Navigating Meat Morality in the World of Industrialized Production

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Image by Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

*Warning, this interview may be disturbing for some, listener discretion advised.

Eating ethically has never been more complex given our global economy and industrialized food system. And when it comes to meat consumption, the issue is particularly sensitive. There are of course vegetarians and vegans who opt to not eat meat (or animal products) at all, like Timothy Pachirat, author of Every Twelve Seconds, who after working undercover at a slaughterhouse in the midwest decided to abstain from consuming all animal products (listen to his interview with Evan Kleiman above).

Giving up meat completely isn’t a realistic option for everyone though. Many can’t afford to give it up, and several others couldn’t imagine ruling it out completely. So what many eaters do is create rules and guidelines for themselves in order to cut back on meat consumption and/or ensure it was raised humanely in order to feel more comfortable about eating it.

Mark Bittman’s famous VB6 diet is one such popular compromise. It’s a ‘diet’ that conforms to veganism (flexibly–exceptions are allowed) until 6:00 PM, and after that time VB6ers are permitted to eat whatever they want. It’s a diet that Bittman formulated as a result of mounting personal health issues, but he also appreciates the environmental and ethical benefits as well.

Good Food’s Evan Kleiman shared on last week’s podcast that she now eats about a quarter of the meat that she ate in the past, and that she pays four times as much for it after learning more about industrialized meat production.


We asked our listeners (see some of the responses above) how or if they deal with the dilemma, and responses were varied. One listener declared that he only eats “meat on days that end in y,” and  another said that he mostly avoids meat except for a once a month steak night.

Others cited environmental reasons for not eating meat or cutting back, with one listener even saying she mostly feeds her dog low-carbon impact meat.

“I eat meat mostly purchased at the farmer’s market so I know who raised it and under what conditions,” said Ann Marie Jones, and many others echoed her sentiment. Many demonstrated strong preferences purchasing meat from the farmers market, particularly pasture raised chicken and grass fed beef.

Do you make rules for yourself about eating meat? Let us know in the comments below.