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An argument for farming livestock on uplands

  • by JW

“You’d probably do better to buy a bit of re-constituted moorland vegetation in the form of some ‘plant based beef’.”


Dartmoor farmer Anton Coaker has a regular column in the Western Morning News – and he certainly has his opinions, as with this piece from four years ago:

This is from his website:

Anton Coaker is a Dartmoor Farmer who lives at Sherberton Farm with his family. Sherberton Farm is one of the ancient tenements on Dartmoor and Anton is the fifth generation of his family to farm here. We supply pedigree cattle and ponies, as well as beef and cow hide rugs.

And this is from his erstwhile column for BBC Devon:

With a book review on his work on Dartmoor:

To finish: back to his column in the WMN.

This is from his most recent – from the start and end of his piece:

Plant Based

Nov 29, 2021

As a brilliant marketing swizz, and to be right on trend, I’ve invented a new concept. This week, we’ll be marketing ‘plant based beef’. And unlike the re-constituted far travelled ultra-processed ‘plant based’ stuff you might foolishly buy in the supermarket, with a list of ingredients you’ve barely heard of, from all over the world …..ours will have just one ingredient. Bits of a 28 month old Belted Galloway steer. He lived his life within a couple of miles of where he was born, and was slaughtered after a 25 minute journey. He was ‘made’ almost entirely of a wide variety of naturally occurring herbage. Grasses, yarrow, ribgrass, knapweed and rattle all ‘infest’ the land he fattened on, and previously while he was with his mother on the hill, he and mum would’ve eaten whortleberry- billberry to you guv- gorse stems, heather, rushes, and a further assortment of wild grasses…

Look, you can adopt whatever diet you wish – it’s none of my business. If you can’t face the idea of eating dead animals, then don’t. But don’t think you’re signalling your virtue, or saving the planet…because that evidently isn’t true. Each of us is part of a dense web of interactions, impacting eco-systems right across the planet. And all the self-righteous wrath directed at beef, and me, won’t change that. Ironically, to lower your impact, you’d probably do better to buy a bit of re-constituted moorland vegetation in the form of some ‘plant based beef’, from that half-wit Coaker.

The Anton Coaker column thread |