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What Is Regenerative Agriculture?

Impact Blog Series: What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Impact Blog Series: What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a hot topic in the world of sustainability right now. Although there is no clear, universally accepted definition, it describes farming and grazing practices that can improve the land’s health, and biodiversity, and improve the carbon-storing abilities of soils. It is widely believed to hold many of the answers to how we can reduce carbon emissions from agricultural practices.

At M, we have been exploring what the benefits of Regenerative Agriculture could be for the hospitality sector. It all began with a conversation with industry friend ‘Honest Burger’ who have worked to overhaul their entire beef supply chain to be regeneratively farmed to reduce the carbon footprint of their beef. This led us to their supplier, ‘The Ethical Butcher’ who supply a range of meat and poultry products that come from UK farms practising Regenerative Agriculture.

After a trip to one of ‘The Ethical Butcher’ farms where we met farmer Neil who owns the first farm in the UK to be certified ‘Regenerative’ by certification body RegenAgri, and after sampling some products to ensure it’s high quality we pride ourselves on, we have introduced two cuts of regeneratively farmed beef to our menu: sirloin prime cut and ribeye on the bone.

To understand more about why we have done this, let’s explore what Regenerative Agriculture is all about.

What are the principles of Regenerative farming?

  1. Minimise soil disturbance to enhance soil health and protect the ecosystem
  2. Maximise soil cover with crops to prevent soil erosion and keep plants healthy
  3. Increase the crop diversity on the farm, avoiding monocultures (just one type of species) which are susceptible to disease and pests
  4. Reduce the use of artificial inputs such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides
  5. Bring livestock onto the farm to naturally graze and reduce the need for heavy farming machinery

What is the difference between ‘regenerative’ and ‘organic’?

While there are many crossovers between the practices used in two types of farming, organic produce must go through a certification process in order to use the word on packaging and marketing, while regenerative currently does not. Organic includes a specific set of metrics that farms must adhere to in order to be certified, this is a fundamental difference between the two farming systems and one reason why ‘Regenerative’ is still universally undefined. 

Unlike organic, the idea of regenerative is to treat each piece of land in different areas and climates around the world as individual entities, meaning that no single solution – a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach – can be used to achieve sustainability. Each farm needs to be looked at individually to understand its specific needs when deciding what practices to implement, therefore there are no set metrics and KPIs and the focus instead is on the outputs, such as carbon sequestration potential.

What is carbon sequestration?

Simply put, carbon sequestration refers to the removal of carbon dioxide molecules from the air, storing them in plants and trees – otherwise known as carbon sinks. Forests, jungles, woodland areas and even the seabed are important for this, as they are our largest natural carbon sinks on the planet. Healthy soils are vital for plants to grow which is why there is such a strong emphasis on soil health in Regenerative Agriculture. Improving soils and increasing the right kind of plants and crops on agricultural land will improve the ability of the system to capture carbon and will go a significant way in the journey to lower emissions in agriculture.

M is proud to showcase these two cuts of regeneratively farmed beef on our menu, alongside our carbon-neutral Argentinian beef. M is also pleased to be a member of the Zero Carbon Forum’s working group on Regenerative Agriculture, to discover what advances we can make within the hospitality industry, and how scaling up this type of production could be possible not only in the UK, but also around the world.

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