Tebbutt urges those who are climate-conscious to buy a joint of Welsh lamb or beef

Climate-conscious cooks can serve up a joint of beef or lamb this Christmas with a clear conscience according to Saturday Kitchen host Matt Tebbutt, as millions of consumers prepare for smaller gatherings during the festive season.

His comments came as a new study of Welsh farms revealed that the carbon footprint of responsibly-produced red meat is lower than previously thought.

Welsh sheep and beef farms using non-intensive methods have among the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of comparable systems worldwide, the research from Bangor University revealed.

It means that consumers who might be catering for smaller groups this Christmas can consider a joint of Welsh lamb or beef without feeling guilty about the possible impact on the environment, according to celebrity chef Tebbutt.

Millions of households will find themselves with fewer mouths to feed this Christmas, and for many of us that will mean making a decision about whether to stick with a traditional turkey dinner or opt for something more suited to a smaller group.

“A piece of Welsh lamb or beef is the natural choice – it is sourced in the UK, it supports our farmers and now we know that each piece of red meat has a lower carbon footprint than we previously thought, provided it is reared on natural grassland in the traditional Welsh way.”

What did the report reveal?

The new report measured not only the carbon emissions released through the production of lamb and beef at 20 Welsh farms, but also the carbon absorbed from the air through land management techniques used by farmers.

It found that beef cattle were responsible for a net 11-16kg of CO2 equivalent emissions per kilo on average, whereas previous studies have suggested a global average of around 37kg of CO2 equivalent emissions per kilo.

The Bangor study showed that sheep and lambs were associated with 10-13kg of CO2 equivalent emissions, which again places Wales towards the lowest end of studies conducted elsewhere in the world.

The new research suggests that carbon sequestration – the process by which carbon dioxide is naturally absorbed from the atmosphere by soil, plants and trees – can be promoted by farmers’ land management techniques, which can have a significant positive effect on net emissions.