Venison – A Wild, Sustainable Alternative to Beef


Next time you sit down to a beef steak this Autumn and you can get over the thought of eating Bambi, why not consider giving venison a go. It’s seasonal, sustainable and packed with nutritional benefits.

According to Forestry England “Deer can have an adverse impact on woodland herbs, shrubs and young trees. Vegetation changes brought about by deer browsing are also detrimental to some vertebrate and invertebrate woodland fauna. Without appropriate management, deer populations will impose long-term changes on the composition of native woodlands. In Britain, Oak, Ash, Hazel and Willow are usually found to be the most vulnerable.

A number of rare flowering plants are also now known to be susceptible to deer. Bluebells can be depleted by Muntjac browsing and Oxlips by Red Deer. Muntjac also feed on early purple orchids, common spotted orchids, wood anemones. Deer either eliminate or retard the growth of young trees, shrubs and herbs, allowing grasses and a few unpalatable species such as bracken and rushes to increase.”


Venison is a perfect choice for those looking for a nutritious free-range and pasture-fed meat that is often easy to confuse with beef. This time of year (late summer early autumn) is perfect for wild venison meat after a summer of abundant feeding. Venison is very lean, so extra fat (belly pork, bacon, butter, duck fat) helps to keep it moist.

It has more protein than other red meat and is particularly rich in iron, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) B6 and B12. Thanks to all the wild and pasture food that deer eat, the small amount of fat in venison is likely to contain high levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).

Venison is one of the top sources of zinc following oysters, with 100g of venison providing roughly 32% of average daily intake requirements. With zinc being an important nutrient for our immune system.

Paired with a berry sauce and some leafy greens, this wild meat is a Paleo dream-dish that can be just as juicy as a steak.

River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall looks at Venison as a sustainable source of healthy meat

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