top of page

Eating Wild Venison to save the planet

Deer on Exmoor National Park
Deer on Exmoor National Park

The environmental benefits of eating wild venison

We have a huge amount of customers who enthusiastically buy our wild venison in store and offer us a pat on the back for stocking and promoting venison. Customers are very happy we sell it, partly due to its potential lower environmental impact than farmed animals. Of course this leaves us in a slightly odd position as the regenerative farming methods that the farms that supply us such as Horner and Redwoods practice offer a whole host of environmental benefits. Adding to that a lot of the studies which claim venison has a far lower environmental impact than beef and sheep are comparing it to a non-regenerative farming practices which our farms do not use, so do these claims of venison having a far lower environmental impact that our other meats actually stack up? Most likely, yes and no...

If I was to go into a shop that I had no knowledge of and buy a meat product, then I would likely go for wild venison, not beef or lamb. This is for a number of reasons, firstly it will not have been to a slaughterhouse as sending a deer to an abattoir is currently not legal. A slaughterhouse, as I have mentioned in a previous article, can vary hugely in terms of animal welfare so I generally would not buy meat from a source if I was not knowledgeable on the abattoir. Secondly, I can be fairly sure it will have enjoyed a more natural life in the wild than a farmed animal which may have not had a good life and lived in poor conditions. So, if you have no knowledge of the farms or the abattoir then I would indeed recommend you go for Venison. However, the reasons most people push venison over farmed animal, especially beef and chicken are not to do with abattoirs or lifelong welfare but a reduced environmental impact.

The potential environmental benefits of eating venison are numerous. Starting off more simply one short term benefit is they bred naturally, are already numerous and do not require any feed, any labour, any use of machinery which will be polluting. The UK has a very high number of deer, in part due to their being no natural predators so humans hunting and eating them makes sense on this level.

The counter argument

However, things are not that clear cut. Deer, like cattle and sheep eat grass and vegetation so also emit methane and whilst it is hard to measure exactly how much there are estimates it is about a quarter of what a cow would produce, but then you get an awful lot more meat from a cow, but then the cow has other negatives as outlined in the previous paragraph. You can probably see the conclusion I am beginning to draw, there are both advantages and disadvantages, and of course just how much damage farming related methane does to the planet is up for debate in another article we have published.

Robert Hawker Venison

Moving on from the environmental benefits of venison there is one common pitfall to avoid and that is poached venison. When buying venison online or in your local butcher or farm shop it is always good to ask about the traceability to ensure that the deer that was shot was done so with the landowners knowledge and permission, this may sound odd to some people but poached venison sadly remains a big issue in the countryside, and like all meat, once something has been butchered it is very hard to prove where it was come from. Ruxstons work with Robert Hawker Venison. Robert has a fantastic reputation within the Somerset and Devon area and works with a range of landowners to cull the venison on their estates. We can be sure when buying off Robert Hawker that the deer have been shot cleanly and humanely and then all of the butchery is done by himself and his small team.


bottom of page