NY Times Submission: Why is it ethical to eat meat?

Every species is able to survive because they use the nutrients available to them. And such survival implies that animal species eat other animals and plants. As part of the animal kingdom, humans are no exception to this rule. In fact, over the course of human history, humans have been the only animal species capable of greatly increasing their chance of survival by growing vegetables and breeding animals. Depending on where early peoples originated from, different nutritional habits evolved and became deeply embedded in our various cultural identities regarding how food should be obtained, prepared, consumed and celebrated. The connection to our food, both animals and plants, was precious. As human beings, we have inherited the ability to hunt, gather and prepare our food in the way our ancestors did. This is natural, instinctive, moral and ethical.

Eating meat ethically means appreciating what we have on our plate. Traditionally, meals have been preceded by a prayer of thanks and oftentimes an elaborate spiritual ritual. Humans were cognizant that a living, breathing animal died for our nutritional needs. Our ancestors thus made the most of the whole animal – from the brains, necks, shoulders to the kidneys. And meat had always been rare or expensive so portions were small and every bite was cherished. Eating meat ethically means making the full realization and connection that the meat on our plate is an animal that has been killed for our benefit, our luxury, not just something to be breaded, marinated or braised. It means fully recognizing that it is our duty to ensure that the animal was raised with respect and was offered a dignified death. Eating meat ethically means respecting the land from which our food comes from. It means eating meat minimally, balanced with plants to ensure our bodies remain healthy. Until the last 50 years, meat was considered something very special.

The fact that you are asking if it is ethical to eat meat speaks wonders to where we have arrived as a society: a place in time where our food system is so troubled, so hidden from the public eye and so degraded that we are questioning the very behavior humans have maintained throughout their entire evolutionary journey. But with all due respect, we think you are asking the wrong question. The most important question to be asking is one that should get your readers (aka “consumers”) DOING something about the way they eat meat. It is very challenging to eat meat ethically today, in an era when most of the population does not know from where their meat truly originates. Where did this simple bond between meat and consumer go?

It has been lost in the assembly line at the slaughterhouse, the endless rows of gestation crates, the towers of battery cages, the piles of waste polluting the very land where the animals we eat should be roaming free. It is lost in the rampant abuse and habitual disrespect of our animals. It is lost in the powerful web of big government, Big Ag and animal factories (ie what we used to call “farms’). It is lost in the genetic manipulation of our animals to please the fast-food masses. It is lost in the obscene amounts of hormones and antibiotics pumped into our overcrowded and sick animals just to keep them alive.

It is imperative that humans return to our traditional culture of ethical meat consumption because how we eat meat today is no longer moral or ethical. Not by a long shot.

7 Foods to Avoid, Including 2 of GoEO’s “Least Favorites”

If you’ve ever taken a look at the GoEo labels and glossary sections of our website (check them out here) you’ll notice that we are not big fans of Grain-Fed beef, or dairy products from cows that were administered the hormone rBGH (also known as rBST).  Unfortunately, these practices influence the majority of products offered to consumers, as both practices are regularly employed on factory farms in an attempt to maximize profits (due to the fact that grain-fed cows “fatten” quicker than regular cows, and cows injected with rBGH have increased milk production).

It is generally accepted that meat from grain-fed cattle is higher in fat and lower in nutritional content than meat from grass-fed beef.  Moreover, rBGH is thought to have lead to an increase in various types of cancers in humans, such as breast colon and prostate cancers.

We at GoEo don’t think that increased profits are worth our health (not to mention what these practices mean for the animals involved), and choose beef products that come from grass-fed cattle, and dairy products that are rBGH-free.

And, it seems, we aren’t the only ones.  The Health Freedom Alliance has published an article entitled “The 7 Foods You Should Never Eat” and guess what made it to that list? That’s right. Corn-Fed Beef, and rBGH infused dairy products.  Great minds think alike.  For their reasons, check out their article here.

Let us know your thoughts!

Antibiotics and Our Animal Products

We’ve heard from many GoEOers that one of their main concerns regarding the consumption of animal products has to do with the sheer amount of antibiotics that are used in the factory farm system, and subsequent fears as to what those antibiotics mean to our health.

Well some GoEOers can rest slightly easier tonight, as the FDA has started to cast a serious eye on the issue, at least with concern to one type of antibotic: cephalosporins.  According to a new FDA rule, farmers will no longer be able to administer cephalosporins as a means of preventing disease. (for more information, the NY Times has a great article on the subject here.)  Cephalosporins are commonly used to treat illnesses such as pneumonia and strep throat, and the FDA’s step was taken as a means of preventing antibiotic resistance in humans.

