Highbury butcher creates protein bars with meat

Highbury butcher Chris Godfrey with the protein bars at his shop.

Highbury butcher Chris Godfrey with the protein bars at his shop. - Credit: Ian Jones

Not so long ago, most people aspired to eat meat nearly every day. No longer.

England Rugby World Cup winner Phil Vickery with the protein bars.

England Rugby World Cup winner Phil Vickery with the protein bars. - Credit: Ian Jones

Much to the frustration of Chris Godfrey, 53, one of London’s top butchers, many younger people are turning to vegetarian options as society latches on to new health food trends.

But now the owner of Godfreys, in Highbury Park, has decided to fight back – by trying to beat the makers of trendy vegetarian protein bars at their own game.

“There are a few members of my staff who are health fanatics and spend lots of money on these funny protein bars and drinks,” he explains.

“I tell them: ‘You don’t need a protein bar – you need a piece of meat!’ People think that protein bars are so healthy, but they’re full of sugar, salt and processed rubbish. There’s a natural alternative – and that’s lean meat.”

To prove his point, he has created a line of protein bars made from – you’ve guessed it – 100 per cent meat.

Available in lamb, beef and pork, the bars were launched in time to coincide with the Rugby World Cup – “I thought those big strapping lads could do with these protein bars,” says Chris.

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Overall, the reaction has been positive, with the bars selling out after a few days. Even Chris admits that he is surprised.

“I really didn’t expect them to be so popular. It was more of a tongue-in-cheek testing of the water,” he says, though he plans to produce a few hundred more.

The bars – which consist entirely of cooked lean meat – even have the stamp of approval of former England rugby player Phil Vickery.

“Protein is a key element in any sportsman’s diet – we need it for training, competing and to help repair our muscle,’ he says.

“For me, the best way to get that protein is through red meat. I enjoy eating it, and it provides my body with the protein it needs and much more.”

Unsurprisingly, not all the health fanatics are convinced; indeed, Chris says there are still many misconceptions about red meat.

“People always ask if the bars are fattening, but I tell them no because it’s lean meat – natural muscular fats which are non-saturated and actually very good for you and full of vitamins.

“The problem is that there are so many different people with interests in the food sector giving conflicting messages.”

Certain celebrity chefs haven’t helped.

“The cooks on TV make cooking meat look like rocket science, but it isn’t. It takes half an hour to make a proper meal. Grilling a chicken breast isn’t hard.”

His own family, he says, is living testament to the nutritional value of meat.

“My father is 87 and eats lots of meat. My family have been butchers for 400 years – possibly more – and have always been healthy and lived to ripe old ages.”

Chris proudly admits to eating meat three times a day as part of a balanced diet with a typical day’s meals including a bacon sandwich at breakfast, a ham or roast beef sandwich for lunch and grilled meat with a side of salad for dinner.

While he’s unsure that his bars will catch on among London’s fitness freaks, he is looking into ways to develop the bars.

“The problem is that they have to be refrigerated and consumed within a few days. So at the moment we are looking into ways of cooking them without using preservatives.”

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