It's no secret that we are seeing more and more people adopt a meat-free lifestyle - many choosing this way of living due to health reasons, but also many converting to veganism or vegetarianism for the sake of our planet. We've all see the documentaries that have opened our eyes to the impact the production of animal-products have on our environment. Mass consumerism and the convenience of consumption have led to the inhumane treatment of animals, huge amounts of waste and harmful chemicals - but, let's not go down that road.
What if giving up meat isn't necessarily the answer? We spoke with a Cape Town business owner who believes humans need to change our perception about meat and rather view the holistic role farming plays in our ecosystem. Did we mention he owns a butchery?
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Andy Fenner. I own Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants. To my knowledge, we are the only butchery actively encouraging people to eat less meat. What we would propose is for people to start treating meat as the luxury item it is. Asking questions about the provenance of food - all food - is what has driven my career over the past ten years. That’s how long FFMM has been around. Before that, my work was as a brand consultant and property developer. (Weird, I know.)
What does an average day in your life look like?
I’m a very early riser. Always have been. My day starts with either a solitary walk and/or yoga. There’s always meditation and time with my two-and-a-half year old daughter, Scout. This could be reading a book in bed or building a castle but hopefully it’s a walk around the neigbourhood. I have two dogs who will make sure they get in on a walk if it’s going...
What does sustainability mean to you?
I believe sustainability is us doing as little as we can to damage the planet. Simple. My philosophy is that veganism or vegetarianism is not the best way to do this. I know that’s not a popular opinion but holistic farming showcases that animals play a fundamental role in regenerating soil, if farmed in part of a complete agricultural system. (Polyculture). As opposed to taking large parts of land and farming one thing only, which is detrimental for the soil and the planet. (Monoculture). In other words, by eating chickpeas or lentils that were farmed in poor conditions you are playing an active role in destroying the earth’s soil. You’ve also played a part in a lot of animals dying (bugs, insects, birds, mice etc.) All of these animals would be part of a polyculture system. It’s really a way of saying that even when people have the best intentions, they may unknowingly be supporting practices that are terrible for the sustainability of our lands. With the plant-based movement, eating responsibly has become topical but unless people are doing meticulous research into the source of every single food item they are eating, my fear is that quite often it is large scale commercial farming that benefits. So, yes, I support a plant based diet but I also support eating ethically-reared meat as part of that diet.
Holistic farming showcases that animals play a fundamental role in regenerating soil, if farmed in part of a complete agricultural system.
What is your advice on living a sustainable lifestyle in relation to consuming meat?
Just ask questions and read labels. Consider Beyond Burger, as an example. Read the packaging. See how many ingredients are in there. And now ask the question for every single one of them and their origins. Now consider a burger patty from a farmer raising animals strictly on the grass and as part of a polyculture environment. In the latter, the sun is converting soil into grass through energy, and an animal is eating the grass and regenerating land at the same time. The meat harvested is packed with nutrients and the land has improved significantly as a result. I know which product I would support and which one I would feed people with a clean conscience. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and you want to eat a burger, rather find organic farmers and cut a cauliflower steak to fry in oil or butter. That, I can support but (again) you need to know what the environment was like to farm that cauliflower.
What is your go-to dinner meal during this time?
Anything with broth. As I said, I don’t actually eat a lot of meat and I find the best (and tastiest) way to cram nutrients into my system is a bowl of bone broth, warmed through and full of vegetables. Things like mushrooms, bokchoi, cauliflower noodles, ginger, etc. I’ll top it with a soft egg and more herbs like coriander.
How can people support your brand during the pandemic?
Anyone is welcome to place an order by sending us a mail on email@example.com . We are here to answer any and all questions about how we source our farmers and what we stand for. As well as the ethically-reared meat, we offer things like milk alternatives, organic corn chips, artisan cheeses, coffee beans, etc. All sourced with the same principles.
What are some of your favourite sustainable brands?
Abalobi (fish) is an amazing example. There’s also a guy called Bertie Coetzee who is the best example of a complete, biodynamic farmer that we have locally. He makes wine and wheat but has pigs, sheep, and other animals as part of his organic setup.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I feel like that’s quite a lot. I think what I really hope people understand is that we want to work with vegetarians and vegans. We respect them. I have more respect for a vegetarian than I do for someone eating any and all meat. I have more in common with a vegetarian. I really hope people understand that.