There's a delicious in-between space for those who want to take writer Michael Pollan's advice and eat more plants, but who also want to eat meat. While a dozen popular Netflix-able documentaries may have you skipping the meat section at the grocery store as soon as the credits roll, there is a Vancouver-based company that wants to fill that carnivorous void with what they call "meat from honest places."
Meatme is a meat delivery service that sources their products from local farmers who are transparent in their practices, and have a low eco footprint.
Co-founder Victor Straatman came to Vancouver and went in search of meat he could feel good about eating.
"For myself, I started this meat business because I want to make meat consumption more sustainable," Straatman said in a phone interview. If people choose to eat meat, he adds, they should seek out the right meat, meaning "the best meat they can have access to."
Best in this case means meat where Straatman himself has vetted the farm in person, and looked at how and what the animals are fed, and the conditions in which they're kept.
Currently working with just one supplier for each kind of meat they offer, Meat me sells beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. Ultimately, whatever the animal eats, or how they live, affects the quality of the product.
Their beef comes from Empire Valley Ranch in Churn Creek, B.C., and is 100% pasture raised. Straatman describes the herd has roaming free on the farm's 30,000 acres, eating only grass from the land. It's a farm the company really loves. The cows "eat so pure, the meat is totally clean, everything is local."
And this means there's a smaller eco impact, because the cows are eating grasses that aren't being farmed, watered, and harvested--it's mother nature watering the grass with rain, instead. (Straatman says Meatme is in the process of working with UBC to get full environmental impact studies done for all their products.)
Meatme gets to know their farmers by asking them plenty of questions, but the questions don't stop at the cash register--or the online "cart" in this case--for the customers. The company shares all their information about the farmers with the customers, and you can call Meatme any time with any questions. Straatman says they will either know the answer or make it a point to get the answer.
That's a pretty close connection to the source, and one which more carnivores are craving, considering how much information about factory farming is readily available--and more than a bit of a turn off for consumers.
"It’s a very interesting space," Straatman says of industrialized meat production. "It's a huge multi billion dollar industry in North American, [and Meatme] is basically in the middle." That middle ground is where conscientious consumers want to eat less meat overall, but when they do purchase meat, they want it to be from a more ethical source.
Straatman knows it's not likely that everyone will opt to go vegan once their discomfort with supporting factory farmed meat reaches the point of no return. But by running a business that focuses on selling "meat from an honest place," Straatman is connecting eaters with the source of their food, and helping them be what he hopes are "more conscious meat consumers," while doing their part to take better care of their health, community, and planet.
While right now Meatme has a sole supplier for each kind of meat, Straatman says they are working to bring on board more vendors, like Blue Sky Ranch, which Vancouverites may have known under their previous iteration, Urban Digs Farm. This way the farmers can do what they're good at, says Straatman, which is farming, and he and the Meatme team can focus on the business of getting their meat on people's tables. Meatme also recently acquired the Barons of Beef, which will expand their reach tremendously.
The farmers Meatme works with use of the cuts, and because the relationship between the farms and the distribution is a close one, there isn't the same kind of waste at the supermarket level when all the unsold meat gets tossed.
Customers can go online and put in an order for whatever suits their needs, whether it's one large order to stock their home freezer, an occasional special cut, or via Meatme's soon-to-launch subscription service.
The meat is shipped direct to your door, in an innovative recyclable insulated cardboard box, made in Canada from recycled materials.
Straatman says Meatme is working to get more recipes up on their site to help inspired home cooks with ways to prepare their meat. Vancouver chef Trevor Bird is a co-founder of Meatme, and he has done some recipes already.
For Straatman, though, he likes to keep it simple. His favourite meat from Meatme? "It’s really a boring one, but I like the ground beef," he admits. Their ground beef is dry-aged, which means a low moisture content, and Straatman loves the meat's pure taste. He recommends using it for anything from burgers to meatballs or pasta sauce. "It's very flexible and great quality. It's awesome."