Many of us know this statement to be true, but do you know why it is so healthy? Let me explain….I’m really quite good at this bit.

A healthy balanced diet requires the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibre, water, and vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.

The government have made recommendations for the correct daily amounts we should be putting into our bodies, to get the best out of them! Of course, this varies on age, co-morbidities and exercise levels, but I have included the current recommendation for women aged 19-64 (Public Health England, 2016).

Generally, whether you feed a dog, horse, or yourself, you get better performance if you fuel it right. This performance doesn’t necessarily mean exercise tolerance either. Concentration and mood are inextricably linked to diet.


First of all let’s remember there are many different meats grouped as game. Game refers to the fact that the animal has lived a relatively free and wild existence and has been hunted by us to be killed. Killed for its food value.

As such there are many different types of meat classified as game; fur to feather, light to dark meat, sky to land, to water. Depending on where in the world you are the species will vary, but often include; Phasianidae such as partridges and pheasants, Cervidae such as roe deer or elk, and Leporidae such as hares.


Calories is something I’m not overly interested in when analysing meat. Each individual person will have very unique requirements when it comes to calorie intake, I can assure you little size 8 me needs a whole mountain of calories on shoot days in August, whereas the lady doing our wages maybe not so much. However, many of the other nutritional requirements do not fluctuate as much, they are essential to maintain a healthy body at cellular level.

To give you a full nutritional breakdown of every type of game meat available is beyond the scope of this work, plus I’d lose you in the myriad of numbers. Therefore, in the series of images, I have looked at the protein, fat, iron, and selenium levels found in a 100g serving of the most common game meat found in the UK. 

High protein and low fat is like striking gold, the high protein means you feel satisfied eating less, as you are meeting your requirements. The body is very good at telling us when this is achieved if we just listen to it. 

Iron is an essential mineral for growth and development. It is necessary to produce haemoglobin which carries oxygen around the body. People who do not have enough dietary iron often feel excessively tired. Selenium is another mineral which is of significant importance to maintain health. It is a powerful antioxidant which is necessary for effective functioning of the immune system (NHS, 2020).

Game is, as a rule, high in protein and low in fat. It is also very high in vitamins and minerals. This, for me, is probably where it comes out on top. Minerals such as selenium are linked to the levels in the soil where the animal is feeding. If we then consider the habitat, lifestyle, and diet of game it gives a big clue as to why they are so superior. 


When comparing the nutritional value of game to commercial meat, and for this purpose I have chosen beef and chicken, you can easily see the benefits. There is nothing wrong with well-sourced commercial meat. Adding game meat into your diet, by replacing beef with venison once a week is a great way to get a nutritional boost.

I do struggle with the poor flavour of much commercial beef. Offer me a standard beef fillet steak, or a loin of fallow and I know which I will be choosing! There is some exceptional beef available locally to me from a herd of Belted Galloways grazing on the edge of the moor, the flavour and texture of the meat is wonderful. It makes you smile eating it. This helps to establish that it is the habitat, lifestyle and diet that give the flavour to the meat. It would be very interesting to find out the nutritional value of those specific cattle compared to ‘commercial’ beef, especially the vitamins and minerals.


Be careful thinking you can simply exchange chicken for pheasant, or roe deer for beef in standard recipes. Whilst often the flavours work quite well, it is easy to spoil a piece of game meat. This is predominantly due to the low fat content. Inherent fat protects and bastes meat whilst it cooks, and so it can be very forgiving. Lack of this in game meat means you do need to understand your product. Follow the simple rule of; hot & fast or slow & low. So even when frying venison mince for a lasagne for example, by no means does it need as long as beef before you turn the temperature right down.

Also, try to cook a variety of dishes. Pheasant casserole can get exceptionally boring after a while. 

As country and sportswomen, we must ensure our energy levels are high, and we are strong with a pretty well-functioning immune system. Eating healthily by adding a variety of game into our diets is a brilliant and ethically sound way to achieve this.  

There are lots of ideas available on social media and if you don’t already do follow me on Facebook and Instagram

I have some exciting online courses coming up in the autumn so keep an eye on my updates.

Written by Esther, aka The Country Cook