Last year, Shambala went meat and fish free – a gamble, but one that paid off, with 77% of you voting to keep it that way. With this in mind, the food traders on site will once again be serving up a delicious array of totally veggie fare. However, we also promised to try and find some uber-sustainable, meaty workshop activities that the hardcore carnivores amongst you could get your teeth into.

Our decision to go meat and fish free was a predominantly environmental one – so if we can find a way to provide meat that is utterly environmentally sound, we’ll go for it. So where do we go from here? What’s next?

We’re not suggesting you go on a mung-bean only diet and chuck all your precious cheese out of the window but we are looking to provoke debate, continue the conversation and experiment with new ideas.

You might have paid our insect café a visit last year – unpalatable to some but interesting to try, particularly since it’s one of the proposed solutions to the world’s environmental problems caused by meat production.

This year, foodie venue The Garden O’ Feeden will be looking at invasive, non-native species – those on the right side of Darwin who have been introduced by humans and proliferated – and we’d be happy for them, honestly, had it not been at the expense of our native species, and the fact they’re thought to be one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity, second only to habitat loss.

We’re now in the age of the Anthropocene – a new geological epoch, defined by significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Can we now redress the balance? Could eating those invasive species be the answer?

With the help of Crayfish Bob and Louise “Squirrel” Gray, we have some pretty unconventional things for you to try this year!

 

Grey Squirrels

Possibly the most famous non-native invasive species in the UK is, you guessed it, the grey squirrel. Cute they may be, but these blighters have all but wiped out our indigenous population of red squirrels and have overrun the landscape. We are practically duty-bound to help reduce their population.

Louise Gray (author of The Ethical Carnivore – My Year Killing To Eat) will be on hand, inviting you all to taste this extremely sustainable and unbeatably local delicacy – squirrels will be sourced on the estate, so travel-miles wise, this is also a winner. It’s low in fat and completely free range. Some have said it tastes like wild boar – others, a cross between duck and lamb. It’s apparently moist and sweet due to a diet of berries and nuts. There you have it – eat a grey – save a red!

She’ll also be regaling us with tales of what it was like to live for a year eating only meat she personally killed – so if any of you are thinking of taking things a step further, this is for you.

 

American Crayfish

The American Crayfish was introduced to British waterways, deliberately and shortsightedly, in the sixties. They have decimated our native population and are eroding our riverbanks.

Crayfish Bob – founder of the National Institute of Crayfish Trappers – will be on hand to educate us on how American Crayfish have done their dirty work, and how he campaigns to remove as many of them as possible from our British waterways to save our native crayfish from extinction. The best solution? Catching and eating them – don’t miss his cookery demo to show you how best to rustle up a crayfish supper.

Here’s a video of Bob doing his thing – we can’t wait to have him at the festival.

 

Let’s Meat in the Middle

So, there you have it – this year’s gauntlet is set! Meat eating and vegetarianism isn’t as black and white as they’d have you believe – there are many shades of grey (squirrel). So let’s meat in the middle (not sorry) this year and expand our culinary horizons.

The positive message is this: by switching from the current, damaging intensive-farming model, to looking at the invasive species on our doorstep, perhaps we can continue to eat meat without wreaking havoc on the planet. The experiment is on!