Discerning GoEOers should note that other types of antibiotics, such as penicillin, are still allowed to be used in mass quantities.  Furthermore, discerning GoEOers who care about the humane aspects of factory farming may also want to consider what these new antibiotic rules mean with regards to the treatment of sick animals.

What are YOUR thoughts on antibiotic use in the factory farming system?

Testimonal Series,

For our third in this new series, we’re posting a testimonial from Len, who lives in Maine, and has a great personal story.

If you’d like to send us your testimonial for inclusion in this series, please email teamgoeo@gmail.com.  Enjoy!

Kudos to you at GoEO…..I have been a resident of the state of Maine all of my life and as far back as I can remember a large hen laying egg operation in Turner, Maine was always in the news. The operation was owned and operated by a “farmer” who also had other similar operations throughout the country. His name was notorious in the agricultural business and it was a name associated with the inhumane treatment of chickens and of the deplorable living conditions provided to his migrant workers. Having been fined repeatedly by the Dept. of Agriculture for dozens of health, safety and animal treatment violations he continued to ignore the law by placing profits above the ethical treatment of animals and dignity of his workers. Working for minimum wage in a terrible work environment coupled with squalid housing seemed of no concern to him.

Because of all this, I make sure I always buy eggs from local farms and when in the grocery store I buy brands that have received humane certification labels, just to be sure my dollars are not going in the pockets of the likes of the farmer described above.

Good luck to you as you launch this new endeavor, the public should be encouraged to buy meat, fowl, fish, and dairy products from those who subscribe and adhere to your goals of humane, sustainable, and organic food production. Thank you also for the information you provide regularly through your website.

Benefits of Grassfed Beef: The Grassfed Primer

Image  We know that as a GoEOer, you’re concerned about the meat you eat.  The problem is, sometimes it is hard to determine what to be concerned about when picking out the meat for your next dinner.  Does it matter to you if your meat came from animals raised on antibiotics?  Do you prefer to eat organic?  We at GoEO can easily say these things are important to us.  

 

But what about a label that we’re all starting to see pop up in our local grocery stores: grassfed. Just how important is it to you that the meat you’re eating came from animals that were grassfed? To us, it’s very important.  Cows are natural grass eaters, and their bodies are not equipped to process the grain diets they are served in the factory farming system.  As such, meat from grass fed animals is generally healthier and is considered to be lower in fat and higher in nutritional content. 

 

For more information on why grassfed should matter to you, please check out Animal Welfare Approved’s The Grassfed Primer.  It truly is a guide to the benefits of grassfed beef, and is a must read for any GoEOer!

Meatless Monday Recipe of the Week: Macaroni and Cheese

Hi all! As usual, we wanted to help with your Meatless Monday menu, and this week we’ve provided a delicious dash of comfort food (and really, who doesn’t need comfort around the holidays?) Remember to use your humane dairy products!

Recipe after the jump.

Continue reading

Ethical Omnivore testimonial series

For our second in this new weekly series, we’re posting a testimonial from Joie Lemaitre, who lives in Massachusetts, and is doing her best to adhere to an EO lifestyle.  Read on for Joie’s own words!

If you’d like to send us your testimonial for inclusion in this series, please email teamgoeo@gmail.com

For those of us growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in small suburbs and rural areas, where our food came from was still a local affair.

I remember local farms where my mother would buy our produce and dairy products.  My grandfather worked on a small dairy farm where the cows were pastured all day long and then milked in the evenings.  I helped on the farm as a child, and certainly remember helping to feed the cows, and care for the calves.

I gathered eggs from a hen house, and picked veggies from a community garden.

In the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s the big box stores evolved, huge supermarket chains became the norm and the smaller family owned farms and businesses began to disappear.  Everything was canned, boxed, and packaged in plastic.  We had no idea where our food came from, and the personal relationship that communities once had with the local farms, fish markets, and vegetable growers, disappeared.

I am grateful for the awareness that seems to be sweeping communities here in the North East.  There seems to be a determination to again support local growers and local farms.  As consumers we have an obligation to be aware of the quality of our food and the impact on the environment.  And, I believe we all can choose to be good stewards of the land we harvest and the animals we raise for food by educating ourselves about the practices used.  On a humane level and health level, I choose to educate myself on where my food comes from and how it is raised.

I have a daughter who is vegan and she has prompted me to take a look at the variety of foods available to me that preclude meat. I find in this day and age of cultural variety and so much good, local produce that it is quite easy to have delicious and filling meals that do not require a meat dish. Although I still eat meat, I probably eat meat or fish 3 days a week and eat vegetarian the rest of the week.  Although buying local meats from small farms can be more expensive, my grocery bill is smaller, in large part because I eat fewer meat dishes.  But, more importantly, I want to be educated about what I ingest and I want my food to be free of antibiotics, to be locally grown or raised as much as possible, and as cruelty free as possible.