Posted on 10th September 2019

Jamie’s Crew Eat Meat Free

We all know plant based diets have environmental benefits, so we contacted the team behind Jamie’s Meat Free Meals to find out about their experience of putting veggie food in a new book, on screen and behind the scenes. Here’s what they told us…

How did Jamie’s Meat Free Meals come about?

Jamie has wanted to do a veg series and book for over 8 years because he knows that lots of us want to eat less meat, whether for health or financial reasons, for the planet or animal welfare, we are all slowly moving towards eating a bit more veg.

Many of us don’t have the knowledge or inspiration to make that shift, and that’s where Jamie comes in. In this series he’s cooking up a stunning collection of beautifully vibrant, hearty and healthy veg dishes for us to add to our repertoire.

The new series is a celebration of all things veg – encouraging meat-eaters and vegetarians alike to put vegetables front and centre. Jamie passionately believes that meat should be a treat that we celebrate, so we should eat better meat less often. He is committed to improving the health of the nation – and the benefits of eating less meat and more veg are clear. So this series is about inspiring people to get excited about delicious and easy veggie meals.


What about veggie catering for the production team?

Jamie has always wanted to provide more vegetarian catering options as he knows it’s important to eat lots of veg. So when Sean Moxhay, our Head Of Production, broached the idea, Jamie jumped at the chance. It was the perfect way to showcase the food from the programme but also demonstrate that eating a vegetarian diet is easier than people think, including our non-veggie team members.

Who did the catering? Was it an opportunity to try out the recipes being shown on screen?

While we were abroad and in the UK filming VTs we used restaurants and local caterers. However during our studio recording our catering was provided by Jamie’s Italian chefs, mainly using recipes from Jamie’s previous books as well as including specials from the restaurants. We were very lucky for this programme as they had a brand new Jamie’s VEG cookbook to work from.

What was the reaction from the crew?

The team and crew were actually quite excited about the prospect of trying something different. On our shoots they are always provided with high quality food so everyone knew that if it was vegetarian that wouldn’t change.

How did it affect your budget (for better or worse)?

It’s hard to work out the cost savings for our international and location UK shoots as we provided set menus from restaurants for the crew at the same cost as meat options. However with our studio catering we reduced our price per head and this gave us an overall cost saving of £91 a day over 6 days.

Did you also think about packaging and leftovers from your catering?

Absolutely. We as a company are very conscious of food wastage and thrive to prevent this, both while filming and with our catering. We take several steps to avoid waste, the first is we simply try not to over order on food on set and with crew catering. Secondly, any perishable items are donated to local charities and whenever that’s not possible we donated it to local businesses. Any canned or tinned goods were kept to be used again in the office or on other shoots. At the end of every meal any already prepared meals would be put into compostable takeaway boxes and given to crew.

Have you had anyone convert to vegetarianism or taking a more flexitarian approach to their diet as a result of their time working on the show?

We didn’t convert anyone completely but we definitely inspired people to try more recipes and be more open to eating different meals and more veggie options.

What were the most and least popular meals?

Our crew loved the vegetarian pasties which were made from Jamie’s VEG book. Our salads always went down a treat with everyone, because they are always interesting and different, something you maybe wouldn’t make at home.

Some of your shoots were abroad – how easy was it to go meat free there?

We chose to film in the places we did because they are incredible food hubs with an enormous and exciting variety of vegetarian food, born from religious, historical or geographical reasons. As such, it was a surprising pleasure for the whole team (the majority of whom are meat-eaters) to go meat-free in these places as we all found real inspiration from the variety of fantastic ways in which people from all over the world are using vegetables.

What else did the production do to lower its carbon footprint?

We had a strict opt in paperwork policy, brought a limited amount of new props, promoted car sharing to all locations and insisted on using reusable bottles and batteries throughout the whole filming.

Why eat less meat? It makes a world of difference…

  • A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
  • Humans around the world drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day. Cows around the world drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day – nine times as much water and seven times as much food as all humans.
  • Every family in the UK dropping meat from one meal a week would have the same environmental impact as taking 16 million cars off the road.
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction.
  • Average annual amount of CO2 emitted by typical UK diets:
    • Meat-eater – 2,055 kg
    • Vegetarian – 1,391 kg
    • Vegan – 1,055 kg

Jamie’s Meat Free Meals is on Channel 4 at 8pm on Mondays, or you can catch up on All 4.