Note: This article’s research is based on sustainability, not spirituality or the issue on compassion for animals. Please kindly respect my personal views and I am always open to discussion, not condemnation.
At that immediate moment as I close the book, Eating Animals, I knew I need to make a change in my diet. It wasn’t urging me to become a vegetarian or vegan, but something different.
“Ethical eating isn’t about a black and white choice where vegetarian and vegan is always good and meat is always bad,” Marissa Landrigan, author of The Vegetarian’s guide to eating meat, said in an interview.
“I had to decide what was more important: always boycotting meat or generally supporting the most ethical and sustainable and humane food production I could find, which would sometimes involve livestock animals.”
Apparently, our brain doesn’t register well with the term ‘flexible'. It’s often associated with being weak or the lack of moral backbone. Especially on the topic of ethical diet, it implies "that by choosing to eat meat sometimes, as opposed to never eating meat, you alter your moral standards for primal urges and convenience.” said Brian Kateman in his TEDx Talks. 'In advance cognitive science, we found out that our brain does not do well with inconsistencies.’
Brian Kateman is the person who comes up with the term Reducetarian. He finds out whatever it is about words like Flexitarian and vegan, determines how seriously we are taken, how our messages are understood and our feeling of belonging.
He comes up with the word Reducetarian, referring to those who are committed to reducing their consumption of meat, not excluding vegans and vegetarians. ( read more on https://reducetarian.org/ )
It’s appealing because the idea shows understanding. It shows acceptance to those who are not able to or willing to follow a completely vegetarian diet, as well as, to acknowledge those who are willing to try.
How about those who say we should start eating pigeons and squirrels? What do we call them?
Look, there are as many ways, as are reasons, to eat ethically and sustainably. When we talk about ethics, it shouldn’t be solely about attaining perfection. Our current meat production in a market-led economy is wasteful and cruel, that’s for sure. Consuming less meat is cutting CO2 emissions. Consuming no meat is cutting CO2 emissions.
My love for animals informs the way I cook and eat meat. It forms this cycle of gratitude and respect. It’s a complicated belief, and it’s personal. I understand not everyone gets it, and it probably sounds self-righteous, snobby or straight-up phoney to a lot of people. The time and process that took me to come up with this philosophy are worth so much more than someone else’s throwaway comment. To those who are vegan/vegetarian, I challenge you to understand that there’s another take on being sustainable while eating meat.
Putting your money where your mouth is
“I’d like to see how they [vegan and vegetarian businesses] go about reducing carbon footprints and actually making a change,” says chef Duncan Welgemoed of Adelaide restaurant Africola. “By working with farmers and producers, by working within agriculture and fisheries … rather than saying, ‘fuck it we’re not putting meat on the menu because it harms the environment’. Well, what are you doing to help anyway? That isn’t helping the environment, what you’re doing is leaving farmers in the shit.”
What chef Welgemoed said, resonates with me. Sometimes it is easy to see only one side of the story, and stop there. When I was considering my change in diet, I wanted to be able to utilise ALL of my understanding in this matter, including the time and effort I spent learning about eating and cooking meat. That makes me grateful for the animals’ sacrifices. The same gratitude goes to those who dedicate their time and effort in ethical and sustainable husbandry.
Choosing to only consume meat that is ethically produced, can be hard. As hard as being vegetarian and vegan, but differently. It takes a different kind of knowledge, has a different set of challenges. But the future we want to see is the same.
Those who choose to eat meat ethically, are doing what vegan and vegetarian cannot do. Those who choose to be vegan and vegetarian, are making a statement meat-eaters cannot make. We are just on different frontlines fighting the same battle. There should never be a moral ranking in this conversation, as we are all just doing our bit to help.
One of the positive sides to a market economy is that the way we consume is a way of proxy. We spend our money in support of the kind of business we want to see more. Since it’s factory farming that I am against, I decided to therefore only consume meat that is produced sustainably.
With that decision, I will not eat meat outside home, unless I know the restaurants’ chef sources sustainable meat. At the grocery, I will try my best to find sustainably and ethically produced meat and when it comes down to none, I am content being vegetarian.
It's been a full month since I made this change, it's still evolving. Let me know what's your take on this issue, would love to hear and learn from you.