Flexitarian Animal Welfare
Making sustainable and ethical dining choices means making informed dining choices. The Flexitarian Award helps people make informed decisions about the meat they choose to eat when they dine out, and helps eateries to make their menus more transparent.
Use this guide to find out how we assess eateries for animal welfare, and what it all means.
All eateries holding a Flexitarian Award must meet our Core Welfare Standards, or serve no animal products at all.
Minimum UK Welfare Standards
As a minimum, we ask all eateries to serve only meat reared to minimum UK welfare standards and certified by a farm assurance scheme - the most recognised of which is Red Tractor. Our Bronze Award holders serve only meat assured to this level – they may serve some higher welfare meat too, but not enough to gain a Silver Award.
Red Tractor establishes baseline standards covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. It ensures that UK minimum legal welfare standards are complied with, and in some cases exceeded. For example, in line with UK legislation, Red Tractor will verify that pigs are not kept in sow stalls, and requires broiler chickens to be allowed slightly more space (lower stocking density) than UK legislation calls for.
Red Tractor and equivalent farm assurance schemes, in line with EU and UK legislation, still allow a number of practices that are banned under higher welfare schemes, such as organic. Examples of these include the use of farrowing crates for pigs and relatively high stocking densities (less space) in livestock housing. Red Tractor standards vary in a number of ways to higher welfare standards including diet, medication, housing and environment, access to outdoor space, transport and slaughter.
Why does the Flexitarian Award recognise minimum UK welfare?
The reality is that not all meat served in UK eateries has been reared or certified to UK minimum welfare standards, and only a very tiny proportion is reared and certified to higher welfare schemes such as organic. While we advocate for higher welfare farming, we recognise through our Bronze award that Red Tractor and equivalent schemes are important tools to enforce minimum welfare standards in the UK, and in some cases improve upon them.
Our aim is to work with as many eateries as possible to improve the welfare of the meat that they serve. We believe that accepting Red Tractor and equivalent schemes as the baseline for our Core Welfare Standards makes the Flexitarian Award more accessible to eateries who wish to address the amount and quality of the meat on their menus. We can then work with eateries to gradually increase the proportion of higher welfare meat that they serve. Our Silver and Gold level awards recognise eateries who have already taken steps on that journey.
Higher welfare schemes
We award our eateries points for using meat that has been reared and certified by a higher welfare scheme including organic (such as Soil Association), RSPCA Assured, and Pasture For Life. We also recognise wild caught game. These points can contribute to a Silver or Gold level award.
The standards of each of these schemes and ways of farming vary in their detail, but they have been developed with farm animal welfare in mind and have strict standards that reflect that. For instance, Soil Association organic standards call for reduced stocking density (more indoor space) for livestock, permanent access to pasture unless specific circumstances temporarily prevent it, and do not allow many practices still permitted by UK legislation. Higher certification schemes set standards relating to many different aspects of farming, many of which positively impact farm animal welfare, such as diet, weaning and rearing periods, transport and slaughter.
If you’d like to know more about UK minimum welfare, Red Tractor and some higher welfare schemes, visit the websites below:
https://www.rspcaassured.org.uk/farm-animal- welfare/rspca-welfare- standards/
https://www.pastureforlife.org/certification/the-pasture- for-life- standards/