The organisations have been working together to put more than 600kg of wild venison from the nearby Forest of Bowland on East Lancashire Hospital Trust’s menus since April 2021, with ELHT’s award-winning catering team creating dishes which have quickly ranked as favourites among hospital staff and patients alike.
Since venison dishes came on the menu in April, they have become the most chosen menu items on the days they were available. In December, the Trust’s Venison and Winter Vegetable Pie and Lancashire Venison and Mash Casserole dishes regularly accounted for 33-50% of patient meal choices.
The Trust serves meals to patients and staff in five hospitals across the region. For ELHT’s Facilities Manager Tim Radcliffe, wild venison ticks all the boxes of the Trust’s goals from sustainability to health: “We want to give patients and staff the very best food we can. As meats go, venison is low in fat and has good nutrients to aid recovery and promote good patient health.”
Radcliffe continues, “If you can buy high quality, sustainable ingredients that has been sourced from within 20 miles, why would you ever consider importing meat? Working with Forestry England we can get venison sourced straight from the Forest of Bowland so it could not get any more local.”
In addition to great taste, wild venison is arguably the UK’s most sustainable meat. Forestry England’s venison is 100% wild, lead-free and from well managed forests. Deer populations across the UK have skyrocketed in recent years because they have no natural predators. This has resulted in devastating effects on the environment as deer forage on plants and shrubs that form habitats for other, rarer species, and damage young trees as they grow. Forestry England, which manages England’s 1,500 forests and woodlands, culls deer as part of its sustainable forest management programme.
“Encouraging more people to eat wild venison is better for biodiversity and helps protect our future forests”, says Forestry England’s Lead Wildlife Manager Nigel Foster. “Our main objective for culling is always forest management, rather than wild meat production. With more people becoming aware of the carbon footprint of farmed meat and indeed the challenges around intensively farmed animals, wild venison is a perfect solution for those wanting to eat less but better meat.”