Venison is perhaps the most ethical meat we can eat in Britain today. Actually, it might be the most ethical native protein available to us year-round. We're proud to launch our own line of parkland venison to honour this.
The most ethical meat
Packington Estate venison
We’ve partnered with Packington Estate, which has been in James Guernsey's family since the 17th Century. The farms under James management have transitioned to adopt regenerative farming and land management methods that deliver a net biodiversity gain, capture carbon and improve soil health.
We consider that parkland venison is simply the best available, both from a position of quality as well as ethics. In the wild, venison are free to consume whatever they can and this can mean any kind of crops, which may or may not have been subjected to sprays meaning there is no certainty as to what the deer have eaten; conversely, farmed venison is commonly fed concentrate feed which is unnatural.
Parkland venison is the best of both worlds; the deer are free to graze and browse the vegetation on the estate which we know has received no chemicals. They can be observed from a distance and intervention can happen if required. As their numbers need to be controlled we are happy to offer this surplus: possibly the best tasting meat available.
Venison in the UK
Much of the venison in the UK is an invasive species, introduced by landowners hundreds of years ago; however, now in the wild without natural predators, their numbers must be controlled to maintain the balance of nature. There are six main breeds of deer in the UK which we need to control
Is this the most ethical protein we can eat?
Venison is perhaps the most ethical meat we can eat in Britain today.
Actually, it might be the most ethical native protein available to us year-round.
The word "venison" comes from the Latin verb for hunting: venare.
For centuries, venison was restricted to the wild meat landowning families sourced on their estates.
The Normans and the Plantagenets demarcated much of England into royal forests, preventing farming on those lands in order to promote the growth of deer, wild boar and specific birds they enjoyed hunting.
It thus became almost impossible for ordinary Britons to eat any venison unless they poached it, and the penalties for that were severe.
This entrenched a perception that venison was intrinsically high-end or "posh", the effects of which linger to this day.
It isn't helped by the fact that a deer – perhaps especially the majestic red deer of the Scottish Highlands – is an exceptionally handsome creature, in a Landseerish sort of way.
When Country Life magazine launched a campaign in 2008 for the UK to eat more venison, it knew it would have to brook fierce opposition from a public inclined to sympathise with good-looking mammals.
Deer numbers have never been higher. The six free-roaming British species total well over 1 million animals, who thrive even though 350,000 are shot and tens of thousands are involved in car accidents every year.
Wild venison is thus highly sustainable. The animals destroy large tracts of British farmland: a single deer can devour an entire bed of lettuce in about a minute.
They strip the bark from trees and munch their way through flowerbeds and fields. At a time when many grain farmers are facing significant difficulties owing to pressure from the supermarkets, promoting the consumption of venison might offer them some help.
Yet, in the UK, we still do not eat much of our own venison. Instead, we export the wild meat from our hills and import farmed venison from New Zealand.
Venison is high in protein, low in fat and full of vitamins B12, B6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids. We want to see that change.
Venison doesn't need to be strong and gamey; when not hung for a long time, it is actually very delicate and close in favour to a fillet steak.