NSA Breakfast Club webinar - Lamb for all seasons: An update on how your product sustains the body, mind and environment

Date: 1st December 2021

Time: 8.30am

Location: Online - zoom webinar

This is a full report of the NSA Breakfast Club webinar. To watch the recording of the session, please click here.

Attendees to December’s webinar certainly had their appetite whetted by the speakers who served up a feast of information, inspiration and insight to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion. A dialogue which underlined just how nutritionally beneficial sheep meat is, how its production in the UK is sustainable and outlined some initiatives to help spread the story to a wider audience.

With NSA English Committee Chairman, Kevin Harrison, presiding, Dr. Carrie Ruxton (Consultant dietician), Gordon King (Scottish Craft Butchers) and Vicki Hird (Sustain) each gave their perspectives on the current meat consumption trends, the communication challenges to be addressed as well as the respective supply chains and policy makers to be targeted.

Considering the nutritional qualities of lamb, Dr. Ruxton highlighted how both on-farm production practices and butchering had ensured the respective fat content had been reduced to an acceptable level, but also pointed how, based on the National Diet and Nutrition survey, deficiencies such as zinc and iron still exist within some sections of the UK population. She continued by reminding how and where offal can play a part in a nutritious diet – something which has been somewhat lost on younger generations.

Representing more than 400 independent butchers, Gordon reflected on how, being so close to their customers and listening to their needs, these butchers were able to promote, demonstrate and encourage the use of both regular cuts as well as those not traditionally considered for everyday meals. Further how the local butcher network was able to support a “Donate a Lamb” campaign introducing local schoolchildren to delicious lamb recipes. Also due to the closeness and locality of their farmer suppliers, they are able to celebrate that relationship, what it means in terms of food miles, and how social media has enabled customers to be informed of the local provenance of their meat.

Reminding the audience how UK farming is so susceptible to climate change, Vicki Hird detailed the work by Sustain in campaigns to push Defra to support systems that improved biodiversity and encouraged producing food “in a way to allow nature in”. At the same time looking at how to influence Government to ensure procurement is handled responsibly and focuses on sustainably produced food.

The debate which followed covered a number of issues, including working with the respective levy bodies, how to fulfil a variety of dietary needs, butchery demos at auction marts, how different routes to market should be explored, labelling, the need for good, credible data and the UK meat we eat contributes to the countryside we see around us.


Dr Carrie Ruxton, Consultant dietician

Carrie Ruxton PhD from Nutrition Communications is a consultant dietitian and former member of the Meat Advisory Panel which provided evidence-based information on red meat to the media. Dr Ruxton has published several academic papers and healthcare professional articles looking at the nutritional contribution of red meat to the nation’s diet.

Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain

Vicki Hird MSc FRES is Head of the Sustainable Farming Campaign for Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming (over 100 non-profit organisations), is a published author and she also runs an independent consultancy. An experienced and award-winning environmental campaigner, researcher, writer and strategist working for the past 30 years mainly on food, farming and environmental issues and solutions, Vicki has worked on government policy for many years authored ‘Perfectly Safe to Eat? The facts on food’ in 2000, and has led teams at FoE, War on Want, WSPA and SAFE Alliance. She has co-founded many organisations including Sustain, Hackney Food Partnership and the Eating Better Alliance - and has written and campaigned extensively at a global, EU and national level. 

Gordon King, Executive Manager at Scottish Craft Butchers

Scottish Craft Butchers (Previously the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Associations) is the trade association for over 400 independent butcher’s shops in Scotland. Gordon has been in this post for 30 months. However, he has worked in the organisation for over 17 years. Before this Gordon worked in a family butcher for over 20 years, working with many sheep and beef farmers to bring the very best red meat products to the discerning consumer