Trying to be an ethical meat eater

A few years ago I decided to be a pescetarian (vegetarian diet + fish) and I was for nearly 18 months... then I met my husband. My husband likes to eat meat, and when we'd go out to dinner I slowly started craving it again. One day I decided I wanted a hamburger, and then later that day pepperoni pizza, and it was all over...

Today I still eat meat, but I've decided I'm going to be an ethical carnivore. I've started buying only organic chicken and grass-fed beef. I recently stumbled across a farm in Tennessee that offers 100% grass fed beef! I know it's worth the extra cost because it's better for my family (since we've chosen to eat meat) and it's better for the environment.

I don't advocate one type of diet over another, but I'm wondering if any of my readers also trying to eat meat organically and ethically? If so would you like to share any tips?


  1. It's funny how our spouses influence our eating choices. I was a guilt-ridden occasional meat eater when I met Kevin, and with his support I finally felt able to face up to my parents and tell them I wasn't going to eat meat anymore, culture or no. That was a couple of years ago. Having another vegetarian at the Thanksgiving table makes me feel a lot less pressured!

    Anyway, if you want to eat meat ethically (and environmentally), there are a few things you can do. The first thing is to eat less of it, but spend more on what you do eat. Meat, even grass-fed meat, uses a lot of resources and isn't very good for us in the quantities that the average American eats. Labels can be deceptive, so your local farmers' market (or farm, of course) is the best place to get meat. There you can talk to the people who actually raise the animals. Good questions to ask include: how much time does the animal spend outdoors? What is its diet? Can I come visit your farm?

    By the way, milk and eggs are also worthy things to eat ethically. Conventionally farmed dairy cows and chickens have pretty sad lives.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I'm planning to cut way back on meat while my husband is deployed. The farm I bought from is very open about their practices and they invited me out for a visit! I don't eat many eggs and thankfully their is a Trader Joe's about an hour away where I'm positive I can get cage-free eggs. I'm planning to give up milk again an switch to rice milk, I've heard some bad things about the milking procedure and bacteria that gets into milk. I'm not sure I can spend $5-6 a gallon for organic.
    I know I'm not going back to a vegetarian diet again yet but I think reducing meat intake and buying locally is something I feel compelled to do.

  3. I've been tempted to try the raw milk sold at the farmers' market, but right now I'm sticking with organic local stuff from free range cows (that comes in glass bottles that they reuse!). I don't drink much milk, so I'm happy to pay $2.50 a quart every other week. The whole quality over quantity thing again...

    Trader Joe's is an HOUR away? Yikes! There are at least ten (probably more like twenty or thirty) within an hour of where I live. Sadly, the label 'cage free' on eggs means about as much as the label 'magical' (according to Jonathan Safran Foer, whose book Eating Animals is a great read). The only way to really make sure you're getting a humane, ethical egg is to buy from a local farmer you've visited or to keep chickens in your back yard.

    I'd love it if you kept us posted on how you're doing with your new eating habits!