What is venison?

Photo of deer at Church Farm Oxford

Venison refers to the meat harvested from deer. Deer meat has been a key part of the human diet since prehistoric times. 

Only two species of deer are native to the UK: the roe and the red deer, the others (fallow, Chinese water deer, muntjac and sika) were introduced over the years.

Farmed venison comes from the red deer, which is most commonly seen in images with stags holding their large antlers aloft. Britain's largest land mammal, red deer once inhabited much of the country, but today are restricted primarily to managed farms and parks, like Church Farm.

During the Norman and Plantagenet era, England was divided into royal forests so that wild deer, boar, and birds could be hunted by the elite. It became impossible for the ordinary population to eat venison unless they poached it - for which there were severe penalties.

Photo of venison

No longer just a game meat, pasture-raised venison has gained huge popularity - both on restaurant menus and in homes across the country - as a healthy, delicious red meat.

Venison is packed with a variety of highly bioavailable nutrients and is an excellent source of zinc, iron, selenium and B vitamins. In fact - other than the oyster, - venison is one of the top sources of zinc, with 100g of venison providing around 32% of average daily intake requirements. Zinc is excellent for strengthening our immune system.

Venison is an excellent source of protein. The lean red meat is considered a ‘complete protein’ because it contains all 10 of the essential amino acids.