healthy and sustainable protein sources that aren’t plant-based

Meat protein has come under considerable fire in recent years, so much so that many are branded as ‘unsustainable’ and ‘unhealthy’. Luckily there are plenty that completely buck the trend. BANT registered nutritionist Eva Humphries looks at three healthy and sustainable protein sources that aren’t plant-based.

For an island nation, we are surprisingly bad at eating British fish and shellfish. I’m emphasising British because we do still import a large proportion of seafood from foreign shores. 

If we look at the data, our preference is for five main species of fish and shellfish: salmon, cod, haddock, tuna, and prawns. Unfortunately, the more we rely on a small, select number of species, the more unsustainable their production becomes.

Luckily, there are much more sustainable, nutritionally superior alternatives, of which British trout is perhaps the most stellar example. Once reserved for fishing enthusiasts, this delicious and sustainable fish is now widely available on supermarket shelves.

By sustainable, I mean very sustainable. In fact, British freshwater trout are among the most sustainable fish. They only survive in clean, cold water and have an excellent feed conversion ratio (FCR). The FCR is a measure of how efficiently a species can convert food for growth. Trout have an FCR rate of approximately one, whereas for comparison, cows have an FCR of six. 

Yes, this all sounds very nerdy, so let me translate it – trout are good at growing sustainably. 

Nutritionally, they are also pretty stellar, containing superior levels of Omega 3 fats, a lot of protein, the hard-to-find nutrient selenium, and many other vitamins and minerals.

In case you are wondering, trout isn’t a particularly fishy fish, instead having a mild, sweet flavour similar to salmon.

Find trout on supermarket shelves next to salmon and head to for inspiration.

Here is a fact that might surprise you: eating venison actually helps the environment.

Deer and muntjac, a type of small deer originally introduced from China, love to nibble on new shoots, trees, and shrubs. This shouldn’t be too big of a deal, except there are so many of them, they are damaging woodland habitats and causing a decline in other woodland-dwelling species, especially birds.

Trees are pretty important for fixing carbon, so by eating venison, we are preserving trees and promoting their carbon-sequestering nature.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

The good news doesn’t even end there. Venison is a good source of protein, zinc, and B vitamins, plus it’s very low in saturated fat.

If you ever needed a good-for-you, sustainable red meat, then venison is a good choice.

Find venison in select supermarkets and head to for inspiration.

From Roman times to the mid-20th century, oysters were an affordable and very popular protein source. Then we overdid it, natural stocks became very low, and regulations had to be put into place.

Their stocks are now recovering, which is good news considering their sustainability.

Oysters grow relatively quickly, filtering the water and cleaning up their surrounding environment as they do so.

Nutritionally, they are by far the best source of the mineral zinc. Considering the vast majority of our British population is zinc deficient, eating oysters should be encouraged.

Learn more about oysters via 

You can find more of Eva’s work online on or via social media under @wholefoodwarrior on most platforms.

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