Ultimate Ethical Food Guide For 2020

Food is a necessity. This is an in-depth guide on how to make eating food ethical, sustainable, nutritious, AND delicious! #ethicalfood #veganism #ethicalmeats

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“The solutions are not black and white, it’s more like a balancing act and trade offs.”
Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor

Ethical Food & Eating FAQ

What does “ethical eating” mean?

Ethical eating is NOT just eating a vegetarian or vegan diet! (myth busted!)

Ethical eating IS being consciously aware of how your meals (and snacks) are grown, sourced, and transported to you.

That means that you are aware of the environmental concerns, economic issues and industrial influences of the food that you eat.

The most common ethical causes/concerns around food include:

  • the wages and working conditions of local farmers
  • humanely sourced meats, grains, and other ingredients
  • sustainable agriculture methods
  • food waste
  • the carbon footprint of food production
  • and much more

Beginner Tip: Choose one ethical food cause to focus on. Any form of ethical eating helps the community, the environment, and the bodies that are fed.

Why is ethical eating important?

  • Because ethical eating affects everyone in the food supply chain – from the local cherry pickers to the mass meat producers and transporters
  • Because we don’t have a food quantity problem…we have a food quality & food distribution problem
  • Because relying on industrial agriculture is a false hope
  • Because agriculture is the most destructive human activity on the planet
  • Because the entire food chain that determines our existence is made possible by billions of tiny creatures existing with us in the soil under our feet
  • Because the difference between life and death (in plants and thus in animals & humans) is the difference between dead dirt and living soil
  • Because as of 2020, 70% of our planet’s soil has been destroyed. At this rate, the earth runs out of farmable soil in 60 years
  • Because enough healthy soil could offset virtually all greenhouse gases on the planet
  • Because synthetic fertilisers are contributing to the dangers of climate change
  • Because waterways are being contaminated by industrialised farming which results in soil and aquatic pollution

Which foods are unethical?

There are a few things to look for in an “unethical food”:

  • ethically sourced ingredients (cruelty-free, organic, pesticide-free, etc.)
  • ethically sourced labor (fair-trade, living wage workers, thriving working conditions, etc.)
  • ethically sourced packaging (sustainable packaging, recycled, etc.)
  • ethical business practices (no human or financial exploitation of any kind, etc.)

^ All of the above terms can mean different things to different people.

Here is a post on 11 of the most unethical foods and food brands

Keep scrolling to find out how you can start eating ethically with 10 minute or even 1 year actions!

Is it ethical to eat meat?

There are a few answers to this question:

Answer #1: No, because there is no humane or ethical way to eat animals.

Answer #2: Yes, because it is natural for humans to eat meat.

Answer #3: Somewhat. It is natural for humans to eat meat but the average American’s consumption of animal products is nutritionally unnecessary and environmentally unsustainable. There are also many humans who live in conditions in which they rely on animal products for survival. There must be a balance between the nature of consuming animal products and our overconsumption habits.

Let’s be realistic.

Going vegan or vegetarian is not the only way to help the environment and advocate for your ethical values.

If you still want to enjoy meat, you don’t need to feel guilty about it.

We believe that you are responsible to make the right choice for your individual situation.

To decide whether or not to eat meat or not, consider the following:

  • Ask your doctor if your health condition allows you to transition to a meatless or vegan diet
  • Do you live in a situation where animal-free products are physically and financially accessible? (going vegetarian or vegan can save lots of money depending on where you live)
  • It takes time to transition to a new diet. If you decide to change your diet to align with your newfound ethical values, remember to give yourself time to make the transition nutritionally and mentally feasible.

If you decide to continue eating meat (or during your transition out of meat), below are 5 ways to eat meat more ethically and sustainable:

  1. Eat less meat
  2. Choose chicken and wild-harvested meat (like wild rabbit or hare) instead of pork, beef, or lamb to reduce your environmental impact
  3. Choose pasture-raised meat from ethical sources
  4. Choose locally-fed or grass-fed meat
  5. Reduce your food waste

Which meat is most ethical?

All types of meat have an environmental impact or ethical consequence, but there are some meats that have less of an impact than others when farmed/harvested.

