Our move to venison
As part of our Sustainability Food & Drink Policy published in 2022, we pledged to remove beef from our menus by 2025-26, due to the huge carbon footprint it takes to produce.
We’re pleased to announce that from February, we’ll be starting to phase beef out from some of our outlets and replace it with wild culled venison, which has a far lower carbon footprint. You can find out more about the benefits of venison, and the environmental impact of using wild culled venison below.
Our first phase begins in Queens Tower Rooms and the SCR Restaurant, so keep an eye out for venison on the menu and give it a try!
Learn more about venison
Lower CO2 emissions
According to the Vegan Society’s Carbon Calculator, culled venison emits only 27% of the CO2 emissions of beef. At an average of 23.5kg CO2e/ kg, beef is one of the most carbon-emitting common ingredients in the UK.
Greenpeace UK campaigner Paul Morozzo has said that “for meat eaters, wild venison does offer a viable alternative to animals fed on industrially produced feed that's destroying forests in Brazil".
A 2021 report found that a complete removal of red meats from our menus could provide a 20% reduction in total carbon emissions. Using wild venison cuts out all of the CO2 emissions associated with farming and keeping animals and will drastically reduce the carbon emissions created by Taste Imperial across Catering and Events.
Further environmental benefits
Culling wild deer is considered a necessity by many to conserve the health and biodiversity of British countryside and woodlands. Due to the extinction of most of the deers’ natural predators in the UK, their numbers have grown to a problematic level – having increased five-fold in the 1990s, the deer population is at its highest in 1,000 years.
This vast population of deer graze on young trees and other plants and crops, damaging plants and the habitats of other animals. The Woodland Trust consider them a key source of damage to the structure and biodiversity of our woodlands and Reforesting Scotland claim that overgrazing, primarily by deer, is the single largest barrier to reforesting.
Deer, like cows, produce large methane emissions. While the farming of animals for meat adds methane into the environment, culling deer actually reduce the methane emitted. The Scottish Environment LINK estimate that Scotland’s red deer alone produce 5,500 tonnes of methane and a 20% reduction in numbers could cut equivalent to 137,500 tonnes of CO2 or 15 million car miles per year.
The benefits of venison for you
As well as all the environmental impacts above, venison is also a very healthy choice! It has more iron and protein and less fat than beef, and is higher in vitamins B1 & B3 which help regulate metabolism, as well as B6 & B12, which are thought to help lower homocysteine levels and help prevent heart attacks and stokes.
Venison is by no means a new meat in the UK, and is sometimes considered a delicacy and a staple of Michelin-starred restaurant menus. However, more and more places are beginning to experiment with substituting venison for beef in burgers, meatballs, bolognese and more.
Venison is described as having a leaner taste and texture to beef, though many people report little difference when it's cooked in to familiar dishes. We're excited for you to give it a try!