on global statistics – there’s never been a more important time to communicate our unique offering. When you look at the facts and isolate Scotland’s farming practices, we actually have a really strong case to refute much of what is being said.

Indeed, research by Censuswide on behalf of Quality Meat Scotland revealed 81 per cent of adults think we should safeguard the industry by buying and eating Scottish red meat.

In Scotland, livestock farms play a major role in looking after the landscape. Eighty per cent of Scotland’s farmland is comprised of grass and farmland not suitable for growing crops, but ideal for producing beef, and grazing animals are needed for the habitats of many species.

Beef that bears the Scotch Beef PGI logo is guaranteed to be born, reared and processed in Scotland to the most stringent quality and welfare standards, and as a member of the Scotch Beef Club, all of the beef I serve bears this assurance.

As a proud advocate of Scotland’s red meat industry it’s incredibly important to me to help preserve the livelihood of Scotland’s farmers and the wider supply chain. For every 1,000 jobs in on-farm production and processing, red meat production supports a further 118 jobs in the supply chain (An assessment of the economic contribution of Scotland’s red meat supply chain, 2016 – A report to QMS by Andrew Moxey).

It’s encouraging to see recent efforts being made in light of this. Quality Meat Scotland has recently launched its ‘Know Your Beef’ campaign for its Scotch Beef PGI brand, which is attempting to address these claims while answering what people are searching for – simple, delicious recipes using classic Scottish fare from sustainable sources.

We know that people are becoming more interested in knowing exactly where their food is coming from – it’s a question that we as restaurateurs get asked all the time.

I firmly believe we should be held accountable for what we are serving, which is why we have a duty to source traceable ingredients from trusted suppliers.

While I have no doubt that veganism and vegetarian diets will continue to become mainstream, I believe a strong argument for conscious consumption can be put forward, especially when it comes to Scottish produce.

To revisit the fact made earlier whereby 81 per cent of Scots believe we should support the Scottish farming industry, I’m proud to share these truths with consumers so they can be armed with the correct knowledge to make the right decisions about what they are eating when it comes to red meat that is farmed, processed and eventually on plates in Scotland.

For more information about ‘Know Your Beef’ visit www.qmscotland.co.uk and for recipe videos and inspiration visit www.scotchkitchen.com For more information about The Sisters, visit www.thesisters.co.uk

Jak O’Donnell, chef/patron of The Sisters Restaurants, Glasgow