The most ethical meats are:

  • Wild-harvested meat (like wild rabbit or hare) has the least environmental impact.
  • Chicken and goat meats have relatively less environmental impact compared to beef.
  • Grass-fed and pasture-raised beef have a healthier fat profile compared to conventional grain-fed beef which has higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA.
  • Lean, organic cuts of meat without the skin because an animal’s fatty tissue is where toxins, hormones and antibiotics are stored.
  • Antibiotic-free meats because antibiotic use in farmed animals has contributed to the growth of antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli, which have caused difficult-to-treat human infections.
  • Use these sustainable fish guides to make sure your seafood is ethically sourced.

Is veganism REALLY ethical?

At the heart of ethical veganism is the respect for all living beings. Vegans see all animals as beings that we should respect – NOT as objects to use (food, clothing, entertainment, etc.).

However, “ethical” extends beyond your diet.

Living ethically involves daily intentional actions in other aspects of your lifestyle.

Someone can be on a vegan diet but still be a horrible person in other aspects of animal rights, human rights, sustainability, etc.

So yes, if your intention for going vegan is to live ethically, then veganism can REALLY be ethical. But going vegan is not the only way to help the environment and advocate for your ethical values.

How do you consume ethically & sustainably?

To consume ethically and sustainably means that you intentionally and consistently adjust your eating and purchasing habits to align with your ethical values.

This can mean multiple things for different people depending on which causes they are prioritizing at one time.

To consume ethically & sustainably:

  1. Go through our beginner’s guide to ethical living
  2. Choose ONE ethical value that you want to focus on.

3. Implement the detailed tips & advice that are suggested in the specialized ultimate guide.

Simple Guide To Ethical Food & Eating

  • Set up a recycling container
  • Set up a compost bin for food scraps – start small!
  • Avoid using disposable paper and plastic in the kitchen
  • Eat locally sourced or organic produce and meat
  • Avoid these 11 unethical foods and food brands
  • Try these more ethical meats
    • Wild-harvested meat (like wild rabbit or hare)
    • Chicken and goat meats
    • Grass-fed and pasture-raised beef
    • Lean, organic cuts of meat without the skin
    • Antibiotic-free meats
  • Use these sustainable fish guides to make sure your seafood is ethically sourced.
  • Eat less meat
  • Eat less animal products
    • Why? Well, even if you’re not particularly concerned by animal welfare, animal agriculture is a major pollutant. So, eating less animal products is an easy way to lower your carbon footprint.
  • Try to grow your own produce at home!
    • Lettuce, winter greens, green beans, spinach, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, root vegetables (like radishes and carrots), bell peppers and tomatoes are all considered easier crops to grow at home even if you are a beginner.
  • Buy groceries from ethical marketplaces. We have a big list in our ethical living resource directory.
  • Check the ethical credentials of companies before you buy
  • If you can’t find information about a company, try asking them via Twitter.
  • Try to buy organic & fair trade
  • Try to buy in bulk with your own containers or buy the largest portion of food so that there is less total waste
  • Use your own bags at the shops for bread and produce so that you use less plastic bags
  • Try to buy your food from local farmers markets. It’s often cheaper, zero waste and organic, too!
  • Try to buy from a local Community Supported Agriculture crop-share. It’s like a subscription box from your local farmers. Find a crop-share near you.
  • Try to buy your produce seasonally to keep your carbon footprint down. It’s cheaper, too!
  • If you have surplus food or are in need of food, you can join food sharing groups on Freecycle or on the Olio app
  • Buy loose coffee beans and loose leaf tea instead of pods and bags
  • Use reusable water bottles and cutlery to avoid waste on the go
  • Check the ‘use by’ dates (not the ‘best before’ dates)
  • If you don’t want something, consider selling or donating it
  • Offset your carbon footprint with Carbon Fund
  • Before you buy anything, take 5-7 days to consider if you really need it
  • Consume less so that you can afford more ethical buying because ethical products can still be pretty expensive

PIN IT: Save for later!

If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Ethical Food board in Pinterest.

Food is a necessity. This is an in-depth guide on how to make eating food ethical, sustainable, nutritious, AND delicious! #ethicalfood #veganism #ethicalmeats

SOURCES: Artisan Stone, Food Is Power, Fresh n Lean, Sustainable Table, The Conscious Dietician (1), The Conscious Dietician (2), Animal Ethics, Skills You Need, Morning Chores

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