During the week commencing 2 September, customers at the Three Stags in Kennington, south London – a regular haunt for visitors to the nearby Imperial War Museum – were denied a number of classic pub dishes after the site’s operator decided to boycott beef in response to devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest.
According to figures mentioned by The Independent, agriculture drives around 80% of global deforestation with around 450,000sq km of deforested land in Brazil used to house the country’s population of around 200m cows.
Findings from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reveal that there have been more than 75,000 fires in the Amazon rainforest this year – an 84% increase year on year and the highest number since records began in 2013.
“When is enough enough? For me it is now!” the pub’s operator Richard Bell explained. “In protest at the extreme selfish ignorance of our appalling current political leaders, the Three Stags is entirely boycotting all beef products as from Monday 2 September.
“Our diet must change because we cannot continue to exploit the planet so wantonly.
“What mankind is doing to the Amazon in order to feed beef to billions of greedy mouths is deplorable and, although my business is not vegetarian or vegan, I feel the responsibility not to sell beef as a statement to my customers and other restaurant and pub operators.”
A founding member of The Sustainable Restaurants Association (SRA), the Three Stags will continue to offer meat on its menu for now because Bell believes sustainable agriculture should be encouraged.
“I will continue to proudly support Daphne’s Welsh Lamb, Creedy Carver and Norfolk Black free-range forest chickens and free-range Blythburgh pork,” he explained.
“Until the west’s obsession with eating meat is overcome, the man-made disaster of climate change will continue. Rainforests will continue to disappear to grow soya (to feed cows) that have more vitamins and nutrients and protein than the beef!
“Maybe one day the Three Stags will be a vegan restaurant but in the meantime I implore you to take an interest at least in what is happening in Brazil, come and enjoy what we have to offer and embrace a diet without beef.”
Bell, who has introduced beehives on the Three Stags’ roof and supported environmental projects in Bali and South Africa since taking over at the pub, hopes to incorporate more meat alternatives on his menu in the near future.
“Personally, I am excited to join the fast-growing movement of plant-based meat substitutes like pioneering companies such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Moving Mountains that are so cleverly infiltrating the fast food industry such as KFC, Burger King and Greggs,” he said.
What’s more Andrew Stephen, chief executive of the SRA called upon pubs to reinvent menu staples with sustainability in mind.
“The Sunday roast is a terrific British tradition,” he explained. “Like many traditions, it’s evolving to keep pace with the changing tastes of the nation driven by a combination of factors including the environment, health, time pressures, the potential for waste and a desire to eat a more varied diet.
“The SRA has, for the past two years, been calling on restaurants and the wider foodservice sector to ‘flip the menu’ and increase the proportion of veg-led dishes on their menu to decrease their impact on the planet.
“High street brands like Wagamama and Zizzi have enjoyed success doing just that, followed by fast food giants like KFC and Greggs.
“If we can reimagine sausage rolls and burgers, then why not a Sunday roast?”